The two most important things of getting a good sound drum sound are to have a good drummer and a good drumset so what makes a good drummer? A good drummer will be able to play on time, he will have a good balance when hitting the drums (for example, he will hit the snare and the toms with the same strength so they will sound at the same volume) and last but also very important: he will have a great control of dynamics and will hit the drum in the same spot all the time.
When you have a drummer that plays in time there will be less necessity for editing and will make the sound more natural letting us keep the drummer’s groove untouched although some music genres such as the metal call for editing the drums to the grid nowadays.
A well-balanced drummer will give us the right volume for each drum on the overhead and room mics letting us mix those mics more with the close mics on each drum letting us add more of the character of the room where the drums were recorded. He will also hit the cymbals with the right strength so we will be able to listen to the hi-hat, crashes and ride cymbals very well balanced without us having to ride the faders for the entire song.
The dynamics also play a very important role. For instance, you want a drummer who hits the snare with the same strength and on the same spot all the time so you have a constant snare sound.
What about the microphones?
Well, microphones are a very wide subject. Its all a matter of what you are looking for and a matter of taste but there are some general guidelines that can be taken into account.
For overheads, cymbals and rooms it’s good to have condenser mics. Condenser mics translate high frequencies better than dynamic mics and most of the time they can’t handle as much sound pressure as dynamic mics so we want them further away from the drums or on a cymbal that produces less sound pressure than a drum.
For drums, dynamic mics are preferred most of the time. They can handle very high sound pressure levels and they can be placed right on the drum to get all the attack and tone of it.