If you’ve ever been curious about the best mics to capture the thunderous beats of drums or the melodic strums of guitars, then this article is for you. We’ll explore the world of microphones and delve into the types that are highly recommended for capturing the unique sounds of these powerful instruments. By the end of this article, you’ll have a clearer understanding of which mics are best suited for drums and guitars, allowing you to make the best choice for your own musical endeavors. So, let’s get ready to discover the perfect mic to bring your instrument to life!
When it comes to capturing the rich, dynamic sounds of drums, choosing the right microphones is crucial. The microphone selection can greatly impact the overall sound quality and the balance of different elements of the drum kit. In this article, we will explore the different types of drum mics and recommend some popular options for each category.
Dynamic microphones are known for their durability and ability to handle high sound pressure levels, making them an ideal choice for capturing the loud and powerful sound of drums. These mics work by using a moving coil to convert sound waves into electrical signals.
The Shure SM57 is a legendary dynamic microphone that has become a staple in studios and live performances around the world. It is known for its versatility and ability to handle high sound pressure levels. The SM57 is often used to capture the sharp attack and crisp sound of snare drums, as well as the punchy sound of toms.
The Sennheiser e604 is another popular dynamic microphone designed specifically for drums. It features a compact design and a clip-on mechanism that allows for easy mounting on toms and other drum components. The e604 is known for its clear and detailed sound reproduction, making it an excellent choice for capturing the nuances of a drum kit.
For capturing the deep and thunderous sound of kick drums, the Audix D6 is a widely acclaimed dynamic microphone. It boasts a tailored frequency response that accentuates the low-end frequencies, resulting in a powerful and punchy sound. The D6 is often favored by engineers and drummers alike for its ability to reproduce the full range of frequencies produced by kick drums.
The AKG D112 is another go-to microphone for capturing the low-frequency impact of kick drums. It features a large diaphragm and a built-in windscreen to eliminate unwanted noise caused by plosive sounds. The D112 provides a tight and focused sound that enhances the punch and clarity of kick drums.
Condenser microphones are prized for their sensitivity and ability to capture the subtle details and nuances of drum performances. Unlike dynamic microphones, condenser mics use a charged diaphragm to convert sound waves into electrical signals. They require phantom power to operate and are generally more delicate than their dynamic counterparts.
The AKG C414 is a versatile condenser microphone that is often used for drum overheads. It features multiple polar patterns, allowing you to choose the most suitable pickup pattern for the desired drum sound. Whether you want a natural and transparent sound or a more focused and intimate tone, the C414 can deliver outstanding results.
The Neumann U87 is a highly regarded condenser microphone known for its pristine audio quality. It is often favored by engineers for drum overhead applications due to its ability to capture the subtle nuances of cymbals and the overall ambience of the drum kit. The U87’s smooth frequency response and low self-noise make it an excellent choice for capturing drums in a studio setting.
The Audio-Technica AT4040 is a well-respected condenser microphone that offers a balanced and transparent sound reproduction. It is often used as a drum overhead mic due to its ability to capture the natural tonal characteristics of the drums without coloration. The AT4040’s high SPL handling also makes it suitable for close-miking individual drum components.
The Rode NT5 is a compact and affordable condenser microphone that is commonly used for capturing drum overheads. Its small diaphragm and cardioid polar pattern make it excellent for picking up the detail and transient response of cymbals and drums. The NT5 delivers a clear and accurate sound reproduction that is well-suited for both studio and live recordings.
Specific Drum Mics
In addition to general-purpose drum mics, there are also specific mics designed to capture the distinct sound of individual drum components. These mics are optimized to bring out the best in each drum and provide greater clarity and control in the mix.
Shure Beta 52A (Kick drum)
The Shure Beta 52A is a popular choice for capturing the low-end punch and resonance of kick drums. It features a wide frequency response and a tailored frequency curve that accentuates the warmth and impact of kick drum sounds. The Beta 52A is highly regarded for its ability to reproduce the full range of frequencies produced by kick drums.
Shure SM57 (Snare drum)
While the Shure SM57 is a versatile microphone that can be used for various drum applications, it shines particularly bright when capturing the sound of snare drums. Its tight cardioid polar pattern and excellent transient response make it perfect for isolating the snare drum while capturing its brightness and sharp attack.
AKG C451 (Hi-hat and cymbals)
The AKG C451 is a small-diaphragm condenser microphone that excels at capturing the detail and brightness of hi-hats and cymbals. It offers a smooth and extended frequency response, allowing for accurate and natural sound reproduction. The C451 is often used as a pair to create a stereo image of the drums and provide depth to the overall drum sound.
Sennheiser e904 (Tom drums)
The Sennheiser e904 is a dynamic microphone specifically designed for tom drums. Its compact size and clip-on mechanism make it easy to position on tom rims without interfering with drumstick technique. The e904 delivers a clear and focused sound with excellent transient response, allowing for the natural tone of the tom drums to shine through.
Overhead microphones play a crucial role in capturing the overall sound of the drum kit, providing depth and ambiance to the mix. They are typically positioned above the drum kit to capture the stereo image and the room sound.
The Audio-Technica AT4050 is a versatile large-diaphragm condenser microphone that offers multiple polar patterns, including cardioid, omnidirectional, and figure-of-eight. It is often used as a drum overhead mic due to its ability to capture a wide frequency range and provide a balanced and natural sound representation.
Neumann KM 184
The Neumann KM 184 is a small-diaphragm condenser microphone renowned for its accuracy and detail. Its cardioid polar pattern makes it suitable for drum overhead applications as it selectively captures the sound from the drum kit while minimizing unwanted room reflections. The KM 184’s low self-noise and extended frequency response contribute to its reputation as an excellent overhead microphone.
The Shure KSM137 is a small-diaphragm condenser microphone that excels at capturing the natural sound of drum cymbals and overheads. Its extended frequency response and high SPL handling make it suitable for capturing the intricate details of transient sounds. The KSM137’s transparent sound reproduction ensures that the overall drum mix remains balanced and accurate.
The Rode NT1 is a popular choice for drum overheads due to its low self-noise and wide dynamic range. It is capable of capturing the subtle nuances and the rich harmonic content of cymbals and drums. The NT1’s warm and smooth sound signature adds a touch of clarity and depth to the overheads, enhancing the overall drum sound.
Just like drums, guitars require careful miking to capture their unique tonal characteristics. Whether you are recording electric guitars or acoustic instruments, choosing the right microphone can greatly impact the final sound. In this section, we will explore different types of guitar mics and recommend some popular options for each category.
Dynamic microphones are often the go-to choice for capturing electric guitars, as they can handle high sound pressure levels and provide a robust and powerful sound.
The Shure SM57, already mentioned as a popular choice for snare drum miking, is also commonly used for recording electric guitars. Its ability to handle high sound pressure levels and its cardioid polar pattern make it a versatile mic for capturing the distinct tone and character of electric guitar amps.
The Sennheiser e906 is specifically tailored for electric guitars, providing excellent off-axis rejection and a unique voicing switch that allows for different amp simulations. Its supercardioid pickup pattern ensures focused sound capture and minimizes unwanted room noise.
The Electro-Voice RE20 is a dynamic microphone that offers a warm and natural sound reproduction, making it a popular choice for recording electric guitars. Its smooth frequency response and high SPL handling enable it to accurately capture the nuances of guitar amps and cabinets.
The Beyerdynamic M160 is a ribbon microphone known for its unique sound and vintage appeal. While ribbon mics are generally not recommended for guitar cabinets due to their delicate nature and lower SPL handling, the M160’s exceptional build quality and extended frequency response make it an exception. It captures the nuances and harmonic richness of guitar amps with a smooth and detailed sound.
Condenser microphones are often preferred for capturing the intricate details and transients of acoustic guitars. They offer a transparent sound reproduction and are known for their sensitivity and accuracy.
The Neumann U87, already mentioned as a popular choice for drum overheads, is also highly regarded for capturing the natural and rich tone of acoustic guitars. Its extended frequency response and low self-noise provide a clear and detailed sound representation, allowing every nuance of the instrument to shine through.
The Audio-Technica AT4033 is a versatile large-diaphragm condenser microphone that excels at capturing acoustic guitars. Its warm and transparent sound reproduction accurately captures the tonal characteristics of the instrument. The AT4033’s extended dynamic range ensures that even the most delicate strums are faithfully reproduced.
The AKG C414, already mentioned as a popular choice for drum overheads, is also widely used for recording acoustic guitars. Its multiple polar patterns and selectable high-pass filter and pad options provide flexibility and control in capturing the desired guitar sound. Whether you want a focused and intimate sound or a more spacious and ambient tone, the C414 can deliver outstanding results.
The Rode NT1, also previously mentioned as a suitable drum overhead mic, is often utilized for capturing acoustic guitars due to its low self-noise and extended dynamic range. Its transparent and detailed sound reproduction ensures that every nuance and harmonic richness of the guitar is faithfully captured.
Ribbon microphones are renowned for their warm and smooth sound reproduction. While they require careful handling and are not ideal for high SPL sources, they can provide a unique vintage character to guitar recordings.
The Royer R-121 is a renowned ribbon microphone that is often used for capturing electric guitars and guitar cabinets. Its high SPL handling and extended frequency response make it suitable for guitar amps, allowing it to faithfully reproduce the full harmonic content and nuances of the instrument.
The Coles 4038 is another classic ribbon microphone that is highly regarded for recording guitar cabinets. Its smooth and natural sound reproduction, combined with its robust build quality, make it a popular choice among engineers and producers seeking a vintage and authentic guitar sound.
The AEA R84 is a modern ribbon microphone that excels at capturing the full spectrum of guitar tones. Its extended frequency response and excellent transient response allow for an accurate and detailed representation of acoustic and electric guitars. The R84’s warm and natural sound signature adds a touch of vintage charm to guitar recordings.
As mentioned earlier, the Beyerdynamic M160 is a ribbon microphone known for its unique sound and ability to capture the harmonically rich tones of guitar amps. Its smooth and detailed sound ensures that the distinct character of the guitar shines through in the recording.
Sometimes, you may need a microphone that can handle a variety of instruments, including guitars. Multi-purpose microphones offer versatility and can be a convenient option when working with limited resources or in live sound situations.
The Shure SM57, previously discussed as a popular choice for drum and guitar miking, shines as a versatile multi-purpose microphone. Its ability to handle high sound pressure levels and its balanced frequency response make it suitable for a wide range of instruments, including guitars. Whether you need to capture the sound of an acoustic guitar or the raw power of an electric guitar amp, the SM57 can deliver excellent results.
The Sennheiser MD421 is another multi-purpose dynamic microphone that is often used for guitars. Its robust build quality and versatility make it suitable for capturing both acoustic and electric guitar tones. The MD421’s wide frequency response and excellent transient response allow for accurate and detailed sound reproduction.
The AKG C414, previously discussed as a popular choice for both drums and guitars, is also a versatile multi-purpose microphone. Its multiple polar patterns, selectable high-pass filter, and pad options make it suitable for various instruments, including guitars. The C414’s transparent and detailed sound reproduction ensures that the true character of guitars is faithfully captured.
Lastly, the Rode NT1, previously mentioned as a suitable microphone for drum overheads and acoustic guitar recordings, is also a multipurpose microphone that excels at capturing a wide range of instruments. Its low self-noise and extended dynamic range make it a reliable choice for recording guitars, whether it be acoustic or electric.
In conclusion, choosing the right microphone for capturing drums and guitars is essential in achieving the desired sound. Whether you opt for dynamic mics known for their durability and ability to handle high sound pressure levels, condenser mics renowned for their sensitivity and accuracy, ribbon mics beloved for their vintage character, or multi-purpose mics that offer versatility, there are plenty of options to suit your specific needs. Consider the characteristics of each microphone mentioned in this article and experiment to find the perfect match for achieving the best sound capture for your drums and guitars.