Keith Everette Smith

Producer, Songwriter, Multi-Instrumentalist, Music Director

MY FAVORITE DRUM MICS

Here’s a list of my favorite drum mics.

KICK DRUM -

  • INSIDE: (one of the following) EV RE-20, AKG D12, Shure Beta52
  • OUTSIDE: Telefunken Fet 47
  • SUB: NS10M with attenuator (I like this much better than the Yamaha SubKick for some reason)
SNARE DRUM -
  • TOP: Shure SM57 and a Josephson E-e22s
  • BOTTOM: AKG 414 (in hyper cardioid mode) or a Shure SM57
HI HATS
  • Neumann KM84, AKG 451, or AKG 414 (in figure 8 mode)
(Note: using the figure 8 mode on hi hats can sometimes decrease snare bleed but placement is key)

TOMS
  • Sennheiser 421’s, Sennheiser e604’s (potentially an EV-RE20 or AKG D112 on Floor Tom)
OVERHEAD’S
  • Soundelux U95S, Neumann U87’s , Royer SF12 Stereo Ribbon, or AEA R88 Stereo Ribbon
MONO ROOM MIC
  • Telefunken U47, Royer 121 or Shure SM57
CLOSE STEREO ROOM MICS
  • Beyerdynamic M160 Ribbons, or Neumann KM184’s
FAR STEREO ROOM MICS
  • Neumann U67’s, Neumann U87’s
A few notes on why…

I try not to overdo it with too many ribbon microphones all over the place. If I’m using ribbons on overheads I try to use large diaphragm condenser microphones more on room mics and visa versa. Ribbon mics can really warm up the sound of the kit.

In my mixes I’m not necessarily using all of these mics. Sometimes I do. It is a great thing to blend mics together to achieve a certain sound rather than to EQ. I love the sound of a 57 on a snare drum but the e22 has a nice top end. The two working together can sound great.

I love having room mic options because it can give you a lot of different colors and depths while mixing. For instance, your verses could be more dry, featuring the overhead mics and direct mic sounds, your chorus might be roomier. You might turn your mono room mic into an effect for a section of the song, adding massive amounts of compression and distortion to your sound (try running this microphone through an amp or amp simulator). This leaves you with lots of options for creativity later on.

PHASING IS THE ENGINEER’S ONLY ARCH ENEMY!

If you get your phasing right, you’ll be able to fix all other problems. Check your phasing by checking your microphones in mono. It can help to run your room microphones in the same line of sight. This way, some phasing could be corrected with time adjustments later. I have a few friends who are particularly good with phasing. Maybe I’ll ask them to write a blog post for you!)

TRY ANYTHING - I try to have my close room mics be a picture of the kit as it sounds in the room. My far room mics are the sound of the ROOM. For this reason, you can experiment with placement. Try NOT aiming the mics at the kit and see if you enjoy the results. If you’re recording in a bedroom, try putting a room mic in the hallway or close bathroom.