Skip to main content

Fundamentals of Drum Tuning and Recording

Lesson 19 of 29

Snare Microphone Selection and Placement Part 1

Kris Crummett

Fundamentals of Drum Tuning and Recording

Kris Crummett

Starting under


Get access to this class +2000 more taught by the world's top experts

  • 24/7 access via desktop, mobile, or TV
  • New classes added every month
  • Download lessons for offline viewing
  • Exclusive content for subscribers

Lesson Info

19. Snare Microphone Selection and Placement Part 1

Lesson Info

Snare Microphone Selection and Placement Part 1

Now I'd like to go through and talk about different snare drum snare top mike's when I'm mike in the snare drum um, first of all, like I said before, I really like to get the kick sound and check, so I've got the kick nice and big sounding s o I kind of have ah starting point for how big the snare needs to sound on I don't necessarily mean like um deep or like the snare needs to sound like a big snare, but the tone of whatever snare we choose needs to fill the same amount of space is the kick drum because the kick in the snare of the backbone of the song um so there's a lot of different ways to mike snares I have three main things that I like to do on a snare and that's obviously a snare top mike that will be the first thing that will go through and a snare bottom like, which will decide based on the different snare top mike's that we hear on dh then another thing I like to do is mike I call snare side, which is basically just a large condenser about a foot from the snare pointed at th...

e bottom rim and I'm going to demonstrate that after we do overheads and room mike's because that's kind of like the last piece of the puzzle for me I like to get my other uh, meeting potatoes mike's figured out first, and then I'll go to stuff like that, and I'll show you a couple effects mike's like this, this side snare and some other stuff that I do, but first let's start by going through the different snare top mike's that I use, and for me, every sessions a little bit different, it really depends on the kick sound that we get the snare that we're using and the room we're in. So this this is the first time I'm recording a drum set in this room, so I will be going through the mikes for myself and for you guys, and we'll decide which might tease on this session for sneered top, and then we'll move on to snare bottom. The first thing that we need to do, though, before selecting the mikes, is getting the mic placement, and just like we did with the kick drum, I'll put on the isolation headphones and armed the track, and I'll have him play the snare while I moved the mike arone, because, again, it's really important to use your ears and not your eyes? Because no matter how many times I've seen mikes on drums and seen mikes on anything, every little movement makes a difference and every projects different, um, and it really really makes it's really important to listen because it could make a make or break your snare sound you could think you have it in the perfect spot and it's really like an inch different than it was before a half inch and that that can make a big difference and the reason that makes a difference is a thing called proximity which any mike that has a polar pattern that's well any microphone has proximity the wider the polar pattern the less drastic the proximity and with proximity means is how close the mic is to the source and the closer the general rule is the closer that mike is to the source the more low and you're going to get so I want to get like a nice fat low and none of the snare but I don't want reaney had like head ringing sounds and weird sustained and I'll show you what I mean by demonstrating but getting the proximity and the angle right is really important before selecting the mikes and because you could go through a bunch of mikes and if none of them are in the right spot that it doesn't really matter so well basically do it just like the kick drum and and what I mean by angle is the access of the mike to the snare and that also makes a big difference the more this the oddest demonstrate the more this mike is pointed directly at the snare the more low ends and high and you're going to get mainly low in because again the polar pattern points like this basically the polar pattern I've been at some fifty seven looks like this if you guys can see that I'll show you so the most sound is coming in right here there's about the same amount here and here but as you go out things that are over here and here get less and less and less to wear back here is the quietest least direct sound obviously directly behind the microphone so when you have a pointed straight at the drum if we had a plan straight at the drum like that that would be the most direct sound but that's not necessarily first of all that can't make any sense because if you have a rack tom you can't get it there it's totally in the way of the drummer in the way of the high hats and for me it's really to direct of a sound for a traditional snare sound and the opposite of that but you might see like at a live show or something because you're just trying to fit mike's wherever they can so if you're pointing the mike like this you're basically recording almost in an off access point that doesn't that's outside the polar patterns so what you're getting is a lot of the sound coming off the drum and not a direct sound to the drum so what I'm going to do is I'm angling the microphone and figuring out the proximity I want to use is to figure out how much of a of a blend of the, um the sound that's coming off of the drum versus the sound that's actually the sound of the stick hitting the drum um and I'm going to demonstrate that right now and I'm going to move this because it doesn't need to be but my starting point is normally about a forty five degree angle and then I will just take it both directions by starting height is usually about three fingers three of my fingers off the drums off the drum, the snare drum and then when I look at the drum I start the mic right about the rim but I usually end up a little bit closer we'll make sure the stand is nice and tight I'll get my headphones I'm gonna arm the snare track which was previously wired up for the other demonstrations play beat or just ask their um let's uh let's play just the snare for now and then we'll play a beat after that let me test my headphones go ahead, give me a nice hard hit there so as you can hear right now we're basically just making the rim which is a little ringing so I'm gonna bring this in just a hair give me a couple more hits that's a little more where I want to be as far as being over the drum now I'll show you what proximity does for the snare mike we'll start further off this is probably wouldn't ever mike a snare any higher than that go and give me a couple hits and then I'll show you about the closest you could really be without having the mic completely on the drum if you can hear it sounds cool but you get a lot of ring and a lot of weird kind of ah round type ahead sound play it one more time just a little too close for me um but being that close I'll demonstrate the angle back it off a little bit and play it and this is a forty five degree angle and then this is probably like twenty twenty five degree angle it about same distance you can hear the snare gets a little drier saddening and the queue was a little more pointed towards the mids we'll have it barely angled here play to get we'll do one that's just straight down again you can hear that school but that's a little dark because you're getting a lot less stick attack and really just making the head which is not what I want so I'm gonna go back to my starting point which is a forty five degree angle about three fingers it's not exactly the sound that long bring it down just a little one more time something else that I like to do that helps me get just the right amount of stick attack can I see one of your sticks? If you take a stick and line it up right with the mike and then pointed right at the snare center you know that can sometimes give you just the right amount of attack going play one more time keep it down a little too high that's more where I want to be let me angle it down just a little one more ah it's a little too boxy let's try recording that all right and now have you played b okay and again he's playing the high hat so we can judge how much bleed comes into the snare microphone is the snare microphone is actually, um one of the one of its the mike that's most susceptible tio two high hat bleed and symbol bleed that's going to be on all the time when you're talking about bleeding tom mikes and stuff because the tom's aren't a constant instrument it's a lot easier to get the tom's if you're using like a gate plug in or hardware gate or you can go in and just edit out symbol noise by hand, which is what I actually do to make sure that the the decay of every time it is appropriate for the note space that it's trying to fill um because like if you had a break that ends and tom's but your gate is set to shut pretty quick, you can hear really obvious decay of the gate, so I just like to do that my hand because most songs don't have aton of tom hit so it's I can get through this song and like, five minutes it's not a big deal, so but the snare you can't do that because you would get all kinds of weird symbol stuff coming in and that, um or you can, but I prefer not to eso part of it, getting the snare mike in the perfect spot and choosing the perfect snare mike is finding one where either the bleed sounds good and doesn't bug me or is minimal because it's really important to not have to deal with that later on and not be stuck with terrible sounding symbols in the snare mike. So let's, play this back here where we're at, because it's kind of hard to tell in the headphones one hundred percent I got to take the issue off of this. I'm going to run just a little bit of the q on this for a minute just so we can hear how it's gonna eat you up in the end, I'm not going to get super drastic, but I'm going to kind of do what I would normally do in a queue and that's just about where I want it now one thing I did yesterday when I was, um testing the bait of fifty two is it was a really quiet mike and so I clipped gained up the volume right here as you can see, I had to do it ten d b um, so I'm gonna clip gain this one up again ten d be, but now I'm just going to turn the mic pre up on the kick drum because we're not we're no longer testing multiple mikes on the kick and I can set the level, so I'm going to mark this a cz the stock that some fifty seven on snare we will move on to the next mike, which is actually a modified us and fifty seven so it's the same as a fifty seven it just has a different transformer, but it has a very different sound and the transformers made by a company called tabs on calling this the modified tab as in fifty seven and so I don't lose my place just gonna take this pen I'm going to write all over the snare drum actually was going to make a little mark right here, so I know that this is right where the edge of the mic goes and then going to take the other stand that has it's my iconic thie other the other fifty seven and I'm actually just gonna match the angle so I don't move the initial mike that I know that I like I get these pretty close make sure that's nice and tight I could drop this down just a hair oh god just matching these two stands so this could be a scientific it's possible and I've got mice marking on the snare here I just want that to be perfect and then I'll just switch out the cable well, listen to this next mike and I'll just set this aside for now untouched so this is just the kick in the stair mike's um real quick will you get me a couple of tickets to make sure I got the volume right? All right, so here's the modified tab fifty seven cool we'll play that back so you can hear the tonal differences that's the top fifty seven and here's the normal one play one more time without you those don't sound ton different in here but if you put on headphones um you can actually hear pretty big difference and the next microphone will check out is the hell p r twenty which is very similar to a fifty seven in looks but it's a very different sounding mike um and it has the same polar pattern because I want to keep my original fifty seven um stand and mike untouched I'll just slide this one out on this one back in and because this mike is a little bit longer, we're going to check it to the original fifty seven again, make sure you got out come down a little bit sits in that clip a little different that's his match to that can be and the cool thing about the hell mike's which also sometimes makes them, um a little too much is that they do have quite a bit of pre queuing going on, so this is going to be an interesting one where you don't you're gonna want to not only listen to snare sound, but you're gonna want to listen to how the high hat sound to this mike as well. Let's make a marker here he'll pr twenty this as just about the same polar pattern as the some fifty seven. Cool we listen to that back with no e q and it's a much darker mike gonna make this way form bigger so we can see how the bleed looks and sounds it's not a ton different looking, but it looks more consistent. Looks like there's a little more bleed with the heel what's in those high hat hits right now, I'll just that's on lee coming through the snare and a little bit through the kick mike, but mostly the snare and here's to the hell that was a fifty seven this is the hell a little bit and asked you're sounding just a little box you're sounding and a little bit louder and hears this and fifty seven and the hell and for me the fact that the heels a little bit base here onda high hats for a little louder I don't think it's really what I'm looking for because that would mean that I would have to brighten up that mike, which means I would be bringing even more high hats out because high hats I have a lot of high frequency content so because there's some fifty seven's already brighter and the high hats a little bit quieter I know that I'm kind of in a win win situation because I'm not going to have to brighten it up is much which means I'm not going to be bringing in more high hats with u q and there's already less high hats in it um and then they're just two more mike's I want to show you the next one is another mike by hell which I used to get very specific snare sound that that's actually totally different than any of the other stuff and this is called the hell pr thirty which you think would be like the same as the twenty but a little bit different but it's actually just a completely different microphone very different looking very different sounding and as its own clip so I'll have to switch this out and this is a microphone that I think was actually developed for tom's on a lot of people like it on guitar, but I personally think it's really cool to create a thick snare sound with a different texture on top just get the sun here nice and tight because we don't want anything slipping around and I'm gonna match it to my original fifty seven that again has been unmoved close here as good as it's gonna get as you can see, this is a lot bulkier mike so if you're dealing with someone with a lot of symbols or multiple toms that are off to the side of the kick drum thiss might not be an option in the first place linus up with e line I drew in the snare drum also making sure every time here that my stand isn't hitting the high hats because, um all the sound transfers from the symbols through the stands with any symbol stand and if you're touching the mike stand, you're going to get some weird rumbly stuff from the symbols and from his foot hitting the high it so you really want to make sure that your stands air never touching the drum stands or the drums themselves they can touch each other it's not a big deal this one's a little more awkward to place looks like we have it this is the hell pr thirty hit the wrong button now this mike's quite a bit louder so I'm gonna have to back this off one click here who do that one more time looks like we still peaked on the very first hit let's do one more ready cool so listen that bag that's what the yuan has the cue off is the hell pr thirty here's the s and fifty seven that we started with it's a little bit louder so I'm gonna clip king this back up that was a p r thirty and here's a fifty seven you can hear the hell is a little bit more of a mid rangy sound but we put the e q on it it has a a nice snap to it and the low and is focused a little bit lower. The other thing about the p r thirty is that it often requires a different angle than the fifty seven because I think the polar pattern is a little bit different it's a little more direct I think it's a little a little bit tighter of a polar pattern so where we're at now is really barely within the scope of the polar pickup pattern where the microphone is actually hearing the direct sound so it's kind of getting a more distant sound compared to the other mike's um I'll just do one that's a little more direct so you can hear what can be done with this mike he'll pure thirty um less angles this is the only mike of the bunch that's this sensitive to direction, so I'm going to just raise it up and then angle it a little closer towards the snare because it wasn't a real session. This is how I would use this mike same spot. All right, well, listen to this just to give it a fighting chance. Go ahead and again, the volume of a little bit quieter. So I'm going to bring this up by point seven. Same is the other one on. Well, listen back and here's. The less angle version, you can hear that the angle, the mohr angled version is a lot thicker and that's more how I would want to use this mike, but what you can also hear is that there's less bleed than the pr twenty here's the pier twenty. Although the pr twenties quite a bit louder than that last take that's a p r twenty here's the pr thirties. Theo the bleeds not is in your face, but it is a little more mid rangy, so you kind of happen if you want to use this. Mike, you have to ask yourself if you're ok with the sound of that bleed, which sometimes I am, I don't mind I would use this on more of an indy or kind of ah rock n roll record where I'm ok with the high hats having some meds to them and being more aggressive and not something where I want the hyattes to be super smooth because once you start compressing that that sounds going to come up so that's the hell pr thirty more angled in here is the fifty seven again just for reference which to me the fifty stepped seven still has the most well rounded sound and the high acts are still the most pleasant and the quietest so the last mike of the bunch is also the weirdest looking mike of the bunch which is the sennheiser four forty one and that's actually also the most expensive mike of the bunch but this could be a very cool um snare microphone it's kind of like the p r thirty but a little more drastic in that it's not your everyday snare microphone like innocent fifty seven would be but you hear when you listen to it that it has a super cool sound that in the right session could be very useful so it's always good to try it out and try out your options because like I've said before every drum, every room, every player and the symbols that the players using are going to impact your snare sound and uh or your snare microphone choice the snares down and it's near microphone choice so I just took that one off well, I get for talking and doing at the same time also, if you notice when you're putting when you're switching out mike's really fast, something I've learned over the years is that instead of spinning around the microphone and trying to get the clip on there, if you just loosen up, the boom arm can just twisted in like a screw get that mic on there about twice as fast and again, I'm going to compare to the fifty seven these are the same it's a little close. This is definitely the most ah nineteen sixties space age looking microphone I own very, very weird looking but very cool and it also has e q settings on it that roll off the base and roll off the top. And so I just want to make sure that I'm not doing either of those things that's set to how I would use it on scene there the distance, right ideo let's give this one a shot. This is the sennheiser, md four forty one. Cool now that came in a way too quiet for me. So I'm going to bring that volume back up to where we had this and fifty seven let's do that one more time, nice.

Class Description

Drums are one of the hardest instruments to record, because in reality, a drum kit can be upwards of 20 or 30 instruments being played by a performer at one consistent time. Each drum head plays a huge role in determining the overall tone. The range of frequencies is broader than any other recorded instrument, with sub-kicks extending down below 60 Hz and hihats and cymbals with presence and ring above 16kHz. The dynamic range can include subtle ghost hits and flutters to pounding snares that fill a room, and yet somehow all of this is supposed to fit inside a mix without getting lost in a sea of guitars.

Kris Crummett has over a decade and a half of experience recording bands like Sleeping with Sirens, Issues, Alesana, Further Seems Forever and Emarosa. Kris will walk you through every step of the process to capturing killer drum sounds.

Which Drums to Use?

  • The size and type of the kick drum is a good place to start, and will largely dictate what kind of tone you end up with when you get the final mix. Do you want a modern sounding kit with a big low end and a bright punch or a more vintage tone with a rounder, softer low end punch?
  • Snare sounds can often define the tone of an entire record with a range of sizes, head choices and tuning options. How much ring is left in the resonant head can be deceiving when listening to an drum kit on its own, but can often be lost when blended in with the rest of the band. From maple and birch full bodied and nuanced tones to aluminum or even brass bodies, the snare drum can have one of the biggest impacts on your final track.
  • Drum heads can also have a huge impact on the transients that you capture when recording. Coated heads can offer a punchier, thicker sound while clear heads are a bit brighter. Tuning the top head and the bottom head to resonant together is an essential art that takes practice and expertise.

Which mics to Use?

  • There’s no right or wrong way to mic a drum kit, from the famous ‘When the Levee Breaks” 2 microphone room tone to modern metal drum production with 30+ mics in place.
  • Deciding when to use a condenser and when to use a dynamic mic is dependent upon the style, the drummer’s playing style and even the room in which you’re tracking. What sort of room mic techniques can give you that big open kit sound? What about a tight, small room trap kit sound?
  • Kris is prepared to walk you through all of these choices, with examples from his storied career and tips and tricks that only years in the studio can earn you. With legendary guest drummer KJ Sawka, you’ll have an experienced team to guide you through how to overcome the biggest challenge for a home studio engineer, the drum kit.


Kevin Howard

Kris is methodical and goes over everything related to drum recording in great detail. He covers heads and even how much moon gel he uses for damping the heads, Mic placement, shell choice( size, wood etc ). Listen to Dance Gavin Dance to hear some of his work. I found this class to be super informative and very practical in it's approach. Thank you Kris !


this is a great class! i play drums personally, and i love percussion! he also teaches well


This is an amazing class! Kris is a very scientific instructor. This really opened my eyes to the drum recording process. Take Notes!!!! There are about a thousand unique facts and techniques that you should know. This will help you to record drums correctly at the source so that you can minimize the amount of digital destruction you will do later and thus get a "Professional" sound.