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The Press Desk 24th April 2017 11:33 PM

Ten of the best microphones to record tom-tom drums
 
1 Attachment(s)
Ten of the best microphones to record toms

We’re reaching the late stages of our quest towards the Gearslutz Ultimate Drum Mic Kit™ and now we present our last entry in the close-mic’ing category - the toms! Let’s find out what our members are recommending - in alphabetical order by manufacturer name:


 C414 EB

AKG C414 EB

The 'ominous' AKG C414 EB is considered to be one of the finest microphones ever made, delivering great results in basically any situation and it’s no surprise that it also shines when it comes to recording toms. This large-diaphragm condenser is famous for its multiple pickup patterns, extremely balanced frequency response and immense versatility, providing great recordings for the past 40+ years. Featured here we have the second version of the C414, model “EB”, which has four polar patterns (omni, cardioid, hypercardioid & fig.8) and introduced a switchable low pass filter (12dB/octave at 75 or 150 Hz). This model retained the renowned CK-12 capsule and the super clean solid-state electronics. Our users really love the vintage models and thoroughly recommend them, but if you’re out of luck or patience searching for them you might want to check the current-production XLS or XLII models, which are very respectable mics as well - it’s hard to go wrong with any C414! Read our user reviews of the XLS model.



 D 19

AKG D 19

The AKG D 19 dates back to the 1960s and has been used by many engineers on countless records since then. There are two iterations of this mic, the model “C” (featured) and the “E”, with the first having the old 3-pin Tuchel connector and an impedance of 200Ω, and the latter featuring variable impedance and a XLR connector. Model “C” is also 20cm shorter than model “E”. Both models have the same dynamic cardioid polar pattern with great rear-side rejection and a frequency response of 30-16000 Hz that’s mostly flat until the midrange, where it picks up a bit until 10 kHz. They also feature a continuous low frequency attenuator from 0dB to -10dB at 50Hz controlled by a ring placed at the mics’ neck. These mics have been discontinued for quite a long time and might be a bit hard to find but they’re definitely worth chasing.



 ATM25

Audio-Technica ATM25

Audio-Technica’s ATM25 is a highly capable dynamic microphone tailored for close range applications. This mic tackles loud sources with ease, provides good off-axis rejection (thanks to its hypercardioid polar pattern) and shows a frequency response from 30Hz to 15kHz with a notable presence boost in the upper mids that will give those toms a great level of 'detail'. Its diminutive size should also help with placement on most drum kits. The ATM25 is a trustworthy mic that delivers excellent value, but unfortunately it was discontinued a few years ago - it’s now been replaced with the ATM250, a similar mic that should get you in the same ballpark for almost the same affordable price. Read our user reviews.



 AT4033/CL

Audio-Technica AT4033/CL

One of our community’s favourite “bang for buck” microphones is the AT4033/CL, a 'medium'-diaphragm cardioid condenser from Audio-Technica that is highly regarded by our members as a mic that delivers great results without breaking the bank. This mic is known for its 'signature' clean and elegant sound with great transient response. The AT4033/CL presets a transformerless design with very low self-noise, a frequency response stretching from 30 to 20,000 Hz with plenty of detail and it takes on loud sources nicely, handling up to 145dB of sound pressure levels, which will work great when recording toms. It also features a 12dB/octave low-cut filter at 80 Hz and -10dB attenuation pad. This is a mic that punches well above its weight and a great choice for the budget-conscious studio as it's certainly useful on more than just drums. Read our user reviews.



 M201TG

Beyerdynamic M201TG

Beyerdynamic’s M201TG is widely praised by our users as one of the very best “universal” dynamic microphones out there, and it’s no surprise that it also excels on toms. The M201TG is known for its crisp sound with a neutral frequency response from 40Hz to 18kHz and it shows great isolation with its hypercardioid pattern, which should help a lot with unwanted bleed from cymbals and other drum kit parts. The small footprint should also help with positioning, and with a sturdy build it’s a reliable mic that should last for ages. Definitely a great choice for engineers looking for a great tom mic that can also do many other things equally well. Importantly, it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg! Read our user reviews.



 M179

CAD Audio M179

The CAD M179 is the budget-conscious choice on our list and a pleasant surprise for great sounding toms at a relatively low price. This large diaphragm condenser microphone presents variable polar patterns, going through the classic types (cardioid, omni, fig.8) - and anything in between them, which makes it highly versatile. It also features very low self-noise, a wide frequency response from 10Hz to 20khz, a gentle 6dB/octave low-cut filter at 100Hz and a convenient -20dB gain pad switch. The M179 is often considered to be an affordable alternative to more expensive mics and an option that shouldn’t be overlooked at any price, but certainly when you’re shopping for mics with the a budget in mind. Read our user reviews.



 U 67

Neumann U 67

It doesn’t get more slutty than the venerable Neumann U67 on a tom-tom! This classic microphone has a tonne of history and an extensive 'mileage' that very few other mics can dream of. This LDC microphone presents three polar patterns (omni, cardioid, fig.8), which gives it tremendous versatility, and it was one of the first mics designed with close-positioning in mind, incorporating a -10dB attenuation pad, fixed roll off at 30Hz and a switchable high pass filter at 100Hz to make it more suitable to use under such circumstances. The frequency response is very balanced from 40Hz to 16kHz, with a gentle lift in the top end that will help bring out all those fine details out of your toms. For many good reasons it’s one of the most trusted microphones ever made. If there's a downside, it's that you should start saving your pennies now because it’s going to cost... a lot!



 MD 421-II

Sennheiser MD 421-II

Considered a “go-to” microphone when it comes to recording toms, the Sennheiser MD 421-II is one of this community’s favourites microphones, constantly recommended for many applications. This dynamic cardioid microphone is known for handling high sound pressure levels (SPL) with ease while keeping its characteristics mostly unaffected, presenting a frequency response that’s nearly flat from 30Hz to 17kHz. Like many other dynamic microphones it displays a rather pronounced proximity effect, which can be counterbalanced by a five-position bass roll-off switch located near the XLR connector that helps to keep the frequency balance in check. The MD 421 has been around for many decades, it’s a microphone widely trusted by many professionals and the good news is that it’s comparatively not that expensive. Read our user reviews.



 MD 441

Sennheiser MD 441

Another common sight on many drum kits around the globe is the Sennheiser MD 441-U, which can be somewhat be described as a “condenser microphone disguised as a dynamic” given its amazing level of detail and a sound that’s as classy as its looks. This microphone presents a supercardioid polar pattern, a frequency response that extends all the way from 30Hz to 20kHz and a great tolerance for high SPL, which should be great for any toms - even with the heaviest-hitting drummers. It also features a built-in pop filter and bass roll-off switch with five positions, which just like in the MD 421-II can be useful to deal with the inevitable proximity effect. Definitely a great choice for any studio but quality this high does not come cheap.



 KSM32

Shure KSM32

Allegedly a favourite of Steely Dan engineer Roger Nichols and also "one of Shure’s finest mics" - according to the Gearslutz membership - the KSM32 is a large-diaphragm condenser equipped with an acclaimed Mylar capsule and highly regarded for its clean and accurate sound that greatly surpasses its price tag. The KSM32 features a wide frequency response from 20Hz to 20kHz that’s ruler flat from 30Hz up to 2 kHz, where it picks up with a few gentle peaks across the upper mids and highs. This is a mic built with versatility in mind, featuring a three-stage pop reduction grill, a -15dB gain pad and an interesting high pass filter, with options for -6dB/octave at 155 Hz and -18 dB/octave at 80 Hz, all features that help to build a true workhorse. Available in champagne (featured) and charcoal-gray finishes. Read our user reviews.


That's the list - hopefully it helps your drum recordings and satisfies all your tom-tom needs - at least until Terry Bozzio walks through the door! As usual we had a vast number of suggestions but we have to narrow to ten mics, so honourable mentions goes to the AKG D12, Electro-Voice N/D468, Shure’s SM7B and SM57.

Which mics are you using on your tom-tom recordings? Single mic on top or are you also mic’ing the bottom? Please share your tips for great tom sounds!

For more on microphones and recording, please visit:
https://www.gearslutz.com/board/so-m...o-little-time/

For more on drums:
https://www.gearslutz.com/board/drums/

ayskura 5th March 2018 10:02 AM

No Sennheiser 604?

PJ Newman 7th March 2018 08:30 PM

I find it to be the most 'Musical' of dynamics, smaller footprint than 421, so less danger of getting smacked by a drumstick. It is one of my most go-to mics: saxophones, percussion, guitar and bass cabs. Toss up between Beyer M88 and ATM25 for my favorite dynamics.

tablatom 8th April 2018 12:09 AM

SE Electronics SE5.
I have been gigging with Tabla's for 25 years.
If you know what Tabla's sound like, their about the most expressive pair of drums on the planet in terms of tones.
Especially the way i play with the bass drum (Baya) tuned way low like F 43hz and i play bass notes with my left hand.
I have tried many many mics for Tabla, but the SE Electronics SE5 is the best i have used.
It captures ALL the huge array of tones coming from a good pair of Tabla's like nothing else, in perfect balance.

Highly recommend it for instruments.
And like all SE mics, they are cheap for their quality.
SE make all their own components. Including the valves in their valve mics.

DiodeBridge 8th April 2018 12:32 AM

+1 Beyerdynamic M88TG

Sounds Great 8th April 2018 04:24 AM

1 Attachment(s)
My favorite!

(any version of this)

Zeppelin 9th April 2018 06:34 PM

If this is a list of the BEST microphones for toms, the Josephson E22S should be on it!

deedeeyeah 9th April 2018 08:49 PM

take all condensers off the list and add a bunch dynamic mics such as sm57, e904 or d4 etc: - condensers are simply not needed for recording toms unless you are ginger baker or mick fleetwood...

McIrish 30th April 2018 04:28 PM

This should be updated to have the ATM230, which may be an improvement on the ATM25. I found it to be much better than anything I've worked with before, including the MD421.

Doc Mixwell 30th April 2018 04:36 PM

Not surprised you missed the Josephson e22s.

Joe Porto 10th May 2018 07:28 AM

Maybe a little new to have become established as a go to tom mic, but I've been really impressed with the Telefunken M81-SH.

DefzapostUK 12th June 2018 10:03 PM

Audio Technica AE3000 - you'll probably never have heard of it, but trust me, with the pad inserted it'll take 145 DB SPL AND it's visually very discreet, which may not matter for you, but I do loads of TV stuff and looks matter...

DefzapostUK 12th June 2018 10:13 PM

Reminding myself to check the paperwork first, the AE3000 actually handles 145+ dB SPL BEFORE the 10 dB pad is inserted - enough for the transients on the most energetic drummer and probably the back-end of a jet engine as well.
They also sound fabulous on the snare and hi-hat and while not the best for the overheads, (I prefer AKG C414s or Rode NT5s if the money is tight) if you do a deal on quantity it'll work.

Vern 18th June 2018 04:23 PM

No Shure Beta 98??? That's weird....

bbfoto 21st June 2018 08:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tablatom (Post 13244869)
SE Electronics SE5.
I have been gigging with Tabla's for 25 years.
If you know what Tabla's sound like, their about the most expressive pair of drums on the planet in terms of tones.

Especially the way i play with the bass drum (Baya) tuned way low like F 43hz and i play bass notes with my left hand.

I have tried many many mics for Tabla, but the SE Electronics SE5 is the best i have used.
It captures ALL the huge array of tones coming from a good pair of Tabla's like nothing else, in perfect balance.

Highly recommend it for instruments.
And like all SE mics, they are cheap for their quality.
SE make all their own components. Including the valves in their valve mics.

Nice to hear regarding the SE5. :) It seems that most people who have tried the newer SE8 like them even more...the same fine detail and musicality with a bit smoother top end. Have you tried or compared them?


And while they are quite a bit more expensive, if you ever have the opportunity to try the Audio-Technica AT5045 on your Tablas I think you would be in heaven. ;) I use a pair combined with the AEA RPQ2 mic pre's and the sound is simply stunning on any percussion instrument.

But they are truly fantastic on just about everything...AMAZING on strings, from upright double bass, to cello, violin, ac gtr, and beautiful on piano...just extremely versatile mics.

They have extremely low self-noise as well which produces a very silent, black background that allows every minute detail even in very quiet passages to be captured and felt.

I currently have the AT5045P on duty as my drum kit OH's, and for life-like realism (transients, dynamics, detail), they are the absolute best I've used other than the AEA KU4.

And while the AT5045 are fantastic on Toms, for most they are probably a bit overkill, but I would certainly use them if I could afford 2 or 3 more. :p Their side-address pickup is nice in this regard as well.

dickiefunk 22nd June 2018 12:56 AM

My favourite on rack toms are the Sennheiser e604 and for floor toms Audio D6.

bgrotto 22nd June 2018 03:37 AM

What makes the 414 so "ominous"?confoosed

DistortingJack 30th August 2018 09:53 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bgrotto (Post 13382044)
What makes the 414 so "ominous"?confoosed

I mean the original EB version does look mighty Germanic...

mrclunk 4th September 2018 10:54 AM

How about the AKG D202E?
Tight pattern with nice off axis pickup. Great lows.
Why would anyone put a classic condenser on a Tom!?

Sigma 4th September 2018 04:15 PM

KM 84????

CLAVOSH 4th September 2018 04:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Zeppelin (Post 13248003)
If this is a list of the BEST microphones for toms, the Josephson E22S should be on it!

Totally agree! And so should be the Gefell M300 and the Gefell UM70/71 (no matter of the old or new models)

Gretschman 13th September 2018 03:43 AM

I use Josephson ES22 mic's on all drums and cymbals with Gefell UM71 for overheads.

DrAudiospecific 13th September 2018 07:11 PM

I like the Beyerdynamic TG D58 its compact with a good sound.https://north-america.beyerdynamic.c...ild_tg_d58.png

Bob Ross 13th September 2018 09:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by deedeeyeah (Post 13248234)
take all condensers off the list and add a bunch dynamic mics such as sm57, e904 or d4 etc: - condensers are simply not needed for recording toms unless you are ginger baker or mick fleetwood...



:::smh:::

deedeeyeah 13th September 2018 10:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bob Ross (Post 13517311)
:::smh:::

seriously - why would you want to use a condenser on a tom? compared to other percussion instruments, toms have limited bandwith, they don't get played very often, you're getting more snare and cymbal bleed into your tom mics when using condensers, also more obivous phase issues on large sets with multiple mics...

Bob Ross 13th September 2018 10:54 PM

Clearly you've never heard a U-87 or U-67 on a well-tuned tom. It's eye-opening.

deedeeyeah 13th September 2018 11:06 PM

maybe eye-opening for a mic addict, but no revelation sound-wise and also taking up way too much space on the drum kit.
and you're wrong regarding my experience with these mics: i happen to have two u67 and i even use them on drums, also close to toms sometimes (in a modified l/C/r-gj-setup), but never as tom mics - what a waste of resources...

hope you're not using ribbons as overheads in addition?!

Sounds Great 14th September 2018 12:26 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by deedeeyeah (Post 13517379)
seriously - why would you want to use a condenser on a tom? compared to other percussion instruments, toms have limited bandwith, they don't get played very often, you're getting more snare and cymbal bleed into your tom mics when using condensers, also more obivous phase issues on large sets with multiple mics...

Different microphones can sound and react quite different on all parts of the audio spectrum. There's no reason the amount of bandwidth of a source would determine the best microphone to use.

How much bandwidth does a kick drum have? Yet many like to use U47 FET on them. As far as bleed, condensers can have just as tight a pattern as a dynamic mic, as well as figure 8, etc.

I once owned an AT4060 and found it quite nice on percussive instruments. I never had the chance, but bet it would be excellent on toms, roto toms, congas, etc.

deedeeyeah 14th September 2018 06:50 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sounds Great (Post 13517543)
There's no reason the amount of bandwidth of a source would determine the best microphone to use.

well, kind of: we tend to use mics with specific functions/bandwith on specific instruments. technical 'best mic' may not mean 'best sound' - and bandwith of toms is limited...

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sounds Great (Post 13517543)
How much bandwidth does a kick drum have? Yet many like to use U47 FET on them

nice mic! there is a fundamental difference in the importance (and bandwith) of the kick compared to toms unless you are ginger... (i had this before)

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sounds Great (Post 13517543)
As far as bleed, condensers can have just as tight a pattern as a dynamic mic, as well as figure 8, etc.

true but you end up with more cymbal sound in condenser mics on toms even when using the same tight patterns (and very tight means more pronounced rear lobe)

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sounds Great (Post 13517543)
I once owned an AT4060 and found it quite nice on percussive instruments. I never had the chance, but bet it would be excellent on toms, roto toms, congas, etc.

another nice mic and i'm sure it will yield nice results on percussion instruments - i was referring to the use of condensers on toms within a drumset, so mostly a minimum if two toms, kick, snare, hat, ride, two crashes, room mics - how many condensers do you really need/want? plus some people simply cannot dedicate their more prestigious mics to less important instruments...

my point is: use just any dynamic mic on toms and you'll be fine! (and on hats too...)

DistortingJack 14th September 2018 08:25 AM

I haven’t tried it on toms specifically yet, but I think if I were to get a set of mics specifically for this task, I would get the Shure KSM8. It has the fatness of a dynamic mic and its lack of distortion on very loud sources without the tub of a normal single-diaphragm directional mic, has possibly the best-behaved cardioid pattern I’ve heard, and the thing that makes me not use it for its intended purpose (singing vocals), which is its lack of treble, would get rid of a lot of cymbal wash.

Just sayin’, somebody should try it