If you want to know how to mic cymbals yourself, with no help from the sound engineer, there are specific but simple rules that you will use to get a great sound and feel good while playing.
In most cases, a special condenser microphone is placed on the Hi-Hat, as this is the main cymbal for giving rhythm.
For other cymbals, a stereo pair of condenser microphones is always used, placed above a set of drums on the left and right sides.
If you want to mic your cymbals in the studio, two condenser microphones are added in practice, located in the corners of the room where it is recorded. This is the usual technique for obtaining a space recording to make the cymbals sound more natural and with articular sound.
In exceptional cases, where you want to get the best sound of your hi-hats, a microphone is placed under the high-hat to give the full-bodied sound.
Also, sometimes a special microphone is placed on the ride cymbal if the type of music requires such an approach. China cymbals give loud sounds, so there is no need to mic them.
How to mic cymbals (overhead use)
Depending on what you are aiming for to get from the sound, overheads are there to capture the sound of the whole drum set, or they can focus only on catching the cymbals.
Many drummers use overheads because they believe that the sound you’ll get from the overheads is vital for the overall sound.
It is essential to use small condenser mics if you plan to place overheads over the drum kit.
Since they are sensitive, they will pick up the tones better than any other type of microphone.
When you go for the overhead mic, you should pay attention to the polarity between them and other mikes. What you need to get out of this is the excellent-sounding stereo sound.
How to mic Hi-Hat cymbals?
If you plan to mic the hi-hat, the best position to do it is on the outside edge of the upper cymbal, as this will isolate the sounds of the whole kit.
When you point the mic down or off the cymbal’s edge, it will maximize the off-axis rejection.
If you are aiming for a tighter sound, you should point the mic more towards the bell, and if you want heavier sound, point the mic a bit higher – that way, you will also keep control of the sound of your cymbals.
For miking the hi-hats, the best choice would be a small diagram condenser mic positioned close to the hi-hats, so it won’t cause problems for drummers while playing the rest of the drums.
How to mic Ride cymbals?
The best way to mic a ride cymbal is to use a condenser microphone and locate it in the middle of the edge and the bell of the ride.
This special condenser microphone, which is unique for rides, will allow its sound to cut through and separate itself from any mix.
The mic will add more attach and definition to the overall sound, and depending on where you place it, and you should end up with different types of tones.
If you move the microphone closer to the bell, the sound will have a better ping.
If you move the microphone closer to the edge of the ride, some overtones will be enhanced.
You can bring forward the stereo sound if you move the microphone more on the right side, combined with the overheads.
The placement of the mic can be different from where you are positioned to play.
Depending on the environment you will play in, you should move around the mic to find the best spot – experiment with the location and the position between the mic and ride.
How to mic Crash cymbals?
When it comes to mic the crash cymbals, the procedure would be similar to mic the ride cymbal.
In this case, the microphone you should use is also a condenser mike – for example, AKG C1000 – not higher than 50 cm above the crashes.
Depending on if you plan to mic the crashes in live settings or studio, the distance of the mic and crashes would be different.
One important thing to know is that if you use two crash cymbals, the other crash must be less loud than the first one.
How to mic Splashes?
Same as with the crashes, you would use the same types of microphones and techniques.
Many drummers avoid miking splashes, as they are effect cymbals, and the overheads can pick up their sound quite enough.