Miking drums is one of the trickier challenges in music recording and live sound, but it’s also a very tantalizing one. Audio enthusiasts approach the capture, control and shaping of drum sounds with the same conviction that Jacques Cousteau employed when exploring the depths of the seas. There’s something almost mysterious about miking drums. You can get amazing sounds using just a single, well-placed mic. But more often than not, multiple microphones are required to get the sound you want. Sometimes you don’t even come close to getting a sound you’re satisfied with, and other times you strike gold. You never know until you start setting up some mics and giving them a listen.
You can buy drum mics one by one, but it’s easier to just get a multi-microphone package that includes all the necessary drum-mounting hardware and a durable carrying/storage case for the mics. These kits are a great way to jumpstart your personal drum microphone library. We’ve rounded up a number of drum mic kits in this article, and we list them in order of price, starting with the most affordable. At the end you’ll find a handy comparison chart that neatly displays what the various kits have to offer. It should also be noted that the microphones included in these kits are also great for vocals and miking instruments. By purchasing one of these kits you are not only getting key components required for capturing huge drum sounds, you’re also getting an armful of mics that will be indispensible in all kinds of recording and live sound situations.
Some of the microphones in the following kits will require a separately available stand to position them properly on a drum or an instrument. Others include “drum mounts,” which are feature integrated clamps that enable you to affix the microphone directly to a drum. These kinds of mounts attach to the rims, edges and other hardware and surfaces that are commonly found on acoustic drums. The nice thing about them is that they enable you to quickly “close mic” a drum. When attached, the microphone will be just inches from the drum head, usually angled at a nice position aiming down diagonally at the rim. Close miking helps to cut down on the “bleed” between mics, so the mic is mainly picking up the sound of the drum to which it’s mounted. Most of the mics that come with drum mounts can also be mounted on a regular microphone stand, too. Having the ability to both close mic with mounts and vary your mic placement with stands will give you a greater amount of creative flexibility.
Miking drums with Shure microphones is something of a tradition. They’ve been a leader in this category for many moons, and will continue to be in the future. The PGDMK4 Drum Microphone Kit is Shure’s entry-level package for capturing drums, but just because it’s a starter kit doesn’t mean that these mics aren’t of good quality. It includes three PG56 snare/tom microphones, three A50D drum mounts, one PG52 kick drum mic, four 15 foot (4.57 m) XLR cables and a durable carrying case. The PG56 captures the crispy snap of a snare, the full body of toms and the natural presence of hand drums. The PG53 (which will require a mic stand) provides a balanced and resonant capture of kick drums and bass guitar amps.
Headquartered just outside of Portland, Oregon, Audix has earned an excellent reputation for designing and building superior microphones for recording and live sound. Audix offers the most comprehensive selection of drum mic kits, and beginning with the BP5F Microphone Set. The set includes one F5 snare/instrument mic, one F6 kick mic, three F50 vocal mics, four MC-1 mic stand adapters, one D-CLIP mic clip and an aluminum road case. The F5 is manufactured in the United States and provides a very clear and accurate sound capture, a high SPL rating, hypercardioid pattern and wide frequency response. The F6 is also built in the States, and it features a compact and easy-to-position body that can easily capture the fullness of kick drums and basses. Useful for vocals, tom drums and other instruments, the F50 microphones capture the natural warmth of whatever they’re placed in front of. All of the included mic clips require separately available mic stands or drum mounts.
Sennheiser’s E604 is a dynamic drum and instrument mic with a very compact and durable glass-fiber body. It offers low sensitivity to impacts and handling noise, so accidentally whacking it with a stick produces little impact noise. B&H offers the E604 in a three pack; the kit includes three E604 microphones, three drum mounts (that can also be attached to microphone stands) and three protective pouches. The E604 microphones have a frequency response that’s custom tailored for miking percussion instruments, but they also work well with brass horns and woodwinds.
The Shure PGDMK6 is a six-microphone version of the PGDMK4 kit covered earlier. Like the PGDMK4, the PGDMK6 comes with three PG56 mics, three A50D drum mounts and one PG52 kick drum mic. But it also includes two PG81 instrument mics, six 15-foot (4.57 m) XLR cables and a durable carrying case. The PG81’s are condenser microphones, which require phantom power to operate and typically pick up more detailed midrange and high-frequency sounds. The PG81’s are excellent for acoustic guitars and other stringed instruments, but the main reason they’re included in this kit is that small-diaphragm condenser microphones are ideal for use as overhead drum mics. When positioned above a drum set using mic stands, condenser mics really capture the lively shimmer of cymbals.
When it comes to miking snare drums and guitar cabinets, it’s difficult to outdo the reliable performance of the much loved Shure SM57, and the DMK57-52 Drum Microphone Kit comes with three of them. The kit also includes a Beta 52A kick drum mic and three A56D drum mounts and a carrying case. The Beta 52A does an excellent job of capturing the punch and warmth of kick drums, bass amps and upright bass, and it requires a microphone stand for proper positioning. The drum mounts allow you to mount various microphones, including the 57s, to the rims of drums, cymbal stands, mic stands and so on.
The Audix BP7F Microphone Set is very similar to the BP5F kit covered earlier in this article. But instead of including a single F5 snare/instrument mic, the BP7F comes with three. Also included are one F6 kick mic, three F50 vocal mics, six MC-1 mic clips, one D-CLIP mic clip and an aluminum road case.
A good set of microphones can last a really, really long time. That’s why it’s advisable to skip over the entry-level kits and go for the good stuff the first time around, if at all possible. The Audix BP5 PRO Microphone Set stands out as an excellent choice for this lifelong investment. It features a mixture of USA-made mics that can make a drum kit sound incredible, and cover a range of other applications as well. The set includes one multi-purpose i5 mic, a D6 kick mic, two OM2 vocal/instrument mics, one OM5 lead vocalist mic, four MC-1 mic clips, one D-CLIP mic clip and an aluminum road case. The i5 is simply a great-sounding mic that you can put on anything and get terrific results, but it excels with snare drums. The awesome sound performance of the D6 has made it one of the most popular kick-drum mics on the market. The OM2 microphones will sound great on tom drums, but they also make good-sounding vocal microphones. The OM5 will be your mic to put on more important instruments and voices.
The Audix BP7 PRO Microphone Set is very similar to the BP5 PRO, except that it features three multi-purpose i5 mics instead of one. It also includes a D6 kick mic, two OM2 vocal/instrument mics, one OM5 lead vocalist mic, six MC-1 mic clips, one D-CLIP mic clip and an aluminum road case.
If you like the design qualities of the Sennheiser E604, the Sennheiser Drum Kit 600 supplies you with microphones to cover an entire drum kit, from the kick to the cymbal overheads. It includes four E604 tom/snare mics (with drum mounts), two E614 condenser mics, one E602-II kick drum mic and a custom aluminum case. The E614 is a super-cardioid condenser that was designed specifically for overhead drum purposes, but also will do a fine job of capturing other percussive instruments. The E602-II features a humbucking coil to reduce unwanted noise and a lightweight body for easy positioning.
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