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Fundamentals of Drum Tuning and Recording

Lesson 21 of 29

Tom Microphone Selection and Placement

Kris Crummett

Fundamentals of Drum Tuning and Recording

Kris Crummett

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Lesson Info

21. Tom Microphone Selection and Placement

Lesson Info

Tom Microphone Selection and Placement

After we've got the kick and snare set up and we got that sound, I'll then we're going to just get the tom's miked up because we already have them tuned up and sounding away we want, um, all we need to do is figure out what the right mike is for that sound. So right now I have two sennheiser md for twenty one set up, and I can already tell that there really close, but probably not quite in the perfect spot, so I'm gonna have him hit real fast, and I'm gonna listen my headphones just like, um, when we were dialing in the kick in the snare, and I'm going to make sure the position is perfect, and I'm gonna tell you a couple things to look out for between the rack tom and the floor, tom. So go ahead, cool. These are very close, of course, I have to listen back on the monitors, but something that you want to watch out for for the floor, tom, because it's such a bigger drum than the rack. Tom, you're gonna want toe, make sure that the mic is a little bit closer in so with most snares because...

they're all fourteen's you can know what distance from the room you want to be, but the way I measure tom is actually from the tom's is from the center out because it's really easy to get, like a huge rack tom sound and a really weak floor tom sound or vice versa, and the strength, the strong sound words of the week sound most the time has to do with the distance from the rim, and so instead of measuring the distance from the rim since these air such drastically different diameters, I'm actually going to measure the distance from the center on not going to measure it exactly, because it doesn't really work that way. But I'm gonna eyeball and that's where I'm going start, so I got the rack, tom, I know that that sounds really cool, and I could just measure with my hand it's about that far from the center, and I think if I bowled that's pretty close, so from the center there, I'm pretty close on this mike, and the reason I'm doing this is because if I was making out here with this drum it's, a lot weaker sound, as you can tell, there is a lot weaker than that distance on here because this distance is so much further from the center, which is where the tone is coming from in the drum, so just keep in mind that it's really natural to want to try to put the two tom mikes basically in the same place but that's not really going to work based on the size of the drums and the way the size varies so that's something to keep in mind for sure um also distance is really important keeping the same distance is pretty important but of course use your ears and if you're not getting a full enough sound on one drum just put it a little bit closer so we're going to record this because I think I've got it pretty close this will be the md for twenty ones on tom's and for the sake of hi hat bleed again could you just play a little beat and then do a roll on the toms afterwards cool and this is going to let us know how the tom's fit in with the kick and snare sound. I also like to hear faster notes on the toms because if the mic is to bhumi it'll you'll you'll know right away if you're doing one big hit you'll be like yeah that booming sound rules and then you realize I'm doing a role that it just gets super overbearing so let's listen to the sound of got right now I'm feeling like these might be a little close listening by themselves yeah for me they're just a little too close I'm gonna bring them up just a notch and I can tell they're too close because I'm just hearing too much sustained um and too much rumble while the rest of the beat is playing off of the times here out when he's hitting the kick drum you're just hearing all that like more raw sound, so I don't want that I'm gonna let these up just a hair is too far in those sound thin also, I feel like the attack is a little too much on them and the way I can decrease the attack is to angle this away from the center of the drum we'll get this now that it's angled was the pick of passing these banks very similar to this and fifty seven so all the stuff I discussed with the snares faras pickup patterns um and keeping things in phase applies to any mike's afterwards and most most drum mikes and up being carded or hypercar droid aside from your room mikes and I can get into that into the room like section as to why that would be so angled down on that I'm gonna angle down a little more on this one bring this stand out and because it's angled down a distance is closer double check the distance from the center bring this in just a hair it will do it one more time and I think this should get us where we want to be for now, so we'll copy this marker on this will be take two are my tracks? You can arm all your tracks by selecting the first in the last and holding shift and then hold shift option and hit record on one and alarm all the tracks that you have selected ready so we'll come back to that so that's closer to what I want is I don't want that pokey inconsistent attack here's a little bit of the q on them. They have a nice starting sound to work with. Yeah, yeah, there. I assume you can see that it has a more consistent attack, but less attack in general is the first one we did and that's because I angled the mike down a little bit away from the stick because if you're angled right at this stick with the tom, especially with clear heads, I find that every little millimeter of difference that you hit sounds a little different and the attacks in different, so I kind of want to roll that off, so I'm still picking up the stick attack, but it's slightly quieter, because if you think about the polar pattern of this, it goes like this so it's picking up from here, which is a little bit a little bit off access from its center. So I'm still getting stick attack it's not totally out of the spectrum of the microphone, but it's just in a part that's, a little quieter in the microphone in the part that's louder is more about right here, which is a good spot to get a nice full sound and a little less attack so and you can even see it in the way form that it's more consistent but it's a little more rounded out. So now that we've heard the four twenty ones, you just want to double check that there the same direction of phase with first hit pointing down and they are so that's good and then very quickly I'm going toe show you two other microphones that I like on tom's. The first one is just the good old s and fifty seven because it is an awesome mike on all kinds of things makes it an awesome mike on tom's and with my pen again just going to make a little mark don't be afraid to write on your drums. It doesn't matter because you're hitting them with sticks a lot more of these than a little bit of a pen mark going on, so I know exactly where to put the next mike and just like the snare, I can very quickly line these up, so have the same distance and about the same angle just like that and now will I be that I'm gonna have a long to set up the next mike's based on that again it's always great to have a helping hand and you're setting up drums because there's a lot of stuff to do and I will do the same thing with the other fifty seven where's the other fifty seven that's not that's I'll take that this one goes on the floor tom and I'll match it to the floor tomb just pretty easy to do because it's a big wide open space right here and those match so I'll move this out of the way plug in the fifty seven and we listened to the s and fifty seven's on tom's and now these again or just stock at some fifty seven's not the modified ones scoop the sooner something also to be wary of when you're setting up mike's anytime's to know where the capsule is, how deep it is into the microphone because some mike's like this or kind of deceiving um and if you're trying to match the distance you want to match the distance to the capsule not necessarily the very front of the mic, which is just a screen I'm going to do a tricky little move to get this in the right spot and we will check out the s and fifty seven's so sure essam fifty seven's on tom's kj play that same beat I'm gonna make this track a little bit bigger so I could just level match with clip gain and I'm doing this on the clip gain and not the mike priest so it's easy for me to get back to the setting I want and then once I choose the mike um I'll adjust the pre from there unless it's too loud so looks like for some reason that second fifty seven came in a little bit quieter and that happens for some reason fifty seven's over the years very a little bit um had some coming louder than others but we'll hear these right now with no e q don't play them by themselves that's all the mix together you can hear there's quite a bit of difference between the four twenty one and the fifty seven both are a little mid rangy and requires to make you so I always like to listen with the cute just like the snare to make sure that the symbol bleed in the tom's isn't too strong right now the four twenty ones are winning so last but not least I want to show you what it can sound like to use large diaphragm condenser in instead of a dynamic mike on the toms onda really affordable one that's worked well for me in the past is the cat and one seventy nine and we'll just which those out I'll turn off my monitors because I don't want clicks and pops toe happen and alana's already got these set up so I don't have to just the height myself or the angle but again because it's a very different looking like I'm looking at the capsule to be pointed at this and not the end of it because it's side address and not front address which means the sound goes into the side of the mike and I want to double check these have a pattern selection that it's correct and it is my my yeah you'd think so but you know what I think they're about the same prices and handsome fifty seven so you know I'd prefer you don't hit him but if you do it's not the end of the world on dh that's why I like these mikes and that's why I'm showing them to you because they can actually be really useful yeah and it does happen which is why you don't want to put three thousand dollars microphone on a tom or a snare um you're just lets your billionaire just asking tio lose money ok that should be about the same so these are the cad and one seventy nine's and the only other thing that you have to know about these mikes it's because they're large condensers and they're not self powered I have to turn on phantom power which is the forty eight votes on the mic pre all right good play that back for me cool we'll hear those back looks like the distance on my floor tom might be a little off but it's close enough to judge these mikes let's listen back with no e q just so you can hear that it's a little bit more of a natural sound coming through these mikes, but I like it because it sounds a little more defined and I'll play back to fifty seven's really fast and I'll play back for twenty ones and I'll play back the cats for me the cavs have the most natural sound there really clear and they have a lot of attack so the only thing that you would really have to decide when using these is if you're willing to deal with the amount of bleed and with a good drummer um I won't mind this amount of bleed because I can just do this well apple e tablet this trans in napoli tab that transient hitting apple e an apple and the muted and then we'll meet about there and this is easier to do once you have trump's played to the clique, I'll just show you how this allows me to judge what kind of lead I'm dealing with now commuted all the parts for the tom's aren't being played and of course I have to play all the nyc's to make this work no, that would be more like that and for me that's okay because now that I'm not hearing the symbols throughout the rest of the beat, and I've just edited amount, which you can see, you can do really fast. It's so easy to to scan through a song and mute out symbols. I'll be happy to use the cats, because the bleed isn't too bad when it's running over the toms, and it has a nice open sound. Um, as opposed to a little bit base your sound of the four, twenty ones, but that, to me, translates as more muddy as, well, a little honky there's. A lot of weird, um, residents going on. So in this session, for the tom mikes, we're going to go with the cads.

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.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Kris Crummett - Syllabus.pdf

Kris Crummett - Pro Tools

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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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.