How to Mic A Drum Set

There are many ways to mic a drum set.  In this short article we will focus on how to get the most optimal sound out of a drum set with an 8 mic set-up.  To get the best sound out of your drum set, you will need at least 8 mics depending on the size of your drum set.  Two of those mics will be condenser mics while the rest can be dynamic mics.  The mic set up for a drum set is as follows:

  • 1 Mic for your kick drum
  • 2 Mics for hi and low toms (1 for each tom)
  • 1 Mic for your floor tom
  • 2 Mics for your snare (one for the top of snare) (one for the bottom of snare)
  • 2 Mics for Overheads & Cymbals (these will go on the left and right side of set and will hover above the entire set.
The diagram below is a close example:

diagram credit:

Note that in the diagram above, they are using an eleven mic set-up.  They have additional mics on the high hat, the ride cymbal and inside the kick drum.  If you have the mic ports to add the additional mics, it may give you a better sound but it is not necessary to do so.

The two mics on the snare will likely record the high hat as well so you may not need a hi hat mic unless you really want to hear that sound strongly in the mix.  The mic on the floor tom will likely record the ride cymbal as well so you do not need to mic it separately unless you want the bell sound in the ride to stick out more.  Lastly, the mic inside the kick drum is only necessary if you want the pedal beater to be heard more. (this could give more punch) 

  • Many engineers use a condenser (bottom) and a dynamic mic (top) on their snares. (or vice versa)  This can give the snare a little more clarity to it.  Sometimes you may have to make sure the polarities of the mics are mix matched.  The two mics may not be able to have the same polarity setting.  One should be reversed.  
  • Mics on your toms, snares, and  kick drum are to be set approximately 3 inches away from the drum head and should be pointing towards the center of the head.

You can use a clip on mic mount to achieve optimal placement:

"By Kelvin Butler" Kelvin Butler is the author of this blog. He also is part owner of KBJ, a website that caters to the working class musician by offering affordable services in audio mastering, and more. Learn about his very affordable offers at


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