Week 3 – Types of microphones and Recording technique for drums.

This week will looked types of microphones and what we have available in the department.

We learnt that different types of microphones have different jobs, as there is not a microphone that can record the frequency response of human hearing. The microphones directionality picks up sounds differently. There are 4 main types of polar patterns for microphones these are:

  • Omnidirectional -This is when sound is picked up all the way round the microphone.




  • Cardioid – picks up sound mainly from the front. Less sensitive at the sides.




  • Hypercardioid -this is a narrower version of cardiod. more sentive to sound from behind.




  • figure of 8 (Bidirectional)




The pattern by which the microphone picks up sound is known as microphone polarity.

There are 3 types of microphone these are condenser, dynamic and ribbon and they have different characteristics in picking up sound e.g. frequency response.

Department Microphones:

  •  Octava MK-012 | condenser | polarity – capsule dependant


  • Royer R-121 | dynamic ribbon | fig.8 (bi-directional)


  •  AKG D112 | dynamic | cardioid


  • Sennheiser E602 | dynamic | cardioid


  • Sennheiser MD421 | dynamic | cardioid


  •  Electro-Voice RE20 | dynamic | cardioid


  • Shure SM58 | dynamic | cardioid


  • Shure SM57 | dynamic | cardioid


  • Shure BETA 98H | condenser | cardioid


  • Calrec CB 20 C | condenser | polarity – capsule dependant


  • Calrec-CM1050C | condenser | cardioid


  • DPA 4090 | condenser | omnidirectional


  • Neumann TLM 103 | condenser | cardioid


  • AKG 414XLS | condenser | polarity switchable


Some of these microphone you can change the polarity by simply changing the settings e.g. AKG 414XLS , some you need to change the capsule like the Octava MK-012.

After checking out the microphones. we looked at our first recording technique for drums.


Glyn John’s drum technique

Glyn John’s drum technique:

Glyn John is a famous British engineer who is known for his drum recording techniques. He has worked with many artists including Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and the Beatles. This techniques only involves using 4 microphones. These are two overhead microphones, one kick drum mic and one snare dynamic microphone. The overheads pick up the whole drum set, while the kick and snare mics make a big fat sound. The first overhead is positioned above the side of the drum set, above the snare. The distance being about 3 drum sticks in height away from the snare drum. The overhead angled down at the kit. This overhead should sound nicely balanced with a good mix of snares, tom toms and cymbals.  The next step is to position the second overhead on the other side of the drum set just right of the floor tom about (6 inches away from the rim) and this mic should be angled towards the snares. Make sure overheads are panned and that the distance of both overheads needs to be exactly the same (about 3 drum sticks away) for a nice tight punchy stereo sound.  The next stage involves the kick mic drum being placed at the resonant head or even inside the kick port of the drum, then place the snare dynamic directly above the batter head of the snare, this microphone needs to be angled to the center for the drum for more attack. These two microphones will fill the hole/ sound field in the mix.


Kick drum set up.



If desired a another snare microphone can be added to the set up. This will be positioned side on facing the snare. This will pick up the snares on the resonant head and create a cracky sound.



Overhead near floor tom



Overhead above snare



Snare side and top snare position


Microphones used for this technique:

  • Kick drum microphone – AKG D112 | dynamic | cardioid or the Sennheiser E602 | dynamic | cardioid. (Big dynamic microphones).
  • Overheads – Need to be omnidirectional condensor microphones, so you could you 2 AKG 414XLS.
  • Snare dynamic microphone – Shure SM57 | dynamic | cardioid.

Drum recording tips:

  • Use of new drum heads
  • Clean cymbals for a bright sound
  • To get a different snare sound you could use a hoop to get a snappy sound.
  • Think about the acoustics e.g. is is a small room, a large sound, where is the drums positioned in the room.

http://therecordingrevolution.com/2011/01/10/the-glyn-johns-drum-recording-method/ – (Reference for Glyn John’s recording technique).

Drum levels and Phantom power:

When recording drum microphone or any other type of microphone the level need to be good without any clipping/ distortion The condenser microphone will require phantom power, which is DC electric current to give it a boost in audio. Phantom power is widely used in professional audio equipment. Microphone specification from the manufacturer will say if a microphone needs power, generally though condensors need it.


Pro tools drum tracks set up. Stereo for overheads Mono for snare top, snare side and kick drum.









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