Tired of your drums sounding like they were recorded on a potato?
Well, fear not, fellow drummers, we’ve got the solution for you.
After hours of research, testing, and a few smashed cymbals, we’ve put together a list of the 12 best mics for recording epic drums. From the classic SM57 to the high-end AKG D112, we're going to look at mics for every budget and every type of drum sound.
Note: this article may contain affiliate links, which mean that I receive a commission for any purchases you make, at no added cost to you.
So, whether you're recording your garage band's demo or laying down tracks for your next platinum album, these mics will have your drums sounding like they were recorded in a legit studio, not your mom's basement.
Best Mics for Snare Drum
In this section I'll cover the 3 best microphones for recording snare. These snare mics all sound great, and offer options for all budgets.
Shure SM 57
The Shure SM57 has long been the snare drum's best friend, and let me tell you, there is no other mic that brings the snap quite like it. It's truly the Hulk Hogan of microphones, with a beefy sound and rugged build. It has become one of industry standard dynamic mics for a reason - because it is beloved by sound engineers as one of the most powerful close mics.
I’ve used it as both a top and bottom mic on numerous records and every time, it delivers a crisp and powerful sound that cuts through the mix. It’s an awesome microphone for rock records in that way.
One of the best things about the SM57 is that it’s practically indestructible, so you can throw it in your gig bag or drop it off the ledge of your third-story apartment, and it'll still be ready to rock when you need it. This durability also gives the SM57 the edge when it comes to live performance.
And if you’ve read just about any list of any “best microphones for *insert here* online before, the SM57 was likely on that list. We’re sure you’re sick of hearing about it at this point, but sometimes, you have to drive a point home as hard as you can.
So repeat after me:
Every 👏 Home Studio 👏 Should 👏 Have 👏 An 👏 SM57 👏
If you're looking for a mic that'll make your snare drum sound as punchy as Manny Pacquiao during the championships, look no further than the Shure SM57.
If you're looking for a mic that'll capture every essence and nuance of your snare drum, then look no further than the Neumann KM184. Neumann is one of the top microphone producers in the world, and this microphone is a true masterpiece when it comes to capturing the desirable elements of a snare drum's sound.
Its small diaphragm condenser design delivers a pristine and detailed sound with a high-frequency response that will make your ears perk up.
The KM184 has a unique cardioid polar pattern, which makes it perfect for close-miking a snare drum without picking up too much bleed from other instruments. It also has a high SPL handling capability, so you can really lay into those rimshots without worrying about distortion.
Plus, with a sleek and compact design, you can easily position in tight spaces or on a drum kit with limited real estate.
Of course, we can’t forget about the build quality - the KM184 is a work of art both sonically and physically. Its all-metal construction provides durability and longevity (and it should for the price), and the attention to detail in its design is unmatched.
So, if you're serious about getting the best possible sound out of your snare drum, invest in the Neumann KM 184.
If you have some cash to spend, the Josephson E22S is a true gem in the world of snare drum mics. This large diaphragm condenser mic is designed with the snares in mind, and it shows in the stunning sound it outputs.
One thing to note about the E22S is that it has a unique circuit design that provides a flat frequency response, giving you a natural and transparent sound that captures every detail of the snare drum's tone. This makes it great for any sound source where you really need transparency. This also means that the snare's higher frequencies are beautifully preserved, without being too harsh.
The mic's extended low-frequency response also gives the snare drum a full-bodied, cannon-like sound, perfect for those snare drum tones that hit you in the chest. Similar to the Neumann mic, the cardioid polar pattern on the Josephson E22S provides excellent isolation, ensuring that you only capture the sound of the snare drum and not your wailing on the hi-hat right next to it.
As the cherry on top, it's built with high-quality materials that make it both sturdy and durable, perfect for the rough and tumble world of drumming.
When all is said and done, if you want a snare drum mic that delivers a pristinely natural sound, then the Josephson E22S is the mic for you. Its quality design and craftsmanship make it a worthy investment for any serious drummer.
Best Kick Drum Mics
In this section I'll recommend my 3 favorite kick drum mics. You really can't go wrong with either! And the best part is that neither will break the bank.
AKG D112 MKII
If you're in search of a kick drum mic that can bring the thunder from the down under to your kick drum sound, then look no further than the AKG D 112 MKII. This dynamic mic is a tried and true classic in the world of drum mics, and for good reason.
With a large diaphragm design, it’s able to deliver a rich and punchy kick drum sound like the hammer of Thor.
Notably, the D112 MKII has a specially designed EQ curve that enhances the low-end frequencies, resulting in a warm and powerful bass response that’ll hit you right in the chest. Having this EQ curve built in makes drum recording easier because you instantly have great sound without need to reach for other tools. Plus, the cardioid polar pattern ensures excellent isolation, making it perfect for both live performances and studio recordings.
Because you’re recording kick, you probably want something that can hold up under serious pressure. Luckily, the mic's rugged build quality includes robust metal housing that can handle even the most energetic double bass metal drummers. It even comes with an integrated stand adapter that allows for easy and secure mounting, making setup a breeze.
Overall, the AKG D112 MKII is the mic for kick drum if you need a big, beefy sound. There’s a reason it's a classic.
Shure Beta 52A
If there were another classic mic that the AKG D112 MKII could go head-to-head with, it’d be the Shure Beta 52A. It's a true classic for recording drums.
There are few microphones that can match the power and precision of the Shure Beta 52A. As a heavy-hitting dynamic microphone, it is specifically designed to handle the high sound pressure levels that come with recording kick drums, providing a clear and focused sound with every nuance intact.
One of the standout features of the Beta 52A is its tailored frequency response, which emphasizes the low end of the kick drum while maintaining a smooth and natural sound across the entire frequency range. This means that you get both the thump and punch of the kick drum in all its glory, as well as that little basketball-like click up top.
Plus, it does it without any muddiness or distortion that can often plague other microphones!
Overall, the Shure Beta 52A is one of the most reliable and versatile kick mics that has earned its reputation as the go-to choice for capturing the perfect kick drum sound. Its rugged construction, superior sound quality, and excellent performance make it a must-have for any serious drummer or audio engineer looking to capture the true essence of a modern kick.
Sennheiser E602 II
Capturing your kick drum on a budget? Look no further than the Sennheiser E 602 II. It is the big boss of kick drum microphones for those just stepping into the world of recording. And let me tell you, even with its budget price, this mic is a real beast. The massive diaphragm design can handle the most thunderous kicks you can throw at it.
Not only is the E602 II capable of capturing those deep, low frequencies that make your kicks really pop, but it's also got a nice, smooth midrange that helps your drums cut through the mix without being too harsh or brittle.
Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn’t mention the E602 II's rugged build quality. This thing is built like a tank, and through the years, it has survived even the rowdiest of drummers.
While it might not be the “best” microphone at anything in particular, it’ll give your kicks that fat and juicy sound that’ll force your listeners to make the “oh dang” bass face.
Trust me, once you hear your kicks through the Sennheiser E602 II, you won't be able to go back to those wimpy small diaphragm mics you used to use. So go ahead, give it a try - your ears (and your kicks) will thank you.
Best Tom Mics
Here are two fantastic options for tom mics. The Earthworks are definitely the better sounding of the two, but not something I'd take for live shows. Also, be sure to buy as many mics as you have toms! That probably means buying three tom mics: one for the floor, and one for each of the mounted toms. Though some drummer's setups may be even more intense!
Recorded toms can be hard to get right, but if you're a drummer looking to capture the perfect tom tone, look no further than the Sennheiser E604 microphone. This dynamic microphone has been a true studio workhorse for decades, delivering crisp and detailed toms with all the best nuances on some of your favorite records. Whether you're close mic'ing a floor tom or a rot0 tom, the Sennheiser does a great job. I especially think it makes a great choice for live gigs given it's relative affordability and durability.
One of the things I love about the E604 the most, however, is its compact size, which allows it to be easily mounted on toms without getting in the way of your playing. Despite its small form factor, the E604 packs a serious punch, thanks to its tailored frequency response that emphasizes the midrange. Even so, it maintains a clear and natural sound across the entire frequency spectrum.
The E604 also boasts excellent off-axis rejection, which helps to minimize bleed from other drums and cymbals in your kit. This ensures that your toms remain front and center in the mix, without unwanted interference from other sources.
Overall, the Sennheiser E604 is a reliable and versatile choice for capturing the perfect tom sound, no matter your playing style. Its rugged construction, excellent sound quality, and compact size make it a must-have for any serious musician or recording engineer.
Let me introduce you to one of my absolute favorite tom microphones and somewhat of a hidden gem —the Earthworks DM20. One of my engineering professors use to call it the Tom-Tom whisperer.
This dynamic microphone has long been the secret weapon for drummers looking to capture the perfect toms.
First of all, let's talk about the DM20's diaphragm - it's so sensitive that you could pick up the sound of a feather hitting a pillow.
...Okay, that’s definitely an exaggeration, but you get the idea - the mic is wildly precise. It's like having a microscope for your toms, perfect for prog or jazz drummers who need nuance.
Of course, you shouldn’t let the DM20's delicate nature fool you - it's also a tough cookie. This mic can handle even the most aggressive drumming, and I’ve used it on plenty of rock and metal records. With its sturdy construction and superior shock resistance, you could drop this thing off a cliff, and it would still come out sounding like a million bucks.
(Disclaimer: please do not drop your DM20 off a cliff).
Overall, if you're looking for a mic to bring out the best in your toms, look no further than the Earthworks DM20. Plus it looks really cool.
Best Overhead Drum Mics
Here are three great choices for overhead mics. The Neumann is the top-of-the-line choice, though it may be a little out of most budgets. On the other hand, the Behringer's are ultra affordable and make a great choice for some additional depth to your kit and cymbals, assuming you have good close mics for the rest of your kick. And in the middle you'll find an excellent choice in Warm Audio's WA-84 mics.
Many refer to the Neumann U87Ai as the Rolls Royce of overhead mics. I agree. With such a luxurious sound and feel, it puts other mics to shame.
The U87Ai is a true magic wand for drum overheads, capturing the sound of your cymbals and drums with such clarity and detail it's almost like hearing them for the first time. This is all thanks to the U87Ai's frequency response, which is about as flat as a ruler. This wide frequency response ensures that you can capture all the beauty of a kit.
As with most Neumann microphones, the U87Ai puts a golden sheen on everything it touches, thanks to the large diaphragm design that captures the sound of everything around it.
And we couldn’t finish this review without mentioning the U87Ai's sleek design. It’s a true work of art and so beautiful you'll want to display it in your living room and show it off to your friends.
All in all, if you have the money to spend on a matched pair of beautiful condenser mics and want your drums to sound like they're fit for royalty, you need to get your hands on a Neumann U87Ai. It's one of the few mics that can make your cymbals shimmer like diamonds. However, given it's price and fragility, please only use these in the recording studio!
Warm Audio WA84
The Warm Audio WA84 microphones are an excellent choice for drum overhead mics due to their outstanding sound quality and versatility. These microphones are designed to capture detailed and transparent sound, making them ideal for accurately reproducing the sound of drums, yet they won't break the bank.
The WA84 microphones are modeled after the classic Neumann KM84 microphones, which are highly regarded for their natural sound and versatility. The WA84 microphones deliver a similar sound with a modern twist, thanks to their high-quality components and construction.
One of the main benefits of using a stereo pair of WA84 microphones for drum overheads is their ability to capture the stereo image of the drum kit. The soundstage is wide and spacious, allowing the listener to hear each element of the kit in its own distinct space. The WA84 microphones also excel at capturing the transient response of the drums, which gives them a punchy and lively sound.
Another benefit of the WA84 microphones is their flexibility. They are capable of handling high sound pressure levels, which is important when miking a drum kit. Additionally, they can be used for other applications, such as acoustic guitar, piano, and vocals.
Overall, the Warm Audio WA84 microphones are an excellent choice for drum overhead mics. They offer outstanding sound quality, versatility, and flexibility, making them a great investment for any recording studio or live sound setup. Their frequency response rolls of a little on the low end, so you won't pick up excessive amounts of kick drum or tom. It has a slight top boost that brings the cymbals forward, without sounding over hyped. These mics are definitely a set-it-and-forget-it choice for studios!
Sometimes, the best things come in small packages. That's definitely the case with the Behringer C2. It’s the mighty mite of overhead microphones.
However, you can’t let its tiny size fool you. These small diaphragm mics punch above their weight when it comes to capturing the sound of your cymbals and drums. It’s a truly stealthy little microphone, so understated that you won't even notice it's there until you hear the playback and your drops.
The best part about the C2 for home recording enthusiasts, of course, is tha it won't break the bank. You have high-quality sound without burning a hole in your pocket. You could buy a whole set of C2s for the neighborhood for the price of one fancy-schmancy mic. Thanks to that low price, Behringer c-2s are actually a pretty good choice for live use, if you're using a pair of overheads instead of close mic'ing.
Even with its budget-friendly price, you can’t forget about the C2's versatility - it's a true Swiss Army Knife for your drum kit. I often find myself using it for overheads, hi-hats, percussion, and more.
So if you're looking for a mic that can deliver top-notch sound without breaking your budget, look no further than the Behringer C2. It's like a little miracle worker for your drums - and who doesn't love a good underdog story?
Best Drum Mic Kits
Finally, if you're looking to save some money and make your life easier, you can pick up one of these drum mic kits. They include everything you need to mic a drum kit at a discount. Over the years, you can then switch out / upgrade the components as you like.
Looking for a drum mic kit that'll make your drum set sound like it's playing at Madison Square Garden? Let me introduce you to the Shure DMK57-52.
This kit is like the A-team of microphones - each one has its own role to play, and when they come together, they're unstoppable. It is the best drum mic kit for the value, and honestly is a great choice for live sound at any price point!
The first thing you’ll notice when you bust open the pack is the SM57 - the snare mic superhero. This thing can handle even the most aggressive snare hits thanks to its superior durability and shock resistance.
Next, we have the Beta 52A - the bass drum behemoth. As we said earlier, this mic is like a cannon. You get powerful and precise kick tones to make your bass drum sound like thunder from down under.
Of course, we can’t forget about the included A56D mounting system. It's sleek, stylish, and gets the job done without breaking a sweat.
So if you want your drums to sound top-notch and make recording as easy as possible, the Shure DMK57-52 kit is a perfect choice for live performance. Each mic brings its own unique talents to the table, giving you everything you need to record without having to think too hard about it.
The only downside is that it doesn't include any overhead condenser mics, so you'll definitely want to pick up a pair! I'd recommend the Warm Audio WA84s with this kit due to their complimentary frequency responses.
If the Shure DMK57-52 doesn’t do for you, then the Sennheiser E600 drum mic kit will surely get the party started. In recent years it's become one of the most popular choices in a live setting, and also delivers a great drum sound in the studio when thoughtfully paired with the right condenser room mics.
Just like the Shure set, each mic in this kit has its own distinct personality and together, they make sweet music.
First up, we have the E602-II, perfect for bass drum. It’s sleek, stylish, and packs a punch, giving your kick that extra, well, kick.
Next, we have the E604. Don’t let the small, stealthy build fool you. It was made to handle even the most complex, Peart-style tom fills. Small but mighty? Who can complain?
Lastly, we have the E614 and E608 microphones. The E614 delivers crisp and clear sound for your overheads, while the E608 acts as the secret weapon for your hi-hats and snare. You get the snap and the sizzle.
The Sennheiser E600 drum mic kit delivers in full, with each mic bringing its own flavor to the mix at a very reasonable price. It’s a great choice for any drummer just getting their feet wet in the world of recording.
From a Frustrated Producer in a Ragtag Bedroom Studio to Major Placements on TV Earning $1,000s!
My name is Evan, and I've been making music since around 3rd grade. I'm from San Diego, California, but I've lived in Washington, DC for the last 20 years.
While I still have a full-time day job, I have created systems that have allowed me to produce dozens of songs a year in my spare time.
My songs have been on Netflix, TV shows like the 90 Day Fiance, an award-winning indie film, and NPR’s “All Thing Considered.” They've also been streamed millions of times.
In addition to being a music producer, I am passionate about teaching people how they can make professional-sounding music and earn money licensing it, all in their spare time.
Thousands of musicians, like yourself, have trusted me to guide their musical journey. My YouTube videos have been watched nearly a million times. And my story has been in Forbes, Side Hustle Nation, and the Side Hustle School.