Setting Up the Snare Drum Microphone

The snare drum is probably the most important drum in popular music and recording. The bass guitar can cover the kick drum’s rhythm, and the rest of the drums aren’t part of the main groove. A good, punchy snare drum can make a track, whereas a weak, thin one can eliminate the drive that most popular music needs.

Because the snare drum is located so close to the other drums, especially the hi-hats, a cardioid-pattern mic is a must. The most common mic for a snare drum is the trusty Shure SM57. The mic is generally placed between the hi-hats and the small tom-tom about 1 or 2 inches from the snare drum head.

Point the diaphragm directly at the head. You may need to make minor adjustments to eliminate bleed from the hi-hats. This position gives you a nice punchy sound.

The proper placement for the snare drum mic.
The proper placement for the snare drum mic.

If you want a crisper tone, you can add a second mic under the drum. Place this mic about an inch or two from the head with the diaphragm pointing at the snares. Make minor adjustments to minimize leakage from the hi-hats.

If you have the available tracks, record each snare mic to a separate track and blend the two later during mixdown. If you don’t have the available tracks, blend them until you have the sound you want.

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