7 Best Mics for Snare Drums 2024

Music Industry How To is supported by readers. When you buy via a link on our site, we’ll possibly earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you.

Having a high-quality snare drum microphone is one of the best ways of achieving a premium snare sound in your mix.

The better your snare mic is, the easier the sound will be to control when you’re working with an EQ. However, you get some amazing low-priced snare mics that are very well-known for being good options.

Here’s a guide where I’ll recommend seven of the best microphones I know of that work well for snares. They all offer something slightly different, so read through all of them to see which ones you’ll like more.

Earthworks DM20 – Best Overall

Earthworks DM20

The Earthworks DM20 (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a big favorite in the drumming community for both snare drums and toms.

There are two things about this mic that make it very unique. Firstly, it’s a condenser microphone, which is a mic type that isn’t commonly used for snares. It offers richer sound quality than a dynamic mic, giving you superior sounds in the mix.

The second aspect is that it’s a gooseneck mic. The long gooseneck allows you to easily position the microphone in various ways pointing at your snare drum, while the main body rests on the side of the snare shell.

The best thing about the mic is that it offers very true sound quality. By that, I mean that the sounds it reproduces are very similar to what you hear in the room that you’re playing in. A lot of mics change the sound a bit, meaning they’re not as accurate.

This mic is fairly expensive, but it’s not nearly as pricey as some premium studio options. So, it’s an excellent choice for any drummer willing to save a bit to get it.

Microphone Type: Condenser

Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz

Max SPL: 150dB

Sennheiser MD 441 – Premium Option

Sennheiser MD 441

The Sennheiser MD 441 (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) has been one of the top industry microphones for decades. This is a seriously high-end dynamic microphone that can be used for a variety of applications.

It sounds phenomenal when being used on a snare drum, as you get rich tones with supreme detail. I

It’s the most expensive microphone that I’m going to suggest on this list, and I mostly think it’s a good option for professional studio recording environments.

I wouldn’t use a mic like this for small gigs where equipment can potentially go missing or get damaged.

A key feature of this mic is that it’s easy to mix with. It offers an amazing amount of control, so you can quite easily make your snare drum sound however you want it to.

If you want one of the best microphones ever made, I highly recommend this MD 441. However, I don’t think the high price is worth it for drummers who aren’t experienced with using really high-end audio gear.

Microphone Type: Dynamic

Polar Pattern: Supercardioid

Frequency Response: 30Hz – 20kHz

Max SPL: 160dB

Audix i5 – Best Budget Option

Audix i5

The Audix i5 (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a true workhorse snare drum microphone. While it’s the most affordable option on this list, it’s a solid mic that most drummers would be more than happy with.

It’s one of the closest microphones that can be compared to the famous Shure SM57, but it’s a slightly more affordable alternative.

There are three things I love about the i5. It has some nice color to the sound it produces, it handles high sound pressure levels very well, and it does an amazing job of rejecting sound bleed from other drums and cymbals around it.

That’s essentially all you need from a snare drum microphone, so it ticks all the boxes. If you’re on a budget and you need a working drummer’s mic, this is the one.

A lot of people directly compare this to the SM57, so I suggest looking at both and deciding which one you prefer the sound of. While the i5 is a few dollars cheaper, the price difference isn’t very big.

Microphone Type: Dynamic

Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Frequency Response: 50Hz – 16kHz

Max SPL: 150dB

Shure SM57

Shure SM57

The Shure SM57 (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is arguably the number one pick for a snare drum mic. It’s undoubtedly the most used snare drum microphone ever, so you get invaluable reliability from it.

It’s also one of the most versatile microphones available, as you can use it for almost any instrument and you’ll get some amazing recordings and mixes.

One big thing to mention about the SM57 is its durability. While there are plenty of other good things to mention about it, the durability has always impressed me. I know so many drummers who have had their SM57s for decades, and they still work just as well as the first day that they purchased them.

You could also consider this as a budget microphone, as it only costs a few dollars more than the Audix i5. That’s yet another aspect that makes it such a good option. The value for money is insane.

The downside is that you don’t get as much rich detail as you get from higher-end snare drum microphones. You should look at those if you’re working in a professional studio. Otherwise, I think the SM57 is the main go-to option.

Microphone Type: Dynamic

Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Frequency Response: 40Hz – 15kHz

Max SPL: 160dB

sE Electronics V7 X

sE Electronics V7 X

The sE Electronics V7 X (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is another good snare option that fits in with the likes of the Shure SM57 and Audix i5. I think this mic is a lot more versatile, though.

While those previous mics can be used for other instruments, the sE Electronics V7 X also works pretty well as a vocal microphone. While that’s not what this list is about, every feature helps in establishing the quality and usefulness of certain mics.

So, if you’re a drummer who occasionally needs microphones to use for vocals, this would be my top suggestion.

This particular microphone gives your snare drum a wonderful open sound. The snare in your mix will sound full and resonant, which is what a lot of drummers love.

I also love how this mic looks. The small touches of red around the casing add a unique sense of flavor to your kit, especially when you pair it with more sE Electronics mics on the toms.

Microphone Type: Dynamic

Polar Pattern: Supercardioid

Frequency Response: 30Hz – 19kHz

Max SPL: 160dB

Neumann KM 184

Neumann KM 184

The Neumann KM 184 (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is another high-end condenser microphone that is well-known for working wonderfully on snare drums.

Like the Earthworks DM20, it gives you richer and finer sounds to work with in your mix, and the snare sound will be more accurate to what you’re hearing in the room.

However, this is a higher-end mic than the DM20, so you get better performance. I also think it’s a bit easier to work with.

You’ll just need to position it carefully to stop bleed coming from the other drums. This is also why I’d mostly recommend using this in a practice room or studio. You may struggle with bleed when using it for a live gig.

This mic is also regularly used as an overhead option, so it adds versatility to your microphone locker.

Microphone Type: Condenser

Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz

Max SPL: 138dB

Beyerdynamic M 201 TG

Beyerdynamic M 201 TG

The Beyerdynamic M 201 TG (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is an excellent middle ground option that falls between the Shure SM57 and the Sennheiser MD 441.

While more affordable dynamic mics tend to sound quite muffled, this M 201 TG has great clarity, presence, and doesn’t need to be meddled with too much in the EQ. The overall result is a rich snare drum sound that shines in a mix.

One thing I noticed about this mic is that it sounds amazing in every possible mic placement. This makes it easier to work with, and that often justifies the higher price tag.

I’d say that it’s one of the best dynamic snare drum mics to give you a fantastic snare sound for live gigs.

Microphone Type: Dynamic

Polar Pattern: Hypercardioid

Frequency Response: 40Hz – 18kHz

Max SPL: 160dB

What To Look For In a Snare Drum Microphone

Sound Pressure Level

When looking at microphones, you’ll often see a feature referring to the max SPL. SPL stands for sound pressure level, and it refers to how much volume the microphone can take before it starts to clip or distort.

This is an incredibly important feature to check out in a microphone, as snare drums are the loudest drums in a drum set.

If the max sound pressure level is low, it means that your snare drum might cause it to distort when you play loud and aggressive rimshots.

Snare drums typically have a max range of 125 to 130 dB. So, you need to find a microphone that has a max SPL number that is higher than that.

If the microphone you get has a low SPL handling, you’re going to have some serious frustrations when you try to record or do live sound. There are various techniques to get away with it, but it’s always better to get a microphone that can handle volume well.

Microphone Type

There are three main types of microphones that you’ll find being solid. These are called dynamic mics, condenser mics, and ribbon mics.

It’s a good idea to know what kind of microphone you’re getting, as the type will determine how it performs.

Let’s start with ribbon microphones. Ribbon mics aren’t commonly used for drums, and for good reason. They tend to pick up too much bleed from your drum kit, so it’s easier to stay away from them. That’s why I never mentioned any ribbon mics in the list above.

The next two are condenser and dynamic mics. Dynamic microphones are the safest and most popular option. The main thing about a dynamic mic is that it picks up sound from a single direction, meaning it does a fantastic job of rejecting bleed from the toms and cymbals around your snare drum.

Most of the mics I mentioned above are dynamic mics, as they always work the best.

However, you can get some really detailed snare drum recordings when using a condenser microphone. While condensers pick up more of your entire drum kit, they produce richer and more detailed sounds within your drum mix.

So, using a condenser on a snare drum is a great way of having more control over how you want your snare to sound overall. You just need to position it cleverly to reduce as much bleed as possible.

Size

Size isn’t a massively important feature to consider, but it can affect how you place your snare drum microphone.

You’ll find a few different capsule designs, with some being a lot bigger than others. Larger microphones are harder to position, and they’re also more likely to get damaged. There are a lot of high-end mics with big capsules that I wouldn’t risk using on a snare drum.

Smaller microphones with longer capsules are better to play with. They’re easier to position with them pointing at the center of your snare drum. They also tend to be a lot more durable, easily being able to survive multiple stray drumstick shots.

You also get some microphones with a gooseneck design. These mics have small capsules at the top, with the rest of the body being at the bottom. The middle part is the gooseneck, which is a thin handle that you can twist around to get the microphone into position.

The Earthworks DM20 is a good example of a gooseneck mic, and I love how easy they are to place on drum sets.

Pickup Pattern

Various microphones have different pickup patterns that determine how they capture the sounds in front of and around them.

When it comes to snare drums, you should mostly use microphones that have cardioid, Hypercardioid, or supercardioid pickup patterns.

These three patterns do the best job of rejecting bleed from around the snare. Microphone bleed can become a big problem when you’re trying to single out your snare drum sound.

Price

Finally, you need to consider your budget. I strongly recommend spending based on your experience level with microphones.

Snare mics can range from $50 to $5000, with most drummers being happy with a $100 option.

If you’re fairly inexperienced with mixing drums and using mics, you really don’t need to be spending $1000 on a single microphone. You’ll likely get the same performance out of a Shure SM57, which is a fraction of the cost.

You should only spend more on snare mics if you know what you’re doing, and you can use those higher-end mics to get the best possible sounds out of your snare drum. Otherwise, I don’t think they’re worth it.

Best Snare Drum Mic Brands

There are loads of great audio brands out there that offer several microphones that you can use for a snare drum. All of them are good, so singling out a few brands can be tough.

However, here are four brands that I see being used the most by drummers.

Shure

There aren’t many audio brands more popular than Shure. They offer everything, from really cheap workhorse mics to high-end studio mics.

With the Shure SM57 being the most popular instrument microphone in the world, you can’t name a list of good mic brands without mentioning Shure.

I mostly love how easy their microphones are to work with. I think that’s a big thing that makes them so popular.

Audix

I’d put Audix on a similar playing field as Shure. There’s often a big Audix against Shure debate, as both brands offer drum kit microphones with similar price tags.

One isn’t better than the other, though. Audix offers unique microphones that give you plenty of control when working with them in a mix. The Audix i5 is arguably the most similar mic to the Shure SM57, so it’s another great snare option to choose.

There are plenty of higher-end Audix microphones to use on snare drums as well.

sE Electronics

sE Electronics is a brand that has gained plenty of traction over the past decade. Something about their microphones pulls drummers toward them, and all the sE Electronics mics I’ve ever used have been incredible.

The versatility of the sE Electronics V7 mic is the main reason I suggested it in the list above, but you’ll also find plenty of other sE Electronics mics that work wonderfully on snare drums.

Earthworks

Earthworks is the final brand that I’m going to mention here, and it’s a big one. The guys at Earthworks have solidified the brand as being the go-to option for high-end mics that get the job done.

Most Earthworks microphones are condensers, which is a great change of pace compared to all the popular dynamic mic options that drummers go for.

If you want extreme clarity from your snare drum, having your mix sound the same as your room sound, Earthworks is the way to go.

Top Mics for Snare Drums, Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, I think the Shure SM57 is the ultimate answer for a snare drum mic. It’s so affordable, but it offers the classic snare drum sound that everyone knows and loves. That’s why it’s the industry-standard option.

If you want something more premium, check out all the higher-priced options I mentioned. Those are the microphones that you’ll find being used in pristine recording studios.

P.S. Remember though, none of what you've learned will matter if you don't know how to get your music out there and earn from it. Want to learn how to do that? Then get our free ‘5 Steps To Profitable Youtube Music Career' ebook emailed directly to you!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *