Depending on the type of home studio you’re currently building, you might or not need to record acoustic drums.
However, for those who have enough room and don’t want to use a digital drum kit or DAW Software samples then in this part of the blog I’ll help you choose the best microphone for recording individual drum sounds.
You’ll need dedicated microphones if you want to achieve the best results and compete on a commercial level.
You can’t just pick up any mic and start recording. Always remember that, and make sure you have a good drummer.
Now let’s answer a common newbie question related to drum mics.
How Many Drum Mics Do I Need?
This question is mostly asked by people who’re on a tight budget. My best advice is to always have 5 mics. Each mic for the…
- Hi Hat
Obviously you can get away with 3 Microphones and still compete, especially if you know what you’re doing.
Let’s look at which mic is recommended for each drum sound.
1. Room or Overhead Mics
The best type of mic for recording the drum room is a condenser. Using 2 condenser mics always produces a rich sound, especially if it’s 2 of the same microphone (a pair) recorded in stereo.
When placed well you might not even need to record individual sounds.
But that is usually achieved by using dedicated mics such as a pair of Neumann U87s or a pair of the AKG C414 for example.
Here are the best overhead and room mics:
Click on each brand to compare prices and read customer reviews.
If you can’t afford the U87 or C414 then get the NT5 it will also do a great job but remember to get a pair when recording overheads.
2. Kick Drum Mics
There are a lot of benefits for recording the kick drum individually instead of relying on the overhead mic.
Especially if the kick is the most crucial instrument in the genre of music you’re recording.
Only 1 dynamic mic with a good low-end frequency response will do the job.
If you’ve been following this guide from the beginning, by now you should be able to see why I recommend that you should have at least 3 mics when recording drums.
Also make sure that you’re using a microphone that has a good SPL (Sound Pressure Level), which means the microphone has to be able to handle loud volumes.
Here are the best kick drum mics:
Click each brand to compare prices and read user reviews.
I will always go for the AKG D12VR when recording a kick drum but if you can’t get the D12VR then go for the AKG D112 MkII it’s an awesome dedicated bass drum mic.
3. Snare Mics
For all the Hip Hop fans, you know that the snare needs to shine. This also applies to many other genres as well.
The snare is a very crucial instrument and you’ll need a dedicated mic for it.
Choosing a great snare drum mic is not as daunting as choosing a mic for other sounds like vocals for instance.
The only problem you might face is not having enough channels on your audio interface to capture the overheads, kick and snare.
You’ll need a 4 channel (input) interface. If you have enough inputs then…
Here are the best snare drum microphones:
In this case, my choice is the Shure SM57.
4. Hi-Hat Mics
We can spend the whole day arguing whether you do need to mic the hi-hats or not. Some producers and engineers don’t mic the hi-hats while some do.
I do it so that I can have more flexibility during the mixing stage.
This will mostly depend on your genre and taste but it does make difference to capture the hi-hat on its own track.
You’ll need a good mic that can reject the off-axis sounds and the mic needs to have a good high frequency response.
Here are the best hi-hat mics:
5. Tom Mics
Recording the full set of toms can become very expensive that is why most engineers will got with a mic that they already have/own like the SM57.
Which can do a pretty decent job.
However, to capture an expensive sound you’ll need a dedicated mic that will give you a full and round sound.
You can achieve these results by using a dedicated tom mic.
Here are the best tom mics:
Click each brand to compare prices. The mic you’ll find in most pro studios is the Sennheiser MD 421 and it’s the mic I recommend for recording toms.
Best Drum Mic Bundles
As a bonus I thought it’s good to add drum mic bundles in this guide for those who want to save money and avoid getting an individual mic for each drum sound.
Although you won’t get the same results as someone who’s using dedicated mics, it’s far better than relying on overhead mics only.
What other engineers do is to choose dedicated mics for important drum sounds and use the bundle for the rest.
You can use this technique if you’re on a tight budget.
Here are the best drum mic bundles: