Recording drums can be a challenge. To get top results, you need to pay attention to the three elements that will render a great sounding outcome – a talented drummer, a properly maintained and tuned drum kit, and the microphones you choose to capture the kit. Our favorite drum mics include dynamic and condenser mics, some with unique features including integral EQ and more.
Below are recommendations for the best drum mics to use, across a range of prices. By using excellent transducers, you can get closer to recording punchy, inspiring drums in your next production.
Sometimes defined as the most important drum in the kit, the kick drum lays the foundation for the other drums, while setting the groove and tempo.
- AKG D12VR – $499.99 each
- This fixed-cardioid, dynamic mic sounds great on kick drum and offers three, phantom-powered, tone-shaping filters that let you EQ inside the mic. Other features include the ability to handle a blistering 164dB Maximum SPL, a LED system to assure you’re getting phantom power at the mic, and an integral mic mount and swivel for easy setup and placement.
- Shure Beta 52 – $189 each
- This hypercardioid patterned mic from Shure offers great low-end when put in front of a kick drum, toms or bass amp. It can handle 167dB SPL and provides a swivel mount and integral mic stand adapter making it easy to place inside, or outside a kick drum.
- Solomon LoFReq – $199.99
- This specialty transducer is a speaker re-purposed as a microphone. It can be used along with other mics to zero in on the booty of your kick drum at 60Hz and below. Just 7.1” x 3.5” and 4lbs., it is easy to mount on a stand and place close to the outside of a kick drum, even when there’s a second Kick out mic on duty. Because the output of any speaker-mic can be hot, the LoFReq features an integral pad making it easier to manage the gain to your DAW.
The snare drum is the king of 2 and 4 providing a driving backbeat that defines the pocket and groove.
- Shure SM57 – $99 each
- This affordable tried and true dynamic studio and live sound microphone has been used on snare drums for decades. It features a cardioid pickup pattern and includes a stand adapter and carrying case.
- AKG C414 – $1,099.99 each
- Near the top end of the price range for the mics listed here, the C414 can excel where others can’t. For example, it can not only be used to capture snare drum, due to it’s three switchable pads and great sound, it can also be used to record toms, percussion and double as a room and overhead mic. Features include nine polar patterns, a peak LED, lock mode, and three hi-pass filters. It ships with a carrying case, both shock and stand mounts, and pop filter for use as a vocal mic.
- Audio Technica AE2300 – $269 each
- This affordable, dynamic, cardioid, front-address mic excels on snare drum offering great transient response, fat sound along with a well-defined top end. It comes with a stand mount and soft protective pouch.
Along with the other cymbals, the hi-hat sizzles at the top of the mix providing much needed off-beat support to the rest of the kit.
- sE Electronics sE5P – $399 matched pair
- One of the best bargains in this group, the sE5P offers excellent performance at a reasonable price. Because of its high SPL capacity (170dB), it can be used to record snare, hi-hat, and overheads as well hand percussion and acoustic instruments. It comes with a stereo bar, flight case, and two sE5 shock mounts.
- Neumann KM184 – $849.95 each
- Styled after the classic KM84, the first choice for many pro engineers, the latest incarnation offers a transformerless design, high SPL handling capacity (138dB), fixed cardioid pattern, and low self-noise. It sounds great on a hi-hat, as a drum overhead, on hand percussion, acoustic guitar, and as a room mic.
Essential for bringing the boom and definition to Tom hits, these mics need to be both focused and full range to bring the best results.
- Sennheiser MD421 – $379.95 each
- Another classic from the past that still stands tall in live sound and studio production, the MD421 sounds great on toms, kick drum, on guitar amps, voice, and more. It includes an integral selectable, five position high-pass filter, and built-in stand mount.
- Neumann U47 FET – $3,999 each
- The most expensive mic in this collection, the U47 FET is a classic that excels across most studio applications. Not only can it handle high SPL around a drum kit, but it also sounds fantastic on acoustic guitar, vocals, on guitar amps, upright bass and many, many more applications.
- Miktek PMD4 – $699
- This affordable drum mic kit offers 3 PM10 supercardioid tom mics and a PM11 kick drum mic, all in a pro road case with foam inserts.
Often used in mono or stereo, overhead mics capture the cymbals and give the listener a unique view of the overall kit.
- Josephson e22s – $1,390 each
- A truly versatile, high-end condenser mic styled after the Neumann U67, the e22s brings the best out of every application. On toms, it offers plenty of boom, tight transient stick hits, and great off-axis rejection. But it’ doesn’t stop there. This mic is great when used to record acoustic guitar, on toms, hand-percussion, piano and more.
- Royer R121 – $1,399 each
- A true classic, this mic should be in every collection. It offers high SPL handling and a sound that has defined both drum and guitar recording over more than a decade. Over a drum kit, it gives you a unique view of the cymbals, excellent side isolation, and a picture of the room that only a true ribbon mic can bring.
- Aston Spirit – $399 each
- This affordable, variable pattern condenser mic sounds great over a drum kit as well as on vocals, acoustic guitars, piano, and most other applications. Features include three switchable polar patterns, hi-pass filter, pad, and integral pop filter.
While optional, if you don’t have a great room to record in, these mics can be used to add natural, mono or stereo ambiance to your kit making it more dynamic in the mix.
- Neumann TLM107 – $1,399.95 each
- This high dollar mic lives up to its pedigree and price by providing excellent performance across a wide range of applications. It’s variable patterns and side address design makes it easy to place in spaced stereo pairs and blumlein x/y arrays.
- AEA N22 – $899 each
- The N22 is an active ribbon meaning it provides a hotter output and more stable output impedance, perfect for the home studio. It is great on guitar amps, used as a room mic, acoustic instruments and more.
- Mojave MA-100 – $1,590 a pair
- The only tube mic in this group, the sonically superior MA-100 offers Jensen transformers, and interchangeable Cardioid and Omni capsules. It ships with a power supply, mic clips, cable, and carrying case.
By choosing an excellent transducer at the top of your signal chain, you’ve taken an important step in learning to capture great, professional audio. With the choices above, you can switch mics around the kit for different results giving you a way to find out how various mics work in various applications.
Just remember, if things don’t turn out as you expected, don’t be discouraged! You’re learning a craft that takes time, care, repetition, and perseverance. Have fun! You’re creating art.