How to Record Drums at Home: A Guide and What You'll Need

Do you want how to record drums at home? Then this article is for you. We will cover everything from the equipment, software and more.

by Derrick Reeves | Updated: June 24, 2021

If you're a drummer, or just want to record drums in your home studio, read on.  

Not everyone has the luxury of having their own live room in which they can plug in a drummer and record audio to lay down music.  

So, let's imagine that you have your choice between spending thousands on a professional drum recording studio session or doing it at home and recreating those sounds with something similar to the microphone setup discussed later below. 

Let's get started! 

Prepare A Soundproof Room And Your Set 

Prepare A Soundproof Room And Your Set

 

Is your home equipped with a great soundproof room for your drums? If so, congrats. If you don't have one or don't know how to soundproof a room, you can refer to my articles, in the future I will give more specific instructions. We will now discuss the features that make up a successful drum recording room. 

First, the room must be in an isolated area in your houses like a basement or garage. 

Why? Because you need a room that will not be disturbed by outside noise such as traffic, construction, or neighbors. And remember the window is not soundproof so it is NOT NEEDED. 

Also, the room must have a floor and walls that are made of a material such as concrete or wood in other to provide good acoustics. 

Second, there ought to be lots of room for things like drums and equipment to be set up properly without causing any problems during recording sessions. This could cause rhythmic mistakes later when you listen to playback tracks from software. 

The third criterion, you should have a high-quality acoustic drum set to avoid compromising recording quality due low-end frequencies resonating with walls and ceilings in an untreated environment  

Setup Your Mic Package For Drums Recording.

Setup Your Mic Package For Drums Recording. 

Start With A Well-Tuned Drum Kit 

It's funny the first step is not setting up any mic but it's important to make sure all your drums are in tune before you start recording. 

Begin with your snare drum. This drum is the one you want to set up first because it's usually played as a lead instrument in most songs. The next one is your kicks. 

Also, check out your toms - is the tuning a little off? Make sure to tune these drums before you proceed to set up your cymbals. 

When you're recording drums, it's important to start with the highest-volume instruments and work your way down. This will help eliminate an overloading situation. 

Mic Setup For Snare Drum 

Mic Setup For Snare Drum

 

The mic's angle should be set parallel to the drumhead, about halfway between pointing straight at it and pointed away from at a 45-degree angle. 

In this case, you should follow the Recorderman setup, which is to place the mic a few inches above and in line with either side of the drum. 

Drums snare should be mic with a fine dynamic microphone either suspended over the drum's hoop or placed above the drum's face about 1.5" up from the drumhead's surface. 

The microphone should be placed in the middle of one side, just close enough that it will avoid being hit by stray sticks or drummers' hands but far away from other drums on either end so as not to pick up their sound and cause an overloading situation due to too much volume at once. 

The best mic is often used is the AKG D112, which is a great all-around mic. 

Mic Setup For Kick Drum 

Mic Setup For Kick Drum 

The drum kick can be mic'ed in different ways, depending on what mics are available and drum design. 

The best place to mic the kick drum is from below. The microphone should be set up on a stand or some other sturdy mounting device and in front of your feet, so that it will capture all sounds without having too much proximity effect due both bass frequencies as well volume produced at close range.  

Or the kick drum can be mic'ed from the inside through a small hole (like a speaker mic) by plugging it with foam, which will sound like the inside of an acoustic bass drum. 

The best microphone for kick drum in our opinion would be an Audix F15 or Shure Beta 52A with high SPL capabilities and good response up to 20 kHz. 

Overhead Mic Option 

This will be the perfect site for you when you have a low budget or low support tools. 

Usually you need to have an average of 6 mic for drum recording. If for some limited reason, you will need just 2 overhead mic, one for the snares and one for the kick drum. 

The mic will be set on the top of your head and angled downward for capturing sounds from all around you, in this case it is a good idea to place one overhead microphone at each side so that they don't interfere with others or cancel out any sound because both microphones are receiving signals coming form opposite directions. 

The finest option we can recommend to you as the mics comes from Rode NT55. 

And the best overhead mics for snare will be AKG C414. Although they are a little bit more expensive, but you can't beat them in terms of sound quality and performance when it comes to recording drums at home. For lower price , you can buy Shure SM57. 

Mic Set For Hit-Hat And Any Other Additional Drum 

A hi-hat mic does not require much setting up. Keep in mind that you will have more mixing options when mixing your music with individual mics per drum type. 

An additional rule, if you are using a loud drum, dynamic microphones should be used here. 

If you are into more acoustical, softer drumming - condenser microphones will be your best choice. 

Preamp And Other Device For Drum Recording

The sound of audio signal is influenced by the device, which it's being recorded.  

For drum recording at home that doesn't require a huge amount output- you can use any preamp or front-end devices like: ART SLA100M and Focusrite Scarlet 18i20 (these are cheaper). Or something more expensive but high quality -API 1608 MkII (if your budget allows for this).  

In these days there isn’t much difference in performance between low-cost models if we talk about drums as an instrument to record on its own without other instruments accompaniment. However, when one starts adding vocals into their mix then the differences will show. 

You can install the audio interface as usual, but remember to not compress the sound while recording, let your audio file as pure as possible. This will give you more options when mixing with the original file 

I will list some additional equipment needed for recording, such as: mic stands (two or three are enough). For drumsticks, if you have cymbals then buy a set that has them; don’t forget about headphones- they should match your ears.

Conclusion 

You don't have to be discouraged just because your home studio setup seems limited. You may need to start with a smaller goal, such as recording drums for your own personal use.  

But if you save up enough money then before long it might be time and energy well spent investing in an upgrade that will give more options than just using the mic on its stand. 

That is all about how to record drum at home. I hope you find this helpful. 

Now you could start to try it yourself. Do not hesitate to ask any question, if needed! 

crossmenu