Should you buy a drum mic kit?
Shopping for the best drum mic kit? If you’ve played drums long enough, you’re probably in the phase where you want or need to mic your drum set.
Unfortunately for us, our instrument is probably the hardest and the most expensive to mic up well.
The truth is, it’s kind of hard to capture such extremely loud sound, while also capturing every nuance and detail of this beautiful instrument.
In addiction, there’s also the fact that you can just buy an electronic drum kit and kill two birds with one stone.
In other words, with an e-drum, you take care of both the need for a drum set, and recording it. Plus, recording an e-drum is ten times easier than recording an acoustic one.
Why is it better to record an acoustic kit?
With that being said, if you have sufficient space and adequate gear, there’s nothing comparable to recording real acoustic drum kits. That’s something that even the $5k e-drums can’t beat.
Thankfully, whether your plan is to build a home studio, create an online portfolio, improve your practice or play live gigs, there’s always a drum mic kit for every need/wallet.
Basically, the title is explicit enough, but I want to emphasize this article main focus are mic kits.
When starting out, the best and the “cheapest” option is to go with a kit that includes all the mics and essential accessories like mounting clamps (to mount the mic to a snare/tom).
Plus, you can always buy individual mics later on to improve your sound weaknesses if needed.
Not to mention that besides the mics, if you plan to record yourself, you’ll also need:
- Some XLR cables
- A couple of mic stands;
- Some sort of audio interface.
What’s in the pack?
- 1 x P2 Bass Drum Microphone
- 2 x P17 Microphones for overheads
- 4 x P4 Microphones for Toms and Snare
- 4 x H440 Adapter Plate
- 2 x Stand Adapter (for the overheads’ stands)
- 1 x Aluminum Carrying Case
Firstly, this is without a doubt one of the best, if not the best, drum mic kits for their price range since their introduction at NAMM back in 2015.
It’s made by AKG, a reputable manufacturer known for their premium microphones, headphones, and other audio products.
This pack, in particular, includes seven microphones, which is all you need to perfectly record a regular 5-piece drum kit (or smaller).
In other words, the seven mics included are: one dynamic with a large diaphragm specially made for the bass drum with a cardioid polar pattern (P2), four dynamic with smaller diaphragms for the three toms and the snare (P4), plus two condenser mics usually used as overheads (P17).
Moreover, if that isn’t already an astonishing value for the money, you’ll also get an aluminium case with foam cuts-outs to help keep the mics safe in the studio or carry them around.
Also, four H440 clamps to easily attach your P4 microphones to your snare/toms and two stand adapters so you can use your condenser mics with regular mic stands.
As usual with electrolytic condensers, you will need a power source like a mixer with phantom power to use the P17 microphones.
Even though they are made to record drums, they can also be used for miking percussion, bass and guitar amps, brass, woodwinds and other instruments if for some reason you want or need to record something other than drums.
The pack includes:
- 1 x PGA52 Cardioid Dynamic Kick Drum Microphone
- 3 x PGA56 Cardioid Dynamic Snare/Tom Microphones
- 1 x PGA57 Cardioid Dynamic Instrument Microphones
- 2 x PGA81 Cardioid Condenser Instrument Microphones
- 3 x A25D Break-resistant Microphone Clip
- 3 x AP56DM Break-resistant Drum Rim Mounts
- 7 x XLR-XLR cables 4.6m
- Zippered carrying case
After all, we couldn’t make a list about microphones without a reference to Shure, one of the best mic manufacturers.
They make some of the best microphones, and this kit in particular comes from the new PG ALTA range and aims for the “home recording studios” since you get a “complete” pack for about $500.
All things considered, I still consider it a budget pack, even though it’s around 25% more expensive than the AKG one, just because it’s still a pretty low price for the quality and the amount of gear you get.
The pack includes a PGA52, a cardioid dynamic mic for your bass drum, and a PGA57, a cardioid dynamic mic for your snare drum.
Also, it includes three PGA56, which are the cardioid dynamic mics for your toms, and two PGA81, the cardioid condenser mics, usually used as overheads.
The mics alone are a great deal for ~$500 but wait, it gets even better:
Not to mention, if that wasn’t enough already, you’ll also get a zippered carrying case (not aluminum, though), seven XLR cables with around 4.6m each (not included in the AGK pack), and three mic clips plus three rim mounts for all your mics (except the kick drum mic).
It’s as complete as it gets, ideal for home recording and even live shows. The cardioid polar patterns reduce the background noise and feedback, making them great at isolating unwanted sounds from your mix.
Even though they aren’t Shure’s well-known, top of the line mics like the legendary SM57 or the Beta 52A, they offer insane quality at an unbeatable price with their clean and natural sound.
Regardless, if for some reason you don’t want to get it (e.g. already own overhead mics) you can also opt for the PGADRUMKIT5, which is the same pack excluding the overheads, for 60% of the PGADRUMKIT7 price.
Considering that there are XLR cables and mounts for most mics, now all you need is some sort of audio interface/mixer, a laptop/pc, two mic stands (overheads), and voilà, you have your own drum studio ready to record some beats.
The DP7 consists of:
- 1 x D6 Kick Drum Microphone
- 1 x i5 Snare Drum Microphone
- 2 x D2 Rack Tom Microphones
- 1 x D4 Floor Tom Microphone
- 2 x ADX51 Overhead Microphones
- 4 x DVICE Rim Mounts
- 3 x DCLIP Microphone Clips
- 1 x MC1 Microphone Clip
- 2 x WS81C Windscreens
- Aluminum Road Case
- ”How to Mic Your Drums” DVD
Audix is a brand that specializes in professional audio solutions for live, studio, and even field recording situations.
The pack itself is more on the premium side than the budget one since it costs around $1000, but the quality and the number of items you get is nothing to shrug off.
As a matter of fact, it combines seven microphones, as you could already tell by the name, including the D6 which is Audix’s flagship kick drum mic. Perfect for any 5-piece drum kit (or smaller).
Additionally, you’ll also get two D2 dynamic drum microphones to be used as your rack tom mics and one D4 for your floor tom.
To complete the pack, there’s a pair of ADX51 studio condenser microphones, for overhead miking, plus an i5 for the snare.
As you could already tell by the previous packs, a drum mic kit includes more than just microphones, and this is no exception:
The DP7 kit also packs four D-Vice rim mounts for the snare and tom microphones, three microphone clips for the other three, which are the overheads and kick drum mic (you’ll need a stand for your snare microphone).
As a bonus, they also added two windscreens and a DVD on “How to mic your drums”.
All of this gear is well-packed in a foam-lined aluminum case, to safely store and carry it from gig to gig.
To sum up, the sound is great right off the bat (assuming you know how to tune), which makes your life easier and less dependent on EQ and compression.
There’s honestly nothing else to add. If you’re serious about recording drums or playing live gigs, the DP7 kit won’t let you down for a pretty fair price, while offering a professional sound, excellent durability, and easy-to-manage clips and mounts.
Packed inside there’s:
- 1 x e602-II cardioid dynamic kick drum microphone
- 4 x e604 cardioid dynamic tom/snare microphones
- 2 x e614 super-cardioid condenser overheads microfones
- Heavy duty case
Sennheiser is another colossal company in the microphone, or audio in general, world. The German brand is well known for its excellent microphones, headphones, telephone accessories, and aviation headsets.
This pack is on par with the Audix DP7 and therefore, also sold for around $1000. It’s not a beginner’s kit (unless you’re loaded with money, obviously) and if that’s what you’re looking for, stick with the AKG one.
It includes a 602-II a cardioid dynamic kick drum microphone, that can also be used to record bass guitar cabs, tubas, or other low-frequency instruments, according to Sennheiser themselves.
They’re ultra-compact and robust (glass fiber reinforced body) compared to the average mic and include a built-in rim mount so you can easily attach it to anything from mic stands to drum rims.
Finally, the set includes a pair of 614, which are super-cardioid condenser microphones used as overheads, or if needed, they can also record woodwind and strings pretty well.
They can’t tolerate pretty high SPLs while precisely capturing your cymbals like no microphone in this, or lower, price range.
To give you some peace of mind, considering it’s not a cheap drum mic kit, Sennheiser offers a 10-year factory warranty for all of the microphones.
Inside the DK7 pack there’s:
- 4 x DM20 Microphones
- 2 x SR25 Microphones
- 1 x SR20LS (Low Sensitivity) Microphone
- 4 x RM1 RimMount
- 3 x MC1 Microphone Clips
- 4 x PW1 Foam Windscreens
- 3 x SRW3 Foam Windscreens
- 1 x KP1 KickPad
- 1 x DK25-C Aluminum Carrying Case
- User Manual
Studios usually buy individual cymbals, instead of opting for a full pack of drum mics.
They normally chose something like the versatile, durable, and reliable Shure SM57 for snare drums and sometimes even toms, and the industry standard for kick drums, the AKG D112.
That doesn’t mean you can’t buy a drum mic kit to achieve that professional studio sound quality, and that’s exactly what the Earthworks DK7 was designed for.
The DK7 kit includes one low-sensitivity SR20LS microphone for your kick drum, equally suited for studio recording environments and live performances.
Additionally, you’ll also get four DM20 mics for your snares and toms, complete with windscreens (for every single mic) and rim mounts to reduce the number of mic stands required.
The best part about the DM20s is their thin body, and rigid, but flexible Gooseneck with 121mm/4.75 inches to precisely position your mics, no matter how much gear your drum kit has, and making sure it stays.
Finally, to complete this powerful pack, you’ll also get optimal accuracy and articulation with the overheads provided, the pair of SR25 microphones. They are also good to record guitar and bass amplifiers, piano, or any acoustic instrument.
After recording a new original track or performing in front of thousands of fans, you’ll be able to store the mics with mic clips still attached in their carrying case, saving time on both setup and teardown.
Professional studio-quality sound in a carrying case?
The Earthworks DK7 is the perfect mic kit to capture a natural, transparent, and detailed drum sound.
It simplifies mic placement, reduces the need for additional mic stands while withstanding the punishments of the road or an accidental stick hit.
And the best part? It comes with a 15-year warranty, which means you’ll be able to enjoy these superb microphones for at least the next decade and a half.
The only downside I could find in the DK7 kit is, without a doubt, the price. It costs around $3000, which is too much for any beginner and most intermediate drummer.
But it’s fine because we knew from the beginning that Earthworks aims for the professional studio-quality sound, and if you’re a beginner, you’ve better things to worry about than what drum mics to buy.
Wrapping up, what should you get?
Well, if you’re a beginner or someone on a tight budget, you should just grab the AKG Drum Set Session I and be done with it. They have a good sound considering their low price, and a good build quality coming from a respectable brand.
The AKG Drum Set Session I doesn’t fulfill your needs? Want a better sound without blowing all your budget in a professional kit? Just buy the Shure PGADRUMKIT7.
It’s a pretty solid solution, built by another respectable, well-known brand in the audio world. It’s as complete as it gets considering it even includes XLR cables for every microphone, and the $500 price won’t hurt your budget.
In case you’re way past your beginner/intermediate drummer phase and would like a professional sound to match your skills, neither the Audix DP7 nor the Sennheiser e600 should disappoint you (and the “modest” $1000 price won’t disappoint your wallet either).
And the Earthworks DK7? If money isn’t a problem and you’re only satisfied with the best of the best, buy the DK7. The near-perfect sound, adjustability, and futuristic looks should fulfill all your needs for the next 15 years, considering they offer a 15-year warranty.
Should I get a 3/4/5 mic kit?
As a side note, I would like to explain the fact that I only included drum mic kits with seven mics: that’s what you need to properly record any 5-piece (or smaller) drum kit.
If you’re looking for a mic kit, it doesn’t make much sense to me to buy one with three or four mics that won’t cover your whole kit.
If that’s your plan, it’ll be much better to buy individual mics like the SM57 or the AKG D112 until you complete a full drum mic kit in the future.
If you want to check some of the packs mentioned side by side, and even a few more, watch this: