What is the best drum microphone kit for recording drums?


Image of drum set with microphones

[Updated May 5 2021]

Choosing the right drum mic kit is essential to achieve a good sound for your band or client. In this article, we’ll evaluate some of the best drum microphone kits for recording drums and walk you through the process to select the best one for your project.

There are so many drum mic kit options to choose from with variations in quality and price bracket. Your goal is to get the highest quality kit within a reasonable price range. Easier said than done!

Ready to find out which drum kit is made for you? Keep reading to learn the basic components of most drum kits, some important terms to keep in mind, and a review section of the best drum mic kits on the market to help you decide. 

What is the best drum microphone kit for recording drums?

Editor’s Choice – Shure PGA Drum Kit 7

The Shure PGA Drum Kit 7 offers 7 quality microphones to mic a full drum kit at an affordable price, including 7 cables to complete the deal. It’s great value for money and a good place to get started with your drum recording projects

The Shure PGA microphones in this drum mic kit set the bar for reliable, accessible, and high-performance microphones for live performance and studio recording. This kit, the Shure PGA Drum Kit 7, offers a complete package for recording a full drum kit and includes all of the essentials to get started straight away, with the exclusion of only three mic stands. 

What’s included:

  • 1 x PGA52 Kick Drum Microphone
  • 3 x PGA56 Snare/Tom Microphones
  • 1 x PGA57 Instrument Microphone
  • 2 x PGA81 Instrument Microphones
  • 3 x A25D Microphone Clips
  • 3 x AP56DM Drum Rim Mounts
  • 7 x C15J 15ft(4.6m) XLR-XLR Cables
  • 1 x Zippered Carrying Case

Pros

The Shure PGA Drum Kit 7 is a fantastic all-in-one kit with many pros. Let’s go through some of the most important pros to consider when thinking about purchasing this kit. 

  • Versatile kit with enough mics to set up a full drum kit
  • Great build quality, with quality materials
  • Highly affordable for a 7-piece kit with all the accessories
  • Great quality sound for the low price
  • Drum rim mounts are of good quality and clamp very well on the drum rim

Cons

This kit is well revered as a great drum mic kit for its low price, however, it does come with its compromises. Let’s go through some of the cons worth mentioning for this awesome kit.

  • Sound requires some EQ
  • XLR cables included are not the best quality
  • Carrying case does not accommodate the cables

This kit surpasses expectations. If you’re looking to fully kit out your recording setup with a great quality drum mic kit while staying on budget, this is a great option.

Premium Choice – Audix DP7 Plus Drum Mic Kit

The Audix DP7 Plus drum mic kit is the exclusive bundle version of the highly popular, Audix DP7. This version tops its predecessor with 8 pieces instead of 7 and showcases the latest collection of drum mic kits from the application-specific-microphone manufacturer, Audix. This kit is capable of miking a full drum set for both live performances and studio recording.  

What’s included:

  • 1 x D6 Kick Drum Microphone
  • 1 x i5 Snare Microphone
  • 2 x D2 Tom Microphones
  • 1 x D4 Floor Tom Microphone
  • 3 x ADX51’s Overheads and Hi-Hat Microphones
  • 1 x Hardshell road case for traveling
  • 4 x D-Vice Drum Rim Mic Clips

Pros

As one of the best drum mic kits on the market, let’s go through the pros of choosing this awesome drum mic kit. 

  • Built-in EQ’s specifically for recording drums – Sound good out the box
  • Great quality sound
  • Durable build with quality materials
  • Good quality, adjustable drum rim-mounted clips
  • Kit includes an instructional set-up video guide for beginners 
  • The carrying case included is hard-shelled for good protection

Cons

This kit is high quality and a great deal for the price, there really aren’t many flaws to discuss – if any. It really is a great kit! However, let’s discuss the only con that comes along with wanting to purchase this kit. 

  • More expensive than some options on the market (you get what you pay for!)

Also Great – AKG Drum Set Concert I

Including a bass drum mic known as one of the world’s bests (The D112), the AKG Drum Set Concert I drum mic kit comes with everything you need to set up a full drum kit. With its robust build and quality hard case, this kit is built for a rigorous stage life and can be used to mic up other instruments effectively as well.

What’s included:

  • 1 x D112 MKII Bass Drum Microphone
  • 2 x C430 Overhead Microphones
  • 4 x D40 Snare/Tom Microphones
  • 4 x Drum Rim Mic Mounts
  • 2 x Microphone Clips
  • 1 x Aluminum Carrying Case

Pros

The AKG Drum Set Concert I is a best seller in the middle price range of drum mic kits. Let’s take a look at some of the pros that make this kit worthwhile.

  • Great quality, robust build with good materials
  • Affordable in the middle price range for the size and quality of the kit
  • Professional and natural drum sound
  • Enough mics to set up a full drum kit
  • Versatility to use mics for other instruments if needed
  • Quality drum rim mic mounts with good hold

Cons

This is a great kit with very little fault. However, let’s take a look at a few cons to consider before deciding to purchase the AKG Drum Set Concert I kit.

  • These mics may be complicated for beginners
  • Kit does not include cables

Considering the quality of this drum mic kit, this is an absolute bargain, in the middle range price bracket.

Shure DMK57-52

A great drum mic kit on a budget, the Shure DMK57-52 is the perfect core package drum mic kit for recording drums and live performances. Coming in a lightweight hard case box, this kit is durable and portable for easy on-the-go use. 

What’s included:

  • 3 x SM57 Snare/Tom Microphones
  • 1 x Beta 52A Kick Drum Microphone
  • 3 x A56D Drum Rim Mic Mounts
  • 1 x Lightweight Carrying Case

Pros

The Shure DMK57-52 is a great choice for anyone looking to perform or record their drums without breaking the bank. The kit has many good qualities, let’s take a look at some of the pros of this compact drum mic kit. 

  • Good quality, sturdily built microphones
  • Crisp and clear sound, great quality
  • Versatile for recording other instruments
  • Sound good in average recording environments
  • Kick drum mic is equipped with a pneumatic locking stand mount
  • Highly affordable

Cons

Even a superb kit like this has some flaws. Let’s go through some of the cons that you might want to be aware of before deciding on this killer kit. 

  • Doesn’t include overhead microphones
  • Might not include enough microphones for every situation
  • Drum rim mounts gradually loosen once tightened

Although there are some small cons to the Shure DMK57-52 mic kit, the affordability at only $399.00 may make this kit worthwhile for anyone on a tighter budget looking for high-quality drum mics.

Sennheiser Drum Kit 600

This high-quality drum mic kit, the Sennheiser Drum Kit  600, comes fully equipped with 7 professional-grade microphones for a full drum kit setup. With a compact design, this set features microphones ideal for demanding applications where small size and good specs are required.  

What’s included:

  • 1 x E602-II Kick Drum Microphone
  • 2 x E614 Overhead Microphones
  • 4 x E604 Snare/Tom Microphones
  • 4 x Drum Rim Mic Mounts
  • 2 x Microphone Clips
  • 1 x Slim-Line Plastic Case with Cut Foam

Pros

Like every kit on this list, the Sennheiser Drum Kit 600 comes with pros that set it apart from other kits on the market. Let’s go through some of the pros that make this kit a favorite. 

  • Great quality, well-built microphones with rugged reinforced glass-fiber bodies
  • Low sensitivity to impact and handling noises
  • Compact size for versatile positioning
  • Built for a demanding stage environment, yet can also deliver in-studio
  • Affordable for the outstanding quality
  • Drum rim mic mounts are durable and flexible
  • High quality carrying case

Cons

With a strong reputation for quality, this drum mic kit does not have many, if any, notable cons. However, let’s go through the possible cons for this great kit. 

  • Does not come with cables

The Sennheiser Drum Kit 600 is a fantastic choice for any artist looking for a high-quality full 7-piece drum mic kit with good higher-price range affordability.

Overview of components in most drum mic kits.

To help you choose the best drum mic kit for you, it is important to understand the various components in most kits. Using a drum mic kit is far easier than choosing each mic individually, so let’s take a look at what you’ll find in most quality drum mic kits. 

Kick drum microphone

The kick drum is one of the most important parts of any drum kit, responsible for producing the rich bassy sound and driving the overall rhythm of the kit. To fully capture the sound of a kick drum, or to help boost it during a live performance, it is fitted with a kick drum mic.

A kick drum mic is usually inserted in a small hole found in the front drumhead’s skin towards the bottom. Generally, the mic is a dynamic mic and is clipped onto the ring of the drumhead. Depending on the results wanted, the mic positioning can be further in or out of the hole, and sometimes even all the way in or all the way out.

Snare drum mic

A good quality snare drum gives drum sound the punch that helps it cut through the mix on a recording or cut through the crowd in a live performance. Snare drums produce sound in the upper-mid frequency range and are generally miked with a good quality cardioid microphone.

Snare drum mics are sometimes positioned using stands, but in general, when using a drum mic kit the microphone will be clipped onto the ring of the top drumhead and positioned facing down towards the skin. Depending on the results wanted, or the drummers playing style, the mic will be position either closer or further away. 

Hi-hat mic

Generally, the hi-hats are picked up by two overhead microphones and don’t require their own mic unless the hi-hats are an important aspect of the music being played and need to be more pronounced. In this case, a cardioid microphone is placed on a stand in front of the cymbals.

Sometimes the hi-hat is even recorded with two microphones, one above the top cymbal, pointing downwards and one below the bottom cymbal, pointing upwards, but in most cases, one is enough. However, even in a full drum mic kit, there are only two overhead microphones included to pick up the hi-hat.  

Tom mics

Much like the snare drums of a drum kit, the toms are also generally miked with a cardioid microphone clipped onto the ring of the top drumhead. Although some styles of music, such as Jazz, don’t always use the tom drums, many styles like rock and pop, require a closely miked setup to achieve the right sound.

Overhead mics

Not all drum mic kits come with overhead microphones, but if you have the budget for a full 7 piece mic kit, then two condenser microphones will be included. These two mics are positioned directly above your entire kit and pick up the full sound including some valuable room reverb for a more natural drum sound with more depth. 

Terms

Along with understanding the contents of a drum mic kit, there are a few important terms to understand before making a decision about which drum mic kit is right for you. These terms will help you understand what the value behind each mic is and how each mic works in relation to your drum kit. 

Frequency range

A frequency range refers to a group of frequencies in the electromagnetic spectrum that extends from one limiting frequency to another. The frequency range of a microphone refers to the range between its upper limiting frequency and its lower limiting frequency.

Condenser microphones

A condenser microphone offers more superior quality sound than other microphones and requires external power. This type of microphone, often referred to as a “capacitor microphone” due to its construction, works by translating the vibration of sound through a gold-coated membrane, against a solid metal disk. The changes in the space between the two “disks” are translated into electrical sound.

Dynamic microphones

A dynamic microphone, often preferred for live performances due to a more robust build, translates sound into an electromagnetic current through the vibration of a metal coil surrounded by magnets. The sound waves hit a membrane attached to the coil, causing it to vibrate while the relative movement of the coil in relation to the magnets causes a small signal voltage, translating into electrical sound. 

Cardioid pickup pattern

A cardioid pickup pattern is the most common polar pattern in unidirectional microphones. The pattern is “heart-shaped” meaning that a microphone with this polar pattern picks up the most sound directly in front of it, less on the sides of it, and hardly at all from behind it. 

Sound pressure levels

Sound pressure levels, or SPL, refer to the level of sound that a microphone can handle. It is an often misunderstood spec on a microphones spec sheet. It does not indicate the sound pressure level that will damage a microphone but rather the sound pressure level where sound will begin to distort for that microphone. 

Polar patterns

Each microphone has a polar pattern, used to describe the direction in which the microphone can pick up sound and to what degree. For example, omnidirectional microphones have a circular polar pattern, meaning that they can pick up sound from 360° around them and of equal sensitivity.

Drum rim mount vs stand mount

A stand mount is a free-standing microphone mount that is not attached to any part of the drum kit. The stand holds the mic in position and can be adjusted and moved anywhere in relation to the drum kit or specific parts of the kit. 

A drum rim mount is a clip-on microphone mount which clips onto the side of a drum rim using a clip and tightener. Drum rim mounts are adjustable and allow for good positioning of the mic in relation to the drum.

Other parts you might need

Not all drum mic kits come with certain essentials needed to mic your drum kit. Before deciding which drum mic kit is worth it for you, consider which additional items you may still need to purchase. Let’s discuss a few items drum mic kits don’t always come with. 

Stands

Each mic in a drum mic kit that requires a stand should come with a microphone clip for connecting them to the stand but will not have the stand included. Generally, most larger drum mic kits do include a few clip-on, drum mic mounts but will only include enough for the snare or tom mics. 

You can choose what type of stand you want for certain mics. However, depending on the mics included in the kit of your choice, you may need to purchase additional stand mounts to accommodate mics such as the overhead mics and room mics. 

Cables

Cables are generally an additional expense when purchasing most drum mic kits. You will need to purchase a cable for each mic that is included in the kit of your choice and should try to opt for the best quality cables for your budget. Poor quality cables can affect the overall sound and experience of your new drum mic kit.

Make sure to purchase cables with the correct connectors for your mics and audio interface, and that your cables will be long enough to reach your mixer. 

Audio Interface / Mixer

If you do not have an audio interface or mixer, yet, you will need to purchase one that will be able to accommodate the number of mics you will be using to mic up your drum kit. For example, if you purchase a drum mic kit with seven microphones included, you will need an audio interface with enough cable inputs for all seven of your mics to plug into. 

Frequently asked questions about Drum Microphones

Do I need overhead microphones for recording drums at home?

It is not essential to use overhead microphones. If you’re just getting started you can get a great sound with just one well-placed room mic and a mic on the kick drum. Read our detailed guide on recording drums with only two microphones.

How Many Mics do you need to record drums

As stated, you can record drums with as few as 2 microphones. To get a good result though, I recommend at least 4 microphones.

How Many Mics Does The Best Drum Mic Kit Include?

The best drum mic kits will come with around 7 microphones. Kick, Snare, 3 tom mics and a matched stereo pair for overheads.

What Else Do I Need To Record Drums?

You’ll also need an audio recording interface, computer (or recording device), DAW (Digital audio workstation). In most cases you’ll need some mic stands and cables to place the mics.

What are the best overhead mics for drums

There are plenty of great overheads by many manufacturers. A couple of my favorites are the AKG 451 and Shure SM81. If your budget stretches a bit further a pair of AKG C414’s will give you a great sound – and they are versatile, you can use them on lots of other instruments too.

How do you mic a kick drum without holes

To mic a kick drum without holes, you can place the microphone around 6 inches in front of the resonant head (not the one the beater hits). Offset it slightly from centre and angle it towards the middle of the head. This position will give you an all-around sound, but not as much attack.

The second position you can use is pointing the kick mic at the batter head (where the beater hits) – this will give you good attack and punch. If you use this position take care to place the mic to reject snare and hi-hats as much as possible as well as staying out of the way of the drummer!

How high should overhead mics be

Your overhead microphones should be around 6 feet (1.8m) from the ground. This will enable the mics to pick up the full drum kit evenly.

Conclusion

Choosing the right drum mic kit to fit your needs and budget shouldn’t be rushed, there are many factors to consider.

We hope that this guide has simplified your search and helped you get straight to the point of which drum mic kits available today are simply the best in terms of price, quality, and functionality.

Take your time and once you decide, get excited about your new gear upgrade!

Editor’s Pick – Shure PGA Drum Mic Kit

Our favorite drum mic kit in the affordable price range is the Shure PGA Drum Mic Kit.

Tim is an experienced touring and studio drummer. He has also been recording and doing live sound for over 22 years. He brings a balanced perspective of creativity and musicianship along with technical knowledge and experience.

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