The 5 Best Microphones for Recording Drums

Mic'ing an acoustic drum set is a big job—not exactly as straightforward as pointing a single mic at your guitar cab and hitting record. Because of all of the sonic differences between all the elements of the kit—from your snare to toms, kick, and cymbals—mic'ing up your drum set requires a few different kinds of mics suited to each piece.

Below, we've gathered a list of five of our go-to mics for recording all of the pieces of your kit, from the snare staple Shure SM57 to a set of Sennheiser e604 clip-on mics for your toms to the legendary Neumann KM 184 overheads. All of these choices are solid options for anyone looking to mic a kit at home or in the studio, and though we're not going to get into where and how to place them in this piece, you can check out this video with Brian Deck on the subject for some tips.

What is it? What makes it cool? What does it cost?
Shure SM57 Industry standard. $47-$100
Rode NT5 Where value meets quality. $200-$430
Shure Beta 52A Tailored to bass drums. $95-$190
Sennheiser e604 Mic all of your toms on a budget. $180-$350
Neumann KM 184 Legendary overheads. $855-$1,225
Shure SM57

The Shure SM57 dynamic microphone has been a staple in studios the world over since it was first introduced to the market in the 1960s. It's often the go-to option for musicians looking for a mic capable of studio-quality recordings without breaking the bank.

With its unidirectional cardioid pattern, the SM57 reduces background noise and focuses on the sound it's pointed at—something it's slim profile and flat-topped grill also help facilitate. It's a great option (and one of the most popular) for mic'ing up your snare, adding just the right amount of low-end punch and mid-range crack to your tone. As its something of a Swiss Army knife, you can also use the SM57 on your rack toms for solid results.


RODE NT5

The RODE NT5 is the brand's flagship small-diaphragm cardioid condenser mic and come in a matched pair that make excellent drum overheads.

The RODE NT5s are very low self-noise mics with a flat frequency response, making for a super clear and detailed sound. Because of the frequency response, you don't have to worry about the higher frequencies from your cymbals rolling off, which can sometimes be an issue with overheads.


Shure Beta 52A

The Shure Beta 52A is an industry standard when it comes to bass drum mics, with a reputation for delivering a super booming and meaty kick drum sound.

With its frequency response tailored specifically for bass drums, the 52A is perfectly suited to accurately capture your sound and send it straight to your mixer or DAW without the guesswork involved in corrective EQ. Truly all you need when it comes to capturing the kick.


Sennheiser e604

The Sennheiser e604 three-pack set is a great way to get all of your toms mic'd up on a budget—even more so than mic'ing your toms with SM57s, as these come with clips and obviate the need for mic stands.

The Sennheisers are also impressive in what they can accomplish despite their size. Capable of withstanding high sound pressure levels, the e604s feature a very tight cardioid pattern that helps keep outside noises from the rest of the kit and room from bleeding in.


Neumann KM 184

If you're looking for something a bit the matched pair of RODE NT5s aren't quite what you're looking for as far as overheads go, or if you have a bit more money to spend, the Neumann KM 184 small diaphragm condenser mics are definitely worth checking out.

A modern update to the classic Neumann KM 84 i, the KM 184s offer a wide frequency response, high SPL handling, and super low self noise. The resulting sound is super natural and accurate, making them a next-level option for drum overheads—and any number of applications beyond.


comments powered by Disqus