Get a good sound from your drum overheads by using the Recorderman technique.
Drum overheads, which are usually condenser microphones, capture the overall sound of the drum set. They provide the stereo image in the mix. But getting the right sound requires the right pair of condenser microphones. This is often a very expensive task for the owner of a home recording studio. Some of the most popular overhead drum microphones (in professional studios, that is) include the AKG 414, the Shure U87, and the Neumann KM-84. But… the price tags on these three overhead drum microphones are laughable. Getting a matched stereo pair will forever be out of the question for me. So… moving on.
Now, there are definitely many brands out there that have suitable stereo matched overhead drum microphones that do not cost nearly as much as the ones listed above. Audix, Audio Technica, Shure, AKG, etc. These, however, could still set you back $500 or more. And while some engineers think of that as a bargain, I do not. I still have to spend money on other things for my home recording studio: microphones, soundproofing and acoustic treatment, recording software, audio interface, etc. The list goes on and on.
Behringer ECM8000 Measurement Microphone
So when I was putting together everything I would need for my home recording studio, I came across the Behringer ECM8000 condenser microphone. But I was not looking at it as an overhead drum microphone. It is primarily a measurement condenser microphone that is based on an Earthworks measurement microphone. I needed one to measure the frequencies of my room through my monitors. It has a nice flat response for accurate measurement using the REW Room EQ Wizard. But during my research, this condenser microphone popped up several times as an adequate overhead drum microphone. And the price is so low, I was able to get a matched pair for under $150. It was definitely worth a shot. So I ordered them, and I have not looked back. I still use my two Behringer ECM8000‘s as my overhead drum microphones to this very day. Now, I am not saying they will sound like the more expensive condenser microphones. I am just saying that with some time, good placement, and some processing, I have been able to get the results that I want. They have been a perfect fit with my DIY recording setup.
For more info, click Behringer ECM8000.
The Recorderman Technique
The drum overheads are just one part of the equation. The other part is the method of placement. I have tried many different overhead microphone setups throughout the years, but I was never quite able to accurately capture the drum set’s sound that my ears were hearing. One day I came across the Recorderman technique. This method appeared to be fail-proof, which is always a welcome concept to me. So I decided to give it a shot. The goal of the Recorderman technique is to have both overhead microphones placed at equal distances to the snare drum and to the bass drum. That probably sounds more confusing than it should. But the end result is an overhead microphone setup with a very pleasing stereo image. Instead of trying to further explain the method, just check out the following video for a quick overview of the Recorderman technique.