Drums & Percussion Overhead A-B (Symmetrically located)
This is a short description of one particular microphone configuration used in Sydney recording studios, like Crash Symphony Productions, that works well for drum overheads. This configuration is called the A-B method. These are the microphones that sit over the top of the drum kit and capture the overall sound, and in particular, the cymbals.
There are a few different methods for miking a drum kit in the A-B position. The most basic is to imagine a plane cutting through the middle of the kick drum and having the left and right overhead microphones positioned on either side. It is often best to use a pair of large diaphragm condenser microphones like the AKG 414’s. These are positioned so that the capsule is facing directly down at the ground with the polar pattern set to cardioid. When the polar pattern is set to fig-8, more separation will be achieved between the left and right due to the plane of cancellation of each microphone. Try different heights, as the space that you are recording in will govern the overall drum kit sound that is captured in the overheads.
One philosophy for recording drums is to try and capture the main sound of the drum kit in the overheads. This will then become the sound of the kit in the recording and the close microphones will play a secondary and supporting role to the overheads. The opposite approach is equally valid – to have the close microphones as the central sound of the drum kit whilst the overheads are the supporting microphones.
If you are recording the drum kit in a dead space, it may be better to have the overheads at a greater distance so that more of a sense of space is captured. Alternatively, if you are recording in a large and highly reflective space (and you are also recording room microphones) then you may want to have the overheads a little closer, so that they are more distinct from the room microphones.
Alternatively, you can try locating the overhead microphones at a much greater distance and have them at an angle (but pointing at the snare drum), whilst still maintaining symmetry about the kick drum bisector.