Posted 9th January 2023

How to record drums

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Recording drums is an essential skill for any music producer or recording engineer. Whether you are recording drums in a professional studio or in a small home setup, there are several key factors to consider in order to achieve the best sound possible. In this blog, we'll cover some of the basics of recording drums, including what you need, tips for setting up your drum kit and mics, and different techniques for capturing the full range of drum sounds.

First things first

First and foremost, it's important to have the right equipment for recording drums. This includes a drum kit, microphone(s), and a recording device (such as a digital audio workstation or multitrack recorder). You'll also need a space to record in, which should be acoustically treated to minimize reflections and other unwanted sounds.

Drum tuning

Drum tuning is also important so make sure you have a drum key to hand or better still a drum tech. Drum heads and their condition are also important. Drum heads are also known as drum skins and need to be in a decent condition to record well.

The kit

When setting up your drum kit for recording, it's important to consider both the sound of the drum itself and the sound of the room it is being recorded in. One way to do this is by using room or overhead mics. Overhead mics capture the overall sound of the drum kit in the room. These can be placed at a distance from the drum kit, usually at least a few feet away, and angled towards the drum kit to capture the sound of the ambience of the room as well as the drums. In a great sounding live room the results can be impressive.

Close mics

In addition to room mics, you'll also need close mics for each drum and cymbal. These are placed much closer to the drum or cymbal being recorded, and are used to capture the sound of the individual drum or cymbal. When placing close mics, it's important to consider the natural resonance of the drum or cymbal, as well as the position of the drumstick or beater. For example, a mic placed closer to the rim of a snare drum will capture a brighter, snappier sound, while a mic placed closer to the center of the drum will capture a deeper, more boomy sound. It's also important to take into account the sound balance and frequency range in which each drum resides. A snare drum typically sits higher in the mix than a bass drum (kick drum) or floor toms, with symbols and and high hats residing in the higher frequencies.

Usual methods and techniques

There are many different techniques for recording drums, and the best approach will depend on the sound you are trying to achieve. Some common techniques include using just one or two microphones (known as "close mic" or "mono" recording), using a large number of microphones to capture the full range of drum sounds (known as "multi-mic" or "stereo" recording), and using electronic drum pads or triggers to capture the sound of the drums.

Room sound is a key consideration

One key factor to consider when recording drums is the sound of the room you are recording in. A larger, livelier room can add natural reverb and ambiance to the overall sound, while a smaller, more controlled room can result in a drier, more focused sound. In a small room, it may be necessary to use closer mic placement and a tighter drum sound to avoid any unpleasant resonances. Room mics can are used to capture the wider reflections in a room and this effects the overall sound. The entire kit sound will be influenced by the size of the room adding natural reverb as will the room sound. Capturing the entire kit will mean that the drums are inseparable through the overheads. So it's most common that overheads are used in addition to dedicated drum mics. It's also important to note that room sound in a professional studio live room will most likely provide the best sound for this purpose.

Can you kick it?

When recording kick drums, it's important to use a microphone with a strong bass drum response, such as a dynamic mic or a large-diaphragm condenser. The mic should be placed inside the drum, pointing towards the beater, and at a distance that allows the mic to capture the full range of the bass drum sound. It can also be helpful to use a bass drum pillow or other dampening material to control the sustain and resonance of the drum. Mics such as Sure's SM57 is a great place to start and a great drum microphone all round, particularly for the price. Drum microphones can differ greatly in cost but the SM57 has become an industry standard as have small diaphragm condenser mics in general.

Specialist Equipment

A kick drum mic, snare mic, tom mics can make a difference in balancing the sound and preventing drums bleeding into other tracks and help deliver a killer drum sound when mixing.

A snare sound is typically loud and often punchy so making sure it's isolated can be tricky. A dedicated snare mic can help with this, although a snare mic can be another pricey addition asking your engineer could prove valuable as Isolation is something well worth achieving, particularly when it comes to the mixing phase.

Overhead mics deliberately capture the entire drum sound and much of the rooms ambience so get those mic stands at the ready. You'll need a stand for the kick mic too and possibly the snare if you don't have a dedicated clip on mic.

Recording software needs to perform well enough to capture multiple tracks at once. Testing this prior to any recording sessions is a good idea. When you record drums computer RAM needs to be at an optimum to record drums well.

Once all the mics are set up, your computer and DAW are running smoothly then it's time to test with a drummer and get the best sound possible. A good drum sound comes as much from the drummer as it does the kit. You should aim to have everything in place so as not derail the session and to capture everything properly.

Drum recordings

Getting a great sound from your drum recording sessions isn't as easy as it initially sounds but is if course possible. It's recommended to hire a studio if you have the budget. They will have all the equipment you need plus the experience and any drummer will learn a lot from going through this process. There are other options available of course including drum samples and even replacing recorded drum audio with high quality samples. Drum samples such as ours at are professionally recorded to the highest standard and will make your tracks sound great.


In summary, recording drums requires a combination of the right equipment, careful setup and placement of microphones, and an understanding of the different techniques and approaches available. By considering the sound of the drum itself, the sound of the room, and the desired end result, you can achieve great drum sounds in any recording situation.

Why drum samples make a viable alternative

In addition to the above, Macdrum's professional drum samples are a great option for music producers and recording engineers who need high-quality drum sounds but don't have access to a physical drumset or the ability to record drums in a studio. These samples, which are recorded by top drummers and engineers, offer a wide range of drum sounds that can be easily integrated into any music production setup.

One of the main benefits of using Macdrum's drum samples is the ability to achieve a top class, professional drum sound without the hassle of setting up and recording a physical drumset. This will save time and money, as well as reduce the need for additional microphones and recording equipment. The samples can be easily imported into a digital audio workstation (DAW) and triggered using a MIDI controller or drum pad.

Another advantage of using Macdrum's drum samples is the ability to choose from a wide range of drum sounds and styles. Whether you need a classic rock kit, a punchy hip hop drum sound, or something more experimental, Macdrum's samples have you covered. The samples are played by top professional session drummers such as Paul Burgess of 10cc and legendary jazz percussionist Dave Hassell. They are all meticulously edited and processed by one of the best producers in the business in Andy Macpherson, using the best room mics & drum mics, the best kits, tuned to perfection in the best rooms, ensuring that you get the highest quality sounds.

Macdrum's professional drum samples are a convenient and reliable option for anyone in need of high-quality drum sounds. Whether you are a music producer working on a tight deadline or a recording engineer looking to add some extra polish to your tracks, Macdrum's samples are a valuable resource that can help you achieve the perfect drum sound. They're the best replacement for recording drums. So why not give them a try today!