5 Best Kick Drum Mics
One of my favorite parts of the recording process is tracking live drums. Achieving a great drum sound requires multiple elements coming together and working in harmony with one another. Some of these elements include: the room, the player, the kit, mic selection and position, as well as outboard gear and processing.
What constitutes a ‘good’ kick drum mic is very subjective and it’s important for you to find the mic that works for you and your situation. I have my own go-to microphones, but if the situation calls for it, I am always open to change. I have extensively used each of the mics listed below and all of them have their own unique characteristics.
AKG D-12 VR
I was looking into buying a D-12 for such a long time but was put off by the rather high price tag ($600). I finally went ahead and got myself one a couple of years ago and it’s one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. This mic is amazing. I have used an original D-12 at various recording sessions, and I much prefer this modern version. You can either use it passively to get a more vintage-sounding tone or send it phantom power and access 3 different filter curves that have a huge impact on the overall sound.
I love that I can use this microphone and do very little in the way of processing and EQ, because it does such a great job of capturing a warm and punchy kick drum tone.
A truly wonderful (but expensive!) microphone.
This is the kick drum microphone I see most often in both recording and live situations and compared to the D-12, it’s very reasonably priced (under $200). Trusted by many due to its reliability and solid construction that can withstand a lot of road wear. This mic can also handle high SPL and is perfect for big, phat bass sounds.
Lewitt DTP 340 REX
Like the B52, this Lewitt kick drum mic is perfect for both studio and live performances. It has a rugged construction making it extremely durable and does a fantastic job of accurately capturing the sound of your kick drum.
I can highly recommend the 4-piece Lewitt Beatkit mic set, which comprises of the DTP 340 REX, MTP 440 DM snare drum mic and 2 LCT 040 matched pair overheads. Out of all the drum mic sets I’ve ever used this is by far the best and the mics complement each other perfectly.
The D6 is compact in design, and I have always found it to be a reliable kick drum mic, especially for kick drums that are 22” or smaller. It provides a clean, punchy sound with plenty of attack, without losing any low end. Like the D-12, this is another mic that requires very little processing on the back end. It always sounds great and, in my opinion, has more character than a Shure B52.
I have so many musician friends who swear by these, which is why I added it to this list. There’s been a few times an engineer has chosen to use a Beta 91 on a session and they sounded great, but this has almost always been in conjunction with a second mic on the outside of the kick. If you’re looking for an inside mic to use with an external one, this is a good option. Personally, I want a mic that I can place in different positions and not just in one single spot inside the drum (sometimes they are difficult to get inside the kick drum if the port hole is small or not present). It also relies heavily on the drum itself sounding great.
My favorite application for a Beta 91 is inside a cajon, they sound fantastic and do an amazing job of capturing kick and snare tones.
There are so many other mics I could add to this list; Beyerdynamic M-88, Electro Voice ND68 and RE20, Audio-Technica ATM250DE, Shure D-112 (although I much prefer those on a floor tom) and many more. If you are able to hire or borrow some different kick drum mics, I would highly recommend experimenting and finding the mic that’s right for you.