The Best Drum Mics for Recording

This is an extensive roundup of the best drum mics for recording.

As a general rule, dynamic microphones are used to capture the snare, toms and the bass drum, while condenser microphones are used to capture the cymbals, ride and hi-hats. With the sheer number of available high SPL(sound pressure level) mics, looking for great drum mics can be daunting, so we have produced this guide to point you to the right direction, by grouping together the most loved drum microphones currently available . Aside from tried and tested expensive mics, we've also included cost-effective alternatives that can also get the job done.

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Microphone Sections:

Drum Mic Kits

Drum mic kits are bundles of microphones that are specifically tuned for capturing drums, packed in a handy portable package. They give you the convenience of quick setup and tear down, as well as the assurance that microphones will blend well together. If you don't have the time to do the legwork of looking for good microphone combinations, then mic kits offer a simplified all-in-one solution that provide great results.

Shure PGDMK6-XLR

Shure PGDMK6-XLR

With the PGDMK6-XLR mic kit, budget is no longer an excuse for inadequate drum recordings. This affordable package from popular mic manufacturer Shure, comes with everything you need; two PG81 instrument microphones with three PG56 snare/tom microphones and one PG52 kick drum mic. It even includes three drum mounts, four 15-foot XLR cables, and a sturdy carrying case! The microphones in this kit come with tailored frequency responses, fine-tuned for handling the loudness of the specific parts they are assigned to, while still being sensitive enough to reproduce nuances that otherwise could be lost. This is easily the best bang per buck drum mic kit available in the market. Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.

Audix Studio Elite 8

Audix Studio Elite 8

The Audix Studio Elite is among the most sought after drum microphone kits today, with its combination of 8 microphones fine tuned for reproducing acoustic drums faithfully. The Audix I5 and D6 dynamic mics are its most popular component, widely used for drums and other high sound pressure level instruments. Along with its impressive kick bass sounds, the set comes with a versatile snare mic,which you can use with other loud instruments or amps, two dynamic mics for toms and acoustic instruments. It also comes with large diaphragm condenser microphones for capturing ambiance and the high registers. Its professional quality is matched by its tag price and it is a worthy investment, especially for those that do not want to settle for anything less than best and most reliable set of mics, be it live or in the studio. Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.

Sennheiser Drum Kit 600

Sennheiser e600

The e600 7-mic kit draws from Sennheiser's years of experience with instrument microphones, providing mics that specifically target the important frequencies for each drum. At the cost of versatility, these microphones are created with the primary objective of collectively reproducing your drum sound clearly without masking the nuances of your playing. The kick drum is assigned to the e602 II mic, fine tuned to handle low registers without breaking up. The e604 cardioid mic captures the snare and toms, while the e614 condenser mic is assigned to overhead. For safe keeping and transport, the mics are packed inside sturdy aluminum case with custom-cut foam. This is a great kit for drummers and engineers that are always on the go. Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.

Kick Drum Mic

Because of the low frequency punch and loudness of kick drums, you need durable dynamic mics that can handle high-SPLs (sound pressure levels) to capture them properly. Here are the top kick drum mics that are widely used today.

AKG D12 VR

AKG D12 VR

The D12 VR is a high-end active dynamic microphone favored by engineers world over. Released fairly recently, this mic features improved technology over the others, sporting a thin diaphragm within its newly designed capsule, which gives it its enhances low-frequency performance. It has three active-filter presets - open kick drum, closed kick drum and vintage sound, this presets make the AKG D12 VR a versatile tool in the studio. If you are looking for nothing less than the best kick drum mic, then you should get this. If budget is an issue, the more affordable AKG D112 ($165) kick drum mic might interest you, especially since it is considered by many as industry standard. Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.

Shure Beta 52A

Shure Beta 52A

When it comes to durability and reliability, the Beta 52A tops everything else. Although it does not have the sophistication of other high-end microphones, it does have a vintage quality of its own, and it will get the job done consistently wherever and whenever you set it up. It is commonly found sitting inside kick drums, handling extreme SPLs while at the same time rejecting unwanted noise. Another nifty feature of the Shure Beta 2A is its advanced pneumatic shock mount system, which reduces the mechanical noise and vibration, a common problem when capturing drums. Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.

Yamaha SKRM-100

Yamaha SKRM-100

The SKRM-100 from Yamaha is sub-microphone that captures the low frequencies that ordinary microphones can't. When paired with a good kick drum mic, you will get amazing and big sounding kicks. The technology behind it is actually old school, it has a reverse-wired 6.5" speaker that is used as a microphone. This allows the SKRM-100 to capture sub-frequencies within the 100Hz-2000Hz, which results to kick sounds that are fuller and more upfront. If you feel that your kick sound recording is somewhat lacking, this is what you need. Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.

Snare Drum Mic

The snare's high sound pressure level is quite a challenge to capture, and only a handful of the toughest and enduring microphones have been successful at it. These are the mics that have captured and endured everything from the lightest to the harshest of snare drumming.

Audix I5

Audix I5

The Audix I5, is an affordable and versatile microphone that can handle SPLs of more than 140dB without distortion. Eventually, it found its way into drum recording and thanks to its unique VLM (very low mass) diaphragm, engineers found its excellent transient response very favorable for capturing snare drums. It also helps that the mic looks cool, and very versatile, making its affordable price even more tempting. Its combination of superb performance, natural sound reproduction and affordability continues to keep the I5 among the most popular microphones used on snare. This is simply a great snare mic for its price. Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.

Shure SM57

Shure SM57

If you want to go the tried and tested approach old-school approach, then all you have to do is get the most popular mic in the world - the Shure SM57. This ultra versatile mic is found wherever music is captured, from small clubs to huge stadiums, be it on vocals loud amplifiers and snare drums. Although it features old technology, the SM57 continues to prove itself worthy of capturing snare sounds, with many professionals still labeling it as the best snare drum mic. Even if you have the most expensive drum mics, you should still consider having a reliable mic like the SM57. Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.

Sennheiser MD 421 II

Sennheiser MD 421 II

The Sennheiser MD 421 II is the professional's choice in controlled environments such as recording studios. Engineers and drummers worldwide have trusted the original MD 421 and the latest version MD 421 II when it comes to capturing snares. Its large diaphragm allows it to handle high sound pressure levels while retaining its natural sound, making it the go-to mic for rock style drummers. Its full-bodied cardioid pattern and five-position bass control makes it a versatile drum mic that can successfully capture toms. Also impressive is its ability to reject feedback and reduce bleed-in, making it even more effective in the studio. Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.

Tom Drum Mic

Although not as harsh as the snare, toms require mics that are sensitive to varying tonalities, while at the same able to handle high sound pressure levels. To do this effectively, manufacturers have developed mics with tailored frequency response specific for toms. The SM57 and MD 421ii are also considered as great mics for toms, here are other equally impressive mics that work great with toms as well.

Audio Technica ATM25

Audio Technica ATM25

The Audio-Technica ATM25 is known for its great hypercardioid pattern that rejects outside noise extremely well. This makes it an ideal microphone for toms both in the studio and in noisy live band situations. Its ability to gracefully handle the hardest hitting drummers is also one of the reasons why its a consistent favorite among engineers. Another unique feature of the ATM25 is its natural presence boost, which adds more details to your recordings without ever sounding harsh like some condenser mics do. Although not as cheap as other mics, this is a worthy investment, specially for rock music or live band recording. Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.

MXL Drum Cube

MXL Drum Cube

Here's a cool and underrated mic that deserves to be on this list even though it continues to go under the radar. Although not as durable as dynamic mics, this big-bodied condenser mic has a high SPL rating and delivers powerfully clear and natural percussion, perfect for light drummers and for genre's such as jazz, blues and the like. Its great sound is delivered by the Drum Cube's gold-sputtered, 6 micron diaphragm, making it ideal for toms, and even for overhead. If you are planning to capture music that requires more dynamics, then this is a great looking mic that you should consider. Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.

Audix D2

Audix D2

The Audix D2 is small, lightweight and very easy to position, because of the convenience that offers, it continues to be widely used by drummers and engineers alike. For something compact, this mic has a wide frequency response of 44 Hz - 18 kHz and it can handle SPLs in excess of 144 dB, it can easily compete with bulkier and high-end mics in terms of performance. Durability is also great, having satisfied many users that use it for out-of-town gigs and tours. Finally, this mic is not just good for drums, it can also work with saxophones, guitar cabinets, brass, congas and other percussion instruments. It's a great portable and versatile mic with a very reasonable price. Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.

Cymbals / Overhead Mic

To properly capture cymbals, the most commonly used mics are pencil type condensers. We've grouped together three of the most commonly used mics today, mics that are able to handle hard hitting drummers, cleanly capture the nuances of the high frequencies as well as the ambiance. We also considered their ability to ability to reject bleed-ins.

Rode NT5

Rode NT5

Ask professional drummers and engineers about overhead mics and there is a very high probability that the Rode NT5 will come up. It is the go-to overhead mic for acoustic drum sets, thanks to its great 20Hz-20kHz frequency response and low noise operation. This mic employs an active J-FET impedance converter with bipolar output buffer, wrapped in a heavy-duty metal body - allowing it to reliably capture the higher-registers with great detail, regardless of the style of music. The Rode NT5 is a versatile overhead mic, ideal for studios that work with drummers of various styles. . Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.

MXL 993

MXL 993

The MXL 993 built its another popular mic from cymbals, featuring transformerless FET circuitry with a gold diaphragm capsule design. This design allows the 993 to faithfully capture the sound of your cymbals, without muddying the sound. It works within the 20Hz-20kHz range and has a variety of controls for some sound sculpting including the nifty 10dB switchable attenuation and -10dB low-frequency roll-off. If you are looking for a professional mic that sounds far better than its price, you should check the 993 out. Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.

Shure SM81

Shure SM81

Thanks to Shure's focus on gear reliability, the Shure SM81 is meant to withstand the perils and rigors of everyday studio and stage use, and at the same time reproduce great sounds. This unidirectional condenser microphone achieves just that, featuring wide frequency response, low noise characteristics, and low RF susceptibility, all housed in a rugged housing that will last a lifetime. This makes it great for touring, or as a workhorse backup for your favorite fragile mic. With its ability to perform in a wide range of temperatures and humidity conditions, every studio should have one of this, regardless of what existing mic they have. Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.

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The AKG D112 Kick Drum Mic

I absolutely enjoyed all of your top product lists. You include the classics, as well as mix it up with some newer picks as well. For the list of kick drum mics, it would've been great to include the classic AKG D112 also.

AKG D112

Glad you liked the list. The AKGD112 was mentioned as a more budget friendly alternative to the AKGD12VR.