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The Press Desk 25th November 2016 01:34 AM

Ten of the Best Mics for Recording Snare Drums
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After confirming ten excellent kick drum mics, snare drums were the logical choice for our next list, so we have consulted our community on which mics they’re using to get their most awesome snare sounds - so here we go - in alphabetical order:

 C414 B-ULS


The legendary AKG C-414 B-ULS is arguably one of the most acclaimed large diaphragm condensers ever made, a true reference-class tool when it comes to microphones in general and a very popular pick among our users when it comes to recording snare drums. The C-414 B-ULS is extremely versatile, with an open frequency response from 20Hz to 20kHz, a high-pass filter with two options, a -10/-20dB gain attenuation pad and four different pick up patterns, offering omnidirectional, figure-of-eight and two cardioid polar patterns (regular & hyper) to cover almost any recording situation. They’ve been discontinued for a while and can sell for not insignificant sums of money, but they’re surely a wise choice for any recording studio. There were a few variations of the C-414 over the years, each with its own peculiarities, so search our forums to find out what’s best for you and good luck in your own hunt for a mint condition unit!


Audix Microphones i5

Often referred to as an "immediate alternative" to the SM57, the Audix i5 is a recurring recommendation in this community when it comes to budget-conscious choices for recording snare drums. The i5 is a cardioid dynamic microphone with a frequency response of 50Hz-16kHz, with a noticeable peak around 5 kHz, capable of taking up to 140 dBs (SPL). Its relatively small footprint and strong build quality add up to a very well-rounded mic, and a very good candidate when building a microphone kit with limited funds.


Beyerdynamic M201TG

According to our membership, if there’s one microphone that truly rivals the immense popularity of the SM57 when it comes to snare drums then that mic is the Beyer M201 TG. This elegant dynamic hypercardioid microphone has a relatively balanced frequency response running from 40Hz to 18kHz, with a gentle lift past 2 kHz and further boosts in the 7-15 kHz area, with great sensitivity and a very well articulated sound that snare drums almost definitely benefit from. It’s also able to handle pretty loud sources, has a small footprint for easy mic placement and a roadworthy build that should keep it rolling throughout years of use. Although it's not exactly the most affordable microphone, it's far from being prohibitively expensive, so the M201 TG should definitely be on your radar.


Electro-Voice N/D468

Electro-Voice’s N/D468 is a distinctive looking microphone with a pivoting head that allows for angle adjustments which should make mic placement a lot easier. This dynamic supercardioid mic presents a frequency response that reaches down to 20Hz and climbs all the way up to 22kHz with great mid/high-frequency detail, low self-noise and high sensitivity for effortless use with basically any preamp. It also tolerates loud sources handily and the design definitely favours close positioning - which is just what we want from a snare drum mic. A rather affordable and cost-effective mic that is definitely worth considering, especially when finances are an issue.


Josephson Engineering C42

The Californian mic-makers at Josephson have been building a solid reputation over the past two decades and our community frequently recommend their interesting C42 microphone for recording snare drums. This small-diaphragm condenser presents a cardioid pickup pattern and a frequency response that is mostly flat from 40Hz to 20kHz, with a gentle boost around 7-10kHz - and it’s capable of handling loud sources nicely (up to 135 dB SPL). This is a mic for a lifetime, with a stainless steel body for extreme reliability under the roughest circumstances. If you’re willing to invest a more substantial amount and want to keep the Josephson quality our users have also recommended the rather unique looking E22.

 KM 84

Neumann KM 84

Perhaps one of the most popular microphones amongst our membership is also arguably the reference when it comes to small-diaphragm condenser microphone designs. The KM-84 presents a beautifully detailed sound with an impressive frequency response that’s seamlessly flat from 100Hz all the way to 20kHz. It also deals with loud sources rather easily, taking over 130 dBs of SPL, which makes it a great candidate for snares - and given its diminutive footprint there shouldn’t be any placement problems when setting it up on a snare drum. The only problem with this mic might be finding one given how long they’ve been out of production and how coveted they are, but they’re definitely worth the chase. That said, if you can't find one, the current incarnation of the KM84 is the KM184, and while it's not as legendary as its predecessor (yet!) it still has Neumann know-how and quality at its heart.

 MD 421-II

Sennheiser MD 421-II

A microphone that dates back to the 1960s, the Sennheiser MD421-II is widely loved all across our boards. This cardioid dynamic mic is famous for its excellent directivity and keeping up its clarity under tough circumstances, which makes it a prime candidate for snares. The MD421-II features a frequency response of 30-17000 Hz with a lift in the mid-highs, also displaying a prominent proximity effect that can be counterbalanced with the provided five-position low cut filter. An extremely reliable microphone with many decades of service, and since it’s not prohibitively expensive it’s basically a no-brainer for any serious studio.

 MD 441

Sennheiser MD 441

The MD441-U is the current version of the Sennheiser MD441, a studio classic and a superb microphone with an eye-catching design. Known for delivering great accuracy and for its immense versatility, this supercardioid dynamic has a balanced frequency response of 30Hz to 20kHz, which can be tweaked via the treble boost and five-position bass roll-off switches. There are a couple downsides to this otherwise fantastic mic: it’s not exactly small, which may present a positioning problem depending on the situation, and quality this good comes with a price tag. Nevertheless, there’s no doubt that in the right hands this mic will deliver nothing but stellar sounding results so it might be worth the investment.


Shure SM57

Without fail, it's the ubiquitous and seemingly omnipresent Shure SM57! Sturdy, trustworthy, relatively easy to place and it sounds good with almost any preamp out there. This classic cardioid dynamic mic can be deployed on any number of recording situations, but guitar amps, vocals and of course snares are its most common uses. Getting a good proximity effect from the 57 is easy thanks to the fact that the capsule is placed very close to the grille, and since it takes loud sources quite well it’s a prime candidate for close-mic’ing. Given its low asking price and the great results that can come out of it this is as close to a 'mandatory' mic for any studio as we can imagine.


Telefunken Elektroakustik M80

The M80 is Telefunken’s workhorse, designed and built for great sonic performance but without costing an arm and a leg. This dynamic supercardioid mic has a lively sound with a prominent midrange, smooth top end and according to Telefunken it has “condenser-like” performance with plenty of detail that should be great on snares. The frequency response extends from 50Hz up to 18kHz and it takes up to 135dB SPL, handling loudness with ease. It’s also very rugged and should survive the perils of time. Available immediately with a black or chrome (featured) head grille, it can also be acquired in many different colours via the Telefunken Custom Shop.

We had a high number of nominations and it was hard to narrow this list down to only ten mics, so honourable mentions go to the AKG C 451 EB, the Electro-Voice RE15/RE16 and the Shure Beta 57A (not to be confused with the SM57). Go check 'em out!

Now it's your turn - please tell us how you are mic’ing up your snare drums! One on top, one on bottom? Using a side-mic? Share your tips for great recordings and tell us what you're using and what you're looking to acquire next.

For more on microphones and recording, please visit:

Rumi 28th December 2016 01:19 AM

I like the DPA 4061 for a realistic snare sound. Tape it to the rim, and you're done. Blends well with a dynamic.

rwhitney 16th August 2017 10:55 PM

I've had good success with the AKG 451-B small diaphragm condenser on both top and bottom (polarity reversed) on the snare drum for rock music. This would be similar to the Josephson C42, and I suppose nearly any good SDC will give you better high end snap than most dynamics -- the MD441 perhaps being an exception.

JonMiller 18th August 2017 08:03 PM

The 414 is great for solo snare, but the reject is terrible if the rest of the drum kit is played at the same time.

spectrasound 18th August 2017 10:10 PM

Snare in jazz....
My go-to is the AT 4031 (Now replaced by the AT4041. A killer, can take rock levels too. You can find an old 4031 pretty cheap too.

cyjanopan 2nd September 2017 10:10 PM


Originally Posted by JonMiller (Post 12801184)
The 414 is great for solo snare, but the reject is terrible if the rest of the drum kit is played at the same time.

It's not worse than MD421, the bleed sounds fine anyway (it doesn't in MD421) and you can try different polar patterns, figure of eight is sometimes very handy

waldie wave 9th September 2017 10:24 AM

My trusty old favourite is the SM57.

PJ Newman 14th September 2017 05:38 PM

SM56 and/or 57.

masternfool 21st September 2017 07:41 PM

audio technical pro 63.

Adebar 6th October 2017 07:27 AM


Originally Posted by waldie wave (Post 12837288)
My trusty old favourite is the SM57.

Don´t like this "bling" of the SM57.

For me the Josephson e22S is great on Snare and on Toms as well.

tman 6th October 2017 02:43 PM

Shure Beta 56, top, add an SDC to shell, Voila!

Christof 7th October 2017 05:58 PM

Most often I will use an Oktava MK-012 with the hypercardioid capsule. Sounds great!

Nu-tra 8th October 2017 08:15 AM

The TUL SNR1 is really good!!! The Beyer 201 with an old SM98 taped to it kicks ass as well.

RightOnRome 8th October 2017 06:13 PM

Miktek PM10
Heil PR40
sE 3


zarven kara 3rd January 2018 06:31 AM

Beyer 201 is great. A Km 84 with a sm57 strapped to it to stop from being hit by a stray stick and also to distort and compressor the heck out of it always works well....

Ty Ford 31st January 2018 11:00 PM

Bull ****!

The Sennheiser 421 II sounds nothing like the original 421.

Odhem 7th March 2018 04:23 PM

any idea wich mic would have the lease amount of bleed while still sounding good ? Using Sm57 and MD421 and 415B and AKG 414XLII at the moment - depending on the snare. But I was wondering if there might by any other I should try to cut down on bleed...

Castanheira 11th March 2018 03:54 AM

SM 57 is the best for me

mrmike186 11th March 2018 03:16 PM


Originally Posted by tman (Post 12889568)
Shure Beta 56, top, add an SDC to shell, Voila!

Beta 56a is more compact and has a tighter pick up pattern than the 57. kfhkh

McIrish 30th April 2018 04:43 PM

421 on snare? man... the off axis bleed on the 421 is horrible. I'd take a 57 or even better, an i5. The i5 is like a 57 with more pop to it.

Wizards Machine 2nd May 2018 12:13 PM

Sennheiser 441 u-3 is fab. (Flat setting)

Mario-C. 2nd May 2018 05:11 PM


Originally Posted by Odhem (Post 13184614)
any idea wich mic would have the lease amount of bleed while still sounding good ? Using Sm57 and MD421 and 415B and AKG 414XLII at the moment - depending on the snare. But I was wondering if there might by any other I should try to cut down on bleed...

The Audio Technica ATM650 is the best I've tried so far for minimum bleed. I like it even better than my Beyer M201's (on snare top) which are awesome mics ! The ATM650 is great with heavy hitters and hi hat bashers, it sounds really good too, very under rated mic.

Nu-tra 2nd May 2018 05:34 PM

In the last year I’ve spent tons of money searching for my favorite snare mic. The AE2300 wins! It’s small enough with a right angled xlr connecter to point the null at the hihat. It has the perfect smack, and sounds more 3D and open than a 57. The bleed is minimal and musical.

Joe Porto 10th May 2018 07:37 AM

Been using the Telefunken M80-SH for a while now on top and bottom snare. Had always used SM57 before, but the M80 has better rejection, fatter low mids and a smoother top end. I *might* still choose a 57 if I'm just micing the top, but for top and bottom, the M80 kills.

RyanC 12th May 2018 03:57 PM

Weird to have a Josephson C42 and not the e22s. IMO the e22s is the best I've found...not a low-cost option though.

paulreed 27th May 2018 12:21 AM

heil pr22

DefzapostUK 12th June 2018 10:18 PM

Already mentioned this one in the "Best Tom Mics" thread...
Audio Technica AE3000 , one on the top and one on the bottom (don't forget to phase-invert the bottom one).
Superb level and transient handling and it's physically small so less chance of being smacked with the sticks.

Ty Ford 12th June 2018 10:27 PM

or, mic the hole in the shell instead of the top and/or bottom. I don't recall who suggested this or where, but I tried it a few weeks back on a drum kit on which the top and bottom were virtually inaccessible and it sounded good with, hold your breath, an sm 57 or 58.

Le Larron 5th August 2018 02:19 PM

Shure SM7 on top (all qualities of a 57 + a big fat bottom) and a Ribbon Mic under (ROYER R121 or M160, etc...)
But the most important for great drum sound is OH and Room mics !

PavlinaA 18th November 2019 01:00 PM

Definitely Beyerdynamic M201TG