If you’re a drummer, you may be aware that miking up your set can be a bit tedious at times. There are different types of mics depending on which head you want to capture, and the kind you need really depends on the frequency which drum is going to give off. Whether you’re recording in the studio or performing live, the kick drum in particular needs a special type of mic. Kicks give off the lowest frequency of the set, so you’re going to want a special build of microphone that can capture those lower waves of sound you’re attempting to convey to your listeners. We researched through the popular models and review the top choices for the best kick drum mics in the market. Let’s get into the details.
The benefits of a mic for your kick drum
You could always just use any plain old condenser or dynamic microphone for your kick drum — it’s not that it won’t work. However, if you’re like us when it comes to mic set ups, using the exact proper gear and technique is crucial when attempting to take a step above other musicians (and drummers, more specifically here). In our opinion, the way you mix, record or set up your performance is almost as important as making the music itself (don’t quote us on that). You can have an amazing song\set, and if the mic set up isn’t optimal or just flat out ineffective, it won’t be conveyed to your listeners correctly and can tarnish your beautiful sound.
When it comes to actually getting a mic to be setup with your kick, it does get a bit tricky, but it is quite possible. There are a few ways to do so, such as inside of your kick, outside with a mount, or multiple mics. We like this How to Mic a Bass Drum article for some more information on that.
How to choose your kick drum microphone
- Your budget – Here’s our given, however it’s always a must when it comes to a shopping checklist. There are some mics that cost around a Benjamin, however others that are cheaper if you’re on a budget. The higher you go, the better the quality, of course. Luckily, drum kick mics aren’t too hefty when it comes to price tags.
- Check the specs – Make sure the mic you are looking at can handle a high SPL (Sound Pressure Level) due to the kick drum being quite powerful (especially if you love to stomp on it). Also, double-check the frequency range being low enough to handle the lower-end of the spectrum that kicks are basically responsible for in the entire song. You’re going to want to look for an SPL that goes up to at least 120 dB (we made sure all of these did, and of course, the brands should as well since they’re making a kick drum mic), and a frequency as low as 40 Hz.
- Do you need more than one mic? Some like two mics for their kicks, and others just one. We also put this here because you may be looking to mic up your entire drum set — if that’s the case, #5 has your name on it.
- Brand preference. Well, if you’re a snob like us, this does factor in at least a little. We love Shure, AKG, and more, but there are some other less-known brands you might want to take into consideration due to their price points and overall quality.
The best kick drum mics in the market
Below is our list of the best kick drum microphones in the market. We made sure to choose a mic from each budget range for some options. To top off the list, we list our favorite mic kit that gives you more than one solution if you want your entire setup to be recorded\projected. Let us know if you need more help in the comments!
Shure BETA 52A
Not that we let the entire factor brand name cloud our minds, but in our experience, you can never, ever go wrong with a Shure mic. The BETA 52A is well-known around the mic industry for being one of the best kick drum mics in the market. It has a built-in dynamic locking stand adapter to be able to sit snug right near your kick, a solid build in terms of material (steel mesh grille for long-lasting performance), and a great shock system within the mic itself. The supercardioid polar pattern is superb for sound isolation and high gain before feedback. There’s nothing quite wrong with this one and the user reviews also back this up. We’d grab this one in a heart beat, although the only thing that may steer you away is the price. The Shure Beta 52A is one of the best.
If you’re looking for a high quality mic that’s relatively cheaper than the Shure, look no further. The Nady name is also familiar to some, and although this isn’t really near the realm of the 52A, it can get the job done. It can handle the high SPL of the kick quite well, comes with an internal shock mount and has a solid, rugged body. It also has a supercardioid pattern with a large diaphragm, so in terms of specs it doesn’t differ much from the Shure. We wouldn’t steer away from it, although we always recommend saving up the cash to grab one of the best. The Nady DM-90 will also get the job done and save you some cash while you’re at it.
AKG D 112 MKII
AKG makes their appearance now and for good reason with this model. This is an upgrade from their original D 112 kick drum mic and it’s brand new for this year so we’re getting some freshness along with the package. Along with the secure AKG brand name, the model gives us a very high SPL handle (up to 160 dB — although there isn’t an exact science with measuring the exact SPL for a kick drum, it’s rumored to be around 120 or a bit higher), a nice punch to the sound as well as a super solid build. You can also easily mount it and we love the aesthetics of the mic (if you think looks matter, that is!). Grab the AKG D112 MKII while it’s new and fresh — it’s on the higher end (a bit cheaper than the Shure, too).
Here’s another solid option to compare at #4 of our drum kick mic list. It’s a supercardioid mic like the others, and it offers a pretty splendidly built neodymium magnet structure along with a high-profile mesh build. The peak is what’s been said to attractive about this one, getting it at around 60-80 Hz, but you can always EQ it to pertain to your needs (really depends on the type of music you play). No distortion, clean sound, solid build, an OK price — what more could you ask for? Look at the Electro-Voice PL33 Microphone if you want something solid and in the middle price point.
Last but not least, here’s a bit of a twist to our article — this model comes with seven mics — and it’s for your entire drum kit. Why would you need all of those dang mics? Well, at times we shop for bulk (concerts, you run a church sound project, etc), so if you’re looking for more than just a kick drum, this is the package we recommend since it’s reviewed so highly. Here’s everything in the package: One kick drum mic, four small drum mics (for toms and snare), two shotgun-type of condenser mics (for cymbals, pianos and vocals), and various mounts for each mic. The only thing you’re missing are the stands, but other than that, you’re good to go right out of the box with this one. The Pyle-Pro PDKM7 mic kit is awesome if you want to equip your entire set up at once — it’s super affordable, too. In terms of the condenser mic for vocals, it isn’t a pro-quality one, but can get the job done for home studio recording or small performances. Otherwise we’d recommend grabbing a popular condenser mic instead. If you want a mic stand to go with them, we recommend the Samson MK-10.