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Tom mics add depth to your drum sound. They focus on the sound of each of your toms, giving a more complete and intentional idea of your entire kit through a mix.
Tom mics are essential for use both live and in the recording studio if you want to achieve the best sound possible from your drum kit.
The number of tom mics you require depends on the number of toms you have on your drum kit. When it comes to tom mic options, mics with wide frequency patterns tend to perform better with toms due to their tonal range.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at some of the best tom mics on the market. I’ve compared performance, sound, durability, and cost to give you my top recommendations.
- In a Rush’ Round-Up
- Tom Mics Reviews
- Tom Microphone Buyer’s Guide
- Things to Consider When Buying a Tom Microphone
- What to Look for in the Best Tom Mics
- Tom Mic FAQs
In a Rush’ Round-Up
Tom Mics Reviews
Sennheiser E604 Dynamic Cardioid Microphone
Sennheiser E604 Dynamic Cardioid Microphone Review
The Sennheiser E604 Dynamic Cardioid Microphone is the best tom mic on the market having a near-perfect design, being virtually bulletproof, and having the benefit of leaving a very small footprint on toms with its compact size.
The E604 delivers a fantastic frequency response range of 40Hz-18kHz with a tight cardioid polar pattern to capture the direct sounds of rack and floor toms.
These microphones are the best tom mics for live sound because the sound quality they deliver is truly fantastic. They deliver a clear and consistent sound and the build quality is very impressive.
These microphones are the perfect choice for toms because they are unobtrusive, light, and very easy to adjust on a drum set. They achieve a deep and rich tom sound with lots of clarity.
The sound quality obtained from the Sennheiser E604 microphones is crystal clear. They capture a smooth and detailed response that has the right amount of attack as well and warmth and clarity.
A huge advantage of these microphones is that they are incredibly easy to set up. The included clamp attaches very easily to the hoop of the drum and the microphone is never an obstruction whilst playing due to its innovative small profile.
The Sennheiser E604 delivers brilliant results when recording drums both live and in the studio, combining an excellent tonal response and a rock-solid build quality.
For toms, the E604 is a difficult microphone to beat, and it’s by far one of the best tom mics to invest in for both studio and live use. Sennheiser also offers an industry-leading 10-year guarantee with the E604 microphone.
- Highly detailed and clean sound
- Light and very easy to adjust
- Unobtrusive design and small footprint
- Rock-solid build quality with industry leading 10-year guarantee
- Not the most versatile microphone
Beyerdynamic M201TG Dynamic Hypercardioid Microphone
Beyerdynamic M201TG Dynamic Hypercardioid Microphone Review
In close second place for the best tom mic is the Beyerdynamic M201TG Dynamic Microphone which delivers incredibly detailed and crystal-clear sounds.
This microphone has a brilliantly articulated sound as well as a tight polar pattern which means it won’t catch other unwanted sound sources.
The hyper-cardioid polar pattern of this microphone effectively rejects bleed from other drums whilst it is able to draw out immense body and depth from the toms. The M201TG is one of the best tom mics because it captures lots of details and delivers a premium sound.
This is one of the more expensive tom mics but this is a beautifully designed and robust microphone that delivers a very detailed and natural sound. It is rugged and versatile and makes an excellent choice for snare drums also.
The Beyerdynamic M201TG is one of the best tom mics if you don’t mind spending extra on quality. It is not quite as compact and easy to set up for drum recording as the Sennheiser E604, but this microphone is the weapon of choice for many professional, world-renowned engineers and music producers.
Each Beyerdynamic M201TG tom microphone is designed and manufactured in Germany using the latest technologies.
- One of the very best universal dynamic microphones
- Hypercardioid polar pattern offers excellent noise isolation
- Ultra versatile and suitable for wide range of instruments
- Designed and manufactured in Germany
- Expensive microphone to be used for toms specifically
Audix D4 Hypercardioid Dynamic Drum Microphone
Audix D4 Hypercardioid Dynamic Drum Microphone Review
The Audix D4 Hypercardioid Dynamic Drum Microphone is a premium quality microphone that is perfectly suited for close drum kit micing, in particular for rack toms and floor toms.
It is a compact and rugged tom microphone that is very easy to position, and it delivers tight and punchy sounds. I find that the Audix D4 performs exceedingly well and it captures a very clear sound.
The hyper-cardioid pickup pattern rejects unwanted ambient sounds effectively. It focuses on the direct sound source and is able to draw out very clean and full sounds. It offers a fantastic transient.
The build quality of the unit is fantastic. It’s designed to last a lifetime with each unit being individually tested and hand-assembled for quality assurance.
The Audix D4 does an excellent job of isolating the drum’s sweet spot and delivering a warm and well-rounded tone that packs a lot of punch both live on stage and in the studio.
Overall the Audix D4 is without a doubt one of the best tom mics favored by professionals. It’s the ultimate choice for close drum micing, and it has been designed to perform well for any high-impact sound source such as congas, guitars, or keyboard amps.
- Excellent durability and build quality
- Superior sound quality and tone
- Handles high sound pressure levels with ease
- Small footprint means its an ideal choice for toms
- Very few negatives
Audio-Technica ATM230 Drum Microphone
Audio-Technica ATM230 Drum Microphone Review
Audio-Technica’s ATM230 has all of the capabilities for recording high, mid, and floor toms. With its hypercardioid polar pattern, the mic can hone in on the tom rather than picking up the other drums and cymbals simultaneously.
This focused directionality makes mixing recordings of your toms much easier, as you won’t need to EQ any other sounds out or remove them using a noise gate.
The more separation you can achieve when recording drums, the easier it is to use compression. The ATM230 is a great choice for tight drum sounds, as it allows you to process the tom recordings without having to contend with too much spill.
The ATM230 can easily handle high SPLs, even at very close range. It’s suitable for capturing big-sounding toms, regardless of how much force the drummer plays with.
This microphone feels robust and solidly built, which is something we’ve come to expect from Audio-Technica devices. It has a swivel mount attached to the bottom, allowing you to precisely angle the capsule.
Inevitably, tom mics get dropped, knocked over, or struck with a stick, so the durability of this mic is an important quality.
Although it’s better suited to recording, the ATM230 can also be used for live performances. For this purpose, it may benefit from being combined with a mic preamp to add a little warmth to the sound.
- Excellent isolation
- Handles high SPLs with ease
- Affordable price tag compared to other mics
- Punchy and focused tom sounds
- Better suited to recordings rather than live drums
Shure PGA56 Cardioid Dynamic Microphone
Shure PGA56 Cardioid Dynamic Microphone Review
The Shure PGA56 Dynamic Snare Drum Microphone is a very popular choice for tom mics in live venues as well as home studios.
The PGA56 mic features a tailored microphone cartridge that delivers a clear sound reproduction and the cardioid pickup pattern rejects unwanted ambient noise.
Shure microphones are renowned for their use in professional applications, and for their high-quality sound reproduction, and durability.
The Shure PGA56 is the perfect workhorse for live shows, and it has an excellent build quality and metal housing to survive knocks and bumps.
The Shure PGA56 drum microphone delivers rock-solid sound and reliability no matter the application for its use. It’s one of the best tom mics to buy on a budget and offers the professional level of performance you can expect from Shure.
If you are looking for the best tom mics with only a small budget then this is a solid choice. It delivers clear and punchy sounds from the toms and it’s an affordable microphone. It’s also very easy to attach to drums with the included clamp and adapter.
It just doesn’t deliver the same sonic clarity and punch as other tom microphones on this list like the Audix D4 or Sennheiser E604 microphones. It also has a bulkier design, unlike these offerings which have a low profile better suited for drum placement.
- Perfect workhorse for live shows
- Highly rugged design and metal housing
- Clear sound reproduction
- Good value for money
- Lacks richness and depth of premium mics
- Bulkier than other tom microphones
Tom Microphone Buyer’s Guide
Getting a good set of tom mics is the final step of building an excellent drum kit microphone setup. Remember that to run tom mics along with overheads, a kick mic, and a snare mic; you need to have a recording interface with eight or more channels.
Having mics on your toms gives your drum kit a studio-quality sound in a mix. The toms have extended attack as opposed to them sounding distant in a recording setup with only overhead mics to pick their tones up.
Here’s what you need to look for when buying tom microphones.
Things to Consider When Buying a Tom Microphone
Decide whether to get a single mic or a mic pack
If you have no mics to begin with, it’s better to buy a full set of mics for your whole kit to save a bit of money. If you already have overheads and a kick mic, then it’s better to buy tom mics individually. You can get a few packs that only come with tom mics, but they’re not very common.
Look for mounting clips
Some tom mics come included with clips to attach to the rims of your drums to mount them. If they don’t, you either need to put the mic on a boom stand or buy attachment clips separately. Buying separate clips is the better option here as they save space.
Look for high SPL handling
Tom mics need to have high sound pressure level handling as they’ll be positioned close to your toms that you’ll hit very hard. If they don’t have high SPL levels, they’ll end up distorting.
Out of all the drum mics, tom mics get hit accidentally the most. Make sure to get tom mics with durable casings and rugged build quality.
What to Look for in the Best Tom Mics
Toms have very wide tuning ranges, so the best tom mics to get should have wide frequency response numbers.
You should aim for tom mics that cover from 40 – 18 000 Hz. Mics with that range will be able to pick up your tom sounds quite vividly.
Top-quality tom mics have very wide frequency ranges, while affordable mics have smaller ranges.
Sound quality is the main feature to look out for when buying tom mics. Some mics sound a lot better than others without any mix or EQ, and better-sounding mics are easier to work with in live and studio settings.
Inexpensive mics lack many of the details that higher-priced mics bring out from your drums. Seasoned audio engineers may be able to mix them in a way that makes them sound incredible, but less experienced drummers will have a better time after spending a bit more on higher-quality tom mics.
Tom mics should be very durable, considering that you’ll be playing many drum fills with the potential of hitting them over time.
Durability comes from the casing that the mic has, as well as the quality of the internal wiring. Cheaper mics tend to give out quicker than higher-quality ones.
Small and compact mics are better options for toms compared to pencil mics with long bodies. This is because there’s less surface area to potentially hit with your sticks.
The best way to measure durability is by weight. The heavier a mic is, the longer it will last in most cases. The weight often comes from the casing being metal instead of plastic. Note that mics with metal casing cost more, but they’re a better option in the long run.
Hyper-cardioid is the best pattern for tom mics. Mics with a hyper-cardioid pickup pattern have the most sound rejection from other sources, making them the best for toms that are positioned in between several drums and cymbals.
Cardioid microphones have slightly less sound rejection, but they’re the next best option for toms around a kit.
Hyper-cardioid mics aren’t as versatile as cardioid mics. This makes them excellent for toms, but they won’t work as well for other instruments as cardioid mics will. Keep that in mind if you’re someone who may use your tom mics for other purposes.
Ideally, smaller microphones are better for toms. Rack toms have small surface areas, so you should have mics that can be positioned unobtrusively. There’s a bit more leniency with floor toms, but small mics are still a preferable option.
Small microphones with amazing tone quality cost more than large microphones with similar tonal quality. So, getting very unobtrusive mics that sound amazing comes at a cost.
You can get slightly larger mics at a more affordable price, but they’ll be harder to position as nicely.
Tom Mic FAQs
Where’s the Best Place to Position a Tom Mic?
The most common technique for tom mic placement is to raise the mic so that it’s the height of two fingers and then point it to the center of the tom.
This positioning may change depending on how high or low your cymbals are positioned around the toms. If they’re low, you need to adjust the tom mics, so they don’t pick up any bleed from the cymbals.
How Important are Tom Mics?
Tom mics are essential for getting a clear sound representation of your drum kit. They are essential for use both live and in the recording studio if you want the best sound possible.
If you want to start recording your drum kit, you should purchase overheads and a kick mic first, though. You can get a great-sounding mix with only those. The addition of tom mics will provide an even better and cleaner-sounding drum mix.
Should You Put Tom Mics Underneath Your Toms?
Putting tom mics underneath toms is something that professional recording engineers do when they have enough mics and inputs to run them through the setup. Having as much control over the drum sound as possible is something that recording engineers need.
You don’t need extra mics to put under the toms if you’re playing casual live gigs or recording in your practice space. You can get amazing tom sounds in the mix without doing that.