Getting the proper overhead drum microphone mix is essential to achieving a balanced multi-track drum mix. After you've got the overhead drum mix right, all of the other microphones should fall into place within the mix much more easily. Follow the steps below when mixing your drum overhead microphones to strike a balanced drum mix.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Mixing board or recording software
- Headphones or playback monitors
Pan the overhead drum microphones hard left and hard right in your mix. This will create a widespread stereo image of the drum kit. Be sure that you make note of which side is left and which side is right relative to the other microphones on the drum kit. This will come in handy when you pan these other microphones (after you have finished mixing the drum overheads).
Mix the overhead drum mics higher (in volume) in the mix if they have captured a good balance of the drum set. This will bring out the sound of the room and make the drums sound alive and natural. When the overhead drum mix is balanced, you won't need to emphasise the other drum microphones as much in the mix to achieve a balanced drum sound.
Mix the overhead drum mics lower (in volume) in the mix if they have not captured a good balance of the drum set. If the overhead drum mics were not placed well, they will often pick up too much cymbal wash. When this occurs, the balance of the mix can be compromised if the overheads are mixed too high in the mix. Be careful of this when mixing in the other elements of the drum kit. When the overhead drum mix is unbalanced, you will need to emphasise the other drum microphones in the mix to achieve a more balanced drum sound.
Compress the overhead microphones to taste. Compressing the overheads gently will yield a more controlled dynamic range, whereas compressing the overheads more radically will yield a more aggressive sound and bring out the sound of the room. However, in some cases you might find that the drum overhead microphones do not need any compression whatsoever.
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