"You don't have to be an audio engineer to find a simple microphone set-up for your drums that will get you a great sound."

These SE Electronics SE 7's make great overheads for your drum mic set up.

What Drum Mics Should I Get?

Table of Contents

These Earthworks DM-20s make great tom mics
Earthworks DM-20 Tom Mic

On Reddit, They’re Asking About Drum Mics

Recently, on Reddit, I noticed that microphones were being asked about. More specifically, the question was posed: “What Drum Mics Should I Use?”

Now, I should preface my answer to this question by stating that I am not a true recording gear head. In other words, I don’t understand all the pluses and minuses of different technical issues. You know, things like: 

  • Frequency Response
  • Directional patterns
  • Cartridge type
  • Decibel scales

 

And so on.

For a lot of that, if you want to get really technical, you can check out this great article I found here: 

https://www.dpamicrophones.com/mic-university/how-to-read-microphone-specifications

And even further, on the same website–DPA Microphones—there is a series of articles called “Microphone University”–and you can go to that series by following this link: 

https://www.dpamicrophones.com/mic-university

Becoming A Drum Mic Expert Would Take Too Long

As I began to read some of the info in the links above, even though it looked like pretty solid and authoritative information on drum mics, I realized that I didn’t really have the time to spend on learning all of that. In fact, all the detail and technical stuff just made my brain hurt and my eyes water!

 

You can't go wrong with the SM-57 as your snare drum mic
Shure SM-57

Why would I really need to be an expert anyway? After all, I just needed to find the right microphones–and yes, the gear did have to be “pro grade”– so I could use them to:

  • record drum tracks for bands and producers (pro level)
  • make content for my YouTube channel, 
  • create the online drum courses that I make in order to help aspiring drummers.

  

By the way, you can check out one of the most popular of those courses here:

 

The Shure SM 52-A is a solid choice for a bass drum mic
Shure Beta 52-A

And I’ve definitely gotten to that point where I can do that–I can make really great sounding recordings of my drums. But since I’m not really a gear head (not that there’s anything wrong with that), I simply needed to figure out what works and how to operate the system that I would put together so that I could get done what I needed to get done.

I did that by asking friends who knew how to do this already.  A few different audio engineer friends of mine helped. Another studio drummer friend of mine helped a lot. 

So, I sifted through all of the information they gave me and I weighed the pros and cons. I didn’t want to spend too much, but I really needed the set up to be at a level that would allow me to charge my rate for recording sessions and to create course content that is professional. 

After all, I do get paid for what I do, so I need my audio to be of a high quality.

After all of this research, thought and weighing of options, you can see where I wound up with all of this below…

 

Here’s the list of drum mics that I use

  • Snare Drum: Shure SM57
  • Bass Drum : Shure Beta 52-A
  • Toms : 2 Earthworks DM-20s
  • Overheads: one matched pair of SE Electronics SE 7s
  • Hi-Hat: Shure SM-81

Here’s how much this basic drum mic set-up costs

Most of the time I play a four piece kit, so there are only two toms (one mounted and one floor). This means, that as I write this, the cost of this set-up in dollars is:

  • Shure SM 57 = $99
  • Shure Beta 52-A = $199
  • Earthworks DM-20s (two of them) = $698
  • SE Electronics SE 7s (two of them) = $229
  •  Shure SM-81 = $399
  • TOTAL = $1624


You’ll see that I kind of splurged on my tom mics (Earthworks) and on my hi-hat mic (SM-81). My research showed that those two mics were so good and got such great sounds that it was worth spending a little bit more.

I have to say that I’m pretty happy about the results I’ve been getting. 

So, do I know much about these mics in terms of technological details? Absolutely not!  Do I know if they work and allow me to make great sounding recordings? Yes!  I know that they absolutely do allow for great audio to be made. And that’s all that matters to me.

Now, at $1624, it’s not a cheap set-up.  But it works great.

Let me know if you have any questions and good luck on your recording quest.


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