mic tech for snare drum?


Curran Murphy

hey I am in the process of recording my band and I am stuck on the snare drum tone! I have a new set of heads tuned with a tensionwatch and i'm running a Beta 57A into my digimax presonus into Stienberg Nuendo. i'm monitoring back through a Behringer 2004 into my Mackie HR824's. The drummer is killing this thing in the live room but it sound like a little tin can! I wonder if I have chossen the wrong mic or if there is something i should do toimprove it with the position. I have it centered and about 2 inches from the point of stick impact! Please help me
Aggression Core
Smiley Sounds Studio


Well-Known Member
Sep 5, 2000
Yup, you have to move the mic. If you just wanted to get stick sound, you put the mic in the perfect place. If you stick your head in the same place the mic is, you'd hear something similar to what is coming thru your speakers - tin can tippy tap thin little pop.

Wherever the drum sounds good in your ear is where the mic will sound good. When you're standing in the middle of the room, you're hearing the entire drum, not just a 4" circle on the head. You're also hearing the way it interacts acoustically with the space it is in.

You can pull the mic back a bit, or point it to the side of the drum instead of the top. That way you keep the hi hat and other junk in the null of the 57. Another option is to set up your overheads to get a good balance of everything and not have to rely on the close mic so much. Do a search on "Fletcher 3 mic technique" for some good ideas along these lines.

Hope that helps.

Marching Ant

Aug 14, 2001
Curran Murphy
I cannot claim to be a pro in this area, but I was in a very similar situation. I couldn't get a good snare sound from my shure 57 through a Digimax. I've got a couple suggestions for you.

1. Try using another 57 on the bottom of the snare. Try putting the mic 4 inches away from the snare. put it a bit off center, but pointing at the center. I had to loosen up the snares a bit to get a good sound. I found that a mix of the two tracks worked for me.

2. If you can't get another mic, try cutting a hole in the bottom of a plastic beer cup. Cut it big enough to fit over the mic. Let the mic sit inside the cup about half an inch. Put kleenex around the mic at the bottom of the cup to hold the cup in place and absorb some sound.

Be experimental with every aspect of it and I am shure that you will get a sound that you are happy with.

Download this song to get an idea of what I got using my first suggestion.
Letting Go


Originally posted by Curran Murphy:
hey I am in the process of recording my band and I am stuck on the snare drum tone! I have a new set of heads tuned with a tensionwatch and i'm running a Beta 57A into my digimax presonus into Stienberg Nuendo.

I would first suspect the mic pre. Do you have anything else you could try? Or at least try padding the microphone down before it goes into the mic pre. I had a similar situation with a dbx compressor which has been giving me problems lately, the snare was miced with a SM57 into an API 512 mic pre into the dbx compressor. It sounded like $*^t. Went in to check out the sound in the room, tightened the top up a bit, sounded excellent in the room. Went back to the console, still sounded like dog $*^t. I pulled the comp out and went straight to tape and it sounded like God.
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Just wanted to remind you that if you use the technique Marching Ant described with another mic under the snare, you'll probably want to switch the phase of the mic. Later.


To me the close mic on the snare always sounds like crap compared to the sound in the room. I did stumble onto mic'ing the snare from the side recently and was surprised how good that sounded. This mic was combined with a conventional top mic on the snare. I usually look for the sound of the drums in the overheads and room mics and use the close mics for attack.


Well-Known Member
Feb 12, 2001
Bloomington, IL
If it's a wood shell, mic the side of the drum. If it's metal, raise the mic off the head. Make sure your orveheads are equal distance from the snare to keep it centered in the stereo picture and use the close mic for reinforcement.


Move the mic and try this position: 45 deg angle, just barely poking over the rim, pointing at the top of the rim. You get more ring, but you can gate that. I never had good results micing the center.

**Have you played with the eq?** Recorded flat, I don't like the way a 57 sounds on snare. Now, with some eq it is a totally different story. There's plenty of info already stated by Harvey and folks, but add some db's to the 100-200 hz range for starters. That will add some low-end and give the snare some more body. Then try cutting some db's in the high-mid's - experiment.

Mark P. (mp@soundtechrecording-see above posting)gave me a great idea of compressing the snot out of a copied snare track, and then mixing some of that back in to blend. It gives it more edge and makes it more 'detailed' sounding.

Then try re-amping. Run it through a speaker and mic it, and/or place the snare (upside down) on the speaker (laying down) and mic the bottom head.