Do you wish to record drums but you find it too hard to choose the mics for the job?
Once you read this guide, you will understand that it is easier than you thought!
Here, we will check out the best microphone models for drum kits, so that you can actually choose which ones you’ll need!
Before we move on, let’s take a look at some of the most common questions about recording drums.
“Does each part of the drum set require a different mic?”
In fact, to record a drum set as accurately as possible, you will need both dynamic and condenser mics.
Dynamic mics are mostly used for the snare drum, toms, and bass drum, while condenser mics are best for cymbals and overhead mics in general.
“Should I get a microphone kit for drums or buy the mics separately?”
It really depends on you: if you already own some mics for other instruments (for example the SM57), it’s better to buy individual mics, but if you start from zero, a kit is more budget-friendly.
In any case, you will find the best recommendations below!
The 9 Best Mics for Recording Drums of 2020 include:
Our first choice for snare drum miking couldn’t be different from the famous Shure SM57!
This microphone is dynamic and made to be used with loud sound sources. Furthermore, it comes with a cardioid polar pattern that makes it suitable for close miking.
It delivers crystal clear sound performance and only transmits the sound of your snare drum.
Do you know what makes it a really good catch for a snare mic?
I think that you can probably guess it…
This microphone is famous for its rugged build quality, so you don’t have to worry if you hit it accidentally with your sticks, or if you drop it on the floor!
The SM57 is good both for studio and live use.
Plus, it is very cost-effective, although it is a mic that sound engineers use daily!
The only problem?
There are no on-board switches for frequency control.
If you want hi-fidelity sound from your snare drum, I would highly recommend the Beyerdynamic M201TG.
This dynamic microphone is much more expensive than the SM57, but it also delivers more detailed sound performance.
And trust me, that is very important on a drum performance, as the snare drum is the heart of the drum kit!
Its hyper-cardioid polar pattern prevents it from catching other sound sources except for your snare drum, minimizing feedback as much as possible.
Furthermore, the materials that have been used for this mic ensure its sturdy build quality and durability. You buy it once and it lasts forever!
Another great advantage of the Beyerdynamic M201TG is its versatility: you can use it with literally any instrument, so it is a great investment. Plus, it is very easy to use, even for those of you who have never touched a mic before!
It ships with a microphone holder, a soft bag, and a windscreen.
Do you like to bang your sticks loudly on your toms?
I know how you feel….
If you can’t play loudly, why do you even play the drums, right?
Well, that doesn’t have to cause problems for your microphone, if you use the Sennheiser MD 421-II.
This is a premium-quality dynamic microphone that has been made to handle loud sound sources.
Plus, it delivers very detailed audio quality that will really highlight your performance.
The design is exceptionally sleek and modern-looking, and it is a mic that adds some beauty to your microphone collection.
In case you are wondering about its build quality, you should know that the MD 421 II is robust, and that is one of the features that has been improved compared to its previous versions.
Watch out! The included clip is not very well-made. Instead of risking your mic falling on the toms, you’d better buy another together with the mic.
I know what you are thinking…
What about another microphone to record toms that comes at half the price of the MD 421 II?
Could this be possible?
Luckily, the same company, Sennheiser, has a solution to this problem!
Their low-cost dynamic microphone called Sennheiser E609 provides you with crystal clear sound quality, although it lacks some detail compared to more high-end models.
One great thing about the E609 is the fact that it comes with a hypercardioid polar pattern that will focus on your toms, preventing unwanted “bleeding” from the other parts of your drum kit.
This mic is suitable both for studio recordings and live use!
In addition to that, it comes with sturdy build quality, which is a must when considering microphones for your drum kit.
The value of this mic increases if you consider that you can also use it to record other instruments, as it is an all-around dynamic microphone.
Neumann has become a synonym of great sound quality, and the Neumann KM184 is no exception to this rule.
The KM184 is a small-diaphragm condenser mic that has been based on an older, very successful, and popular model called KM84.
This mic has been used extensively for drums and many sound engineers and musicians have praised it for its performance. It is very often used on hi-hats by professional studios.
It features a sleek and modern-looking design while retaining a compact size which is useful for drum recordings.
You can buy the KM184 either as a single mic or as a matched stereo pair. If you get the pair, you can also use it for overheads. In general, its versatility makes it a great investment.
The only problem?
You need quite a lot of money for this investment, as the KM184 follows the tradition of expensive Neumann products.
Floor toms have always been my favorite part of a drum set…
If you agree with me, you’ll certainly want a mic that will make them sound as close to reality as possible…
I’ve got good news for you!
The Electro-Voice RE20 is a dynamic microphone that does exactly that: it provides you with natural sound quality that makes you feel like you have placed your head right next to the floor tom!
One great advantage of the RE20 is that its Variable-D technology minimizes the proximity effect so that you don’t have to worry about close miking altering the tom’s sound.
The main issue with this mic is that it falls on the expensive side. On the other hand, you can also use it for vocals or other instruments, so it’s a good investment, especially if you are a studio owner.
It also features a high-pass filter in case you need to remove bass sounds.
The package ships with a clamp and a storage box that adds to the portability
Do you want a pair of mics to use as overheads, but you don’t want to spend a fortune on them?
Then take a look at what the Oktava MK-012 can offer you! (note that you might also find this model under the name MC-012).
These mics are small-diaphragm condenser microphones that come in a matched stereo pair.
They provide you with accurate and natural audio reproduction that is surprisingly good considering their price.
Their biggest selling point is their ability to change capsules: they are detachable so that you can buy different ones and switch between different polar patterns.
In case you have to record a loud drummer, they provide you with a -10 dB pad for attenuation.
The package includes two microphone clamps and an elegant wooden case.
The latter is very useful, as these mics are pretty fragile and you need to take good care of them.
Does this mic ring a bell?
If you haven’t skipped the hi-hat section, we reviewed this mic again before!
This time, we’ll take a look at what a stereo pair of Neumann KM184 mt can offer as an overhead pair of mics.
First of all, this is a much more expensive pair compared to the Oktava MK-012 we just saw.
On the other hand, their detail in sound performance is unbeatable. They only come with a cardioid polar pattern, but they offer that signature Neumann sound that so many musicians adore.
However, if you want more versatility in terms of pickup patterns, these are not for you.
Their design is also exceptionally elegant, and they look really good above your drum kit.
They ship with a sleek wooden box and they are compact enough to be carried around, if you plan to transport them.
For those of you who are looking for a full microphone kit to record your drumset, I present to you the Sennheiser E600 Drum Microphone Package.
This kit comes equipped with seven high-quality microphones and clamps, covering everything you need to start recording!
The package includes a large-diaphragm dynamic instrument microphone, four dynamic instrument microphones that can be used for close miking, as well as two small-diaphragm condenser mics to use as overheads.
Astonishing, isn’t it?
But let’s take a look at these mics one by one!
The E602 is a cardioid dynamic mic that can be used for your bass drum. It is easy to position and comes with robust build quality.
For your snare and toms, you can use the four E604 dynamic mics that come with a cardioid pattern and they can be easily clipped on the drums.
Finally, the pair of E614 supercardioid condenser mics offer clear sound quality and have been made to withstand loud levels.
On the downside, this is not a cheap kit.
All in all, the Sennheiser E600 Drum Microphone Package is highly recommended to anyone who can afford it.
Last but not least, the AKG Pro Audio Rhythm Pack Drum Microphone Set is a low-budget microphone kit that covers all your needs.
It features four dynamic microphones (one for the bass drum and three for your snare and toms), as well as two condenser microphones.
Bear with me a little more to explain to you what it offers in detail.
To begin with, it comes with the AKG D112, which is a sturdy and really popular mic for your bass drum.
Secondly, it comes with three AKG D40 dynamic microphones for the snare and toms. If you use more than two toms, note that you will be short on mics.
A stereo pair of AKG C430s is included for crisp sound for your overheads.
The package includes all the necessary clamps, as well as an aluminium case to transport them
As you have probably realized, recording drums is no easy thing…
But you can make it much easier by using the right mics!
So now it’s your turn!
Pick the ones that better suit your needs and your budget and start recording!