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In this lesson we will look at the difference between open and close micing. These are two of the most common ways to mic up a drumkit in a recording or live setup.


We will start with open micing since it is the older of the two techniques. Open micing can take on a few different forms but generally it is a minimalist setup, consisting of a bass drum and a pair of overhead mics. Or, just a pair of overheads mics. Perhaps overheads and a room mic positioned somewhere further away from the drumkit. As you can see, there's a few different ways you can do it, it's all up to your own experimentation, and deciding from there what configuration pulls the sound you're after the best.

The "open mic" sound is generally one that captures the entire drumkit as a whole on one audio track, and generally because the mics are further away (ie, an overhead mic is often a metre away from the drums) you get a "roomier" sound, that is perhaps a little more organic and less produced.

Remember with open micing you are using less mics, sometimes as little as one, so adding any effects like EQ, reverb, compression etc will change the sound of all the drums. This is why many people today prefer to close mic..


This is where you put a mic on every drum and overheads also. Perhaps even a room mic on top of that. The advantage of close micing is two fold. Firstly, because you now have multiple channels, each assigned to one drum only, you can change the sound of that drum (EQ, reverb, compression etc), generally without changing the sound of the others. The second advantage is that if you later decide you want more of an organic open mic sound, you can just mute the drum mics you don't want in the mix, and leave open configuration running (say overheads and bass drum for example). Basically, the more mics you use, the more options you have when it comes to mixing.


As great as close micing is, you will usually always get a little bit of mic bleed coming in from the other drums. If you solo the snare mic for instance, you will likely hear the rest of the kit (bass, toms, cymbals) coming through very faintly in the background. This is almost unavoidable, yet it's usually not a big deal. Most drum mics are fairly directional so you will mostly pickup the sound directly in front of it (ie the drum), and the soft mic bleed will just get lost in the overall mix.




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