The 4 Best Snare Mics – Drum Recording Reviews 2016

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Drums are great acoustic instruments but there are some limitations to what a drum shell can do, especially in terms of volume. Every larger show requires some sort of amplification, even for drums. In this particular case, a series of microphones are used to amplify the sound of certain drums, which go directly to the mixer and later on to the PA system (most basic variant).

However, placing microphones on drums is an art form, there’s no question about that. Getting a good sound from a snare drum pushes that whole concept of recording to a whole different level.

Today, we are going to give you four great models which are all running for the title of the best snare mic in their respective categories. What we needed these models to deliver is a good response and a frequency range suitable for the punchy sound of a snare drum. Take a gander, why don’t you?

Neumann KM 184

Let’s start things off with one of the professional grade setups. Neumann KM 184 is and has been the industry standard for quite a while now. It’s the right shape and size for our intended purpose. While it’s definitely not the cheapest microphone you can get, you get what you pay for with this legend.

Features and Performance

First and foremost, Neumann KM 184 (see full specs) is a cardioid microphone with a small diaphragm. This means that you get a much more defined one and recording fidelity. The frequency response range is great as it ranges from 20 Hz to 20 kHz, with a 50 ohms impedance. Due to its nature, you will need a steady supply of phantom power in order to run this thing. However, in all of the stage setups where you would need to mic-up your drums, an XLR compatible mixer is a standard piece of gear.

Raw performance is what sets Neumann KM 184 apart from the competition. It’s clinical, flat, and gives you the accurate representation of the source environment you are recording. When you set up your snare drum, you can bet that what comes out of the loud-speakers is going to match the sound you hear when practicing with no microphones. That is something many drummers are demanding.

AKG Pro Audio C451B

AKG is no stranger to building awesome microphones at a reasonable price. Their AKG Pro Audio C451B is a perfect example of a niche cardioid unit that is made specifically for recording instruments. Due to its decent value to price ratio, AKG Pro Audio C451B has become one of the favorite choices of enthusiasts and professionals alike.

Features and Performance

Once you pull this microphone out of the box, you will be amazed at how much performance AKG was able to cram in a very slim and compact enclosure. The material they used to build the body of this microphone is great and inspires a lot of confidence. With that said, one of the best things about the AKG Pro Audio C451B is the capsule which is a variation of their legendary 1969 design. AKG is a strong believer in that old saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” which we can only wish more manufacturers would follow.

In terms of raw performance, you are looking at a great frequency response range, with 155 dB SPL and a very practical 12 dB high pass filter. All of this combined with a slim form factor makes this one of the best snare mics for sending your tone to the loudspeakers.

Electro-Voice RE-20

Here’s one more mid-range option that has won many drummers over with its price-to-performance ratio. Electro-Voice RE-20 is considered to be a professional grade model with every feature necessary to back up that claim.

Features and Performance

The body of this microphone (see full specs) is not really within the stick territory but it’s fairly close. It is slim enough to be used on the snare, but also not limited by its form in a sense that you can’t use it for anything else. The whole package is pretty sturdy, and you definitely don’t have to worry about bumping it on something, which happens from time to time when you’re working around drums.

Performance wise, this cardioid microphone gives you a very sweet vintage tone that just works for snare drums. It’s flat enough but not too clinical, and it provides a type of sound that is great for shaping in later stages of the signal chain. This is among the best snare mics for the money.

Shure SM-57

Now it’s time for one of the most iconic microphones in use for instrument recording today. The Shure SM-57 is an affordable cardioid microphone that is so good that most professionals still prefer it over much more advanced models such as the ones we have mentioned above. This is a timeless classic, and it comes in several versions.

Features and Performance

The appearance and form factor of the Shure SM-57 is much closer to your standard dynamic vocals microphone than anything else. However, it’s still within what is considered usable for recording drums and snares in particular. The enclosure is more or less standard Shure design that is fairly reliable, but one that you definitely don’t want to drop too many times.

In terms of performance, an impressive range is what mostly defines this model. You can record just about anything with this Shure, and it will come out the other end sounding great. For our applications today, the Shure SM-57 works like a charm. It’s reasonably flat and delivers a pretty balanced sound that is capable of catching even the more subtle details of your playing style. Value for the money?

Conclusion – What Makes the Best Snare Drum Mic?

Snare drums are exceptionally challenging to mic-up due to their dimensions, and the fact that they sit right in front of the drummer, usually between their legs. Not only is the quality of the microphone important, but its size matters as well. If you need to mic up your snare, you are in the right place.

What we have shown here are some of the most iconic and popular microphones used for recording snare drums. Each model we listed brings a different level of performance, but all of them are more than capable of keeping up with all of your demands. They’re the best snare mics we could find on the market, and we’re sure we’ve made the right choice in selecting them. Good luck!

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