That is really the question that I wrestled with for quite a while. At first I thought “ah this is easy just record the different packages on the drums and BAM we got all the data!” But alas I had forgotten the pivotal rule of live scenarios — you cannot ever record them properly. Let’s be honest with ourselves, there is nothing I can do that you will listen to and go “ah yes that it exactly as it must sound in the room!” And there is no microphone that works just like my ears, your ears, the drummer’s ears, and the Stage Manager’s ears, etc. So what have I done? I can’t just give up!
What I have done is implemented what I called the “observer” microphone. I placed a DBX RTA-M roughly 45 feet away from the drums in the center of the room. When our drums had to move position, in order to fit the 5-piece kit in the space as well, I moved the microphone to be again 45 feet from the drums in the center of the room. I recorded what this “observer” microphone heard, as well as recording the microphones that were being used. In post I sat down with a pair of AKG K553s and a pair of Shure SE215s and mixed in the specific mics with the “observer” microphone to be as close to what I heard in that space as possible.
Is this a perfect solution? Of course not, but nothing about this book is talking about the “perfect” anything. This is a book, not to give you the answers, but to point you in the right direction. I am not trying to tell you what microphones to use on what aspects of the kit when. I am rather telling you “If you have x-number of microphones, I would place them here, and this is the order of magnitude of live sound difference that will make to your kit as opposed to y-number of microphones.” I am not trying to make the perfect buyer’s guide, or even the perfect live sound guide. I am giving information to help inform your decisions about micing a drum set in a to .
I define this as any venue that fits less than 100 audience members at normal maximum capacity.
I define this as any venue between 100-1,000 people at normal maximum capacity.