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Shure SM57

Dynamic Cardioid Microphone

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Best Mic For Recording Snare Drum

Shure SM57

  • Don Makoviney
  • Last Updated: February 29, 2016

The best microphone for recording snare drums may be one you already have. The Shure SM57 has been used by award-winning producers and engineers for literally decades, on some of your favorite albums. At around a hundred bucks, you can mic up your snare like the best of them. The Shure SM57 is super durable, and the perfect microphone to get for recording snare.


The best microphone for recording snare drum is the Shure SM57. You’ll hear it on some of the most legendary albums ever recorded.

Sound on Sound magazine says it best:

This rugged little mic is also the most commonly-cited choice for snare drum: a list of users includes such audio luminaries as Steve Churchyard, Bob Clearmountain, Mike Hedges, John Leckie, Elliot Scheiner, Stephen Street, Bill Szymczyk, Chris Thomas and Tony Visconti, to name only a few — and at least half a dozen of them are happy to use SM57s for both the drum heads.

Graham Cochrane, proprieter of The Recording Revolution also recommends the SM57 for recording snare drums:

Even with a minimal drum mic setup, an SM57 close miked on the snare can pick up the fatness and punch that you want in a snare sound without much fuss (or money spent). If you are already getting a solid snare sound in your drum overheads, then a 57 right up on the drum will bring in that pop that you’re looking for.

 

Shure-SM-57-Microphone
Via Tsubasa Hiroki

Sound on Sound attributes the great sound of a Shure SM57 for recording your snare drum to several things that make it unique:

Given the spatial restrictions when placing snare close mics, the SM57’s low-end 200Hz roll-off is doubtless part of its appeal, combating proximity-effect bass boost when it’s used up close, as well as minimising kick-drum spill. The other response characteristics (a 300-500Hz dip and a generous 2-12kHz presence peak) serve to reduce muddiness and add more ‘snap’. However, the mic’s rapid slump in sensitivity above 12kHz means that some engineers using this mic always reach for EQ boost: Steve Churchyard mentions the 10kHz region, while John Leckie goes for around 8kHz and Jim Scott 5kHz. The SM57’s fairly tight cardioid polar pattern, designed with on-stage feedback reduction in mind, also has to be a factor, helping to reduce spill from other drums, and particularly from the neighbouring hi-hat.

Conclusion

Here’s a couple resources on snare recording technique with the Shure SM57:

Happy recording!


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Best Mic For Recording Snare Drum

Shure SM57

Best Mic For Recording Snare Drum

Important Specs

Frequency Response 20Hz to 20kHz
Max SPL 149 dB
Dimensions L x W x (D): 6.375 x 1.25"
Pattern Cardioid
Capsule Dynamic
more specs

Synopsis:

The best microphone for recording snare drums may be one you already have. The Shure SM57 has been used by award-winning producers and engineers for literally decades, on some of your favorite albums. At around a hundred bucks, you can mic up your snare like the best of them. The Shure SM57 is super durable, and the perfect microphone to get for recording snare.

- M

Sources

  1. Marc Henshall, Shure Blog, 20130603
    How to mic a Snare drum with a Shure SM57
  2. Jon Bare, Recording Magazine, 20160226
    Recording the Great Snare Drum
  3. Graham Cochrane, The Recording Revolution, 20120319
    3 Reasons To Own A Shure SM-57 Microphone
  4. Mike Senior, Sound on Sound Magazine, 20080601
    Kick & Snare Recording Techniques
Originally published: February 29th, 2016

Important Specs

Frequency Response 20Hz to 20kHz
Max SPL 149 dB
Dimensions L x W x (D): 6.375 x 1.25"
Pattern Cardioid
Capsule Dynamic
more specs


“It’s not so much the equipment as how you use it. I’ve heard people with really cheap studios do great recordings.” —Frank Gambale


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