9 Best Tom Mics 2024 For Studio Recording & Live Performances

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Tom microphones are arguably the least important microphones to get for a drum kit, but they’re essential if you want as much control over your mix as possible. They bring your tom sounds to life, and they allow you to alter your drum kit sounds to suit your preferences.

Here’s a list of the most common microphones used for toms. They’re loved by drummers all over the world.

Audix D2 – Best Overall

Audix D2

The Audix D2 (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is one of the best mics on the market to use on rack toms. It’s incredibly popular among drummers, but you can use it for percussion instruments and high-frequency wind instruments too.

My favorite thing about this microphone is its reliability. It tends to work well in any setting you put it in, and it makes getting punchy tom tones quite easy.

It does sit better on the higher frequency side of things, and that’s why drummers like to use it for rack toms and not floor toms. However, it will still give you decent results when using one on a floor tom as well. It will just sound a bit punchier with less low end.

The other benefit of this mic is its small size. You can easily place it anywhere on your rack toms, and nothing will get in the way. That makes it a perfect gigging microphone for situations where you need to set up a comfortable kit as quickly as you can.

Audix has sold thousands of these to drummers over the years, and mixing a few of them within a full set of mics will give you great results.

Polar Pattern: Hypercardioid

Frequency Response: 80 Hz – 18 kHz

Microphone Type: Dynamic

Weight: 0.28 lbs.

Earthworks DM20 – Premium Option

Earthworks DM20

The Earthworks DM20 (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is one of your best options if you’re okay with spending more than what you’d pay for the other options on this list. Your drum kit will sound golden with a few of these on your toms.

They’re seriously clean in their tone, and they reproduce almost the exact sound that you hear in the room. This gives you an excellent platform to start mixing your tom sounds with.

They also have plenty of attack and punch, mainly because they’re accented in the higher ranges. They make it very easy to get huge sounds in your mix.

Unfortunately, they don’t reject as much bleed as the other mics I’ve suggested due to them being condensers. However, the accented high-end tends to work well with your cymbals. It sometimes makes your cymbals sound a bit more natural, which is a good thing.

The big downside is that one of these mics costs more than double most of the other mics here. Getting three of them for a full drum set is an even bigger ask.

Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz

Microphone Type: Condenser

Weight: 0.55 lbs.

Shure PGA56 – Best Budget Option

Shure PGA56

The Shure PGA56 (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is one of the most inexpensive tom mics you can get that still offers top-tier quality. I wouldn’t trust any tom mic that costs less than this one, as all of them come from cheap brands with products that don’t hold up.

You won’t be set back too much when buying three of these, and that’s why the PGA56 is such a popular tom microphone option.

The most impressive thing about the mic is its durability. Any other mic I’ve tried that sits in the same price range hasn’t held up over time. You can hit this mic a few times accidentally, and it’ll perform exactly the same as when you got it.

In terms of sound quality, you get fairly round tones from it. They’re bordering on sounding boxy, but you can work the mix to make the tones sound sweet and musical.

I highly recommend the Shure PGA56 to anyone who is getting tom mics for the first time. If you’re experienced with mixing drums for live stages and studios, you’ll feel the quality dip of this mic compared to other higher-priced ones.

Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Frequency Response: 50 Hz – 15 kHz

Microphone Type: Dynamic

Weight: 0.63 lbs.

Sennheiser e 604

Sennheiser e 604

The Sennheiser e 604 (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is another seriously popular tom microphone. This one does an incredible job of combining attack and sustain, giving you strong tom sounds that ring out very nicely.

It’s one of the smallest and lightest microphones on this list, making it the most ideal pick for drummers needing something that is as unobtrusive as possible. You can easily place it anywhere on the toms, even if you position your cymbals quite low.

Another fantastic thing about this mic is its high SPL handling. It goes up to 160dB, meaning that no drum kit or toms could possibly overload it, no matter how hard you play. It’s crazy how Sennheiser has fit such high-quality features into a microphone that is so small.

The only downside I can think of is that the clip included with this mic doesn’t work too well on thicker rims. Most rims have a standard size, but drummers with wooden rims on their toms will have a bit of trouble with the mounting process.

Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Frequency Response: 40 Hz – 18 kHz

Microphone Type: Dynamic

Weight: 0.13 lbs.

Audix D4

Audix D4

The Audix D4 (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is an incredible microphone that is specifically designed to be used on floor toms. It excels on drums that have a lot of low end, and it boosts that through the mix.

So, it’s an ideal microphone to get for just a floor tom if you have other mics for your rack toms. I’d also suggest getting a set of these if you’re a drummer who plays larger rack toms and multiple floor toms. A group of D4 mics will make your drum kit sound huge.

Without touching the EQ, your low-frequency toms will sound beefy and full. The downside is that this mic brings out the same qualities from smaller toms, and those aren’t the qualities you want from those.

I’ve also found that this mic works brilliantly as a kick drum mic. If you have one of these lying around and you’re yet to get a dedicated kick mic, that aspect makes it quite versatile.

Polar Pattern: Hypercardioid

Frequency Response: 40 Hz – 18 kHz

Microphone Type: Dynamic

Weight: 0.28 lbs.

Shure SM57

Shure SM57

The Shure SM57 (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is an amazing microphone option for just about everything. It’s been the most famous instrument microphone in the world for decades, and it will continue to be for many more.

The thing about SM57s is that they just work, no matter what situation you use them in. Typically, you’d use one of these microphones on your snare drum, but you can get great results when using a few of them on your toms.

I highly recommend getting a few of these. You can use them for your toms now, but you’ll end up using them for a variety of different purposes later.

One downside is that you don’t get a rim mounting clip when you purchase a single SM57. Another downside is that you don’t get tom tones that are as clear and musical as a few of the other options I’ve mentioned.

However, you could mic an entire drum kit with SM57s and make it work. These mics are just so versatile, affordable, and easy to use. That’s why they’re regularly referred to as the industry-standard option. 

Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Frequency Response: 40 Hz – 15 kHz

Microphone Type: Dynamic

Weight: 0.63 lbs.

Audio-Technica ATM230

Audio-Technica ATM230

The Audio-Technica ATM230 (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is another superb microphone that was designed specifically for toms on a drum kit.

What impresses me the most about this microphone is how well it performs on toms of all sizes. The mic picks up every nuance of a drum, reacting wonderfully to all styles of playing. It works just as well on an 18” floor tom as it does on an 8” rack tom. You just don’t get as much attack from your floor toms as you do from mics like the Audix D4.

This mic tends to accent frequencies in the upper-mid range, and that’s what gives you such clear tom tones.

The overall sound quality is fantastic, and I found this mic to give similar sounds to microphones that are far more expensive. So, I think the value for money here is top-notch.

The hypercardioid pickup pattern also gives you much better bleed rejection than standard cardioid mics. You can place your cymbals extremely close, and this mic will barely pick up any of the sounds from them.

Polar Pattern: Hypercardioid

Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 12 kHz

Microphone Type: Dynamic

Weight: 14.6 oz.

sE Electronics V Beat

sE Electronics V Beat

The sE Electronics V Beat (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a microphone designed to work on a variety of drum shell types, but I found it performs the best when used on toms.

It offers such clear tones that you can easily compare it to a large-diaphragm condenser. It’s just a lot smaller than one of those, making it a better option for tom applications.

You get a tight bottom end, making the mic sound strong on floor toms. You also get strong tones in the upper ranges, making it work well for rack toms too.

When comparing this mic to an SM57, you’ll find your tom tones to be a bit darker. Some drummers prefer that, while others like the brighter sound. You just need to do a sound comparison to compare, as I feel those two mics are most similar compared to the others on this list.

Polar Pattern: Supercardioid

Frequency Response: 30 Hz – 19 kHz

Microphone Type: Dynamic

Weight: 0.76 lbs.

Telefunken M81-SH

Telefunken M81-SH

The Telefunken M81-SH (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a luxury tom microphone option. It’s not quite as expensive as the Earthworks DM20 mic, but it’s the most expensive dynamic microphone that I’m recommending.

This is a microphone that will bring the best tones out of your toms without you having to do anything to the mix. The mic just makes your toms sound so clean and resonant, and the sound will be even better with well-tuned toms.

You can almost hear how the vibrations of your toms go from top to bottom, giving you full sounds with plenty of depth.

The included mic mounting clips are very strong, and this mic is seriously durable. It’s a great option if you can afford it. If you’re looking to buy something that is studio worthy but the DM20’s price is a bit steep, this is your next best pick.

Polar Pattern: Supercardioid

Frequency Response: 50 Hz – 18 kHz

Microphone Type: Dynamic

Weight: 0.75 lbs.

What To Look For In a Tom Mic

Mounting Clips

The very first thing you should do when looking for tom mics is look if the mic you want comes with a rim mounting clip. That rim clip allows you to attach the tom mic to a tom. If you don’t have one, you’ll either need to buy one separately or use a full microphone stand.

I’ve found that using microphone stands for tom mics adds a lot of clutter to your drumming space. It’s something that only works in recording studios where there isn’t much movement.

To free up your space, I highly recommend using tom mounting clips, so it really helps when those are included with the purchase.

Another benefit of a mic coming with a rim mount is that it kind of tells you that the mic you’re looking at is meant to be used for a tom.

Any microphone can work for a tom, but some will work much better than others. Any mic that comes with a rim mount will most likely work a bit better than a mic that doesn’t.

High Sound Pressure Level Numbers

Sound Pressure Level is a metric used to tell you how much volume a microphone can take before it starts to distort.

When you buy a microphone, it should tell you what its max SPL handling is. You need to make sure that the maximum number is higher than what your toms produce. Otherwise, you’ll get distorted sounds when you play hard.

Thankfully, most microphones have very high SPL handlings, especially dynamic mics that come with rim clips. But it’s always good to check.

Toms typically max out at around 110 decibels of volume, so you’ll be good to go if you have mics that can handle higher volumes than that.

It’s your snare drum and cymbals that will get louder due to their higher and harsher frequencies.

Frequency Response

Frequency response refers to the range of frequencies that a microphone can accurately pick up and reflect. The wider the response is of a mic, the more versatile it is to different tunings on your toms.

Some microphones emphasize low frequencies, while others accent the higher ones. If you want to get a good overall sound, you need to get tom mics that cover as wide a range as possible.

40 – 20 000 Hz would be a good number. You’ll find higher-priced microphones having those numbers, while lower-priced mics will have smaller frequency response ranges.

Some microphones that accent low frequencies can also be used for kick drums. Those particular mics are excellent choices for floor toms, as they tend to make them sound a lot meatier. 

Microphone Types and Pickup Patterns

Most drummers tend to pick dynamic microphones for toms. They’re small and easy to work with, and they generally have great sound rejection.

You shouldn’t discount condenser mics, though. While they’re not a popular choice, some condensers work amazingly. They have richer sound quality. The downside is that they’re more expensive.

When it comes to pickup patterns, you’ll be choosing between cardioid and hyper-cardioid. I’d suggest going for hyper-cardioid if you can. These mics stop a lot of bleed from coming through, and that’s incredibly useful when your mics are placed close to cymbals.

Standard cardioid mics work well, but they’re not as sharp and refined as hyper-cardioid ones. Also, hyper-cardioid mics tend to work well for other instruments, whereas mics with cardioid patterns don’t work as well.

Size

Something to consider is that it’s very easy for microphones to get in the way. When you’re setting them up, you need to make sure that they don’t obstruct your playing experience. You’ll damage them if you hit them often, and it will also just take you out of the zone when you’re drumming.

It’s a lot better to get small tom microphones, as rack toms are quite small themselves. Smaller microphones will allow you to position them in places where it’s hard to hit them. They also won’t get in the way of your cymbal placements.

If you’re just getting mics for floor toms, size won’t be as much of an issue, as you can easily just place the mics on the opposite sides, and they’ll be out of the way.

Sound Quality

The sound quality of a microphone depends on a variety of factors. Some microphones give you very flat sounds, and that makes them easier to mix with. Other mics give you punchy tones, while some even give you powerful deep tones.

With enough mixing experience, you should be able to alter your mix to make your toms sound how you like. However, it’s a good idea to check the sound quality of a tom mic before getting it, as it will tell you how much work needs to be done in the production process.

Price

You have three options when it comes to tom mic pricing. Inexpensive mics will cost below $100. They naturally don’t sound as good as higher-priced microphones, and they tend to be trickier to work with when mixing. They’re great options for beginners, though.

The next price range is between $100 and $250. This is where you’ll find most microphones that work well for toms. I love how they’re all similarly priced, as it gives drummers plenty of options within their budget.

Any tom mic that costs above $250 can be considered a luxury option. These will give you incredible tom tones, and they’ll be very easy to work with through the production process.

Something else to consider is that you can buy a 3-pack of tom mics, and it will be slightly cheaper than buying those mics individually. Most of the mics that I mentioned above come with that option. You’ll just need to buy a few more if you have more than three toms.

Best Tom Mic Brands

There are countless amazing audio brands out there, but these are the ones that drummers tend to love the most. It’s a combination of their products being decently priced and accessible, for the most part.

Earthworks

Earthworks Audio is a brand that sells top-tier luxury microphones. Their options for tom mics are a lot pricier than the other brands, but they’re incredible investments.

All the brand’s microphones are so easy to use, and they allow you to get amazing tom tones without too much effort in the mixing process. 

Shure

Shure is arguably the most popular microphone brand for drummers. They offer a large number of options that cater to every budget range.

You’ll also find Shure microphones in every music store, making the mics more accessible than most others.

Audix

Audix is another audio brand that is very popular with drummers. The brand’s full microphone package has been a hit ever since it was released, but you can get the D2 and D4 tom mics separately if you need to.

Those two microphones have been used on toms for world-class recordings and performances for years.

Sennheiser

Sennheiser is a seriously reliable audio brand. They offer incredible drum microphones, and I’m particularly fond of their e 604 tom mics.

If you’re looking for something reliable and high-quality, you can’t go wrong with picking any of their products.

Top Tom Mics, Final Thoughts

Tom mics add a lot of depth to your drum mix. Choosing a good set of them will also make working with your mix much easier.

Remember that you can purchase one at a time, or you can get a 3-pack of the same mic. Most of the mics in the above list offer the second option.

Check them all out, and then decide which microphone suits your tastes and fits into your budget.

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!

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