Why not mic toms with two mics on top?

Why not mic toms with two mics on top?


This was the question I’ve been pondering for a while. I really like condenser mics on toms. They capture the bottom end far better than most dynamics IMO. I have been micing toms with a dynamic mic on top and a condenser on the bottom for years. I find the condensers on the bottom get quite a bit of cymbal bleed because they are, in effect, aiming up at the cymbals. I decided to use 2 mics on the top of each tom. A dynamic and a condenser. There is quite a bit more attack on the top skin however, I found that the condensers still have plenty of bottom end when pointed at the top skin.

I knew I could meet my needs with the dynamics on top only so I gave this a go on my last project. I will see what they are like to mix early next week and post an example of them here. I think next time I’ll try the condenser mics on top and the dynamic mics on the bottom.


Condensers on toms generally pick up too much cymbal information. I realize dynamic mics aren’t all that natural sounding, but they do tend to have good rejection properties, and so many of us choose to capture the aggregate of the kit with the overheads, and fill in the missing information with close dynamic mics. Dynamics also have good proximity effect, and so you can capture the low end by placing them close to the skin of the toms, and then supplement the overheads with that information.

In general, the less mics I can use on a kit the better. That doesn’t stop me from using a dozen mics if I need them.
Enjoy, Mixerman


I have been considering a 3 condenser arrangement that does the job of both Overheads and Toms, kinda like a Glyn Johns plus one out front by only a coupla feet, ALL the SAME DISTANCE from the snare.

Obviously you dont want to be ‘under the cymbals’ too much, more level with them pointing slightly down but not too close.

The panning would still be Toms hard L-R and Snare Center. Odd to look at with just 3 mics but shoud be cool.

Brutal low passing of dynamic spot mics on toms works well for me, too.


I once got pretty great tom sounds using 414s in hypercardioid. The cymbal setup was such that I could keep them away from the rear-facing lobe, so rejection was great and I got good transient attack plus the low end proximity effect that hypercardioid gives. What bleed there was sounded better than the washy, trashy off-axis sound of most dynamics, too.

That said, I’ve also got tom sounds I’m proud of that sound lively in the overheads and rooms, and 3x57s on close mic duty around the kit just gave that extra little punch and localisation in the stereo field.

Also once used the weedywet method (@Mixerman will know of what I speak!) and added a single condenser underneath the two floor toms to bolster the low end boom a little because it suited the track I was working on.

I don’t tend to like jamming billions of mics on and around the drums, so I’d feel like two mics per tom batter side would be overkill. I don’t think I subscribe to the notion that you’d somehow get the best of both worlds with a dynamic and condenser side by side. You’d just get a louder signal that may or may not have phase issues and may or may not sound better than the signal from either mic on its own.

It’s kinda like my attitude to the popular guitarist thing of mismatching speakers in cabs to get some compound tone that’s bigger than either speaker alone. Don’t do it. Pick a speaker you like, and revel in its strengths and weaknesses. Bask in its character. This is the same thing. Pick a mic, regardless of its mechanical mode of operation. Pick one that sounds good to you on toms, and use it.

@vtr, the weedywet idea pretty much negates the need for tom mics - it’s just two good drum kit mics, that are placed near the rack and floor toms respectively and with careful placement will capture the whole kit with a balance that sounds like the drums do.


I ended up using two mics on toms like I discribed at the top of the post and here is what I found. The condenser mic aimed down had less cymbal bleed than it mixing the bottom of the Tom aiming up. Not a huge surprise, I’ve used condensers on Tom top before. I combined the two mics using auto align from sound radix to get them phase aligned. From there I was able to get a good blend. Was it better than more traditional methods? No. It was a sideways move that worked well.


For what its worth, the one condenser mic I’ve found that’s truly an exception to this is the Sm98 clip on mic. There may be some others that I’m not aware of, but those 98’s were truly the best of both worlds imo. I rarely ever track drums these days though.


In the instance where I’m getting a lack of information specifically from the top mic I add a mic on the shell. I’ve never had to add a second one to the tops. I do what Eric mentioned above and start aggregating room mics to get a wider/deeper/clearer image. Its VERY rare for me to not have enough info off the top.