Recording Hats and Rides

By Lyle Caldwell 

Hi-hats and rides - while you normally get plenty of both in your overheads, for some styles you may want to have more control on their level in the mix. Cymbals usually sound much better if you use condenser mics, though dynamics can work. On hi- hats, try using a small diaphragm condenser mic about 2-4" above the halfway point between the center of the hats and the edge, starting perpendicular to the hats. You'll want to try different angles and different parts of the hats to mic, depending on the hats and what character to you want to emphasize.

With hats mics, you're going to get a lot of snare bleed. It's a rule. Just make sure it's in phase, and when it comes time to mix, try rolling off all the frequencies below 800Hz so you get more hat and less snare. Again, save this for mixdown. For rides, the same rules apply, but you'll want to keep the mic farther away from the ride cymbal. Rides create weird washes of sound up close, so keeping the mic 6" or greater away from the ride gives you a more natural sound.

Common mics for this include the Shure SM81, the Neumann KM184, and the Audio Technica 4051 (all small diaphragm condensers with cardioid patterns).

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