Getting your choice of microphones right is absolutely crucial to the way your music sounds. Whether you are choosing the best drum mic kits for live sound or for studio use, getting your microphone techniques and selection right can make or break a good performance or a good recording.
We go into a lot of detail below, reviewing some of the top drum mic kits from brands such as Shure, CAD and AKG as well as some more affordable brands. To jump straight to our top recommended kit, head to the AKG Concert One.
Drums are arguably the most difficult instrument to mic up. The wide variety of sounds mean that you can’t just put one microphone up and get a good sound. A kick drum microphone should capture lower frequencies better whereas the mic you use for snares and hi-hats should be able to pick up higher frequencies. This is why drum mic sets have become so popular. The microphones are designed to get a well-rounded drum sound and are great for home studios and live venues. Buying a drum microphone kit means you don’t have to make the individual choices as to which microphones (and stands) to buy.
So what makes a Good Drum Mic Kit?
Value? Consistency? Clarity of sound? Well, the simple answer is “all of the above”. The benefits listed should all be considered, but the main thing we are looking for is, of course, the sound of the mics. If you buy a drum mic kit and set it up, you want them to provide a superb sounding drum recording every time without having to record on additional microphones or do a lot of editing.
Another huge consideration is the value for money on offer. Sadly, you’re not going to get a good drum mic kit for under $50, but there are some models at under $200 which might do a satisfactory job. There’s an element of ‘you get what you pay for’ in the world of microphones, but there are some gems on our list of best drum microphones.
Drum Mic Kits Reviewed
CAD Audio Stage 7 Premium 7-Piece Drum Pack
CAD has been making audio products since the 1930s, and although many of them don’t have the same draw as a brand like Shure or AKG, their offering in the world of drum mic kits. This is on the lower end of the market in terms of price, but the reviews don’t necessarily show that this is one of the cheapest drum kits available.
Many of the reviews on Amazon and other music retailers have talked about how this kit punches well above its weight in terms of price, some even going so far as to say that they prefer the sound to kits that cost three or four times as much. I’m not sure about that, but I would say that the value for money with the CAD Audio Stage 7 Premium is exceptional.
So what is in the Stage7 drum mic set?
- Seven microphones. Three CAD D29s, 2 C9s, one D19 and one D10.
- Seven cables, one for each mic, all 25 feet long so with plenty of room for live venues and studios.
- 2 Tripod mic stands
- 2 Short microphone stands
All of the microphones included are dynamic, and therefore don’t require phantom power. They’re durable and perfect for live use. These mics aren’t likely to stop working after getting bashed with your drumsticks a few times. It should be said that though this is a great budget drum mic set, these aren’t the best individual mics you will be able to buy. Some people spend the price of this whole pack on every microphone for their drums.
So what is this the best drum mic set for? Well, it is great for those who are lucky enough to have a home studio and is a good way to start recording without spending a lot of money. To be able to get so many stands and mics for such a great price is a big plus point. This is also great for live performances, and though the mics may not give the cleanest recorded sound compared to the industry standard, they do a fine job on stage.
Shure DMK57-52 Drum Microphone Kit
Shock, horror! There’s a Shure microphone set in our list. It is impossible to ignore Shure as a manufacturer of microphones, and many of their mics are industry standard. We’ve recommended them on lists including the best overhead mics and tom mics. They basically have a microphone for all occasions, some of which are included in their DMK57-52 mic kit.
The kit is simple. Three Shure SM57s and one Beta 52a. The Beta 52a should only really be used for your kick drum, but it does a wonderful job of picking up low frequencies. The remaining three mics are SM57s, which means they are some of the most reliable and versatile mics ever made. You can use them on your snare and toms and the recordings will likely be good enough for either recording or for live use.
These microphones also come with the clips you need to put them in place around your kit, so they’re easy to use and set up. They tick the box in terms of being durable and hard-wearing too.
If I were to pick out a shortcoming, I would say that these microphones on their own may not be enough. A four-mic setup for drums is possible but not ideal. For the best results, you will probably want to add overheads or mics for picking up hi-hats and cymbals too.
That said, the individual microphones are exceptional dynamic mics, and buying them in this drum mic set, along with the clips and neat and tidy case means that there is a significant saving compared to buying all of these products individually. A complete set for recording this might not be, but a wonderful starting point it certainly is. We expect nothing else from Shure.
AKG Drum Set Concert 1
Looking for an all-in-one, professional standard microphone kit for drums? AKG may have provided you with exactly that. This set is able to offer some drum microphones which are nothing short of iconic, as well as all the equipment needed to set it up on your own mic stands. On top of this, it will leave you needing no other microphones to get a quality recording, as this has all the aspects of a standard kit, and your overheads covered.
The kit is pinned with an AKG D112, one of the top options for kick drums and the basis of your low-end drum sound. The clarity and punch of this microphone are unrivaled when it comes to kick drums, and a huge plus point of the Concert 1 set.
2 C430 mics are included, and the brand recommends you use these for overhead microphones. Though this is a great option, the C430s are great microphones. Not many brands have something designed specifically for picking up the high-end of hi-hats and cymbals, but the AKG C430s were made with exactly this in mind.
Completing the set in terms of microphones are four impressive AKG D40s. Having four of these bad boys opens up a world of possibilities. They are exceptional choices for live use, as they have a super high SPL and are remarkably durable. In many ways, they are AKG’s answer to the SM57, and this means they are versatile. Many other reviewers report that these microphones aren’t just good for the toms and snares they’re intended for in this pack, but they can mic electric guitars, acoustic guitars and other instruments to good effect, especially live. Hear about these mics straight from the brand in the video below.
Also included are all of the mic clips, ready to go straight on your stands.
To be able to find a set of seven such great microphones is rare, and the price is great when you consider what is on offer. For beginners, they may not be the best choice, and if you are looking to spend a small amount, you should probably go for one of the other choices we’ve recommended. Looking for the basis of a solid live or recording setup? AKG have made a top mic kit here.
A Cheap Option: Nady DMK-7 7-Piece Drum Microphone Kit
Not everyone who goes to buy a set of drum mics is looking for pro levels or has a budget of thousands of dollars. Although the kit we’ve picked out here may not be ‘elite’, the value for money is certainly there. This is one of the cheapest ways to get 7 microphones, and for beginners who are finding their way in the world of recording or live sound, it is worth considering.
In fact, most of the reviews we’ve seen for the Nady DMK-7 have been glowing. I’d recommend these mics more for live sound, and if you’re after perfection, you’re going to need to spend a lot more.
This 7-piece kit is worth a mention, though. This is one of the cheapest ways to get a good range of decent microphones, and for garage bands and small gig venues, this is the kind of equipment people need.
Included in the kit is one kick drum mic, four which are designed for toms and snares, and two condenser microphones which are perfect for overheads. Many of these microphones can be used on instruments too. Perfect for beginners dabbling with audio.
Benefits of Drum Mic Kits
So why buy a drum mic kit? There may be some purists out there who mix and match their brands and therefore don’t want a ‘kit’, and that’s fine. The beauty of recording and producing music is that different methods work for different people, and a kit is there as a tool should you need it. It does, however, have some clear benefits:
- The Price: Buying the microphones together as a package works out cheaper than buying individual microphones, the value on offer on some of the four, five and seven microphone kits is absolutely excellent and the price per mic can work out very affordable, great for those of us on a budget or who need something for a home studio.
- Designed for drums. One of the main benefits is that these microphones have been designed specifically for drums. This helps in a few ways, but the main benefit is probably the fact that these mics will often be clip-on and not need a lot of awkward stands to get the kit mic’d up.
- Consistency and ease of use. In theory, loyalty to the same brand should mean that setting up the mics is relatively easy and that using them gets a pretty consistent sound across the board. You won’t have one super-good microphone on your snare drum, and the rest being recorded with $10 flea market mics.
What constitutes the ‘best’ depends on the budget, and what you are looking to use your microphones for. Live use and studio use mics can be different, but generally with drum mics are quite similar.
With the above models, we’ve included a wide range of kits, designed to suit whatever it is you are looking for whether you are a professional sound engineer, or a hobbyist musician looking to go on to the next step.