Drums microphones alignment techniques


Possibly our most asked question for Auto-Align is how to go about drums alignment, which microphone should be the reference etc.

First, Auto-Align looks for correlation in the signal to calculate the optimal time and phase correction for the mics. This is important to remember when choosing the SEND and RECV sources for each track. e.g. using the the top tom mic as a reference for the kick mic will probably won’t yield very good results…

Since the snare drum has a rich frequency content and is placed virtually at the center of the drum kit, the top snare mic is a great place to start as the initial reference for the overheads and room mics. Try aligning both left and right overhead and room mics to the top snare for the clearest snare sound and most accurate transients reproduction. Don’t be shy with the Noise Floor settings, as we’d rather miss some beats than feeding Auto-Align with irrelevant bleed.

Next, we’ll align the bottom snare mic to the top snare mic and continue to align the toms and hi-hats to the overheads.

When aligning the toms, hihat and kick mics to the overheads, it’s important to feed Auto-Align with the sound of those drums for the detection process rather than that of the snare, or you will simply be aligning the bleed of the snare into those mics. For best results, align the toms and hi-hat mics to their nearest overheads.

Happy alignment!


Hi there, just purchased drumleveler and think about purchasing Autoalign.
I think about starting with drum leveler and then auto aligning the kit.
Would this be the right way to start?
Thanks in advance for your tips


Hi Ziggy,

Thanks for your purchase! Generally speaking, it’s preferable to start with Auto-Align first then move to other processing. Reason being some plug-ins may introduce latency and phase-shift which may throw off Auto-Align’s detection.




Thanks Nir, i thought so, but wanted to double check with the Pros.
Works great


I wonder if, once values are found with auto align, is it possible to simply copy these + or - sample values to the user offset field of the delay compensation section of pro tools tracks ? here => pro tools user offset field

By doing this, I mean, in order to remove auto align from the insert slots and then recover CPU resources…
Or maybe auto align is more than sample delay treatment ?

maybe a phase question…
About phase, when a phase rotation is needed, does auto align rotate the phase or just add more samples ?
Maybe because of that, it is impossible to just copying the delay informations to the track’s user offset, or, in this case, take also the phase rotation into consideration…

I’m trying to find an easier option to remove auto align from track inserts once treatment is done, to keep the correction without bouncing tracks…

note : pushing back or forth the audio blocks could also replace user offset in addition with a phase flip when needed…



AA may also flip the polarity as indicated by this switch:

When polarity isn’t reversed what you suggest should be possible.


hello, yair.
i just found this update to a pt expert review: scroll down to “mike thornton”, he apparently was nudging the tracks of a post session using the exact auto align values. don’t really know if i was entering the values to the user offset field as suggested by ultrasteak, or maybe manually nudging (he also talks about a “nudge command”:

furthermore, if AA needs to flip the polarity, could we just add this with a simple plugin after nudging the tracks?
thank you very much.


If this better suits your workflow, you can nudge the tracks in Pro Tools to the sample values detected by Auto-Align and simply flip a polarity of the track when Auto-Align detected so.




cool, thank you very much!



Hey i bought auto align recently and im wondering if you have any examples of using AA for a full live band centered around a stereo pair and also just with close mics and no main pair. Typical setup for me: main pair LDC or tri-mono - or not and only clise mics as follows; drums (4 mic), bass (2-3, mic if its acoustic, then amp mic, di), piano (2 mic), guitar amp mic +di, rhodes amp mic + di, 3 horns and vocals miced and split at a pa. Id LOVE to be able to auto snap to the main pair or center of the decca tree, or choose an instrument or mic to be the center…

Thank you!


Les bumpages :slight_smile:


Hi Chris,

Thanks for your message! Probably the best way to go about it is to first align all the mics of each of the instruments to themselves then route the mics/di’s of each of the instruments to a bus track so you end up with a drums, bass, piano, etc buses, then align all the instrument busses to your main LDC pair.

If you haven’t already, give Pi (Our Phase Interactions Mixer plug-in) a go. It’s great for dynamically improving phase correlation for live recordings where everything bleeds to everything :wink:

Keep us posted on how this worked for you, I’d love to hear the result!




Question: if the drummer is “loose” on the beat and his performance needs some quantizing (aligning the drums to the click), should Auto-Align be used before or after quantizing.

I mix with PreSonus Studio One. When a performance is quantized (or “time stretched” in their vernacular) a new audio file is made of the track and stored as a temp file. This temp file is what is read/played during playback. With this workflow, it seems to me that Auto-Align should be used after a track is time-stretched. (I have not yet experimented with either workflow).

Any info is appreciated.


Hi cb1,

Thanks for your question. It would probably be best to align the drums before stretching the drums because most time stretching algorithms tend to mess with the transients and generate artifact which may throw Auto-Align’s detection off. When quantizing the drums, make sure to phase-lock the tracks to maintain phase correlation.