To mic up a drum is not the easiest thing to do. To mic up a bass drum is something else again. There are just so many variables to consider. It almost becomes impossible to choose a mic that will suffice for every occasion. Finding the Best Kick Drum Mic is not easy.
To mic up a drum is thought to be compromising the real acoustic sound it generates. It is designed to be heard at a reasonable distance, quite often though there is no other solution. Placing a mic in front of or in the drum will accentuate the mid-range frequencies — the sound of the drums attack. And, on the whole, it is just about possible to EQ in anything that might be missing, as long as the microphone captures it.
The kick or bass drum has the lowest frequencies of all the kit, as well as usually the whole mix. And it also has the biggest sound. It can differ a lot depending on its size, the tuning, whether it has some form of padding inside.
Most rock drummers use a 22 inch; jazz kicks though tend to be smaller with a crisper sound. So there are lots of variables. But we need to try and find the best mic to cover as many as possible. Not an easy task, so let’s find the best kick drum microphone currently available and see if it’s the perfect choice for you…
Top 10 Best Kick Drum Mics of 2023
1 Shure BETA 52A Supercardioid Dynamic Kick Drum Microphone
Where there are microphones, for whatever purpose, you will find Shure. Founded in Illinois in 1925, they are now recognized as one of the premier microphone manufacturers. The SM57 and SM58 have been used by just about every artist on every stage in the world. They are still widely used today.
The 52A microphone has come from that pedigree. If you are looking for a kick drum mic, then you have to consider this. It is going to be one of the best microphones for kick drums.
The Shure 52A is specifically designed to pick up lower frequencies and especially from the kick drum. Anyone who has ever owned a Shure mic will know that they are built tough. Built to be hurled thirty feet in the air rodeo-style by Roger Daltrey. Then crash land on the stage and just carry one like everything is normal. That is Shure build quality.
The 52A is no different. Rugged metal construction with a tough wire mesh that will take the punishment drummers dish out. It has a locking stand that makes setup easy and XLR connections.
It is a high output dynamic mic that has a supercardioid pattern. All drummers will tell you that overspill and sound bleed is a problem when mic’ing up drums. You can’t avoid it; you just have to reduce it. The modified supercardioid pattern of the 52A will reject the majority of any excess noise unwanted noise.
It has a neodymium magnet that is built to handle a high signal to noise ratio. The pneumatic shock mount system is an advanced design that reduces the number of vibrations and mechanical noises.
We have no reservations in saying this mic will produce studio-quality performance. Even at the very high SPL’s that are experienced by the kick drum, this mic works immaculately. The maximum SPL level for this mic is listed at 174dB. It has a low sensitivity to load impedance variables. And of course, it is not only for a kick drum. Bass guitars are going to sing with this tailored low-level frequency design.
It is very little we can add in such a small space to describe the excellence of this mic. Maybe just to say it is Shure. That ought to suffice. Certainly going to be a contender for the best kick drum microphone. And all at a very affordable price.
- Shure quality build and performance.
- And an excellent price point considering its quality.
- None at all.
2 Audix D6 Dynamic Microphone, Cardioid
Audix is a company that has not been in existence for a long time, just 30 years. In that time, it has come a long way and produces some fine microphones and audio equipment. They operate on a simple philosophy, to produce the best microphones they can at a reasonable price. All their products are tested before being released.
The D6 is a mic built to handle the low-end frequencies and especially kick and floor toms, as well as bass guitars through cabinets. It delivers a bottom end with plenty of attack, but also a clarity even at high volumes. The D6 has an SPL of 144dB, and distortion levels are very low.
The diaphragm, which has a very low mass, gives a very good transient response. Responding to the transient peaks is very important for a mic to produce quality. This should ensure a good kick drum sound, but it is a little bit too responsive to the beater.
The Audix D6 will make sure your recording has a sharp and crisp tone. It could be argued that it doesn’t give you plenty of depth. That is an important element of a good kick drum sound.
As mentioned, it is also a good mic for handling other low-frequency recordings. Especially as a mic mounted in front of a bass amp cabinet. It is suitable and tough enough in its build to be used for live shows as well as in the studio. It certainly has an attacking sound at the bottom end. But it possibly lacks the really rich warm deep sounds that some prefer.
It is well made with a rugged outer body casing and is reasonably small and lightweight to carry around. An affordable mic at a decent price point.
- Very sharp and crisp bass drum sound.
- Good price point.
- Lacks a little bit of real depth.
3 Shure PGA52-XLR Cardioid Swivel-Mount Dynamic Kick
Another Shure product that is designed to give us that great kick drum sound. This is another respected mic with a reputation. It is a typically tough Shure design with a rugged metal construction with a heavy-duty industrial-like wire grille protecting the head. A typical Shure design finished in black; it is suitable for the most rigorous environments.
This process of a tough design and build is the prime reason Shure microphones are ideal for live performances. Recording drums is an area where the mic needs to be able to handle being moved around. It also has to deal with high SPL’s. The PGA52 is adequately prepared for both situations.
Design improvements have been made, and the mic now has a swivel-joint. This allows a quick and permanent way of attaching the microphone in preparation for recording. It also has a special drum mount.
The cardioid pattern is designed to pick up sound from its source. In the case of the kick drum, that means what is being aimed at it. It focuses on the source of the sound only. Quite an important issue when drums all around are also creating noise. With this directional perspective, it will eliminate any unwanted external sounds.
It is manufactured with its cartridge design for low-frequency recording and reproduction. Shure microphones all give exceptional clarity in their performance, and the PGA52 is no exception. Lower frequencies can be difficult for a microphone to handle. But the design of the Shure ensures clarity and quality. It has a frequency response of 50 to 12,000 Hz.
It is provided with a zipper pouch for carrying around if necessary. Another Shure mic of pure quality that fulfills its design purpose and at a very affordable price. It has to be considered as a contender for the best kick drum microphone.
- Easy set-up and positional management.
- Typically tough Shure build quality at an affordable price.
- A supercardioid gives better isolation from external noise than a cardioid and is less likely to feedback.
4 AKG D112 MKII Bass Drum Mic
Another giant from the world of microphones offers us what will no doubt prove to be a quality mic. Founded in 1947 in Vienna, Austria, they have become recognized as one of the world leaders in high-level microphone manufacture. And you will rarely go into a studio and not see at least one AKG mic, if not a lot more.
They are now owned by Harman Industries, who themselves are owned by Samsung. Their headquarters, though, has remained in Vienna.
The D112 Mark 2 is replacing the original D112 bass drum microphone. The 112 has been around now for 30 years, so it was time for an upgrade, and the 112 Mark 2 is it.
It is a dynamic microphone for miking bass instruments and especially the bass drum. Its cardioid polar pattern makes it ideal for such work. Its frequency response goes down to a stunning 20Hz. Being cardioid, it is focused on receiving the sound from the source. Place this microphone in front of its sound source, and it will ignore peripheral noise. AKG is renowned for producing microphones with this capability.
It not only reproduces the sounds that are deep, but it also handles volume as well. With a Sound Pressure Level of 160dB, it is going to handle most things. The cardioid pattern is designed to handle low frequencies. So it is also suitable for bass guitar and other live bass-orientated instruments. When used with a kick drum, it provides a fast attack and response time. This is very important when recording any drum.
Like all AKG microphones, it is solid and reliable and built to withstand the rigors of recording drums. It is a little more expensive than some options available. But you are buying quality when you buy AKG. It is certainly one of the best kick drum microphones.
One final note, the D112, along with a number of other popular microphones, is prone to being copied. We understand that the original AKG models have Made in Austria on them. Anything else, please check.
- Great sounding mic with a low-frequency reach and high SPL.
- Tough construction.
- A little more expensive than some of its competitors.
- Watch out for fakes.
5 MXL A-55 Kicker Dynamic Drum Microphone
MXL is based in California and produces good quality microphones at very affordable prices. They are actually named Marshall Electronics, but they are nothing to do with the gods of Loud from London, then Milton Keynes, famed for their guitar amplifiers.
The A-55 is a very cost-effective mic that might almost be called a budget product. It has a frequency response of 30Hz to 15kHz. Whilst the lower ranges are not as deep as some, they are well captured and are crisp and clear.
This microphone is not specifically designed for the kick drum, as some are and is quite versatile. It will obviously work well with the kick but also does well with floor toms and bass cabinets. We find that the low-end reproduction is quite full and punchy but lacking that real depth. It is still a decent sound, though, and suits all styles of music.
Some microphones are tailored for specific music styles. Those microphones excel in that area. This microphone does not necessarily excel in any area of music. It is just very good at most of them. That is an asset for many a studio.
It has a rugged metal construction in black that is quite capable of taking a lot of use and a few knocks. One of the big things in its favor is the tough construction. This makes it suitable not only for studio work but also for live performances.
If you need a low-frequency microphone capable of recording the kick but being versatile, this could be it. A good mic at a great price.
- Good sounds but also very versatile.
- Tough and rugged build.
- Some will want a lower frequency response.
6 Sennheiser e901 Boundary Layer Condenser Mic
We don’t need to make any introductions regarding Sennheiser, do we? We didn’t think so. Rated as one of the best high-end microphone producers in the world. You won’t go into a main top-rated studio and not find a Sennheiser somewhere.
Founded in 1945, they have grown to be one of the ‘big boys.’ Still based in Germany, they are often known for producing some interesting and creative designs. The e901 is one of those creations.
It comes recommended, as well. Carter Beauford uses this mic in his bass drum for live gigs.
There are a lot of people who say that this is one of the best kick drum microphones. Some even say that it is better than what is seen as the industry standards, the Shure 52A, and the AKG D112.
The design is fascinating and sits on a pillow or other soft material inside the bass drum. No mic stand is needed. For those with just a hole cut in the front skin, check the size. It will operate well outside the drum, but most agree it is better actually inside the shell.
This is a big mic at 10 inches high and weighing nearly 2 pounds. The weight a testimony to its strength and quality of the build.
This is a pre-polarised condenser mic with a half cardioid design. It has an SPL of 154dB and a frequency range of 20Hz -20kHz. That makes it a powerful mic that can handle the volume. It also means it can work with very, very low frequencies.
The perfect combination for just about every style of music, But great for Rock music. Bonham would have loved this with its attack and clarity but also real depth.
This Sennheiser is a quality mic that is certainly a contender for the best bass drum microphone
- No mic stand necessary.
- Great sound with a tough build.
- Some may think it expensive.
7 Shure BETA 91A Half-Cardioid Condenser Kick-Drum Microphone
We had a look at Sennheisers mic with its creative shape and no need for a stand. Not to be outdone in either area Shure come along with a rival. And some rival it is. This is no mic for the faint-hearted. It has basic dimensions of 10 inches by 5 and weighs two pounds. And features a precision-engineered design with its own preamp.
It is basically a combination of two other Shure microphones. The Beta 91 and the SM91 were both popular mics, and now the best of each is brought together.
No stand needed with this mic either, just lay it on a cushion, preferably inside the bass drum. This is a kick drum that is one of the best kick drum microphones around. It is a half-cardioid pattern. This means that its position is very important for recording. It will have a tendency to collect other sounds if the sound source you want is not close enough.
It is given the tools to do the job with a high SPL rating and a good frequency range to pick up the bottom end. Shure has added a contour switch with two positions to get the best combination of clarity and also the attack sound of the beater.
It has an interesting design, but what is more important a powerful performance. It is built in the traditional rugged Shure way. Certainly at the top end of microphones for recording bass drums.
- Two-way contour switch with High SPL rating.
- No mic stand needed.
- Some are going to think it is expensive.
8 Sennheiser e602 II Evolution Series Dynamic Bass-drum Microphone
Another quality microphone for the kick drum and other low frequencies from Germany. This particular model has a typically tough build. But being made from stainless steel, it is still lightweight. Not bulky or clumsy, as some are, this has a nice aesthetic. It is designed to be positioned on a mic stand or long boom arm hence the lightweight construction.
It is built with all the aspects included for recording at the lower end. The frequency range is 10-16kHz, and it has a high SPL performance level. It has a large diaphragm, which is necessary for collecting the really low sounds. It does this and reproduces the sound with accuracy and clarity.
As with other Sennheiser microphones designed for the bass drum, it has a fast transient response time.
The e602 is particularly good at working with other low-frequency instruments. The design allows it to be placed comfortably for use with bass guitar cabinets and even deep horn sections. The frequency range of this mic ensures the sound is collected and produced at a high level.
There is a particular aspect of the e602 when compared with other microphones worth noting. It has a higher top end reproduction than most. The attack of the beater is captured perfectly. Therefore, if you are looking for a kick sound with a bit more top end ‘click’, then this will provide it.
Given an affordable price tag, this microphone not only represents great value for money. It also gives you a great sound and works superbly on electric guitar cabinets as well! Must be a contender for the Best Mic for kick drum.
- Nice design that allows positional options for recording.
- Great price and a great sound.
- Excellent for electric guitar cabinets.
- None really.
9 CAD Audio D12 Dynamic Cardioid Kick Microphone
First established in the 1930s CAD have been designing microphones since and have produced some quality product at an affordable price. The D12 is one such mic. However, it may be considered as very much a budget alternative to the bigger names in the market of microphones.
This mic is designed for the kick drum and is a dynamic mic with a moving coil. It has a neodymium magnet and a cardioid pattern, which allows it to collect its sound from a single source. In doing so, it will eliminate other peripheral unwanted sounds.
It is designed for use with the kick drum but will operate with other low-frequency instruments. It has a frequency response of 50Hz to 10kHz. From that range, we can see that it might not collect the very low frequencies.
It has a tough build with an all-metal construction with a mic clip. And is quite a sizeable mic at 10 by 5 by 3.5 inches. It weighs one and a half pounds.
By definition, it is a very bass concentrated mic, but it lacks not only a real depth but also a sharp top end. It must be remembered though that is very much a budget range microphone. As such, you cannot expect top-quality performance or results.
In its price range, it must be considered a decent mic. For those on a budget, it will do a basic job.
- Well made and tough design.
- Very affordable.
- It doesn’t have the frequency range of the higher quality microphones.
10 Beyerdynamic M88 TG Dynamic Microphone
Back to high-level German engineering for the Beyer M88. Rumour has it that this mic was designed in an attempt to add a bit of depth to female vocals. They did that without losing the critical top end in our view. If this is the case, then they have developed a remarkable mic.
First developed in the early 60s, it is still going strong. It is marketed and sold as a kick drum mic, and its hypercardioid pattern suits that perfectly. But it is so much more, and versatile is a name it can justify.
Design-wise it is nothing to write home about. In fact, if you didn’t know of its performance capability, you might not give it a second glance.
It has a finely-tuned sensitive response that is accurate and precise. The frequency range is deep enough to include all the very depth you need for a kick drum. Likewise, kick drum recording demands a high SPL, which this has.
Despite its depth, it has still maintained a sharp top end and therefore adds a crisp attack to the bass drum sound. It has been built with a -20dB humbucking filter.
This is one of the best kick drum microphones around, but it is made even more impressive with its natural versatility. It is not a cheap option at all, but it is an option that will fill a variety of roles. In some cases, you may have to buy two or three microphones to cover certain recording requirements. This may satisfy them all in one purchase.
- An outstanding mic with great variety.
- Great reproduction and high SPL.
- The price will put some off.
Read more: Top 10 Best Electronic Drum Amps
Best Kick Drum Mic Buyers Guide
Finding The Best Kick Drum Mic
To get the best kick drum mic, there are certain measures that need to be applied. These microphones with one or two exceptions are designed specifically for lower frequencies. They are there to do a job and must be designed in a way that will get it done.
What To Look For
A good frequency range is an obvious point to look at. Any range of around 20Hz is probably a good sign. Anything above 40Hz, though probably means that the deep sounds may not be picked up.
Sound Pressure Levels (SPL) also need to be good. The bass drum is incredibly loud when a mic is placed in front of it, and it needs to be able to handle it. The ideal decibel level is around 130-160 decibels.
The Build Quality
It needs to be well-built. In a recording studio, it is relatively protected. But if you use it on stage, it might take a battering. All metal is essential, preferably with a wire mesh head protector.
Where Will You Place It?
There is a lot of debate about whether it is the best place inside or outside the drum. It is a matter of personal preference. They do produce a different type of sound. You should be prepared for both options in a studio environment.
Those are the essentials. The rest is a matter of personal taste and of course, budget. There are expensive models that are brilliant and budget range mics that do the job adequately.
Other microphone choices
Every sound engineer wants the best kick drum sound imaginable, but don’t forget the other instruments! It is therefore worth checking out our reviews of the Best Vocal Mics, the Best Dynamic Microphones, the Best Microphones Recording Electric Guitar, the Best USB Microphones, and the Best Wireless Microphones currently available.
Our reviews of the Best Microphone Preamp on the market may also be of interest.
So, What’s The Best Kick Drum Mic?
Difficult choice. There are some very good options, and even the more budget range are quality mics. We would probably pick between the Shure, Sennheiser, and Beyerdynamic. And given that we are looking for a bass drum mic, so it hasn’t got to be the otherwise brilliant Beyer we would choose…
A brilliant mic at a fantastic price point.
Our choice for Best Kick Drum Mic.