Top Kick Drum Mic for Live Sound & Recording

Dave Mostert
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If you’re serious about kick drum sound for live sound applications or for recording, there’s only one place to look: top quality kick drum microphones.

You definitely want to give your kick drum sound the best chance of sounding great. You don’t want to fire it through the internal mixer of your live sound system (even if it’s a top-of-the-line system). Why? Most often, the sound guy won’t have the kick drum mic level set up perfectly enough for you to get the best sound.

As an example, if your kick drum mic doesn’t have a highpass filter on it, it most likely will capture the frequencies and be susceptible to mic hiss produced by the bass guitar and/or other powerful loudspeakers on stage.

Another point to make is that you don’t want to record your kick drum sound with a mic mounted in your drum kit. You need a top-quality kick drum mic in front of the kick drum.

Below find some of the best live sound drum microphones, small diaphragm condensers designed to capture the power and punch of a kick drum.

NameCategoryProduct
Audix D6 Dynamic Instrument MicrophoneBest OverallAudix D6 Dynamic Instrument Microphone
Shure PGA52-LC Cardioid Swivel-Mount Dynamic Kick-Drum MicrophoneBudget PickShure PGA52-LC Cardioid Swivel-Mount Dynamic Kick-Drum Microphone
AKG D 112Upgrade PickAKG D 112

1. Audix D6 Dynamic Instrument Microphone

Our rating: 9 / 10

Audix D6 Dynamic Instrument Microphone

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Pros:

  • High quality and high-performance kick drum mic
  • Durable and rugged
  • Compatible with all major mixing boards and audio interfaces
  • Perfect mic for all kinds of applications

Cons:

  • Requires phantom power from a mixing board or audio interface to operate
  • A little pricey

The Audix D6 Dynamic Instrument Microphone is a unique kick drum mic that we feel is one of the best choices for live sound and recording.

This mic is sensitive enough to capture the punchy sound of toms, the thud of bass guitar, the attack of hi-hats, the snap of snare drums, and anything else that you can think of. This is possible because it has a very high SPL rating – it can handle very loud sounds with ease. As a mic, it sounds impressive on its own, but it doesn’t sound natural when used by itself.

The other thing that makes the Audix D6 one of the best kick drum mics is its rugged design. With its steel mesh grille, it can easily handle the rough and tough road of the touring scene. It’s not a shock to find this microphone being used by bands at big festivals and big tours.

2. Shure BETA 52A Supercardioid Dynamic Kick Drum Microphone

Our rating: 9 / 10

Shure BETA 52A Supercardioid Dynamic Kick Drum Microphone

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Pros:

  • Reasonably priced
  • Sturdy and built to last
  • Extended frequency response
  • Oiled, and built-in humbucking coil
  • Mounts inline with mounting brackets

Cons:

  • Shure customer service is not so great
  • Sounds more muffled in electronic bass drums
  • Built-in humbucking coil attracts noise

We’ve found this to be one of the best kick drum microphones for live sound and recording. It’s a problem if you have a condenser mic hanging way out the front of the kick drum. In some cases people have to get the mic as far from the kit as possible to get a clear sound.

It has an extended frequency response design that gives you a clear and balanced sound. This kick drum mic blends perfectly with all types of drum kits. The Supercardioid Polar Pattern rejects background noise very effectively, which is why professionals prefer it. With its extended frequency response, it’s a perfect choice for high-decibel situations. It also has a higher gain before feedback.

3. Shure PGA52-LC Cardioid Swivel-Mount Dynamic Kick-Drum Microphone

Our rating: 9 / 10

Shure PGA52-LC Cardioid Swivel-Mount Dynamic Kick-Drum Microphone

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Pros:

  • Best-selling kick drum microphone on Amazon
  • Offers rich, warm sound
  • Heavy-duty design rated for professional use – will last you for years
  • Available in black and white colors
  • Can be attached to microphone stands via a rotating swivel mount
  • Perfect for live sound and recording on the go
  • Excellent reviews – top rated kick drum mic

Cons:

  • Heavy, especially for smaller drums
  • Pricey

If you’re looking for the best kick drum microphone, then you’ve landed on the right product. This microphone is a top selling microphone on Amazon, has rave reviews, and is highly recommended by experts in the industry.

It’s designed to capture low-end frequencies for a deep, warm low end – everything you need to bring out the punch in your kick drum. This is an excellent choice for a live sound situation where you need your microphone to make recordings of your gig. It’s also a great choice for a recording machine, allowing you to capture the sound completely. The mic is also well-built and durable enough to last you for years.

4. Sennheiser e602 II Evolution Series Dynamic Bass-drum Microphone

Our rating: 9 / 10

Sennheiser e602 II Evolution Series Dynamic Bass-drum Microphone

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Pros:

  • Excellent sound quality for the price
  • Available for use with kick drums and toms
  • Spot-on mids in the mix
  • Exceptional durability
  • Clear pickup of the high-end effects and tones of the bass drum

Cons:

  • Better-for-less models are available
  • Not as robust-sounding as a number of other models on the market

The Sennheiser e602 II Evolution Series is a worthy competitor in the mid-range market of kick drum mics. With it's selectable pad, you can adjust it for use on a variety of bass drums of different sizes.

The bass drum mic shows off a warmer, classic rock sound, according to reviews. This should be just what you're looking for if you need a kick microphone for recording, practice, or live work. It's a little pricey for a bass drum mic, but if you really want something that will last, it might be worth your while. Be aware that this is a "dynamic" mic, and therefore one that requires phantom power. It's a great choice for close positioning, though not necessarily for overheads or rooms.

Once again, just because a mic has a higher price tag doesn't make it the best. As always, shop around, test it out, and ask about warranty and return policies before you make your final choice.

5. Sennheiser e901 Boundary Layer Condenser Mic

Our rating: 9 / 10

Sennheiser e901 Boundary Layer Condenser Mic

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(Black/Silver)

Kick drum microphones can be used for recordings as well as live performances. This is a low-profile microphone with a 1-inch diaphragm. The frequency response is tailored to pick up the kick drums sound. According to the reports of different customers, the sound produced is far cleaner and louder than with conventional kick drum mics.

The diaphragm is optimised to ensure the mic is never distorted. It’s also made to withstand intense performance conditions. Whether you’re playing at a live concert or recording music in the studio, this mic is guaranteed to provide you with excellent sound performance.

6. Shure BETA 91A Half-Cardioid Condenser Kick-Drum Microphone

Our rating: 8 / 10

Shure BETA 91A Half-Cardioid Condenser Kick-Drum Microphone

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Pros:

  • Can be used with all types of kick drums
  • Offers exceptional sub-bass and fidelity
  • Provides a cardioid polar pattern
  • Includes an integrated preamp, which eliminates the need for an additional power supply

This is a condenser microphone that’s designed specifically to work with kick drums. It’s also built to handle very low frequencies which makes this mic the perfect choice for kick drum.

Unlike other kick drum microphones which are woofers, the Beta 91 is a true condenser microphone. It features a special high-frequency boost system which comes in handy when you’re recording kick drums. However, you want to keep the bass knob turned down to prevent the sound from distorting as you’re recording.

This microphone does not come with its own power supply, so you’ll need to plug the microphone into a powered channel, preamp, or mixing board. As a part of the venerable SHURE Beta series, the microphone is built to last and will provide years of reliable performance. What’s more, the microphone is available in two different colors.

7. Sennheiser e902 Cardioid Dynamic Mic

Our rating: 8 / 10

Sennheiser e902 Cardioid Dynamic Mic

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Pros:

  • Extremely durable
  • Budget-friendly price
  • Great response in live settings
  • Solid build quality
  • Super cardioid pattern
  • The clip is strong and the cable is thick

This kick drum microphone from Sennheiser is definitely a great buy. If you’re looking for a high-quality and premium product, definitely check it out. It’s worth every bit of whatever you pay for it.

The way this microphone is constructed makes it extremely durable and rugged. The sound quality is great in both live settings and recording, which is a good thing because live performances are live performances. You can’t control the volume.

The mic has a super cardioid pattern that prevents interference from other sounds and helps with your recording. The frequency response is perfect for the kick. There’s also a built-in hum reduction and bass roll off switch that really assists your sound recordings.

8. MXL A-55 Kicker Dynamic Drum Microphone

Our rating: 8 / 10

MXL A-55 Kicker Dynamic Drum Microphone

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Pros:

  • Great price for the features
  • Gain is balanced with little to no distortion
  • Kick height can be easily adjusted
  • Has both a cardioid and omni pickup patterns
  • Over all it is a well designed microphone
  • You can easily mount this microphone on a mic stand
  • Great value for the price

Best kick drum mics are quite hard to find, but the industry-standard model for guitar-level input handling, frequency response and accuracy is the MXL A-55 Kicker.

While most of the reviewed kick drum microphones are relatively unknown and less tried-and-tested, we still found this one to have a respectable reputation among budget mic buyers.

We were very impressed with the data listed by MXL. They claim a frequency response from 20Hz to 50kHz, a whopping 118dB sensitivity and an ultra-linear output.

9. AKG D 112

Our rating: 4 / 10

AKG D 112

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Pros:

  • Tone and presence control
  • Extremely durable and rugged
  • Works in low-volume settings
  • Plug and play capability

You should be aware that this kick drum mic is not intended for high-volume situations, as it is super-sensitive and has a low sound threshold. It is, however, the perfect product for low-volume live situations or for recording sessions in studios or private practice rooms.

The manufacturer made the D 112 with very high frequency ranges, which is the key to its remarkable, crystal-clear sound, even in the quietest of environments. It comes with tone and presence controls for your flexibility and convenience as well. The low-cut switch is another key element, eliminating the need for a separate product.

It has a very solid and rugged build, which is essential for the kind of work it does. It is a kick drum mic, after all. It is not only suitable for boom pole use, but it is also a convenient choice for instrumentalists who want to mic their kick drum. Boom pole users, however, should be aware that it is not a lot of weight, so tipping the board will result in less than best sound quality. Just make sure you only use the microphone when it’s stable and well-anchored.

10. Electro-Voice PL33 Kick Drum Microphone

Our rating: 2 / 10

Electro-Voice PL33 Kick Drum Microphone

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Pros:

  • Excellent cost to performance ratio
  • Great for live applications
  • Excellent feedback rejection, delivering consistent performance every time
  • Great for studio use
  • Solid construction
  • Great for a wide range of frequencies without distortion
  • Weighs only .3 pounds, making it easy to position
  • Easy to transport and store
  • Lifetime warranty included

Cons:

  • Requires a separate lead to connect it to your mic stand
  • Can be difficult to position accurately
  • Difficult to achieve excellent sound without some tweaking

For an affordable price, you can get a sound signature with a full low end and crisp hi-end that is comparable to kick drums that are twice as expensive from other brands.

The Electro-Voice PL33 has a very warm sound, but it’s not overpowering. It’s capable of reproducing low frequencies without breaking up or sounding too boomy, and it has a crisp hi-end that makes it sound warm and punchy without sounding too harsh.

Although it can take a bit of trial and error to find the perfect sound, it’s very consistent and never delivers a bad performance. The PL33 has a very efficient transient response that reduces any additional unwanted noise so that you can get the most from your drum kit.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Which microphone is best for home recording?

If your intention is to record drum tracks in your home, you will need the best kick drum mic to get a great sound from that essential drum.

Even if you are not serious about recording your own music, playing along to your favorite tracks, or jamming with your friends, you want the best kick drum mic for the job to give your performance some punch.

There are two main types of kick drum mics, dynamic and condenser. Both the two types have their uses; however, each have their own benefits and some drawbacks that you should research before making your live sound or recording microphone selection.

What type of microphone is best for live performance?

In terms of microphones, there are two main categories: dynamic and condenser. Both have their own sets of pros and cons and it’s not uncommon for one to be used over the other depending on the application.

What are the best drum mics?

This is a game of numbers. With a few different manufacturers in competition for the title of best drum microphone, you will need to do a bit of math to figure out which is actually best in your specific situation.

As with most things, a good set-up will include one of each of the following:

Close mic, overhead, room mic.

Finding the best microphone for you will depend on a few things.

What sort of sound are you looking for?

Do you want to be able to record the audio for editing?

Can you afford to own microphones for drums?

Will you be recording the sound and uploading to the web?

If any of these questions apply to you, you will want to consider these microphone questions before making a purchase.

How do you mic a bass drum for live sound?

To mic a kick drum, you'll need to place 2 microphones at the best possible angle to capture it well. Whether you are using 1 or 2 mics, you'll need to follow a few steps.

First, place the mic on the front of the shell, facing the beater. Position it downward (toward the bottom) in the center part of the shell, because it's the spot from which the best sound is produced. If you are using only 1 mic, get as close to the snare drum as you can.

Once you have the spot, and are sound testing it. Begin adding spring reverb if your sound system allows. This will help the kick drum boomy low-end sound really stand out.

If you have 2 microphones, place the second mic on the inside of the bottom head, facing the floor. The sound from this mic will complement the other mic and help give a fuller sound.

Conclusion

The search for the ideal kick drum mic always involves trading off between the high frequency response and the low‑end response. As the frequency and low‑end response increase, the high frequency response decreases. So here we explore the best kick drum mics that incorporate these different frequency ranges in order to give us the best of both worlds in a kick drum mic.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Audix D6 Dynamic Instrument MicrophoneBest OverallAudix D6 Dynamic Instrument Microphone
Shure PGA52-LC Cardioid Swivel-Mount Dynamic Kick-Drum MicrophoneBudget PickShure PGA52-LC Cardioid Swivel-Mount Dynamic Kick-Drum Microphone
AKG D 112Upgrade PickAKG D 112