Top recording engineer Mike Thorne shows how to get a great drum sound in his recording studio with limited equipment - using just one microphone. We chose the Shure SM57 as it's a well proven, affordable microphone and can be picked up used for not much money. The key thing to getting the best drum sound is to work with a great drummer, playing a well sorted drum kit, in a nice room. Then it's just down to putting on headphones and move the mic around until you find the spot that sounds just right. Mic placement makes all the difference. Mike Thorne's placement is a good starting point but don't feel tied down, experiment!
Just because we could, we then added a second SM57 to see if we could improve on the sound of the drum recording setup. Even still, both mics could be bought used for not much more than a $100, if you look hard enough.
Overhead picture of Pete Wheeler playing the drums - single Shure SM57 in shot
Tech notes: The signal path was: SSL AWS 900+ SE console with onboard mic pre's, bit of EQ and an EAR 660 compressor and a Massenburg EQ on Pro Tools to notch a few things so not exactly drum recording on a budget but using a good field recorder we think you'd get drums sounding this good - as long as you're working with a good drummer.
Special thanks to Pete Wheeler for being our test pilot for the day and braving COVID-19 and of course, a huge thank you to Mike Thorne and Rimshot Studios for being the host.
Thanks also to Josh Holland for helping set up the Go-Pro cameras.