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Telling apart a track of acoustic drums that was recorded in a real studio from a drum track that sounds like it was recorded at home isn’t hard.
The choice of microphone is usually what sets the two tracks apart.
Where professional studios have the advantage of acquiring premium microphones for recording instruments, home studios have to contend with tight budget issues that limit their options in drum mic choice.
But just because you are working on a tight budget doesn’t mean you have to settle for cheap, inferior quality drum mics.
There are a lot of inexpensive drum recording mic options that home studio owners will benefit from.
Interestingly, professional studios are also turning to more affordable mic options that offer the same superior quality sound reproduction as their primo counterparts.
In this guide and review, I will introduce what the market considers to be the best microphones for recording drums -ideally the most affordable options for home studios.
Our Winner After Careful Research
Best Microphones for Recording Drums - Comparison Table
AKG D112 MkII Professional Bass Drum Microphone
Shure SM57-LC Cardioid Dynamic Microphone
Sennheiser E604 Dynamic Cardioid Instrument Microphone
Neumann KM 184 Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphone
5 Best Microphones for Recording Drums
1. AKG D112 MkII Professional Bass Drum Microphone
Widely known for its ability to pick up high sound levels without distorting, the AKG D112 MkII has become a staple among drummers.
You immediately feel the AKG quality of recording the first time you record using the D112 MkII and playback your session.
It is a large diaphragm professional bass drum mic designed with a high frequency response customized to make high level sounds from bass drums clearly distinguishable.
And, there is a built-in wind screen that makes the D112 MkII ideal for high SPL instruments like the tuba and trombone.
With a mid-range price tag, the AKG D112 is well work investing in if you are looking for something reasonably priced but will offer quality that rivals high end mics.
It is certainly the microphone that will set you apart from other professional drummers in your recording endeavors.
- Crisp audio both in the studio and on-stage
- Cardioid polar pattern focused capture
- Handle high-level signals without distorting
- Specialized for Bass Drums and other instruments
- Immune to any electromagnetic interferences
- Built-in swivel mount
- Not much flexibility with output connectors
2. Shure SM57-LC Cardioid Dynamic Microphone
You want to record drums in your home studio.
You have a figure in mind and it’s a modest one.
The Shure SM57-LC is without a doubt the best value drum mic you’ll get in the market.
It is certainly one of the best-selling drum mic bundles for home and professional studios.
Its sub-$100 price tag is welcome for any artist who wants quality recording on a budget.
Dubbed by some top producers as a true workhorse, the Shure SM57-LC is an excellent mic for recording vocals and capturing a wide array of musical instruments.
Its exceptional ability to handle high sound levels that are known to knock down delicate condenser mics makes it a sweetheart for miking snare and bass drums.
This is a highly directional mic with a cardioid tight focus pickup.
If you are looking to close-mic drums to reduce bleeding, this is the mic to go for.
It will pick up sound from your amps or instrument with best dignity and reject all background and side sounds.
- Bob Clearmountain’s mic of choice
- Dynamic mic with cardioid pickup pattern
- Capture high-quality sounds from amplifiers and nearby instruments
- Handle all of the high-pressure sounds
- Pocket friendly especially for home drum recording
- Some handling noise, but it’s really unobtrusive
3. Sennheiser E604 Dynamic Microphone
So, you want to add another 2 to 3 mics without crowing up the room with mic stands?
The Sennheiser E604 are small and compact enough to attach to the drum rims to reduce cluttering.
These are perfect for miking toms individually – if you feel your toms are not getting sufficient coverage from the overhead mics.
They are low-profile and will comfortably attach wherever you find a suitable rim to clip on.
They are specifically designed to handle high pitched sounds and will have no trouble recording drums, brass instruments, and percussions.
You can capture 40Hz to 18kHz frequencies at more than 160dB sound pressure levels and you won’t feel a crack in your recording.
These are a bundle of three E604 dynamic mics that are popular alternatives to the SM57 when it comes to miking the snare, rack tom, and floor tom individually.
They gives you a clearer, crisp audio of your drumming session whether you are playing hard or going soft.
- Handle the high sound pressure levels without nasty distortion
- Compact design, highly portable device
- Capture even the smallest sounds
- Cancel out any high feedback rejection
- Flexible positioning
- Clip is designed specifically for traditional drum rims
4. Neumann KM 184 Condenser Microphone
The hi-hat is a crucial part of your drum kit that works to connect the spaces in your drum track.
If you want to properly mic the hi-hat, Neumann KM 184 is the ideal option.
The KM 180’s frequency response at 20Hz to 20kHz is ideal for recording in a wide range of situations, especially capturing the hi-hat’s bright, high frequencies.
Well, the hi-hat will actually produce as much low and mid-range frequencies depending on how you hit them.
These frequency ranges are covered.
The KM 180 can handle sound pressure of up to 138dB which is ideal if you want to close-mic your hi-hat or other instruments.
Moving your mic close to the bell gives you a tighter more controlled sound while moving it much higher gives you a real heavy hitter.
As expected, you are gong to experience some bleeding from the rest of the drum kit.
The KM 184’s cardioid polar pattern works perfectly to isolate the target sound for a non-bleed hi-hat close-miking.
Also, this is the best condenser mic to handle the hi-hat’s extremely fast transients.
As a bonus, you want to position your mic on the outside edge of your hi-hat setup.
Usually 6cm or so from the top of the cymbals will minimize bleed form the snare and other drums in the setup.
Now, this isn’t a toy, so it’s going to cost you.
But if you can get past the budget issue, you get a sleek designed, professional quality microphone that will give you reliable sounds from all your drumming sessions.
- Focused cardioid polar pattern isolates signal source effectively
- Transformerless electronic circuitry give a quiet balanced output
- 20 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response offer much needed flexibility
- Handles sound-pressure levels up to 138 dB
- Standard +48V phantom power
- Easy microphone placement
- Costly for most home studios
5. Rode NT5-MP Condenser Microphones
Rode is one of those brands that you can truly trust to produce a reliable, quality microphone.
Their NT5-MP is a popular choice in the world of drum recording.
Sound engineers, artists, and creatives look to this mic to accurately reproduce vocals and instrument recording.
If you are looking for a mic for recording instruments that features high-quality recording properties without leaning heavily on the pricey side, this is Rode’s best suited mic.
The NT5-MP will work extremely well as a spot or overhead mic.
And, it captures genuinely crystal-clear instrument sounds without producing rustles and crackles; no matter how hard you play.
- Cardioid Capsules with tight directional pickup pattern
- Ideal for recording acoustic instruments and drum overheads
- Full frequency response for flexibility in application
- Interchangeable Capsules
- Heavy-duty body looks durable
- Quality audio engineering
- One reviewer cited poor packaging. Isolated case?
Now that you know there are good options for miking acoustic drums even for a working-class budget, you need not blindly throw your money on primo drum mics.
The options covered here are just a snippet of what the market offers, but they are an excellent starting point if you are only getting started.
Also if you want to learn about microphones and the different types, check out this article here