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 How to Understand How Mic & Mixer Boards Work for Drum Mics

sing microphones and mixing boards to record drums is the most common approach to getting professional recordings of your drums or drum kit. Microphones are the devices used to transfer the sound emitted by your drums to a mixing board, amplification device or recording console. A mixing board is a tool used to adjust the levels, volume, equalization and effects of the signal that is being transmitted by the microphone. Microphones and mixing boards come in a variety of styles and electronic formats and understanding how they work is essential to getting quality recordings and amplification for live performance.

Things You'll Need
Mixing board
Microphone cable
Speaker or headphones

Take your microphone and plug it into a microphone cable. Microphones most commonly use XLR connections between microphone and microphone cables. XLR connectors are three pronged connectors. The microphone will have be the male end and the cord will have a receiving female XLR connector. The second most common connector will be a ¼-inch jack. This is an oversized version of your standard headphone jack.

Turn down the volume knobs on your mixing board. You will find a main volume knob and a volume slider for each channel of the mixing board. On many boards there will also be a volume control for monitors. Make sure all of these volumes are turned all the way down. To get a response from the microphone the mixing board must be connected to external speakers or headphones.

Plug your microphone into the mixing board. There will be many channels on your mixing board to choose from and the insert jacks usually run in a top row and provide jacks for both XLR and ¼-inch inputs.

Slowly turn up the main volume on the mixing board. It is recommended to turn up the main volume to the halfway mark to ensure a strong signal without distortion.

Slide the volume slider slowly upwards while talking into the microphone. You should hear a sound coming from the speakers. Some boards have a trim knob which is also an individual channel volume knob. This is usually positioned as the first round knob in the channel row. If you have turned up the slider, also known as a fader knob, and are not getting any sound, check and see if your board has a trim knob. If so, turn down the fader and turn up the trim knob halfway, then try the fader again.

Use microphone stands to position microphones about 3 inches from the head of the drum you are wanting to amplify for directional microphones. Condenser microphones have a larger frequency range and sensitivity and therefore do not need to be positioned so close to the drums. Capturing the right sound using microphones on drums is a personal preference and requires trial and error to find what works best for you.

Mic each drum individually and listen to the sound that is being amplified through the speakers by the microphone. Go over to the mixing board and, while hitting the drum, adjust the fader on the mixing board to better gain an understanding of how the fader operates in relation to the volume of the drum.

Equalize the drum by adjusting frequency knobs on the board. Equalization knobs adjust the frequency of drums making them sound higher or lower in pitch. Hit each drum while adjusting equalization to preference. The goal is a natural and balanced sound to the drum and drum set.

Adjust effect knobs on mixing board. The effect knobs control the amount of effect that will be applied to the sound of the drum through the speakers. Some boards have internal effect modules or selections, while other mixing boards require the use of an external effects module to apply effects to the sound of your drums. The most common effect found on a mixing board is reverb. Reverb smooths and provides depth to the sound of drums and can be effectively used on any drum and cymbal.

Tips & Warnings

Positioning microphones effectively and correctly to reduce reverb is an important aspect of using drum microphones and mixing boards. Reverb or feedback is the loud squeal generated when a speaker is directly facing a microphone. Reduce reverb by changing the position of microphones and turning down the volume on your mixing board.



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