Best Affordable Drum Recording Setup

My friend (hey Winston!) asked me about an affordable setup for recording drums. Here’s what I’d recommend based on the research and discussions I’ve had with various people over the years.

All the prices I’m listing here are for brand new gear; I buy most of my gear used from Guitar Center or Ebay. If you have a tight budget, consider buying used, just save your receipts!

###Interface:

Interfaces have gotten really good over the past few years. I especially like Focusrite’s Scarlett interfaces. Do a little research and you’ll understand why; the folks who started Focusrite have a ton of experience in recording and audio engineering.

If you’re just starting out, I would recommend the Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 - $350. The 18i8 has 4 inputs, so you can get 2 overheads, a mic for your kick drum, and one for your snare.

Plenty of great records were recorded this way, but if you want more close mics for your toms, you’ll need an interface with 8 inputs. Check out the Scarlett 18i20 - $499.

###Kick Mics:

There are three kick drum mics that are considered the standard; I use the Audix D6, and it’s said to be better EQ’d for rock/metal, but any of these will be fine.

###Overhead Mics:

If you are going to drop some money on microphones, I would invest it here. Overheads capture the sound of your kit as a whole, so you don’t want to go cheap here. Get a pair if you want stereo sound. If money is tight, get a single mic and set it up above your head (so it “hears” what you hear while you’re playing).

###Snare/Tom Mics:

###Cables:

You’ll need cables for each mic. Depending on the size of your room, 15 feet might be ok. If you think you’ll need longer, buy longer. For the price, Monoprice’s cables are fantastic.

###Mic Stands:

You’ll probably need a special short stand for the kick drum mic, although you could use a regular boom stand.

If you can afford it, invest a little more in your overhead mic stands, as they’ll be extending over your kit and you don’t want to always be readjusting them.

For the other mics, you can either get normal boom stands or clips.

###Other Useful Gear:

If you hear weird hums or buzzes in your recordings, buy one of these power conditioners and plug your gear into it. They also make great power strips!

The 7506’s are great for mixing and mastering, but I wouldn’t recommend trying to use them while recording (you won’t get enough sound isolation so you’ll have a hard time hearing the click). Try regular earbuds with some sound isolating earmuffs over top. You’ll probably also need a headphone extension cable.

– Aaron Dowd, Saturday, June 27, 2015.