4 Best Snare Mics For Live And Studio

best snare mics

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The snare drum is a vital contributor to the whole sound of a drum kit. If your snare mic is not up to scratch, no amount of mixing and processing will cause it to sound as good as you would like it to. 

Choosing an excellent snare drum mic can be difficult because there are so many different opinions on the matter. In reality, the key is to look for several key qualities – SPL handling, frequency response, minimal self-noise, and good durability. 

In this guide, we’ve identified the best microphones for snare drums. You’ll find options that can be used for both studio and live applications, affordable options for those on a budget, and mics to suit all snare drum sounds.

What are the Best Snare Mics?

Image Recommended ProductsProduct Features Price
Best for Live & Studio
Shure SM57 Cardioid Dynamic Snare Drum Microphone
  • Industry standard for live and studio
  • Dynamic cartridge with cardioid polar pattern
  • Background noise reduction
Best for Tight Snare Sounds
Beyerdynamic M201TG Dynamic Hypercardioid Snare Drum Microphone
  • Well-balanced tone and ultra-premium sound quality
  • Low-mass moving coil transducer
  • Integrated hum-buck coil
Best for Custom Snare Sounds
Sennheiser MD 421 II Cardioid Dynamic Snare Drum Microphone
  • Legendary versatile microphone
  • Five position bass roll-off switch
  • Transparent sound reproduction
Best Entry-Level Snare Mic
Shure PGA56 Dynamic Snare Drum Microphone
  • Affordable snare drum microphone
  • Rugged and durable design
  • Clear snare drum reproduction

In-Depth Snare Mic Reviews

Best for Live & Studio

Shure SM57 Cardioid Dynamic Snare Drum Microphone

An iconic dynamic microphone that has been hugely popular for decades. The SM57 is a workhorse, which is ideal for recording and live snare drums, amongst many other instruments.
Clarity
4.8
Dynamics
4.8
Durability
4.9
Versatility
4.8
Value
4.8

    Shure SM57 Cardioid Dynamic Snare Drum Microphone Review

    It’s no surprise that the winner for the best snare mic goes to the legendary Shure SM57 snare drum microphone – an institution in the recording world. It’s dependable, versatile, well built and you can always count on it to deliver great sounding results.

    A seemingly ubiquitous microphone, it’s found in every studio, live venue and not to mention it being owned by almost every recording producer or engineer.

    It’s the best snare mic on the market, and it’s incredibly versatile, as it sounds excellent for all amplified or acoustic instruments. It’s the most popular instrument microphone in the world.

    Features of the Shure SM57 include contoured frequency response for clean instrumental reproduction, as well as background noise reduction and a pneumatic shock mount system. This microphone is truly the industry standard for both live performance and recording.

    It’s the best snare mic because the capsule is located very close to the grille, which makes it the perfect candidate for close-micing. It can handle very loud SPLs and always delivers a clean and bright sound that makes it perfect for live performances.

    The Shure SM57 is a classic workhorse that every drummer should own. The quality is outstanding, and they are relatively inexpensive for what you get. This snare drum microphone is rock-solid, meaning it will provide many years of service and it is undoubtedly the best snare mic for the money.

    Specifications:

    • Pickup pattern: cardioid
    • Frequency response: 40 – 15000 Hz
    • Weight: 284 grams
    • Output Impedance: 310 Ohm
    • Includes: clamp, adapter and bag

    Pros

    • Pneumatic shock minimizes handling noise
    • Cardioid for isolated signal source
    • Legendary workhorse
    Best for Tight Snare Sounds

    Beyerdynamic M201TG Dynamic Hypercardioid Snare Drum Microphone

    With a highly focused hypercardioid polar pattern, this Beyerdynamic mic captures the sound of a snare drum without allowing spill from other drums or instruments to enter the capsule.
    Clarity
    4.8
    Dynamics
    4.6
    Durability
    4.6
    Versatility
    4.3
    Value
    4.6

      Beyerdynamic M201TG Dynamic Hypercardioid Snare Drum Microphone Review

      In a close second place for the best snare mic is this Beyerdynamic M201TG snare drum microphone, and it’s a worthy rival to the immensely popular Shure SM57.

      This microphone has great sensitivity and a brilliantly articulated sound that is perfectly suited to snare drums.

      The M201TG is optimized for professional use with its dynamic moving coil and hypercardioid polar pattern. The pickup pattern effectively rejects bleed from the hi-hat and toms effectively whilst it is able to draw out immense body and depth from the snare drum.

      This is a more expensive snare drum mic than the Shure SM57 but this is a beautifully designed and seemingly indestructible microphone that delivers a very detailed and natural sound. It is just as rugged and versatile, but delivers more depth and punch.

      This is the best snare mic for you if you don’t mind spending extra on quality. It delivers incredible sounds both for live performances and in the studio.

      This microphone is the weapon of choice for many professional, world-renowned engineers and music producers thanks to its well-balanced tone and ultra-premium sound quality.

      Specifications:

      • Pickup pattern: hyper-cardioid
      • Frequency response: 40 – 18000 Hz
      • Weight: 220 grams
      • Output Impedance: 200 Ohm
      • Includes: microphone holder, windscreen and bag

      Pros

      • High level of clarity and neutrality
      • Versatile and rugged microphone
      • Ultra-premium sound quality
      Best for Custom Snare Sounds

      Sennheiser MD 421 II Cardioid Dynamic Snare Drum Microphone

      One of Sennheiser’s best-quality dynamic microphones, the MD 421 II takes the design of the popular original and improves upon its clarity, build quality, and overall performance.
      Clarity
      4.6
      Dynamics
      4.4
      Durability
      4.7
      Versatility
      4.7
      Value
      4.6

        Sennheiser MD 421 II Cardioid Dynamic Snare Drum Microphone Review

        Next up on our list, we have this Sennheiser MD 421 II Snare Drum Microphone that truly excels as one of the best snare drum mics for live and in the studio, and is one of the best-known microphones in the world.

        This snare drum mic has excellent qualities that deliver balanced, articulate and crisp sounds. The large diaphragm, dynamic element handles high sound pressure levels very well making it a natural choice for recording drums. The dynamic capsule results in an even signal response especially in close-mic applications.

        The Sennheiser MD 421 is designed to be a reliable workhorse, and it’s one of the toughest snare mics I’ve ever used. It features glass composite and stainless steel housing for ruggedness and durability.

        It’s also a very versatile microphone that is perfect for all manners of acoustic instruments including voice, guitar, and woodwind in addition to drums.

        This microphone utilizes a 5-stage bass switch that offers flexible bass attenuation allowing the microphone to be used in a variety of situations around the drum set.

        I personally love this snare drum microphone because it delivers a very balanced and clear sound, and has excellent directivity making it perfect for snare drums. This mic has a slight lift in the mids-highs that sounds great for snares.

        Although this microphone is the most expensive offering in this guide, it’s incredibly rugged and well-built and offers a beautifully detailed sound. If you are looking for a legendary snare drum mic that is found in the world’s best music studios then look no further.

        Specifications:

        • Pickup pattern: cardioid
        • Frequency response: 30 – 17000 Hz
        • Weight: 385 grams
        • Output Impedance: 200 Ohm
        • Includes: microphone clamp and carry case

        Pros

        • Excellent feedback rejection
        • Versatile five stage bass switch
        • Very rugged and durable construction

        Cons

        • Bulky design
        Best Entry-Level Snare Mic

        Shure PGA56 Dynamic Snare Drum Microphone

        This is an excellent snare drum microphone if you’re sticking to a budget. It boasts the typical durability of a Shure dynamic mic and is suitable for snare drums in the recording studio or on the stage.
        Clarity
        4.3
        Dynamics
        4.3
        Durability
        4.5
        Versatility
        4.6
        Value
        4.6

          Shure PGA56 Dynamic Snare Drum Microphone Review

          The Shure PGA56 Dynamic Snare Drum Microphone is arguably the best snare drum mic to buy on a budget. It features a tailored microphone cartridge that delivers clear sound reproduction with robust outer housing. This is a great value snare drum mic that does not compromise on quality or reliability.

          Shure microphones are renowned for their use in professional applications, for their high-quality sound reproduction and durability. They make for perfect tools for live performances and studio recordings around the world.

          This Shure PG snare drum microphone has been designed to reduce feedback and background noise, and it delivers rock-solid sound and reliability no matter the application for its use. It sets the bar for affordable and professional-level sound equipment.

          If you are looking for the best snare drum microphone with only a small budget then you cannot go wrong with this microphone. I would suggest spending a little more and investing in the Shure SM57 but this is a solid microphone for the price.

          Specifications:

          • Pickup pattern: cardioid
          • Frequency response: 50 – 15000 Hz
          • Weight: 287 grams
          • Output Impedance: 200 Ohm
          • Includes: clamp, adapter and bag

          Pros

          • Good value snare drum mic
          • Tailored microphone cartridge design
          • Strong housing and construction

          Cons

          • Lacks richness and depth of premium mics
          • Bulkier than SM57

          Snare Drum Mics Buying Guide

          The sound of a snare sets the tone for the rest of the drum set. A microphone that highlights your snare’s best qualities is essential if you want to achieve an outstanding overall sound. 

          Snare drum mics must be capable of handling high SPLs, whilst maintaining a level of clarity and transparency. Some may add warmth to the snare sound, while others may capture it in an accurate, unaltered way. 

          There are many exceptional mics for snare drums available for drummers of all playing styles and to suit all budgets. 

          Let’s take a look at the key features and aspects of snare mics.

          Things to Consider When Buying Snare Drum Mics

          Prominent frequencies

          An average snare drum is predominantly made up of frequencies between 900Hz-2Khz. However, the drum can reach upwards of 15kHZ, so choosing a mic with a wide frequency response is important. 

          Think about directionality

          The more focused polar patterns, such as hyper and super cardioid, will hone in on the snare drum while rejecting most of the other sounds. Cardioid polar patterns will pick up more of the kit noise. 

          Consider the snare sound you’re aiming for

          Although this may seem obvious, it’s vital that you think about how you’d ideally like your snare to sound, both when recorded and live. Then you can choose a mic that can help you to achieve this. 

          Durability

          Snare drum mics often get accidentally dropped or hit by a stick every now and then. Consequently, durability is a very important quality.

          What Features to Look for in Snare Drum Mics

          Pickup Patterns

          The pickup pattern, which is also known as the polar pattern, significantly impacts a snare drum mic’s performance.  

          There are many types of pickup patterns, the most common for snare mics being cardioid, supercardioid, and hypercardioid. 

          Microphones with a cardioid polar pattern will pick up the majority of the sound from the front of the capsule, so if you positioned it facing the skin of the snare, you’d hear the attack from the stick striking it very clearly. 

          Some noise is picked up from the side of a cardioid microphone, but this is minimal. The rear has limited sensitivity, but you can hear the other drums in a set when using this type of microphone. 

          Supercarioid is another popular pickup pattern used for dynamic snare mics. It offers a more focused directionality than a cardioid mic, rejecting more sound from the back and sides. 

          Hypercardioid is a great choice if you want to almost completely isolate a sound source. This pickup pattern can achieve the cleanest snare sound without any interference from other drums or instruments. 

          Capsules & Coils

          Moving coil dynamic microphones are considered the best options for snare drums. This is because they can generally handle higher SPLs than more sensitive microphones, like large-diaphragm condensers.

          Low-mass dynamic moving coils can capture all of the finer details of a snare drum, even when they’re placed very close to it. 

          Another great design for snare drum mics is placing the capsule in close proximity to the grille. This is used by Shure for their popular SM57 dynamic mic, and it increases the focus it is able to achieve. 

          Roll-Off Switches

          Although it’s not essential, the roll-off switch is another interesting feature that can potentially improve a snare drum mic. 

          This switch can be moved into several positions, which attenuates the bass frequencies to suit the sound you’re going for. This can reduce the need for EQ in the mixing phase and make the mic more versatile. 

          Bass frequencies are often problematic when recording drums, so being able to combat any issues in real-time when using a snare drum mic is very helpful. 

          Accessories

          Snare drum mics often come with a variety of accessories so that you can start using them right away. 

          This commonly includes some form of carry pouch or bag, a clip for attaching the mic to a stand, and an adapter if required. 

          To avoid disappointment, it’s worth checking which accessories come with your chosen snare microphone so that you can get hold of any additional gear you may need to use when it is in your possession.  

          Most mic attachments are universal and will fit on any stand. Some snare mics have a clip already attached.

          Snare Drum Mics FAQs

          Do You Need Two Mics on a Snare? 

          Some people prefer to use a pair of microphones on a snare drum rather than one. This would involve placing one mic underneath the drum, with another pointing down towards the skin. 

          The advantage of using two mics is that it guarantees that you will pick up most of the frequencies produced when the drum is struck and when the sound decays afterward. This often results in a fuller, deeper snare tone once the two mics have been mixed. 

          Phase cancellation and spill from other drums are two reasons that some recording engineers prefer to use only one mic on a snare. 

          Should a Snare be Louder Than a Kick? 

          When recording a drum set, it’s important to get all of the mics to a similar level so that you have plenty of headroom when mixing. 

          The snare and kick are two vital parts of an acoustic or electronic drum set, and they should be set to around the same volume in most cases, at least as a starting point. 

           

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