The mics over your drum kit are your best way to get a reliable, and in-phase sonic picture of the entire kit into your mix. Properly placing your mics is a critical task yet it doesn't add much more time to your setup. It all starts with relationships to your kick and snare.
Measuring Your Stereo Array
Once your drummer sets up the kit to his liking you can go in and fine-tune your overhead mic placement. If you're looking for a tighter sound with less ambience, choose a cardioid pattern for your stereo pair. Proximity to the cymbals will also change the intimacy factor – the closer you are the tighter the sound. Start with a drum stick's distance for starters. Next, use a mic cable or a laser measurement tool to gauge the distance of each mic from the snare drum. When you match the distance, you're assured that the travel time of the snare it will be in phase when it reaches both overhead mics.
Adding A Mono Overhead
You can hedge your bets for the mix later on by adding a mono overhead to your array. While you may not use all three overheads at once, it gives you options if you want the kit to be wider, or narrower in your stereo picture. Simply blend the mics until you like what you hear with the rest of the instruments, or choose one over the other if you prefer the mono feed from the stereo.
Placing An XY Stereo Overhead
Stereo microphones like an AKG C24, Røde NT4, Royer SF24, or HUM Audio RS-2 give you an elegant way to capture a drum kit in absolute phase. The stereo picture that mics like these convey is very different sounding than a spaced pair. You may think it's as simple as parking the mic straight down the middle of the kit but that's not the best way to centre your kick and snare. By placing the snare and kick evenly between the capsules, you can be sure that the drums aren't oddly panned in your overhead feed.
Watch this free video tutorial to see all these tips in action.