Only Have Two Microphones? That’s Enough to Record Drums

One of the misleading theories of modern recording is that you need high-quality gear, in plentiful amounts, to capture great sounds. I’m not going to argue that it’s a bad thing to have great stuff, but the truth is that depending on the player, music, and room situation, you can do a whole lot by actually doing very little.


A recording legend is that many of the early Led Zeppelin recordings captured John Bonham’s playing with three microphones. Now, although plenty of records are still made using similar minimal drumming techniques, the majority of metal records are done by using a close microphone on every piece of the drum kit, along with overheads, and usually at least one set of room microphones (or one single room mic). But say you want to try something new, or maybe you’re a bedroom engineer and you don’t have too much to work with. What would you do?

Here’s something to try. The following instructional video, from engineer Bob Clearmountain (The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen) and drummer Matt Chamberlain (David Bowie, Tori Amos, Soundgarden), shows you how to mic a drum kit with two microphones: a Neuman M49 and a Shure Beta 52A, centered over the toms/snare and inside the kick drum, respectively. Check it out:

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Max is managing editor of Gear Gods.

Latest comments
  • I record all of my bands pre-pros doing this. Keeps everything super simple and beats using SD2 loops for everything. I find if you have a separate overhead channel with a significant highpass and a sharp transient designer on it, you can blend the normal OH with it to kind of emulate the sound of a tom or snare close mic.

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