This article is for beginners who are thinking to record their drums into multitrack. There are number of soundcards on a market today, whoever, not all sound cards will be suitable for this task.
Number of channels.
Probably the most important criteria for a soundcard serving this purpose is the number of input channels. Unlike other instruments typically used in home-studio production (guitar, bass or keyboards) that can be recorded one at a time using only two channels, drums are collection of different instruments played at the same time in a space. The number of microphones required for recording drums can vary depending on style of music and desired sound, but even a simple setup may require at least four input channels.
For example, recording drums for a jazz composition may not require that many microphones, but still may add up to four inputs if we would like to capture kick, snare and overheads with two different microphones or one stereo microphone (pair). So, it is safe to assume that a sound card of at least four input channels is required to record drums, however, such input count will not allow for precise control required in heavily processed styles of music.
It is very important to choose a sound card for recording drums with proper input type. There are number of sound cards that offer more than four input channels, but not all of them will be ready to record drums (microphone signals) out of the box. There are two specific features required for recording drums. First, make sure there are at least four (better more) XLR inputs. Second requirement is driven from the microphones that are usually used to capture overheads, room or even kick or snare. These are condenser microphones that require phantom power fed from the soundcard. So, it is important that the sound card provides phantom power to microphones. Usually these two features go together, but in some very rare occasions they are not. For example, a popular soundcard M-audio 1010lt does have two XLR inputs but does not provide phantom power.
That’s pretty much it for this article, in fact the whole writing could be summarized as following. In order to properly record drums, at least four channels of XLR inputs with Phantom power is required.