Best Mics for Recording: Drums [2021]

 by 

Jay Von K   -  


Updated: December 28, 2020

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!

Best Drum Microphones
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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:

1. Shure SM57

Shure - SM57 Drum Microphone
General

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.

SM 57 Mic Recording 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.

PROS
  • Robust build quality
  • Value for money
  • Cardioid polar pattern
  • Both for live shows and studio use
CONS
  • No on-board switches
Compare Prices

All in all, the Shure SM57 is a popular low-budget microphone that captures accurately and easily the sound of a snare drum.

Shure SM57:

2. Beyerdynamic M201TG

Beyerdynamic M201 TG Dynamic Mic for Snare Drums
General

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.

M201 TG Mic on Snare Drum

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.

PROS
  • Detailed sound performance
  • Hyper-cardioid polar pattern
  • Versatile
  • Robust build quality
CONS
  • Significantly more expensive than the SM57
Compare Prices

In short, if you are looking for a robust mic to get detailed sound out of your snare drum, I would highly recommend the Beyerdynamic M201TG.

Beyerdynamic M201TG:

3. Sennheiser - MD 421-II

Sennheiser - MD 421-II Drum Mic
General

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.

Senheiser MD 421 II Recording Drum Snare

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.

PROS
  • Good for loud playing
  • Crisp audio performance
  • Rugged build quality
  • Good-looking design
CONS
  • You need another mic clip (not the one provided)
Compare Prices

On the whole, the Sennheiser MD 421 II is a great choice if you like to play loudly on your drum set.

Sennheiser MD 421 II:

4. Sennheiser E609

Sennheiser - E609 Mic Recording Drums
General

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.

Sennheiser - E609 Drum Mic

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.

PROS
  • Cost-effective
  • Solid build quality
  • Both for live and studio use
  • Versatile
CONS
  • Lacks some detail in sound quality
Compare Prices

Summing up, the Sennheiser E609 is an affordable mic that will do a great job on your toms.

Sennheiser E609:

5. Neumann km184

Neumann - KM184 Drum Mic Recording Hihats
General

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.

KM84 Mic on the hihats

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.

PROS
  • Amazing sound quality
  • Can be bought as a stereo pair
  • Sleek design
  • Compact size
CONS
  • Pricey
Compare Prices

On the whole, the Neumann KM-184 is a mic that will bring out your hi-hat’s sound, as long as you can afford to buy it.

Neumann km184:

6. Electro-Voice RE20

Electro-Voice - RE20 Dynamic Drum Mic
General

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!

RE20 Mic on the Bass Kick Drum

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

PROS
  • Natural sound performance
  • Minimized proximity effect
  • Versatile with various instruments
  • High-pass filter
CONS
  • Expensive
Compare Prices

All in all, the Electro-Voice RE20 is a natural-sounding and versatile mic that you can use for floor toms.

Electro-Voice RE20:

7. Oktava MK-012

Oktava - MK-012 Drum Mic
General

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.

MK-012 Drum Mic

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.

PROS
  • Value for money
  • Accurate sound reproduction
  • Detachable capsules
  • Wooden case included
CONS
  • Fragile
Compare Prices

All in all, if you are looking for low-budget and versatile overhead mics, there is no better option than the Oktava MK-012.

Oktava MK-012:

8. Neumann KM184 mt

Neumann - KM184 MT Drum Mic Recording Overheads
General

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.

Neumann - KM184 pair inside Wooden Box

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.

PROS
  • Detailed sound quality
  • Elegant design
  • Compact size
  • Wooden case included
CONS
  • Only cardioid polar pattern available
Compare Prices

All in all, if you are very demanding about audio quality in your drum recordings, you should absolutely get the Neumann KM184 mt at some point in your life.

Whether it will be now or later, it depends heavily on your budget.

Neumann KM184 mt:

9. Sennheiser E600 Drum Microphone Package

Sennheiser E600 Drum Microphone Package
General

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?

DRUMKIT E600

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.

PROS
  • Seven mics that cover your needs
  • Robust build quality
  • Easy to place the mics
  • Great sound quality
CONS
  • Pricey
Compare Prices

All in all, the Sennheiser E600 Drum Microphone Package is highly recommended to anyone who can afford it.

Sennheiser E600 Drum Microphone Package:

10. AKG Pro Audio Rhythm Pack Drum Microphone Set


General

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

PROS
  • Affordable
  • High-quality mics
  • Aluminum case included
  • Collection of six microphones
CONS
  • If you want to record three toms, you need one more mic
Compare Prices

All in all, there is no drum recording kit that can beat the combination of price and quality of the AKG Pro Audio Rhythm Pack Drum Microphone Set.

AKG Pro Audio Rhythm Pack Drum Microphone Set

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Final Thoughts

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!

Next level audio production and studio recording
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