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Shure BETA 52A

Kick Drum MIc

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Best Kick Drum Mic

Shure BETA 52A


We recommend the Shure BETA 52A for miking a kick drum for most people. Sure, it may be an obvious choice, as it has been used in literally thousands of classic recordings and live events by many of your favorite artists. We like the flat frequency response and it's proven track record of reliability in BOTH live and studio applications. This gives you enough flexibility to justify the $200 or so you will spend on it. Plus, it works great for horns and a litany of other uses. If you want a great sounding kick drum with no frills or surprises, the Shure BETA 52A is the one to get.


Other Picks

AKG D112 MKII

best kick drum microphoneA close second to our pick is another kick mic that is considered an industry standard, the AKG D112 MKII. Inside the capsule is a built-in windscreen to protect against popping. It has been around for decades and many studios use this as their go-to for miking kick drums.

More AKG D112 MKII tech specs and reviews


Shure SM57

great budget kick drum mic

Surprise, surprise! The venerable SM57 shows up again. If you’ve been here before, you know the SM57 is our pick for best snare mic, and one of the great mics for recording electric guitar. Also the industry standard when it comes to kick drums, and you may already have one of these in your studio, saving you a few bucks. Check out this article, where they A/B test the AKG D112 with the Shure SM57. Is the difference enough that you need a separate kick mic?  Pretty close right?
More Shure SM57 tech specs and reviews

What Makes A Great Kick Drum Mic

A great kick drum mic for the home studio should work with most genres of music. With all the variables miking up a drum kit, these recommendations are highly subjective. The other mics, preamps, and drums in play, the room in which you are recording will all affect the overall sound.

However there are a couple very reliable kick drum mics that have been used on many of your favorite artists’ albums.  These can serve as an excellent baseline (bass line? 😉 ) for picking a great sounding kick drum mic.

best kick drum microphones

Know Your Style

If you want a great bass drum microphone that can work in many configurations, our pick is certainly your best bet. However, if you know you will be primarily recording music in a certain genre, you could get even more specific. This article over at Sound on Sound provides some insight into what certain producers used on specific producers and bands used on specific songs/albums. If any of the bands/producers ring true with your musical recording style in the list below, I highly suggest you check out the article:

  • Steve Albini (The Pixies: Surfer Rosa; Nirvana: In Utero; Bush: Razorblade Suitcase; PJ Harvey: Rid Of Me; Jimmy Page & Robert Plant: Walking Into Clarksdale.)
  • Nile Rodgers (Any record by Chic; Sister Sledge: We Are Family; Diana Ross: Diana; David Bowie: Let’s Dance, Black Tie White Noise; Madonna: Like A Virgin.)
  • Robbie Adams (U2: Achtung Baby, Zooropa; Pattie Griffin: Impossible Dream; Smashing Pumpkins: Adore; Lara Fabian: A Wonderful Life, One; Donnie Osmond: What I Meant To Say)
  • John Astley (Eric Clapton: Crossroads, Just One Night; The Who: Who Are You.)
  • Joe Barresi (Queens Of The Stone Age: Queens Of The Stone Age, Lullabies To Paralyze; Tool: 10000 Days; The Melvins: Stoner Witch; Hole: Celebrity Skin; Limp Bizkit: Chocolate Starfish & The Hotdog Flavoured Water; The Lost Prophets: Start Something; Skunk Anansie: Stoosh.)
  • Bruce Botnick (The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds; Love: Forever Changes; The Doors: The Doors, Strange Days, Waiting For The Sun, The Soft Parade, LA Woman, Morrison Hotel; Tim Buckley: Happy Sad.)
  • Butch Vig (Nirvana: Nevermind; Smashing Pumpkins: Siamese Dream, Gish; Garbage: Garbage, Version 2.0, Beautifulgarbage, Bleed Like Me; Sonic Youth: Experimental Jet Set Trash & No Star, Dirty.)
  • Chris Thomas (Pink Floyd: Dark Side Of The Moon; Dave Gilmour: On An Island; Razorlight: Razorlight; U2: How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb; Pulp: Different Class, This Is Hardcore; INXS: Listen Like Thieves, Kick, X; The Pretenders: Pretenders, Pretenders II, Learning To Crawl; The Sex Pistols: Never Mind The Bollocks; Roxy Music: For Your Pleasure, Stranded, Siren.)
  • Bill Szymczyk (The Eagles: On The Border, The Long Run, One Of These Nights, Hotel California; The Who: Face Dances; BB King: Live & Well, Completely Well; J Geils Band: The Morning After; Joe Walsh: Barnstorm, The Smoker You Drink The Player You Get.)
  • Stephen Street (The Smiths: Meat Is Murder, The Queen Is Dead, Strangeways Here We Come; Morrissey: Viva Hate, Bona Drag; Blur: Leisure, Modern Life Is Rubbish, Parklife, The Great Escape, Blur; The Cranberries: Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?, No Need To Argue, Wake Up & Smell The Coffee; Kaiser Chiefs: Employment, Yours Truly Angry Mob.)
  • Al Stone (Jamiroquai: Return Of The Space Cowboy, Travelling Without Moving, Synkronized; Daniel Bedingfield: Gotta Get Through This; Stereo MCs: Connected; Bjork: Debut, Post; Turin Brakes: The Optimist; Lamb: Fear Of Fours; Eagle Eye Cherry: Sub Rosa.)
  • Bill Price (The Sex Pistols: Never Mind The Bollocks; The Clash: The Clash, Give ‘Em Enough Rope, London Calling, Sandinista!; The Pretenders: Pretenders, Pretenders II; Elton John: Too Low For Zero; Pete Townshend: Empty Glass; The Jesus & Mary Chain: Darklands; The Libertines: The Libertines.)

Kick Drum Microphone Configurations

Often kick drum mikes are paired with another mic placed somewhere else around the kick drum. Usually one provides the thump, while the other provides the click (or attack). For more information on possibilities, check out the following articles:

Conclusion

A good all around kick drum mic is your best bet, especially if it can serve double duty on other recording tasks, like bass guitar, keys, or something like that. If you have specialized needs (e.g. only punk? metal? country? etc?) then you can drill down further and try out some of our other, more specific choices.

If you need a great kick drum mic that can handle most genres of music with little EQ-ing or fiddling, the Shure BETA 52A is the one to get.


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Best Kick Drum Mic

Shure BETA 52A

Best Kick Drum Mic

Important Specs

Transducer Dynamic (moving coil)
Polar Pattern Supercardioid
Freq Response 20Hz to 10kHz
Power Req None. Dynamic mic.
Output Impedanze Rated Impedance is 150 Ohms (45 Ohms actual) for connection to microphone inputs rated low Z
Max Sound Press. Level 174 dB at 1000 Hz (calculated)
Dimensions 3.750 x 6.406 x 3.750" (95.25 x 162.72 x 95.25mm) LxHxW
Weight 605 grams (21.6 oz)
more specs

Synopsis:

We like the flat frequency response and it's proven track record of reliability in BOTH live and studio applications. This gives you enough flexibility to justify the $200 or so you will spend on it. Plus, it works great for horns and a litany of other uses. If you want a great sounding kick drum with no frills or surprises, the Shure BETA 52A is the one to get.

AKG D112 MKII

If our main pick is sold out

AKG D112 MKII

This industry standard kick mic is great, a certainly a great one to add to your mic locker. We like our main pick, however, for it's versatility with different musical styles, and it's ability to really shine on other instruments. However, these are great.

Shure SM57

Budget Pick

Shure SM57

Many well-known producers simply use a SM57 for kick drums. Give it a try, and you may not even need to buy a kick mic.

- M

Sources

  1. User Matrixclaw, audiofanzine.com, 20120331
    Shure Beta 52: Best All-Round Bass Mic
    “I really can't say enough good things about this mic. People tend to have a huge bias towards a certain brand and model of kick drum mic they like (Shure Beta 52, AKG D112 & Audix D6, mainly), and while I've tried all 3 major contenders, the Beta 52 is certainly the most well-rounded. There are certain applications where I'll find myself using a D6 for the kick (mainly if we want a lot of attack and click), but for nearly every drum, I prefer the huge tone the 52 produces. Personally, I'm not a fan of the D112 on kick (I do really like it on a bass cab). The Beta 52 just seems to "work" on everything. You can literally throw this mic inside the sound port on any kick drum (assuming it's fairly well tuned) and dial in a usable tone. For metal, one might prefer the D6, but unless you're only tracking metal, the Beta 52 is certainly the way to go.”
  2. User mooser, audiofanzine.com, 20090203
    it has a number of different uses beyond the kick drum.
    “I've been using the Beta 52A for about three or four years. When I was deciding what type of kick drum microphone to buy I decided to buy both a 52A and an AKG D112 and shoot them out to see which I liked better for the sound I was trying to achieve. In the end I end up keeping the D112 and selling the 52A, but this does not mean the 52A isn't a good mic. I liked both of them, but I felt the D112 had a better sound for recording kick drum, while I liked the 52A better for micing and bass drum cabinet. I record more kick drums than I do bass cabinets (as I usually record bass direct) so I decided to keep the D112. They are around the same price, which is reasonable, so I made by decision based on what I needed more for my needs. This being said, the Beta 52A sounds great on both a kick drum and a bass cabinet and is a great all around microphone for picking up things with a real low end. If you are looking for a bass guitar amp mic or a kick drum mic I would encourage you to check out both this mic and the AKG D112.”
  3. David Mellor, Audio Master Class, 20050429
    AKG D112 review - a kick drum microphone that you point backwards! (With audio samples)
    “So why is this mic so suitable for kick drum recording and amplification? Firstly its heritage. The AKG D112 is a development of the venerable D12, which was found by trial and error during its heyday to be a very good kick drum mic, probably by accident more than intention. The D112 brings the D12 up to date in terms of manufacturing quality and design, and retains the D12's characteristic sound. Secondly, the AKG D112 is a microphone that can handle a high sound pressure level, which is exactly what you get from a kick drum. Levels as high as 160 dB SPL are handled with ease, according to AKG, and there is no specified upper maximum level - probably the level was outside of the range of AKG's test equipment, and since any human being would be deafened instantly at this level, I think 'adequate' is the appropriate word here.”
  4. User glitterlok, Reddit, 20160402
    Anyone ever tried an SM57 for Kick/Bass Drum?
    “Thought it sounded great. Lots of snap and a light tone. If I remember correctly, we removed the resonator head and placed a pillow just barely against the front head, but of course your set will vary. We put the mic just outside of the end of the shell toward the snare side and pointed directly at the beater.”
Originally published: July 16th, 2017

Important Specs

Transducer Dynamic (moving coil)
Polar Pattern Supercardioid
Freq Response 20Hz to 10kHz
Power Req None. Dynamic mic.
Output Impedanze Rated Impedance is 150 Ohms (45 Ohms actual) for connection to microphone inputs rated low Z
Max Sound Press. Level 174 dB at 1000 Hz (calculated)
Dimensions 3.750 x 6.406 x 3.750" (95.25 x 162.72 x 95.25mm) LxHxW
Weight 605 grams (21.6 oz)
more specs



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