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Miking the Hi-Hats in Your Drum Set

The hi-hats are generally part of the main groove, and as such, you want to spend time getting a good sound. You may have problems with a few other microphones on the drum set picking up the hi-hats, particularly the snare drum microphone and overhead microphones. Some people don’t bother miking the hi-hats for this reason.

You should mic hi-hats because, to me, these cymbals often sound too trashy through the snare drum mic. If you mic hi-hats, make sure that the snare drum mic is picking up as little of the hi-hats as possible by placing the mic properly and/or using a noise gate (a dynamic processor used to filter unwanted noise).

You can use either a dynamic mic or, better yet, a small-diaphragm condenser mic for the hi-hats. The dynamic mic gives you a trashier sound, and the small-diaphragm condenser mic produces a bright sound. You can work with either by adjusting the EQ. But you can add just a little bit (4dB or so) of a shelf EQ set at 10 kHz to add a little sheen to the hi-hats.

Place the mic 3 to 4 inches above the hi-hats and point it downward. The exact placement of the mic is less important than the placement of the other instrument mics because of the hi-hats’ tone. Just make sure that your mic isn’t so close that it hits the instrument.

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