How to Perfect Percussion Miking - dummies

By Jeff Strong

Any good home recording makes the best use of the microphone as possible. Miscellaneous percussion instruments, such as shakers and triangles, are nice additions to many styles of music. These instruments sound best with a good condenser mic. You should choose a large- or small-diaphragm mic, depending on the characteristics that you want to pick up.

For instance, a shaker can sound great with a large-diaphragm mic because this mic slightly brings out the lower frequencies of the instrument and softens the overall sound a bit.

The impact of the room

Most of the time, the room doesn’t have a huge impact on percussion instruments because you mic them closely. If your room does get in the way, use the acoustic panels in much the same way that you would for vocals (partially surround the mic and musician with baffles).

Choosing and using the mics

Both large- and small-diaphragm mics work well for percussion. When recording percussion instruments, the main thing to remember is that they can have a high SPL, so you may need to pad the mic, move it back, or turn it sideways from the sound source.

You can put a single mic 6 to 36 inches away from percussion instruments, depending on the size of the instrument and how much room you want in the sound.

For example, because maracas are loud, you can put the mic back a bit (18 inches), whereas with an egg shaker, 6 to 8 inches often sounds best. But if you record an agogô bell or an Afuche, you may want to have a little room in the mix to give the instrument more depth. In this case, you can mic from a couple feet away.