The Top 10 Best Drumming Microphones For Your Kit

Dave Mostert
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There’s nothing wrong with using a cheap microphone if it will do the trick for you.

In fact, most of us don’t really have the need to shell out hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a microphone, but if you are a professional drummer needing an upgrade, it’s an entirely different ball game. Everything becomes much more critical, and a smaller but incredibly perfect mic can go a long way.

From a vast array of professional drum microphones that are currently available, I have hand-picked 10 of the best you can get today to help you make an informed decision on which ones to choose for your applications.

NameCategoryProduct
Audix D6 Dynamic Instrument MicrophoneBest OverallAudix D6 Dynamic Instrument Microphone
Shure SM57-LC Cardioid Dynamic MicrophoneBudget PickShure SM57-LC Cardioid Dynamic Microphone
Neumann KM184 MT Cardioid Studio Condenser Miniature MicrophoneUpgrade PickNeumann KM184 MT Cardioid Studio Condenser Miniature Microphone

1. Audix D6 Dynamic Instrument Microphone

Our rating: 9 / 10

Audix D6 Dynamic Instrument Microphone

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Pros:

  • Fast, accurate response
  • Excellent high-frequency response
  • Mic can handle high sound pressure levels
  • Very durable
  • Good packaging – comes with a mic clip, a windscreen, and a spider case
  • Easy to use
  • Versatile
  • Lightweight
  • Clear sound quality
  • Easy to position

Cons:

  • Instructions only available online
  • Produces feedback when there is a break in the mic position or when the sound source is less than a foot away
  • A low-frequency roll-off present in the mic when used at close distances
  • Needs phantom power, which means an extra preamp

This is a reliable instrument microphone that provides you with excellent response. The Audix D6 is a side-address dynamic mic that produces a vintage sound. It has great high-frequency response and handles high sound pressure levels.

2. Shure SM57-LC Cardioid Dynamic Microphone

Our rating: 9 / 10

Shure SM57-LC Cardioid Dynamic Microphone

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Pros:

  • * Moderate price tag * Fairly rugged even under extreme conditions * High-quality
  • noise-free sound * Full frequency response

Cons:

  • * A bit on the large side * The cardioid polar pattern does have its cons

It is a well-known fact that the Shure SM57-LC cardoid dynamic microphone is one of, if not the most popular microphone to use with drums.

The SM57-LC combines affordability with quality and durability. It is a trusted tool for big acts like Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), and Levon Helm (The Band). It is used on many recording sessions and live performances because of its ability to capture sound from the drum kit, without losing any of the high and low frequencies.

The SM57 has a rich history, as it has been used since the mid-50s. It is a great microphone for drums and most other instruments, and is even used on vocals. Many top mixing engineers have also trusted the SM57 microphone for their original recordings with artists such as The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, and Gin Blossoms.

3. Neumann KM184 MT Cardioid Studio Condenser Miniature Microphone

Our rating: 9 / 10

Neumann KM184 MT Cardioid Studio Condenser Miniature Microphone

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Pros:

  • Extremely well-made
  • Amazing sound
  • Easier to play while singing with this mic attached
  • Durable
  • Excellent customer service
  • Includes a clip and windscreen for protection
  • Comes in five different colors
  • Two-year warranty

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • You have to be careful not to touch the grill

They may cost quite a bit more than basic drum mics, but if you want to get the absolute best sound quality possible while playing drums, this mic will give you the power to do just that. Quality-wise, you will be hard-pressed to find a better microphone than this one.

There’s no EQ needed for this mic as it comes right out of the box sounding pretty amazing. It’s made by Neumann, which is a company known for their amazing quality products, so we really weren’t surprised by what we heard.

It’s also lightweight, easy to attach to your drum set, and results in a crystal-clear sound. Think of it like having an audience in your own living room, when in fact, you’re just sitting back and playing drums.

4. beyerdynamic TG D58 Condenser Clip-On Cardioid Microphone

Our rating: 9 / 10

beyerdynamic TG D58 Condenser Clip-On Cardioid Microphone

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Pros:

  • Excellent sound quality
  • Lightweight
  • Flexible gooseneck
  • Decent price range
  • Works with most clip-on stands
  • Sturdy and durable
  • Well balanced, with a nice low end

Overall, this product from beyerdynamic is an excellent choice for drummers on a budget. The 3/8” capsule is sensitive enough to pick up most of the sounds from your neighboring percussion instruments. This is partly because of the extremely lightweight dynamic cardioid microphone.

The head is made of quality plastic, and offers a decent range of motion in a logical place. You get an amazing sound because of the frequency response of 20Hz – 20kHz, and the max SPL of 130dB.

The device comes with a black metal swivel mount, a thick microphone cable, and a cable clip. The cable is not coiled but close to 10 feet, and the cable features a felt lining.

5. Sennheiser E604 Dynamic Cardioid

Our rating: 9 / 10

Sennheiser E604 Dynamic Cardioid

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Pros:

  • Transparent, clean sound
  • Consistent throughout all registers
  • Open and present high-frequency response
  • Equally suitable for live, mixing, and tracking

Cons:

  • Requires a bit of EQ-ing in order to get the sound you want
  • Not the smoothest sound when used with toms

Finding the right microphone can be difficult, especially if you’ve never had experience with one before. When it comes to the best snare drum mics, you’re guaranteed to get an outstanding sound with the Sennheiser E604 dynamic mic.

It’s built like a tank, as it’s made of metal and features a cloth grille. The heavy-duty grille not only protects the sensitive components of the mic but it also provides durability. The Sennheiser E604 has a cardioid pick-up pattern to minimize feedback and guarantees a consistent signal throughout all the registers of the drum, even at a high SPL.

It features an integrated stand adapter and weighs in at 1.05 lbs.

6. AKG Pro Audio D12VR Dynamic Microphone

Our rating: 8 / 10

AKG Pro Audio D12VR Dynamic Microphone

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Pros:

  • Great sound quality
  • Feel and weight is good
  • Overall average rating 4.7 out of 5

This AKG dynamic microphone is best used for heavy-sounding drums. The sound quality is full and has an overall "warm" tone. This model is available in different sizes – from 15 to 50 mm. The weight of the microphone is 3.5 ounces. The size of the microphone is about 7.5 x 4.5 x 3.5 inches.

This microphone is ideal for kick, snare and toms and is very compatible with the kick holder and snare stand. It features a supercardioid polar pattern and is very sensitive and warm sounding.

The capsule is made with a special wire mesh that is specifically designed to produce clear, warm sound. The microphone is also very durable and withstands high sound pressure levels and is protected against handling noise. It is definitely a worthy (and cheap) addition to any drummer's or musician's kit.

7. Miktek PM10 Dynamic Snare/Tom Microphone

Our rating: 6 / 10

Miktek PM10 Dynamic Snare/Tom Microphone

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Pros:

  • Comes from a reputable brand
  • Outstanding sound quality
  • Works well on snare drums
  • Flexible design

Cons:

  • Not ideal for recording vocals
  • Great for studio sessions, but can still result in too much volume spill for recording vocals at home
  • Some durability issues

Overall, this is a great dynamic microphone that you can use to record your snare drum. Though it’s a bit pricey, you definitely get a lot of value here.

The mic is very flexible in its design so you can definitely angle it in different ways to get the best result. You also benefit from the built-in volume control knob so you can play around and adjust the sound as needed.

One thing to note is that this mic is not ideal for recording vocals, though you can get away with it if you have very quiet vocals. Otherwise, you run the risk of getting a lot of spill and other unwanted background sounds. The mic is also quite expensive, though you can definitely find models out there that are more expensive.

8. Miktek PM11 Dynamic Kick Drum Microphone

Our rating: 6 / 10

Miktek PM11 Dynamic Kick Drum Microphone

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If you are looking for that "in your face" Kick Drum sound, the Miktek PM11 is a great choice. It will deliver a lot of power and detail in a focused soundstage that will make your Kick Drum cut through the mix.

Features include:

  • Ultimate power and performance
  • High output and wide frequency response
  • Integrated "hoop-style" windscreen
  • Dynamic element for articulate and detailed sound
  • Super-cardioid design for maximum isolation
  • Includes mic clip and case

9. Audio-Technica AE2500 Dual-element Cardioid Instrument Microphone

Our rating: 6 / 10

Audio-Technica AE2500 Dual-element Cardioid Instrument Microphone

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Pros:

  • Dual-element design allows for a wide frequency response
  • Frequency response spans from 30Hz to 12kHz
  • Pickup pattern increases presence during recording process
  • Cardioid pattern effectively minimizes background noise
  • Switchable 80Hz high-pass filter can reduce unwanted low-end frequencies
  • Great price
  • Durable and sturdy
  • Excellent frequency response for bass drum, toms, and overheads
  • Optimal polar pattern inludes -10dB attenuation at 16,050Hz

Cons:

  • Frequency response is too flat for ambient recording
  • High frequencies are mapped a little too high from 5kHz to 10kHz

Summary:

When you're shopping for the best drum microphones, you can't go wrong with the Audio-Technica AE2500. It's an inexpensive microphone that offers a fantastic sound that's great for recording drums. It also has incredible build quality and will last you for years to come. This dual-element microphone is ideal for recording drum overheads, bass drums, tom toms, and just about any other percussive instrument. The frequency response range is quite large, from 30Hz to 12kHz.

10. Shure BETA 52A Dynamic Kick Drum Microphone w/FREE Microphone Cable and Mini Boom Stand

Our rating: 6 / 10

Shure BETA 52A Dynamic Kick Drum Microphone w/FREE Microphone Cable and Mini Boom Stand

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Pros:

  • Convenient cable assembly
  • Efficient, accurate response over a wide frequency range
  • Great choice for live drumming, recording, and sound reinforcement applications
  • Quality construction and excellent feedback rejection
  • Richly detailed sound

Cons:

  • Serious handling requires hand protection
  • Factory mount requires a mic stand and boom arm
  • Tight fit in small stands
  • Flat sound without a simple EQ

The patented UniMatch’ cable/plug system on this dynamic kick drum microphone from Shure allows easy cable replacement for simple setup and sound replacement during shows. It also comes with a free cable and mini boom stand.

The Beta 52A mic is an ideal choice for live drumming, as well as for use on recording and PA systems. It’s a cardioid-polarity microphone that provides a frequency response that is accurate, efficient, and wide-ranging. With a dynamic frequency reproduction that has a smooth and full audio quality, this is a mic that delivers the sound you want. It also delivers extremely wide rejection of feedback and other background noises. You will also appreciate its rugged construction and quality sound reproduction.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the best drum mic kit?

There are many options out there, but these are our top picks.

A drum mic kit contains a flexible set of microphones that attach to various parts of the drum set. The microphones catch the sounds of different areas of the drums and cymbals, and then the sound mix is transmitted to different speakers. The process is the same as a regular dynamic microphone, but the fact that you can place more and different kinds of microphones ensures that you can get a more effective sound output.

This is great news, especially if you have a very large drum kit. Getting the most out of your drums is often impossible with a regular drum mic. Whereas a regular drum mic will pick up all the sounds on your kit, placing microphones strategically with a drum mic kit lets you mix and match sounds for a far better output.

What are the best overhead mics for drums?

The Shure SM57 is considered one of the staples in the mic world, and many believe that it is the most versatile microphone you can buy. It is a dynamic microphone that can handle high-volume sound levels, during peak times, without producing any unwanted distortion.

Other mics such as the AKG D112 are used mainly for output rather than the recording of an entire kit. They are often used for recording vocals, as well as percussion instruments and loud instruments such as drums.

Nowadays, many storage devices are used for your home studio when recording multiple musicians. These devices allow you to use the mics that you own, but also consolidate all the recordings onto one hard disk.

Which microphone brand is the best?

Nowadays, microphones come in many different brands, making choosing the one that’s right for you a little difficult.

To reduce this overwhelming process, we separated the wheat from the chaff, narrowed our picks down to a mere three brands: Audio-Technica, Shure, and Sennheiser. These brands have dominated the music industry for many years due to their commitment to only using the best materials and producing high-quality, award-winning instruments.

How Many Mics do you need for drums?

On top of the itself, you should have another mic or two for other instruments in your band, and yet a third in case some being to break.

In the end, it isn't a bad idea to go overboard on microphone purchases. There is always a market for a good microphone on Craigslist and Ebay. Any mics you have left over from your initial purchase can have resale value on the secondary market and provide a way to offset future purchases. A good mic is an important piece of gear for any musician.

We recommend buying more mics than you think you'll need so as to hedge against a future event. For example, you could get three different microphones so that you have spares in hock, you can experiment with different combinations that you may be interested in, and so on.

Conclusion

If you do some preliminaries before you make the purchase, you will be in a good position to decide on what you can buy. How easy will the mic be to transport? How easy is it to setup? How much is it? Is it of the best quality?

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Audix D6 Dynamic Instrument MicrophoneBest OverallAudix D6 Dynamic Instrument Microphone
Shure SM57-LC Cardioid Dynamic MicrophoneBudget PickShure SM57-LC Cardioid Dynamic Microphone
Neumann KM184 MT Cardioid Studio Condenser Miniature MicrophoneUpgrade PickNeumann KM184 MT Cardioid Studio Condenser Miniature Microphone