On this recording of a drum kit, the overhead microphones provide a clear stereo image of the kit as a whole
On this recording of a drum kit, the lack of overhead microphones leaves the recording without much ambience, as the sound is only provided by the close microphones
On this recording of a drum kit, overhead microphones are balanced with the close microphones to blend the stereo sound of the kit and ambience together
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Overhead microphones are those used in sound recording and live sound reproduction to pick up ambient sounds, transients and the overall blend of instruments. They are used in drum recording to achieve a stereo image of the full drum kit, as well as orchestral recording to create a balanced stereo recording of full orchestras.
There are multiple arrangements for drum overheads, which are often based on personal preference of the musician, engineer, or producer. These include "A-B" spaced pairs (where two directional microphones are suspended above the left and right clusters of cymbals), "X-Y" coincident pairs, where the two directional microphones are centred on the drum kit with their capsule are very close without touching, and angled across each other at 90°. Coincident placement give a wider stereo image than spaced pairs, and some engineers prefer it for this reason.
Other drum overhead positions include the Recorderman Technique (where the distance between both microphones and the snare drum is equal, as is the distance between both microphones and the bass drum) and Glyn Johns' method (where one "overhead" is placed to the drummer's right, aiming across the floor tom to the centre of the kit).
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