The Best Microphones for Recording Drums in a Home Studio

In today’s home studios…

Where electronic drums and drum machines are the norm…

It’s pretty rare to find someone who actually records with acoustic drums! More here https://simplydrum.com/p/best-snare-wires/.

Anyway, for those lucky few with enough space and enough equipment …

A well-recorded drum track can make the difference between a song that sounds good…

…  to be registered at home …

…From one that sounds like it’s from a  real studio.

Of course, to do this, one of the first things you will need is a collection of the right microphones …

And it is for this reason that in this post I talk about the most popular (and theoretically most accessible ) microphones for recording drums at home.

But before…

We set priorities …

To mike a standard drum kit, an engineer could choose to use  two  to a  dozen  microphones, depending on:

  • how many have available
  • how many it needs to achieve the desired sound

And considering that many home studios have far fewer microphones than they actually want…

My idea with this post is to help you prioritize, introducing each of them in order of importance.

Let’s begin. First…

1. Overhead / Room Microphones

If you only have two tracks to record an entire kit …

The two mics you will use will undoubtedly be a pair of overhead/room mics …

As the aim will be to obtain a balanced and stereo sound image of the battery as a whole.

The standard choice for overheads is a pair of condenser microphones  (both wide and narrow ).

3 very popular options in  pro studios  are:

  • Neumann KM184 (pair)
  • AKG C414 (pair)
  • Neumann U87 (pair)

As you can see, these are all too expensive solutions for most home studios.

So, for us poor workers with a proletarian budget, this article offers some great alternatives:

Let’s continue with …

2. Speaker Microphones

The biggest problem with using just two overheads is…

The bass drum, which is the most important element of the drums …

It is not taken up properly.

So for a  3-channel setup, the next mic is the one I recommend for the kick drum.

Just like any instrument that emits low frequencies, a special type of dynamic microphone designed specifically for low frequencies is required with the kick drum.

Let’s continue with…

3. Microphones for snare drum

Together with the bass drum…

The other  “fundamental element” of a drum kit is obviously the snare drum.

So, with a  4-channel setup, this is the microphone I recommend setting.

For the snare drum, there is a microphone that more than any other is used frequently in professional studios …

It’s that it makes further research on the part of beginners useless… especially considering the price.

This microphone is of course the  Shure SM57

Here’s what it offers :

  1. Withstand high sound pressure levels  – to handle high volumes without distortion.
  2. Tight cardioid pattern  – to minimize interference from other elements, and be able to handle more gain before triggering feedback.
  3. Durable construction  – to withstand any blows without damage.

And most importantly… the SM57 sounds great on the snare drum. For all these reasons, it is the only microphone I recommend for this purpose in a home studio.

Let’s continue with …

4. Microphones for hi-hat

Among all the cymbals of a battery …

It is indisputable that the hi-hat is the most important of all.

For this reason, if there is a cymbal that deserves a microphone of its own, this is it.

The preferred option in these cases is a cardioid with a small-diaphragm condenser …

For its ability to capture high-frequency detail and reject off-axis sounds from other instruments.

A very popular hi-hat microphone in professional studios is the  Neumann KM184.

Let’s continue with …

5. Microphones for Tom

In many cases, engineers choose NOT to mic the toms individually …

As they are captured quite well even using just overheads.

But when they choose to do it …

The choice often falls on the SM57, also because many studies have them in abundance.

Alternatively…

Many people prefer the sound  more full  and  round   other  dynamic microphones  as:

  1. Sennheiser MD421
  2. Sennheiser MD441U
  3. Electrovoice RE20

The problem with these home studio microphones   is that:

  1. They cost a lot, and you will need a lot of them.
  2. It’s a hassle to add 2 or 3 mic stands in an already crowded room.

For this reason, the third alternative, the  Sennheiser e604 – is great as it can be mounted on the edge of the tom, rather than using additional rods.

Let’s continue with…

6. Other Microphones for Cymbals

Just like with toms…

Engineers often choose NOT to make the rides and crashes individually …

As sufficiently covered by overheads.

However, should you decide to film them separately …

The standard option is a  small diaphragm condenser microphone.

And finally …

Bundle of Microphones for Drums

Now that we’ve seen how to mic the whole drum kit …

It is clear that many microphones are required for recording, right?

Add up a little, and you’ll find that the total spend exceeds what most home studios intend to spend.

One way to save money (as well as time) is to buy a  bundle of drum microphones.

The best 2 that I recommend are :

  • Sennheiser e600
  • Audix DP 7

And if they’re too expensive, here are 3 more options :

  • Shure PGDMK 6
  • Audix FP 7
  • Samson 8Kit