How To Mic A Drum Kit For Church
A church can have a very small sanctuary or a very large sanctuary and still require mics on the drum set in order to get the best sound. A lot of sound techs think that a drum set sounds loud enough in a small sanctuary, and this may be true, but does it sound even, equalized, and good? The same rules apply at any small bar or club when it comes to micing your drums in a church. But how many microphones do you need? How far away should they be placed? And what about the volume? All these questions have been asked before by many, so let me try and help you all out!
When it comes to the smaller sanctuaries, a lot of sound engineers will not mic the drum set due to the loudness of the drum set already. This is their first mistake. If the drums are loud, you may want to consider either an electric drum set, or some other muffling concepts, however leaving them un mic'd is not a good idea. The reason for this is drums are located usually in the back of the stage. This means the sound from the kit will only be coming from one direction, causing an uneven sound compared to the rest of the worship team. The team will usually be plugged into the house speakers, resulting in a more uniform sound throughout the church. Placing a select few overhead microphones over the drum set will help mix in the beat with the melody.
Using two overhead microphones is a great way to get the “whole” drum set sound through. These do not need to be the best quality microphones; however, condenser microphones work the best. Place these on mic stands, and place them around 12-18 inches above the tallest cymbal. Make sure you have one over the right side of the drum set as well as one on the left side. If possible, try and pan these two mic's giving the room a more realistic sound. If you are using condenser mics’, make sure you have a fully charged battery in them(or turn phantom power on), and you have them switched on! These overhead mics should pick up the whole drum set respectfully. If you can, throw an extra mic in the bass drum for that extra bass boost.
If this is too over powering, you may want to skip the overhead mics and stick with only two mics: the bass drum mic, and the snare drum mic. A lot of times in the mix, the snare and bass drum will be covered up by the other louder instruments in the band. By having a bass mic as well as a snare mic turned up a little over half, you will find the mix will sound better as a whole. In addition, these two drum voices are usually the ones that carry the beat, so by increasing their volume, the congregation and worship team will be able to follow along a lot easier.
If you can, use an actual bass drum mic for this, or at least a mic that can handle a lot of lows. There are a few ways you can set this mic up. The first and most obvious is to hook it up to microphone stand and place it a few inches away from the bass drum resonance head. Another way to place this mic is by putting it in the actual bass drum itself; however, the only way you can do this is if you have a hole in your resonant drum head. Both work well for sound, and can be equalized to sound great! As for the snare, any mic will do. I would suggest the Shure Sm57, they tend to carry the best tone for the snare drum. Place your microphone on a stand and hover it over the drum 1-3 inches from the head. Depending on the angle of the mic, you should be able to capture some of your other voices on the kit through this mic. Just experiment a little with it.
These are some very basic steps when it comes to setting up the right sound for your drum set in a sanctuary or church. If you have the room on the soundboard, it’s always good to have at least some of your drum set in the mix. It may increase your volume a little, but the even sound it will produce will outweigh the problems you had before!
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