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The Press Desk 12th October 2016 04:33 PM

Ten of the best microphones for recording kick drums
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Ten of the best microphones for recording kick drums

The kick drum is a central part of contemporary music and a crucial element of the production process, so in order to help out everyone looking for great recordings we have asked our users' for their favourite microphones to record kick drums. Here's what they told us!

 D12 VR


AKG’s D12 is a classic microphone when it comes to recording kick drums (since the 1950s!) and that heritage lives on today with the D12VR. The D12VR is not a 1:1 remake of the D12 as it brings in new technology by incorporating a phantom-powered element that enables three filter curves to suit different placements and kick drum types. The filter curves are entirely optional and the D12VR can also be used as a purely dynamic microphone. As a good kick drum-oriented mic, it handles up to 164 dB and reaches all the way down to 17 Hz. It also brings the classic AKG C414 output transformer, making it a superb microphone in all regards. If you're in a position to spend a bit more on a substantial upgrade for your kick drum mic the D12VR should definitely be on your shortlist.

 D112 MKII


The highly popular D112 arrives at its second version, keeping the same concept that made it so successful - a "no-frills" dynamic cardioid microphone designed specifically for kick/bass drums at a very affordable price. The D112 mkII presents high-SPL handling, very low noise, a frequency response from 20Hz to 17kHz with a significant presence lift around 2-5kHz which should serve well for bringing out the initial “click” and a gentle bump around 100Hz that will make for some good weight. Thanks to a strong proximity effect it can also add some extra boost in the low end when used very close to the source (10cm or less). It’s also very well built, easy to place and pretty straightforward to use, so you can’t really go wrong with this one.


Audio-Technica ATM250DE

The ATM250DE is an interesting microphone that combines perfectly aligned condenser and dynamic capsules to offer the "best of both worlds", taking advantage of the dynamic hypercardioid element for punch and definition while the cardioid condenser element captures more body and adds "depth" to the sound. Both capsules reaches down to 40Hz, with the dynamic element going up to 15kHz and the condenser element reaching 20kHz. The condenser section also offers a 10dB gain pad and a 12 db/octave low-cut filter at 80Hz. If you’re up for a different kind of mic with an unique proposition make sure to give the ATM250DE a try, and if the money allows also look for the AE2500, which is a very similar mic but with an extended low end and a cardioid polar patterns on both dynamic/condenser capsules.


Audix Microphones D6

Audix's D6 was widely recommended by our users, scoring a good chunk of nominations and the good news is that it's a rather affordable microphone which should fit most budgets. This elegantly small dynamic mic can handle sound pressure levels of up to 144 dB, provides good isolation with a cardioid pickup pattern and placement should be really easy given its diminutive size. The frequency response goes from 30Hz to 15kHz, with a bump around 60Hz and a notable boost around 2-10kHz. A straightforward-in-use mic that will deliver high bang for relatively low buck, the D6 is definitely a mic worth trying on your next drum recordings. Also available as part of the DP4, DP Quad, DP Elite and Studio Elite microphone kits.

 M 88 TG

Beyerdynamic M 88 TG

Beyerdynamic's M 88 TG might look like 'yet another handheld microphone', but make no mistake, this is one of Gearslutz' most loved microphones of all time. This hypercardioid dynamic microphone features a frequency response that covers nearly the entire spectrum, going from 30Hz to 20kHz with a prominent midrange. The M 88 TG handles high pressure levels with ease and also presents some significant proximity effect, with a low-frequency boost of up to 10 dBs when used closed to the sound source. It’s important to note that Beyerdynamic recommends using the PS88 or WS59 pop/wind screens when using the M 88 on kick drums, so keep that in mind when you’re setting up your next recording.


Electro-Voice RE320

It might appear a bit weird to have a microphone that is widely recommended for applications miles apart from each such as vocals and kick drums, yet some microphones on this list managed to accomplish that and the EV RE320 is one of them (along with the M 88 TG and U47 FET). The RE320 follows the trail of the famed RE20 broadcast microphone but adds a switch that allows the user to select two filter circuits with different frequency response curves that are tailored for voice and kick drum applications, while keeping that road-proven build quality and solid sound that made its predecessor a classic. Most of the time we only need one reason to go after yet another mic, so how about a microphone that gives you two?

 U 47 FET

Neumann U 47 FET

You probably know that the legendary Neumann U47 is one of the most coveted microphones ever made, widely used for kick drums in many a great studios. This large-diaphragm condenser is known for its balanced response with great dynamics that handles loud sources with ease and it’s a true studio workhorse that has stood the test of time. Given its' limited and long discontinued production it’s a rare, hard to find piece which can easily reach stratospheric auction prices. Thankfully, Neumann has recently released a long-awaited reissue of this mic, the U47 FET Collector's Edition (featured), which is as close as it gets in terms of authenticity and undoubtedly a no-brainer choice for your kick drums if your funds allow.


Royer Labs R-121

Perhaps one of the most acclaimed ribbon microphones ever made, the Royer R-121 is also a frequent choice of many of our users when it comes to recording great sounding kick drums. Ribbons are known for their great detail and easy handling of loud sources, so when you take one of the very best ribbons out there the results can't be anything other than stellar. Royer deployed a patented bi-directional (figure-8) design where the front ribbon element is slightly offset, which gives the ribbon more space to move and allows it to sound very consistent at higher SPLs. The back side of the R-121 has a slightly brighter sound, giving it some versatility too. Overall the R-121’s sound is very natural and unhyped, with a frequency response that’s mostly flat from 30Hz to 15kHz. A Gearslutz favourite and a modern classic, the R-121 is an extremely worthy addition to any microphone closet.

 E602 II

Sennheiser E602 II

Sennheiser’s E 602-II and predecessor E 602 are quite a popular choice around these parts when it comes to cost-friendly kick drum microphones. The current model E 602-II maintains the slick design and most of the characteristics that made the original such a hit, but it slightly alters the frequency response for a 'deeper' sound. This dynamic cardioid mic is geared towards low frequency instruments, with a frequency response from 20Hz to 16kHz that shows some good boosts around the 60Hz and 5-15kHz regions, which gives it some good 'thump' while still delivering 'definition'. If some extra budget is available Sennheiser also offers the E 902, which is a viable alternative on the not-so-expensive side of things that should provide a step up in quality too.

 Beta 52A

Shure Beta 52A

Shure keeps its affordable drum mic line-up current with the Beta 52A, their latest take on this proven design that has been conceived with nothing but kick drums in mind. This supercardioid dynamic microphone presents a frequency response ranging from 20Hz to 10kHz with a less-than-subtle peak at 4kHz, a considerable low end boost (through proximity effect) and a high tolerance for loud sound pressure levels (up to 174 dB). The 52s have found their way into many drum kits and recording sessions due to their great reliability and ease of use and nothing is different with the Beta 52A on that front. Also available in the DMK57-52 kit along with three SM57s, which would make a great starter pack for recording drums.

Closing thoughts

Honourable mentions go to the Sennheisers MD 421-II & MD 441 and also to the Yamaha "Subkick" trick, which many of our users seem to enjoy and use on their recordings.

And that’s our list! Please let us know your thoughts in the comments and share your favorite tips for great-sounding kick drums. Do you have any examples to show us?

For more on microphones and recording, please visit:

jrakarl 20th October 2016 09:36 AM

An excellent list which highlights some new models based on old classics, such as the D12... the D12VR is now on my 'buy list' thanks to this thread :)

ROCKER STUDIOS 21st October 2016 08:33 PM

M 88 for merockout

Rumi 3rd November 2016 06:24 PM

The Audio Technica ATM25 is one I would add. It just sounds right on kick drum.
Apart from that I agree, it's an excellent list.

T.V. Eye 25th November 2016 11:34 PM

The D12VR is an nice kick-mic, but it should be mentioned that it's not only no 1:1 replacement for the classic D12, to me it's a completely different mic soundwise, even with the filters set to neutral and used passive. But again, it's really nice in the "modern kick-mic"-department, and the two switchable filter curves add a lot more flexibility to get a good sound quick, without grabbing the eq immediately.

My honourable mentions would be the EV ND 868, that I prefer about a lot of the other modern "tailored" kick-mics like the Sennheiser or the Audix (and I never get along well with the D112 except for live usage), maybe because I have the feeling the frequency curve it's not as tailored as a lot of other are these days, giving it a little more classic and neutral approach.

Oh yes, and an unusual but great choice if one want to go the condenser-route would be the AKG C5600 (hard to find these days, wasn't a big success the time it was build, I guess). Build like a tank, takes lots of SPL, and just sounds right if you want to capture the natural tone of the kick, plus tracks recorded with it takes EQ very well.

ARude 26th November 2016 12:33 AM

The Electro Voice ND 68 should be included. I've used the EV ND 868 for years on rock, roots and blues kick drums for several decades now. It's my "go to" kick mic. I also have a ATM 25 I like when the EV doesn't work for whatever reason. The AT is also a great floor tom mic. On jazz gigs with closed kicks, I've been using a Karma Mics K-Micro Silver Bullet on the beater side, phase inverted.

organicsounds 22nd February 2017 06:54 PM

I'm sure that these are all great choices and none better that the other as these things are always subjective. Although these are all decent mics the larger question is what is the best mic that matches well with your specific overhead mics/room mic(s) as we almost never record just a kick drum alone unless your doing some sampling. I have several of the listed mics and it depends on style of music, kit, playing and ultimately what overheads I use that determines the "best mic". Always try before you buy if possible.

DanDan 23rd February 2017 04:33 PM

The U47 FET is a good mic for high SPL LF applications. But it is not the Mic which we hear on Frank Sinatra Recordings. Those are generally U47 or 48 Tube Mics. These earlier Valve or Tube mics are very very different to this FET/Transistor model. Just as the U67 is very very different to a U87.

T_R_S 24th February 2017 10:54 PM

Shure SM91

crazenizz 25th February 2017 01:44 AM

Heil PR40 should be on this list as well. :-)

Patrick Norton 28th February 2017 07:21 AM

I've got 6 out 10... not bad :)

Zoot 28th February 2017 06:43 PM

My very tongue in cheek 2 cents:

If you can't get a good sound out of a Beta 52 and call it a day, then you should call it a day as an engineer.

PJ Newman 2nd March 2017 08:37 PM

Nice list. If not remote, I tend to go with M88 inside and Rode Tube Classic outside. Jazz gigs, maybe a D12. ATM 25's should also be considered for toms, as I find them to be the most 'musical.'
Thank you for your consideration.

Gulex 5th March 2017 07:59 PM

Don't forget ElectrVoice RE20! Good for kick drum

leeharveyosmond 12th March 2017 02:05 AM

Telefunken M82.. newer.. but what detail and depth.. my new Fave..kfhkh

mdjagg 13th March 2017 03:27 PM

The best sound I've heard from a kick drum mic is the Lewitt DTP 640 REX. This thing is kind of expensive, but sounds amazing. Th two mic options are just brilliant. I highly recommend it.

Joe Porto 20th August 2017 03:29 AM


Originally Posted by leeharveyosmond (Post 12498189)
Telefunken M82.. newer.. but what detail and depth.. my new Fave..kfhkh

Yes...I think the M82 will gain a reputation as one of the greats. Very versatile with the EQ switches as well.

Just inside the resonant head's hole...tons of low end, and plenty of tack, particularly with the high switch engaged.

the fxs 22nd August 2017 11:09 AM

where's the original D-12 ? :cop:

Pro Sound Guy 22nd August 2017 09:47 PM


Originally Posted by Rumi (Post 12233686)
The Audio Technica ATM25 is one I would add. It just sounds right on kick drum.
Apart from that I agree, it's an excellent list.

Agreed. Absolutely one of the best and my personal favorite for kick.

countrymetalguy 22nd August 2017 09:52 PM

I own most all of these mics and have used them on kick drum. for me, A SM91 inside the kick, a Beta 52 at the sound hole and a Sub kick about 3 ft out front of the kick drum is The Business. I use a Royer 121 on guitars but honestly am too scared to put it near a kick drum..

zakco 26th August 2017 06:13 AM


Originally Posted by the fxs (Post 12806696)
where's the original D-12 ? :cop:

The majority are probably sitting unused due to a completely trashed capsule. I went through 3 looking for a decent one with no luck...

Plan4Studios 30th August 2017 06:33 PM

Motorhead used an AKG D12vr! Aside from that, another mic I'm looking into is the Lewitt DTP 640 Rex(Dual Capsule Dynamic/Condenser) And you can record both the Dynamic and the Condenser to seperate tracks which is way cool! Anyone else tried this mic or interested in it?


RickJones 1st September 2017 04:24 AM

I have a Shure Beta 52. It's perfect for my needs.

elegentdrum 1st September 2017 05:00 AM

The 52 only works at the sound hole. perfect for live, sucks for recording.

inside ATM25, RE20, D12E, ND868
outside Coles 4038, CM47ve, Lawson 47, Velo8T
Custom sub kick.

I pick 3 to track depending

hato74 1st September 2017 07:44 AM

My favorite is the Beyer M99 !

Gutz 2nd September 2017 09:02 AM

Avantone Mondo grates the cheese around here most of the time

drx 3rd October 2017 08:44 PM


Originally Posted by crazenizz (Post 12466295)
Heil PR40 should be on this list as well. :-)

Plus 1 for the Heil PR40. Beats the hell outta the D6 I used previously, both setup partially inside the sound hole.

Deleted User 3rd October 2017 11:47 PM

My vote is for the PR40 as well.

Mike110492 4th October 2017 04:11 PM


Originally Posted by Moonbaby (Post 12884838)
My vote is for the PR40 as well.

If you have one, try the PR30 on kick. I did a little kick drum mic shootout recently and through the PR30 in just for the heck of it and was really surprised to find that I liked it more than the 40!

Doc Mixwell 4th October 2017 04:18 PM

1) Crowley and Tripp El Diablo
[..or the current iteration, the Shure KSM353]

The end