5 Best Microphones for Jazz Drums in 2020
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Drumming has a very unique place in music.
Energetic sounds and seemingly random rhythms from drumming are sure to keep the show going.
But let’s face it.
Jazz drumming is an entirely different animal from most other types of drumming.
While the jazz drummer will try to push the instruments to their limits, they are also very keen not to be overbearing or too powerful as to lose the warmth, groove, and freedom of jazz.
When it comes to jazz drum recording, you will find quite a number of miking techniques.
It’s easy to get lost and confused with the minuscule variables separating different techniques -especially over how many microphones you’ll need overall -, when you should only be concerned with getting the best microphones in your locker.
If you have 5 or so microphones that you know are good for recording jazz drums, you can manipulate them so you get the best sound from your jazz rig.
Most jazz producers need about three mics to accurately record a jazz drum set up while maintaining the loose, dynamic feel of the entire band.
The combination of three mics – two balanced, hand-matched overhead mics plus one kick drum mic- is still a popular miking technique known to give great results for jazz drum recording.
Below are some of the options professional jazz drummers and producers will go for if they had to mike an entire jazz setup with not more than 3 mics. Budget in mind!
Our Winner After Careful Research
Best Microphones for Jazz Drums - Comparison Table
Shure VP88 Condenser Microphone
Audio-Technica AE5100 Microphone
AKG D112 MkII Professional Bass Drum Microphone
Audio-Technica AT4047 Microphone
5 Best Microphones for Jazz Drums
1. Shure VP88 Condenser Microphone
Renown drummer Steve Smith’s mic of choice.
The Shure VP88 is a professional single-point stereo condenser microphone with a switch-selectable mid-side matrix that can adjust the level of stereo width to control the degree of image separation.
Essentially, with the VP88, you get the two condenser cartridges combined in a single housing.
It uses a time-coherent, Mid-side configuration to capture a rich stereo image from your jazz drum kit.
A built-in matrix helps control and lock the ideal stereo “spread”.
But sound engineers who prefer to use an external stereo matrix or do the stereo imaging in post-production can choose to bypass the internal M-S matrix.
Miking jazz drums with a VP88 overhead is a breeze.
Use the switches towards the top of the microphone to control stereo imaging, output mode, low-frequency roll-off settings, and even power option (battery on/off).
Position the mic about 3 (three) feet above the cymbals and adjust to find the sweet spot where you get a good balance of presence and ambiance.
You’ll find a multi-connector “Y-splitter” cable with a 5-pin XLRM that goes to the mic’s XLR interface and two standard 3-pin XLRM connectors that go to the mixer.
The connector passes signals in either of three stereo modes; MS-signals, L signal, and R signal.
In terms of construction, this doesn’t look like a delicate microphone.
It is durable and dependable, built to withstand demanding tours, concerts, and studio use.
- Time-coherent, Mid-Side (M-S) design for optimal stereo imaging
- Mono compatibility ideal for broadcast applications
- operate on phantom power or an internal 6V battery
- supplied with a multi-connector “Y-splitter” cable
- LED power indicator
- Extreme low-end roll-off, starting 200 Hz
2. Audio-Technica AE5100 Microphone
How about a large-diaphragm condenser microphone that looks more pencil-shaped?
Audio Technica’s Artist Elite AE5100 is a unique large-diaphragm cardioid condenser instrument microphone that comes in a teenier-than-usual body but offers uncompromising sound quality you’d expect from a large-diaphragm mic.
The AE5100 incorporates all the essential features of a large-diaphragm condenser microphone to produce quality live sound for overheads, percussions, and acoustic instruments.
The large-diaphragm element delivers natural and transparent sounds and is able to bear high transients with very minimal noise.
Its rich, warm, and accurate sound is not only suitable for miking instruments, but also choirs and other vocal applications.
Its HPF below 80z with a gradual 12dB/Octave eliminates ‘pop’ noise when miking in close proximity.
It allows for a smooth conversion from flat frequency response to a low-end roll-off.
The frequency response coupled with the mic’s sensitivity makes it an excellent choice for overhead miking jazz drums or percussions.
A 10dB pad gives much-needed headroom when you’re miking aggressive drummers.
One thing that most reviewers, sound engineers, and jazz drummers don’t fail to comment on about the AE5100 is its sleek low-profile design.
“Who’d have thought a large-diaphragm condenser sound could come from a slender mic?” most would record about the near-pencil-like profile of the AE5100. Sonically, it compares to the large studio microphones, but this one has a better performance-to-size ratio.
- Natural response with warm and accurate sound delivery
- Large-diaphragm sound in a small body
- Cardioid polar pattern improves target sound isolation
- High pass filter switch below 80Hz
- 10dB pad switch increases headroom
- External 11V or 52V phantom power potions
- Feels delicate compared to your typical large-diaphragm mic
3. AKG D112 MkII Microphone
Any jazz producer who’s any good will not miss the AKG D112 MKII in the microphone locker.
This is the industry standard for bass mics.
It offers very specific features which are tailored for recording bass cabs, kick drums, and other bass instruments.
Its low-end frequency response is perhaps what makes it a favorite among jazz producers looking to mic their kick drums.
There is a narrow-band presence boost at 4kHz creating remarkable clarity and detail even in noisy stages.
Dynamic mics are known to be rugged and can withstand the high sound pressure levels your kick drum will deliver.
Being a large-diaphragm dynamic microphone with a 160dB high SPL capability and 1.8 mV/Pa low sensitivity makes it a suitable candidate for recording bass instruments.
And, there’s no arguing that dynamic mics generally produce good quality sound in most (if not all) recording applications.
The AKG D112 MkII’s cardioid polar pattern configuration helps focus sound pick up and minimize mic bleed.
Covering over the bass drum won’t be necessary, but you can still go ahead and do it if you feel it will improve the overall sound of your recording.
- Tailored for recording bass cabs, kick drums
- Narrow-band presence boost at 4kHz
- 160dB high SPL capability
- Large-diaphragm dynamic microphone
- Low sensitivity for bass recording
- Too bulky for tight spaces
4. Audio-Technica AT4047 Microphone
If you are going for a 3-channel setup, you’ll definitely want to mic the kick so it gets adequate coverage.
This particular jazz drum kit miking set up makes the kick drum feature strongly in the mix.
With the AT4047/SV in front of the kick drum, you’ll capture high-quality audio fidelity with enough detail and authority to maintain the groove.
To capture the subtle, warm jazz sound of the entire drum set up, position your AT4047/SV large-diaphragm condenser mic 3 or so feet in front of the jazz drum kit.
Being a cardioid microphone, you’ll have to adjust the mic position to get the “sweet spot”.
You don’t want the kick to be too strong in the mix tilt upwards- at the same time, you don’t want to lose the drums in the cymbals – tilt down.
Whether you are using the AT4047/SV to mic the entire jazz set up or just the kick drum, you’ll certainly benefit from the low self-noise and high SPL capability of this microphone.
With a 20Hz to 18kHz frequency response range, this mic is able to capture low-end frequencies with remarkable clarity and still maintain a good presence in the mid and high frequency.
- Low self-noise with high SPL capability
- Wide-range 20Hz -18kHz frequency response
- Capture low-end frequencies with remarkable clarity
- Good presence in the Mid and High frequency
- Quality concerns
5. Beyerdynamic TG D57
If you are in the market for a streamlined mic solution for jazz drums, the BeyerDynamic TG D57c comes highly recommended for onstage and studio applications.
This is a rugged condenser clip-on microphone with a cardioid polar pattern that provides high-gain-before-feedback.
It has an integrated preamp that allows for a full-range 20Hz – 20kHz frequency response with a clean, punchy, sound reproduction.
It has a 140dB maximum SPL rating so you can mic energetic drummers to get a powerful sound without worrying about overload.
An elastic capsule suspension cushions the mic from drumstick strikes that fall off target.
Compact form-factor is another attractive feature of this mic.
It comes with a 2.83” gooseneck extender and a versatile clip mount that can mount on most drum kits.
- Cardioid audio pickup for high-gain-before feedback
- Integrated pre-amp and XLR connection
- Rubber shock-mounted capsule suspension
- Angled or flexible gooseneck with swivel joint
- Quick and easy mounting
- German made
- Not the best fit on wooden hoops
Jazz drum recording doesn’t require a lot of mics.
If you are able to find even two microphones that you know will get you the best sound from your jazz setup, you can manipulate those to work for you.
Most likely, you already have some good options in your locker for miking jazz drums.
If not, the options recommended above are excellent choices…and they won’t drain your account