Best Condenser Mics for Recording Drums?
August 26, 2008 12:05 PM   Subscribe

What is a good set of condenser microphones for recording drums?

I'm looking to record an EP with my band. I am looking for a two-overhead condenser/one bass drum mic set up. I'd like a recommendation for a pair of don't break the bank but still good condenser microphones. I probably don't want to spend more than $400 on the pair.
posted by Ironmouth to Technology (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If you're hoping to record drums with just two microphones you may wish to reconsider. I reckon you'd have better results with a snare and kick mic, and one overhead.

Snare - Shure SM57
Kick - AKG D112

Many would regard these to be industry standards but there are still lots of other choices.

Overheads, there's lots of choice still - Audio Technica AT4040, MXL V69 (although some dispute its reliability) and the Rode NT5 or NT2 would do just great. Or in fact any decent LD condensor.

If you fancy investing in a microphone that will work with pretty much anything you throw at it - instruments, voice, drums - then you simply cannot beat the AKG C414.

Good luck!
posted by gkhewitt at 12:29 PM on August 26, 2008

Response by poster: Only have three inputs available--we're going to do live recordings for the EP. I have 57's sitting around, but everything I have read suggests the two condenser set up, not one overheard condenser, one SM 57 on the snare and the D112. I am going to buy the D112 for sure, so I didn't put that in there.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:59 PM on August 26, 2008

There are LOTS of good mic options for drums, and just as many philosophies about drum recording... personally, I've gotten some of my favorite kit sounds from just a single well-placed large diaphragm condenser (with no kick-specific mic or anything). I'd recommend browsing the gearslutz forums a bit for further insight... you are bound to find some good recommendations that will match your budget and your band's particular sonic style (whatever that might be). Good luck and have fun...
posted by departure lounge at 1:03 PM on August 26, 2008

If you want ridiculous flamewars over cheap gear, go ask at Gearslutz, because that's their forte (you might get some really good recommendations, too; a few guys really love the low-priced KEL HM-1 for drum OHs).

If it were me, though, I'd spend that $400 on blocking out a day or two at a studio. Especially when you're not close-micing the snare, you want to record in the best room you can manage.
posted by uncleozzy at 1:06 PM on August 26, 2008

for that budget I'd recommend ">these. it's a knock off of an Earthworks mic, the kind used for OH in their highly regarded drum mic kit.

very low priced, and highly accurate sounding. at this price range, you want accuracy, not coloration (IMO). they're omni though, so they'll work for drum OH, possibly piano, and ensemble recording- not much else. and as someone else said, room sound is crucial when you're relying so heavily on (omni) OHs. the Behringer is not the quietest mic, though.

they used to be cheaper (maybe check ebay) but the Oktava MC012s were the budget-standard OH mics for a while. Oktava's profile has seemed to dinish considerably though. they're currently selling new for $500 per matched pair, which is still a good deal.

gotta say though, you're better off buying one GREAT sdc than 2 cheaper ones. you could probably find a used AKG451 for that. many classic albums (including every Beatles record prior to Abbey Road) was done with a single OH mic.
posted by tremspeed at 1:26 PM on August 26, 2008

real link this time:
posted by tremspeed at 1:27 PM on August 26, 2008

Why do you want condensers? What sort of room are you recording in? What sort of music?

$400 will rent you some pretty spectacular mics for a week or two, maybe longer.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 2:02 PM on August 26, 2008

Response by poster: I guess this is more of a demo tape than anything else, and the room is terrible-a garage. Music is indie.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:01 PM on August 26, 2008

uncleozzy rocks it once again. The sound from subpar microphones really isn't worth bothering with. But spend that same amount at a project studio where *someone else* has already dropped the Gs on mics and you'll have tracks you can use. A second reason to spend the money at a studio is to get more than three simultaneous channels. A typical minimalist set of drum tracks in rock music would be kik, sn, L/R overheads: four channels total. Drop the snare for a minimalist jazz drum recording setup (a la Earthworks 3mic technique) and you lose the ability to shape your backbeat and the all-important snare reverb. Gotta have kick, so don't drop that.

Room, mics, and three+ channels all point towards spending $400 (or even half that) at a real studio. You'll be amazed at the improvement in the basic tracks and what you can do with them in mixdown.

But, okay, to answer your question. Eww. Kick is D-112, snare is 57, use an off-brand condenser that fits your budget in figure-8 mode with the lobes pointed *AWAY* from the drum kit, and read up on MS (mid-sides stereo encoding) techniques.
posted by lothar at 4:12 PM on August 26, 2008

Best answer: Secret Drum Overhead Mics - Awesome & Cheap - Don't Tell Anyone!

AudioTechnica Pro37 small-diaphragm condenser microphone, ~$100 each. Small, cheap, light & easily positionable, sound AWESOME on drums (personal opinion) and the obligatory "steve albini likes 'em", too.

See if you can find a used Electrovoice RE20 with the other $200 for the kick and Bob's Yer Uncle.

Google "glyn johns drum mics" for a sweet and natural sounding 3-mic kit setup.
posted by Aquaman at 4:51 PM on August 26, 2008

Though I do not have personal experience with any of these, my friend found this article to be very helpful for shopping inexpensive condenser mics.

Budget Mics, Big Sound

I think he bought the M Audio.
posted by glycolized at 5:13 PM on August 26, 2008

where are these studios with 'Gs' of mics that are $200 a day with engineer?
posted by tremspeed at 6:33 PM on August 26, 2008

I bought a set of mics from Red5Audio for around $500 CAD, and they sound awesome. Look them up, there are a couple of reviews floating around.
posted by pickingoutathermos at 6:54 PM on August 26, 2008

I suggest's bbs. There's an entire multi-year-long thread about mic recommendation. Also, in addition to, mentioned above, try, and All of the above have strengths and weaknesses, but between these and their cadet off-shoot sites, you have a wealth of home recording info on the web.
posted by eclectist at 1:05 AM on August 27, 2008

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