Why I Never Record a Hi Hat Mic!!!

Kenny's Tip of the Day - Why I Never Record a Hi Hat Mic!!!

This has been a question kicked around for ages. What’s the best mic for recording the Hi Hat? My answer has always been the same. None. I don’t record the Hi Hat. At least not with it’s own “Hi Hat” mic.

On the surface, this seems crazy. But in practice, it actually makes the most sense. Having recorded hundreds of drummers, I can honestly say, without fail, that I can put all drummers into two categories. Ones that balance the Hi Hat with the other drums perfectly, and ones that hit the hi hat TOO DAMN HARD!!!

In both of those situations, you’re NOT going to need “more” Hi Hat. So why would you put another mic on it? Introducing more phase issues as the more mics you put on the kit, the smaller the drums will sound.

Now I should say, if you like that tight “70’s” sound of the hi hat tickling your ear as if you put your head right up in there, a separate mic is a great idea. That’s how they did it.

But most of us don’t need that sound. I know I don’t. It’s not very natural to have a hi hat right up in your face in the mix. It should sit in the room from a natural perspective. And if you use the Overhead mics correctly, it will.

I put my overhead mics (left and right) on the sides of the drum kit. About 8 to 9 feet high and pointing down on an angle and aiming at the snare. With this configuration, you can still capture every cymbal in a stereo kind of way and grab that high hat where it sits. On the side of the kit. And unless you found that one drummer that doesn’t hit the high hat hard enough, this should be all you need.

This method allows the hi hat to sound live and ambient in the room that it sits. It will still be picked up by every other mic in the room and hopefully be balanced by the guy hitting those drums.

You can learn more by watching my drum recording videos at www.groove3.com

I hope this message finds you well. Kenny Gioia