6 Best Snare Mics (2020) – Drum Recording & Live Sound

Updated on by Brett Clur | Please note that there may be affiliate links on this page.

Although drums are a loud instrument, you’ll often find yourself in live gigging situations where you need to amplify their sound. You may also want to do some high-quality recordings.

This is where drum microphones come in. With the snare drum being the center of your whole drum kit setup, it’s important to have a great snare drum microphone.

Best Snare Mics for a Great Snare Sound

The Beyerdynamic M 201 TG is a low-profile dynamic condenser microphone that fits just about any drum that you attach it to. It works well for recording all sizes of snares and toms which makes it a versatile snare mic option in its price range. 

It produces an extended high-end and tight low-end, making your snare drum sound quite beefy with a lasting crack. Rimshots shine with this mic, sounding seriously effective. When using this mic, very little EQ settings are required to get a great recording, giving you a natural snare sound.

The outside case of the M 201 TG is built very firmly, making it highly durable. This means you won’t have to worry if you accidentally hit it with a stick. It will last you years if you take good care of it.

It’s quite an expensive dynamic microphone, costing a fair bit more than the other mics on this list. However, if you want a clear and balanced snare sound that is easy to achieve, the Beyerdynamic M 201 TG is a great option for you.

  • Makes snare drum sound beefy with a lasting crack
  • Very little EQ settings needed
  • Highly durable
  • Expensive

The Shure SM57 is THE industry standard microphone when it comes to instruments. It’s a great mic that is known for its durability and high recording quality and can be used for several different instruments. With regards to drums, it’s a fantastic snare drum microphone option.

It produces a bright sound that brings out all of the beautiful overtones of a snare drum. It’s very sensitive, picking up the softest ghost notes. When it comes to the SM57, dynamic drumming just gets picked up so easily.

One of the reasons for it being such a popular snare drum mic is the fact that it has great sound isolation, rarely picking up bleed from a hi-hat next to the snare drum.

This makes it a great recording option, seeing as how it gives you a lot of space to work with your snare sound. It’s also great for live gigging since it won’t pick up any bleed from the instruments or sound system around your drum kit.

It has a hard outer shell which makes it really durable. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve accidentally dropped one of my SM57s. They come out okay every single time.

This microphone is the industry standard for a good reason. It’s affordable, durable and allows you to capture a great sound from your instrument. It’s undoubtedly one of the best snare drum mics you can get.

  • Industry standard snare mic
  • Highly durable
  • Easy to capture a great sound
  • None

The Senheiser e 604 is a cardioid dynamic microphone that is specifically designed for picking up sounds from snares, toms, and percussion instruments. It has a high sound pressure level, allowing it to handle seriously loud and hard hits on drums. This makes it a great snare drum mic.

It expresses highs and lows well, meaning will produce a great sound from a deep, thuddy snare as well as a tightly cranked snare. Its fast transient response allows for a seriously clean tone from the snare drum.

The outer casing is a light plastic material, making the microphone pretty lightweight. This could be a bit of a worry if you’re prone to hitting microphones with your sticks. Just make sure to place it well out of the way, seeing as it may break from a few hard hits.

  • High SPL
  • Versatile
  • Produces a clean tone
  • Casing isn’t durable

The Audix i5 is a cardioid dynamic microphone that is built for heavy road use and a great sound. It’s intended for multiple different instruments, but it works particularly well for snare drums.

It can handle some serious sound pressure levels, allowing you to wack your snare drum as hard as you want without worrying about the sound distorting. It has a wonderful color to it, with the polar pattern stopping any bleed from the other drums coming through.

It has a great upper midrange that stays clear and clean, allowing for a high tuned snare drum to record a highly natural sound.

One of the best qualities of the i5 is its durability. An Audix i5 is going to last you years upon years. The sound quality tends to keep up with the outer casing in its durability.

The Audix i5 isn’t exactly the industry standard snare mic, but it’s very close to getting there.

  • High SPL
  • Wonderful tone color
  • Produces natural sound
  • None

The Shure PGA56 is a cardioid dynamic microphone that is designed to pick up sounds for high impact sources like snares, toms, and kick drums.

The mic has a round and warm tone that responds very well to thicker snare drums. This means that snares with a low tuning will sound great. The mic has a lot of clarity, with the snare sounding full and articulate.

The build design makes it easy to clamp onto a snare drum. However, some snares produce unwanted vibrations that tend to bleed into the PGA56 and come out in the recording. You can edit this out with some settings changes, but it’s a bit of a hassle.

You’ll find that most drummers use PGA56 microphones on their toms and then an SM57 on the snare. The PGA56 costs a bit less than the SM57, making it the budget snare mic option from Shure. If you’re on a budget, then the Shure PGA56 is a great snare mic to invest in.

  • Highly affordable
  • Easily clamps onto a snare drum
  • Warm round tone
  • Sometimes picks up unwanted vibrations

The Telefunken M80-SH is a supercardioid dynamic microphone that excels in producing studio-quality audio from your snare drum. It has a specially-designed capsule that helps in giving a clean and balanced response.

This mic makes your snare sound fat with a lot of depth. It brings your snare drum to life without having to fiddle too much with EQ settings. It also has great rejection of outside sound sources, meaning the hi-hat sound won’t bleed into it.

The casing is small enough to position the M80-SH anywhere on your snare drum. It works just as well in the studio as it does for live gigging purposes, making a great all-round snare microphone.

It’s quite expensive, but it’s a great investment that will deliver high quality for a long time.

  • Makes snare sound fat with a lot of depth
  • Easy to position comfortably
  • Good for studio and live
  • Expensive

Drum Recording Essentials

Recording Interface

When it comes to home recording, you need to have a recording interface. It enables you to connect microphones to your computer. Microphones and recording interfaces go hand-in-hand when it comes to drums.

You can’t have one without the other if you want to make a solid recording. You get many different types of interfaces, but they will all have the basic function of connecting microphones.

When amplifying the drums for a live situation, the microphones can connect to a mixing desk. The mixing desk is the main controller of all the sounds of the band. This is where your snare sound will be mixed and edited.

Software

Home recording will also require some good software. There are many different applications out there, but some good ones for drums are Logic Pro X and ProTools. Recording software will allow you to edit the drum sound to get the best possible finished product.

Drum recording takes some time to learn. You’ll improve the more you do it. Just remember that to get a great snare sound, the snare drum itself has to be tuned well. A great snare drum will always sound better in a recording than a bad one, no matter how much sound editing you do.

Conclusion

When recording drums, the most important microphones to start with would be overheads and a kick drum mic. This setup will give you the complete sound of the full kit.

A snare drum mic will then add depth to the sound. When you have a snare mic, you can individually tweak how your snare sounds and responds in the mix. Everybody loves a bit of snare reverb!

So, go out and get yourself a great snare microphone. You can use it to create some high-quality recordings or have an impeccable live sound.

Brett Clur

About Brett Clur

Brett has been playing drums for 18+ years. He's a huge drumming gear enthusiast and also teaches drumming to his students. He's most active on Instagram (@brettclurdrums), where he regularly uploads drumming videos.

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