A dynamic microphone is usually your best bet if you’re looking for a cheap drum mic. The way they capture sound is well-suited to percussion, and they’re durable enough to take high volume and hard attacks. While different styles of drum will have different ideal microphone qualities, the options below are all good options if you want to mic your drums without breaking your budget.
These are our recommendations of the 4 best cheap drum mics on the market:
Audix F2 Dynamic Microphone
A good all-purpose dynamic microphone with a cardioid pattern is the perfect choice for a variety of percussion applications. The F2 from Audix can work as a dedicated mic for floor toms or hand-drums, like congas or bongos. Positioned at a distance, it can also make a suitable mic for complete kits, capturing the full range of your sound with impressive detail.
The Audix F2 is mainly aimed at recording instruments in the mid ranges (see full specs), and is especially good for mid-bass percussion instruments. The hypercardioid pattern helps it to reduce extraneous noise from the environment, giving you a truer representation of your actual sound. Compared to a higher-priced model you might lose some of the high from the cymbals and some of the deep lows from the bass drum, but for an inexpensive microphone, it has a pretty impressive range.
Nady DM-90 Kick Drum Microphone
Kick drums especially can be hard to mic effectively on a budget. The particular frequencies that are put out by a kick drum aren’t captured well by a lot of cheap dynamic microphones, and the volume produced by kick drums tends to damage weaker microphones over time. This impressive little mic from Nady is designed especially to cope with these issues.
The diaphragm in this microphone uses a supercardioid pattern (see full specs), which lets it capture the full sound envelope from your kick drum attack. The large diaphragm accurately captures even the lowest frequencies, while internal shock-mounting keeps even punchy attacks from causing damage to the electronics.
The design of this microphone is also fantastic for the money. The casing is die-cast and rugged, with a steel grille on the front. Its compact size makes it easy to transport and attach to your drum when you’re ready to record. It works just as well for other low frequency instruments, like low brass and double bass, which can make it a very versatile tool to add to your recording arsenal.
GLS Audio ES-58 Microphone
All-purpose dynamic microphones marketed for vocals can serve your purposes well enough if you’re recording the overall drum set sound, but if you want to mic individual drums up close you’ll need something a bit more specialized. The ES-57 from GLS Audio is a uni-directional microphone designed for use with percussion instruments, making it one of your most affordable ways to reliably mic individual drums within your kit.
The ES-58 is modeled after the Shure SM-57, which has long been the industry standard for a professional dynamic microphone. The difference is you can get the ES-58 for a fraction of the price. For an at-home recording set-up, the quality of the sound reproduction is plenty high enough, and it can capture frequencies from 50 Hz to 15,000 Hz, so it will capture the full sonic envelope of your drums. The construction is also solid, with a rugged exterior casing and enough interior bracing to keep it from getting damaged by regular wear and tear. Hands down, it’s one of the best cheap drum mics around.
CAD D19 Microphone
This is another very affordable option if you’re looking to mic individual drums within a kit. The CAD D19 is especially convenient because it comes with a mounting system, letting you easily clip it directly on to the rim of your drum. It’s compact, lightweight, and easy to adjust, all things that make it useful for a variety of different percussion recording applications.
The D19 was initially designed with a snare drum in mind, and the qualities that make it effective for snare drums are also beneficial when it comes to recording other aspects of your kit. It uses a cardioid pattern to capture the full sound of your drumhead while still minimizing interference from other pieces on your kit. The sound captured is clear and full, and they can handle high dynamics with ease without damage or loss of quality. At this price range, this is definitely among the best cheap drum mics period, and is perfect for someone who wants to record their drums well on a budget.
How to Choose Cheap Drum Mics
As you can see, some of the options on the list above are designed for specific drums, while others are for more all-purpose applications. If you’re recording a full drum kit, your first question should be not what kind of microphone you’re getting, but how many you can afford.
Even just using two microphones as a stereo pair can greatly improve the accuracy and depth of your recording over a single mic. If you have a limited budget, you may find it’s better spent on multiple, less costly microphones than on one pricier unit, even if you prefer the sound of the pricier microphone individually.
The genre you’re playing in can have an impact on which microphone you want to use, too. The rock drum sound, for example, tends to put a lot of emphasis on the kick drum and snare. You may find you want to get an individual mic for each of these drums, in addition to one or two to capture the entire kit sound.
With other genres where the emphasis is more on the sound of the kit as a whole, a couple overhead mics might be enough to capture the right sound. All the microphones above can qualify as the best cheap drum mic so you just need to figure out the right configuration for you. Good luck!