There you are. The spotlight is on you. Sweat is pouring down your brow. The crowd is roaring. This is the moment for your big drum solo.
Before you let rip, pause to remember what got you here.
Years of endless practice. So many garage bands that dissolved over petty teenage issues. That one audition file that you shopped around to everyone.
And then – the ultimate audition tape, with the perfect sound, courtesy of some of the best drum mics and drum mic kits available today.
our best drum mics picks
Samson CO2 Pair
Depending on the style of music, many engineers and producers do not mic the hi-hats separately, relying on the overheads to pick them up and get a good balance.
For home recordists, however, having a separate hi-hat track is really beneficial, so I’ve included a very low-cost mic that will provide that flexibility at mix time…
The Samson CO2 is a pencil style small diaphragm condenser mic that is sold in pairs. They are designed for recording drum overheads, hi-hats, and other instruments.
Sound on Sound Magazine found the mic provided a fairly accurate, detailed, and well-balanced sound.
They did find that it exhibited a higher noise level than they would have liked, but if you are recording fairly loud sound sources like hi-hats this won’t be a problem.
Since you only need one mic for recording hi-hats, you can use the other one on something else, like miking under the snare.
AKG D112 mk II
The AKG D112 has a reputation as the best kick drum mic ever made. Countless records have been recorded with this dynamic mic, and it has been used by top producers such as Steve Albini, Roy Thomas Baker, Steve Churchyard, Bob Clearmountain, Elliott Scheiner, Butch Vig, and more.
The new D112 Mk II keeps the same sound and quality of the original D112 but Its tight and solid low end is complemented by a narrow-band presence boost at 4 kHz that punches through dense mixes.
Because of this built-in EQ boost, mixers and producers find it frequently requires no additional EQ to sound solid and punchy.
You really can’t go wrong with the D112 covering your kick drum!
In the following video, I preferred the deeper thump of the D112 than the others.
adds an integrated flexible mic mount.
Sennheiser MD 421
The MD 421 by Senheiser easily makes the top of our list for best snare drum mics with its sturdy construction, excellent off-axis rejection, and suitable Frequency Response for mid-range sources.
The MD 421 also handles very loud sources without any problem, which makes it perfect for the snare.
Some producers list the MD 421 as their favorite Tom and Floor Tom microphone. It also has a five-way bass roll-off switch, so if you’re looking for justification to have this mic in your stable, it is pretty versatile for a variety of mid instruments.
Shure PGA5 Kit
Shure knows microphones. And so, it is little wonder that this was one of the first kits we looked at when tasked with finding the best 5-piece kits for your trap kit.
Let’s talk about what you get.
The kit ships with…
- 1 PGA52 Kick Drum Mic
- 3 PGA56 Dynamic snare/top mics
- 1 PGA57 Instrument mic (as a dedicated snare mic)
You also get three drum mounts, 5 XLR-XLR cables, and a carrying case to store your gear in.
You’re obviously getting a hell of a deal when you purchase this kit. We love the mic selections.
In all honesty, a lot of musicians who use this set will tell you that it tends to be overkill if you’re playing rooms with a 300 max capacity… which is most small-sized gig venues.
In that sense, for a few hundos, you’re looking at a kit that’s going to take care of you for years, and grow with you as your gigs get bigger.
The downside? If you plan to record with these, you’ll need to use some EQ. They can tend to sound a bit ‘dull and boomy’ in the drum booth. But… It’s an easy fix.
All things considered, we love this kit.
AKG Pro Audio C414 XLS Stereoset Instrument Condenser Microphone, Multipattern
The AKG Pro Audio C414 XLS is a perfect matched pair of ultra-versatile condenser mics and is from one of the leading broadcast facilities world-wide which are used for professional recording studios and on-stage performance.
Not to mention it is known for having hosted some of the top musical artists of all genres for more than 60 years. This microphone is known as the de facto part of a professional engineer’s mic locker.
It comes with a matched pair bundle which contains a pair of C414 XLS. These have been selected out of thousands of microphones and hand tested for different characteristics which result in 1dB with a range of 300Hz to 8kHz in cardioid mode.
The kit includes all the accessories like the stereo bar, shock mounts, two foam windscreens and a hard shell case for carrying it around with ease. This pair has been engineered to offer you the highest level of linearity and a neutral sound for a great experience.
Overall, it results in reliable sound quality and is super-easy to assemble and use. You won’t have any trouble using any of its features.
How to Choose Good Drum Mics
This buying guide describes the various types of microphones and their characteristics.
One of the essential elements of recordings and concerts is the choice of microphone. A good microphone, in any situation, must be technically adapted to the purpose for which you want to use it, and give you the sound you are looking for.
Condenser microphones are usually used in controlled environments, such as studios, to pick up drums and voices. For live concerts, a dynamic microphone is ideal to hold it in your hand and move it on stage.
A wireless microphone lets you browse the stage during the show, and a USB microphone can turn your smartphone or tablet into a mini studio.
The sound of voices and instruments can vary considerably depending on the microphone used, so try different microphones as much as possible until you find the sound that suits you.
This is the most important thing when buying a mic for your drum set. The type of mic you choose will define how versatile the sound output will be.
No matter what you record, there’s probably a condenser microphone specially designed for your situation.
Condenser microphones are the most used microphones in the studio because they generally have a louder sound output and a wider frequency response (the ability to reproduce the speed of a voice or instrument) than dynamic microphones.
In general, they are also more expensive, although cheaper models also exist. Condenser microphones are powered by an external power source, internal battery power or phantom power from a mixing console. Most mixers have phantom power for voice inputs, but some older and more basic models do not. When shopping, make sure that the model you are considering is compatible with your mixing console.
Condenser microphones are the most common choice for recording voices and drums in the studio. In some cases, it is possible to use condenser microphones for live concerts, for example for choirs, pianos and strings.
Condenser microphones generally work best in environments where the sound is highly controlled.
Well known for their high resilience and versatility, dynamic microphones are the industry standard for both instrument and live voice recording. Almost all dynamic microphones have an integrated shock absorption system to maintain clear and consistent sound quality despite rough or lively handling during concerts.
These features make the dynamic microphone ideal for live music performances that are by nature unpredictable. Dynamic microphones have a limited frequency response and can withstand high sound pressure levels, making them ideal for guitar amplifiers, vocals and high volume drums on stage.
Ribbon microphones are a type of dynamic microphone frequently used for voice recording and most instrumental studio recordings. These microphones are designed to eliminate the strident noise created by feedback, resonate in the mid to high frequencies and “warm up” the tone of the recorded sound.
In general, ribbon microphones are not the first choice of sound recorders or sound engineers because their advantages are too subtle for live concert atmospheres.
USB microphones offer the convenience of plug and play that fits today’s digital music landscape and home recording trend. They are available in a variety of dynamic and condenser microphones for both voice and instrument recording.
Many manufacturers have taken the USB microphone concept a step further by integrating mobile applications for iOS and Android with the microphone to transform smartphones and tablets into portable mini-studios.
Designed for the stage and professionals, wireless microphones allow the singer to move freely on stage or in the concert hall. These microphones feature a battery-powered transmitter built into the microphone body, replacing the cable traditionally used in wired microphones. The wireless transmitter sends the signal from the microphone to a receiver attached to a sound system or mixing console.
While microphone-receiver assemblies operate on corresponding frequencies, microphones and receivers purchased separately may not operate. So pay attention to the frequency of each device when you buy them separately.
Canon microphones are often used when it is not possible to position a microphone directly in front of a sound source. For example, if you don’t want someone to hold a microphone in front of their mouth during an interview.
This explains its elongated cylindrical shape, which gives the microphone a narrower focus to pick up sounds in front of the microphone and repel sounds from the sides and behind. Canon microphones are frequently used in film or video productions, plays, as well as for sound effects.
Microphones for instruments
Instrument microphones are designed to pick up frequencies created by specific instruments. For example, battery microphones are sold in sets where each microphone corresponds to the different components of the battery.
This allows each microphone to pick up the tone of one percussion while avoiding picking up the sound of the others. Battery microphones are generally compatible with XLR jacks and are designed for studio and live to record.
Microphones for classical and Big Band instruments, such as woodwind, brass, strings and pianos, are lightweight and typically designed as micro ties, eliminating the need for permanent sensors. These microphones are available in wireless and wired versions and are primarily used in live concerts.
Precautions and Maintenance Tips
- Protect your microphones from heat, moisture and rough handling
- Never place a microphone on a surface: it may collect fine iron particles that will interfere with its proper operation or damage it.
- Never blow into a microphone to test it.
- Protect your microphones when used outdoors with a semi-closed cellular foam windscreen
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for precautions and maintenance.
Conclusion-Choose your best drum mics
The five mics I’ve chosen are all great choices for recording drums at home.
These are not amateur mics for hobbyists – you’ll find these same mics in many professional studios.
If budget is an issue, then the lower-cost drum mic bundles will get you great-sounding tracks without causing money stresses.
By using these mics or mic set bundles correctly, you can get a great drum sound at home that won’t sound like it was recorded at home!
The key is to use the right mic for each drum and to place each mic in the right spot. Combined, you’ll find your drum recordings will sound fuller and have more definition and punch.
Plus, you’ll have a nice mic collection that can also be used to record other instruments as well as vocals.
One final thing: Don’t forget high-quality mic preamps to get the best sound from your new mic!
Have fun, experiment and get going today!