That’s what I prefer to do.
Q. The doumbek is the same as a Darbuka?
For the top microphone, get it as close as possible to the skin and use a mic. that has low sensitivity - very close mic’ing can produce extreme sound levels and you need to capture the sound without overloading the microphone. When working as a live sound engineer, I’ve often wanted to try attaching a snare drum mic to a Darbuka so as to get it really close and in a fixed position relative to the skin, but have not yet found a Darbuka player that would let me do so, so I’ve always had to compromise with positioning the top mic as close as possible to the skin using a stand (and players always move) which limits how close it can get.
Some microphones to consider for the top mic. Microphones for Snare Drum – Thomann UK
I would look at pickups as a last (desperation) option. A contact mic type pickup can give you raw volume, but I’ve never been able to get a good sound from these on any sort of drum.
An alternative to using two microphones is to use one microphone placed inside the drum. The down side of this arrangement is that you (and the sound engineer) have considerably less scope for adjusting the sound, so it requires lots of experimentation to get the set-up right before getting into the heat of the gig. For this to work, placement in three dimensions is critical - closer to the skin for hand noise, closer to the wall for the higher frequencies, closer to the centre of the skin for more skin resonance, further from the skin for more body resonance. If you get it wrong, it will just howl with feedback.
Another arrangement that I’ve used with large Darbukas and seated players is a floor microphone. This might seem somewhat counter-intuitive, but it is surprising the amount of sound and the crispness that can be achieved with this arrangement. I suspect that this arrangement will not be sufficiently loud for your needs, but if you use a large drum, and you are sitting, and the floor is hard (not carpeted), it is worth a try. If using a conventional stage microphone, attach it to a low stand (kick drum mic stands are ideal) and position the microphone head close, but not touching the floor, and pointing at the floor so as to catch the sound from the bottom of the drum as it reflects from the floor. I’ve used this method with much success where the the bottom edge of the drum (the edge away from the drummer) is resting on the floor and there is a gap between the bottom of the drum and the floor on the drummers side of the drum. The microphone is then placed under the drummers chair, pointing at the gap between the drum and the floor.
Phase reversal - some mixing desks are equipped with a phase reversal switch on each channel. This will not make much difference if the player is moving around a lot, but if you are staying relatively stationary it can make a significant improvement to the volume before feedback. If your mixing desk does not have a phase reversal switch, and if you are using a dynamic (rather than a condenser) microphone, it is easy to make a phase reversal switch for your microphone. Dynamic microphones will generally have three wires (one for each pin on an XLR plug). One wire is the shielding and the other two carry the (balanced) signal. A simple switch that reverses the two signal wires will reverse the phase (cross over pins 2 and 3). The “trick” here is to try the switch in both positions and see which position works best - the results vary on every occasion.
Gating and compression: Dynamic compression can add a lot more resonance to the sound - by limiting the peaks, the resonant timbres become far more prominent. However, this can also make the drum more susceptible to unwanted ringing, but that can be controlled by using a carefully adjusted gate. For the gate, the attack time will need to be very fast, and the release time needs to be slow enough to hear the drums “voice”, but short enough to prevent uncontrolled ringing. There’s an art to getting these set up right.
The “if all else fails and I’ll hate myself in the morning” solution:
Attach contact mics to the underside of the skin and use them to trigger drum samples - sorry - I apologies for such blasphemy.
A note about SM57’s - Many mixing desks have quite a high input impedance for the mic inputs which can make SM57s sound a bit dull - they sound much better into a low impedance (600 Ohm) input. If you are using an SM57 and have any choice about what it plugs into, go for a low impedance input.