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Recording Drums (Part 2) - by engineer Tom McCauley (Backstreet Boys, Take 6, Brian Bromberg, Cheryl Bentyne)
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When you're miking a drum kit, a lot of things happen on the fly.  There are many variables.  However, there are also some key considerations I make and starting points that I use.  

Drum tuning is one of the biggest elements.  If you really know how to tune a kit, then getting a great sound is almost effortless.  If the kit doesn't sound good, then you have to get creative.  The style of music you are recording also plays an important role. Many of my records are contemporary jazz, and we look for a clean, clear, and defined drum sound.

There are a couple of specific guidelines I use as starting points when miking a kit. I usually use dynamic mics, like SM56s on toms and try to get the diaphragms as parallel to the top heads as possible, without interfering with the drummer. I place my overhead mics fairly close - about 1 to 1.5 ft. away from the cymbals.  The idea is to strike a balance between getting clarity from the cymbals, while also achieving as much rejection of the rest of the kit as possible. Swivel head mics are great for placement.  Blue Dragonfly mics are perfect for this application.  The further back you place the mic, the more room sound you get. A nice room can really enhance the image of the kit, but unless you have a great sounding room, why would you want to add the sound of it to your recording?

Another trick I commonly use is for the snare.  Many people mic the top and bottom head, then invert the phase on the bottom mic to get proper phase alignment.  I found that instead of flipping the phase on the bottom mic, I often get a better sound by flipping the phase on the top mic.  But, ultimately, you have to listen.  These are just some starting points.

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