How to record drums with an audio interface? (Explained for beginners)

I’m going to show you how to record drums with an audio interface. This is a straightforward process that anyone can do, and it will give you great results!

I’ll start by explaining what the equipment is needed for this setup is, then we’ll go through all of the steps involved in recording drums.

First off, you need a computer with some free hard drive space and enough RAM to handle your projects.

Next up are the drum mics, which are used as inputs on your audio interface.

You also need headphones or speakers so that you can monitor what’s being recorded as well as a set of sticks to play along with if possible!

Finally, there are two types of cables needed: one from the mic input into the interface, and then another from the interface into your computer.

What equipment do I need to record drums onto a laptop?

The first thing you need is an audio interface. This will connect the mics to your laptop, allowing for recording onto a digital recorder or DAW (Digital Audio Workstation).

The most common are USB-powered interfaces with self-contained preamps and headphone monitoring sections.

They’re inexpensive enough that it’s easy to buy a couple of these and switch them out for different projects without breaking the bank.

It is also necessary to have drum microphones.

For this tutorial, we will focus on snare, kick, and cymbals. 

A DAW or Digital Audio Workstation is a software program that can be downloaded and installed on your laptop.

The most common drummer option is the popular programs AVID Pro Tools, Apple Logic Pro X, or Steinberg Cubase/Nuendo.

From there, you can use the built-in plugs ins for EQ, Compression, and reverb

How many inputs should my audio interface have for drums?

You will need at least four inputs for drums because you want to record both the kick and snare and overheads.

So make sure that your interface has at least four channels. 

You can also use a mixer to add more microphones to pick up all the drums and then record in stereo into the audio interface.

But ideally, you want to have separate channels for the kick and the snare since those are most important for getting the eq and compression just right.

If you need more inputs, you can use multiple interfaces to create more or buy one with more inputs already built in.

What microphones should I use for recording drums?

The most important thing to consider when choosing microphones for recording drums is the sound you want.

For example, if your goal is a bright and lively drum kit with lots of punch in the bottom end (bass), small-diaphragm condensers would be ideal.

If you look for more warmth or depth from the drums, then large-diaphragm condensers would be a better choice.

Another important consideration when choosing microphones for recording drums is what space you are working in.

If the drum kit is small and close to the mic, then an Omni-directional microphone might be best so that it captures all of the drums evenly.

On the other hand, if the drum kit is far away from the mic, then a cardioid or hyper-cardioid microphone would be best to capture the drums with less of an ambient sound.

What is the best microphone for a snare drum?

The best mic for snare drums is the Shure SM57.

It has a sound that’s not too boomy, and it also can handle extreme levels of volume without distorting.

The SM57 is an all-around great mic for miking any musical instrument.

It’s a must-have if you’re recording drums.

What is the best mic for the kick drum?

The best mic for the kick drum is the AKG D112.

It’s a dynamic microphone with a lively sound that is perfect for the low-frequency energy of drums.

It can handle very high volumes without distorting, so it’s an excellent choice when recording drums in your home studio or garage.

The D112 has been used to record some classic rock albums and is still widely used by professional drummers today.

What are the best overhead microphones for drums?

Some microphones are perfect for recording drums as they give the drums an excellent, open sound. Overheads make cymbals sound natural, and that is why it is essential to use them.

Below are a few of my favorites:

  • AKG C100S – This microphone is a condenser mic with an omnidirectional pattern. It can capture sound from all directions and can be used for live recordings or studio setups.
  • Sennheiser MKH 8020 – These microphones are often used in film/video production because of their high build quality and low price point. It’s an excellent option for home recording studios or video producers on a budget.
  • Neumann KM 184 – The KM184 was designed as a studio microphone. Still, many engineers find that it’s incredibly versatile enough to use outside the studio too! Provided you have the proper preamp — like our U-47 Fet — you can use them for live sound as well.

How to record drums with an audio interface?

First, you need to mic the drums in the best possible way.

For this, you have to set up your kit and position each drum as close as possible to a mic that has been placed in front of it.

That’s why it is vital to choose mics with high sound pressure level (SPL) ratings because they will handle even loud instruments like drums without distortion.

The next thing you do is connect all these microphones into an audio interface so that their signal can be recorded digitally or mixed together if necessary, then sent out through another input on your audio interface for recording onto DAW software such as Pro Tools or Logic Studio.

You should also use separate microphone stands for different types of drums because some need higher levels than others due to sensitivity and frequency response differences.

Recording drums with a DAW (digital audio workstation) 

In many ways, this is similar to recording other instruments.

Still, there are some reasons that you may want to consider using an external sound card or mixer: because of the high SPL requirements for microphones and headphones.

For example, if you wanted to record acoustic drums with two mics on the top and one mic on the bottom for stereo imaging, then this would be too difficult without an XLR input on your computer’s interface.

However, it is unnecessary to only need mono output from these sources since they will all share one channel anyway when mixed together later, so connecting them directly into inputs at a mixing console or recorder can also work well enough.

It’s essential to notice that the “line in” ports on sound cards and mixers are typically mono because they only have one input.

This is a difference from many microphones which will accept stereo inputs for recording drums (two mics placed across the top of the drum kit), and then it’s up to you whether or not to use an external mixer with more input

How do I record good-sounding drums?

It depends what you’re looking for but here are some things:

Good Room acoustics – this cannot be understated. If your room isn’t well treated, all sorts of problems can arise later when processing recordings like undesirable reverb tails, uneven frequency responses, etc.

A drummer should ideally play within six feet of the center of a room, and there should be some kind of absorbent material on all surfaces.

A condenser mic with a cardioid pattern in front (as opposed to omnidirectional)

Preferably an XLR input with 48V phantom power provided by your interface or mixer as it handles high SPL levels better than USB mics do.

* It’s worth noting that you’ll need to use monitors when recording, so make sure they are acoustically treated too!

Can you record drums with 2 mics?

Yes, you can. One microphone is the drum overhead, and one mic should be placed up front for close miking to capture more detailed sounds from drums like cymbals, snares, tom-toms, etc.

Another option is just using kick and snare but placing the snare microphone above the snare drum with the microphone pointed down to it.

There are many different ways to mic drums, but these two methods have been proven to be some of the best and work for various types of music such as rock, jazz, etc. Let’s take a look at how this is done step by step:

  • Find two microphones you want to use.
  • Place one microphone up front close-miked on the cymbals or other detailed sounds while placing another overhead to capture more room tone from all instruments, including drums like tom-toms, snares, cymbals, etc. You can also place just one microphone, which should always be placed above your kick (bass) drum pointing downwards so that you don’t get any interference from the drum’s overhead sound.
  • If you want to use only one microphone, it should be placed above your kick (bass) drum pointing downwards and angled slightly outwards so that you can capture a more natural-sounding room tone for all instruments, including drums like tom-toms, snares, etc.
  • Set up mic stands on each side of the drummer and ensure they are far enough away from the player to not pick up too many direct cymbal or snare sounds but still close enough for an accurate representation.
  • Place microphones about 30 degrees back off perpendicular centerline regarding where drums would be set if playing entirely live without prerecorded tracks, which means placing them at 45 degrees to the left and right of center instead of directly in front.
  • Each mic should be approximately a foot off the ground (in order not to pick up bass drum sound), positioned just above head height when seated, with enough space for room tone but close enough so that you can capture an accurate representation of each instrument.

The best way is to use two microphones: one microphone on either side pointing at instruments like tom-toms, snares, etc.

This will give you depth and make your drums more full sounding without needing other effects or treatments!

You could also use two microphones pointed towards where the drummer would be playing if they were fully live without prerecorded tracks placed at 45 degrees from the perpendicular centerline, which means putting them at the minimum distance from each other and then moving forward or backward until you get an even sound.

Finally, use a microphone on any cymbals to capture their natural decay for extra realism!

Remember that microphones should be placed as close to the drum kit as possible to not pick up too much bass drum noise (in some cases, they can be positioned closer than usual).

Mic placement is also determined by how much room tone we want – if there’s plenty of it, place them further away; if there isn’t, move them closer so that they’re picking up more of what the drums are doing.

It’s essential to understand how this works because it will make your recordings sound better when using prerecorded tracks in the mix.