12 Best Drum Mics in 2018
Drums are undoubtedly compelling enough on their own to mesmerize an audience, but when you place a microphone in front of them can take that sound experience to an entirely different level.
In our guide below, we’ll be taking a look at some of the best drum mics.
You’ll need to choose them based on the type of drum you’re playing – what sits in front of a bass drum or a kick-drum isn’t going to work in front of your cymbals or snare drums – but we’ll be explaining all of this in detail as we check out the top 12 mics.
Head on down and check them out!
Top 12 Drum Mics Comparison Table
Types of Drum Mics
We’ll start by comparing the two types of microphones that you can pair with drums: dynamic microphones and condenser microphones. It comes down to the construction and how each mic converts sound into electrical energy, so let’s compare the two.
- Condenser Microphone – On the inside of a condenser microphone, a capacitor converts sound waves into electrical energy.
There are two plates at the font of the mic – one that is much lighter and acts as a diaphragm – and when sound waves enter, it vibrates this diaphragm. The vibration changes the distance between the plates there will either be a charge (when they are close together) or discharge of current (when they are further apart).
For drums, condenser microphones with a cardioid or super-cardioid polar pattern are ideal. We’ll take a look at this more in detail shortly.
These microphones are great for recording in a studio and are much more sensitive to sound than dynamic mics.
- Dynamic Microphone – Here, when sound enters the microphone, it also passes through the diaphragm. In this case, the diaphragm is connected to a copper coil, and when it vibrates, it moves back and forth against a magnet at the back of the microphone, generating a current.
These are great on the road since they are a bit more heavy-duty regarding construction than condenser mics. For live performances, these are usually the go-to option.
As you can see from our table, these are the best drum mics for most drummers.
Polar Pattern – a Simple Explanation
We mentioned the polar pattern earlier when discussing condenser mics, so what is it?
Polar pattern is the way that a microphone picks up sound.
- Cardioid – The microphone picks up sound in front of the microphone but not behind it.
- Omnidirectional – These will pick up sound equally from all directions.
- Figure 8 – This type of pattern means that sound will be picked up in front of and behind the mic, but not from the sides.
Cardioid polar pattern mics are probably the most useful to drummers.
To help you narrow down the options even further, you should also consider your performance location. Drumming in your garage is different from drumming on a stage or in a small, intimate environment.
- Live Performances – As we already mentioned, a dynamic microphone is perfect for live performances due to their versatility. They’re great for drums, vocals, and other instruments, and they work with most types of drums. For musicians on a budget, it makes more sense to get a mic like this rather than spending hundreds on individual drum mics.
- Home or Studio – Those of you who perform at home or if you’re recording in a studio should opt for condenser microphones. They are much more sensitive to sound, as we have mentioned, and they are also a bit more delicate. They don’t travel as well as dynamic mics do.
Top 4 Best Drum Mics Reviews
For clean instrumental sound quality and rich vocals, the Shure SM57 is a great choice.
The cardioid pickup pattern is very effective, allowing you to hone in more on the drums and less sounds behind the mic (you moving, for example).
It has a frequency response of 40 – 15,000 Hz, a pneumatic shock-mount system that will cut down on the noise as you handle it and like any good dynamic mic should be, it is very durable. It can handle high sound pressures extremely well without any distortion, which is perfect when you are using it in front of the drums.
The quality and versatility are hard to beat in this price range.
If you’d like to spend a bit less on a dynamic mic and you’re in need of one that you can use in a variety of ways, we’d recommend this one from GLS Audio.
This is a uni-directional dynamic mic that works well with drums and other instruments. It has a 72dB sensitivity at 1,000 Hz, a frequency range of 40Hz-15,000Hz and an impedance of 300 ohms at 1,000 Hz. The sound quality is bright with little static, and those who are familiar with both Shure and GLS even feel that it is better than the SM57 we just looked at.
It all depends on your needs and budget, but if you’re looking to spend less, this little microphone will not disappoint.
Some of you might prefer to spring for a drum mic set rather than relying on one mic or purchasing them individually, and if that’s the case, then Audio-Technica’s MB/DK4 set is worth a look.
The great thing about these microphones is that they are engineered specifically for drums: the design is sleek and low profile, so they don’t steal the spotlight as you perform and they have built-in adjustable stand mounts.
You get three MB 5k cardioid dynamic mics for the snares and toms (frequency response of 100-12,000Hz) plus one MB 6k cardioid dynamic mic for the kick drums (frequency response of 60-12,000Hz). Impedance for both is 500 ohms.
This is a great set that is fairly priced. Perfect for the road or at-home use!
This mic from AKG is ideal for the bass drum.
The large diaphragm has a low resonance frequency that adds a little punch to the sound quality, and it can handle over 160 dB SPL without the distortion.
The audio frequency bandwidth is 20-17,000 Hz with an electrical impedance of 210 ohms.
Due to the price, we don’t see this being the right fit for everyone. If drumming is a hobby, then you should definitely opt for something cheaper. If you’re more serious about performing, then this is a great investment that will ensure you excellent sound quality as you jam away for the crowds.