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Sennheiser E604

Best Tom Mic

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Best Tom Microphones

Sennheiser E604


The best microphone for recording tom-toms for most people is the Sennheiser e604. It's affordable, has universally great reviews from home recording enthusiasts and professionals alike. The e604s have clips which enable one to affix them directly to the rim of the drum. They are flexible enough to work in both live and studio applications. If you want the best sound for your dollar, the Sennheiser e604 is the one to get.


Sennheiser e604s are small, convenient, have nice pickup for close miking toms, and clip right onto the drum rim.

The pickup pattern is cardioid, and designed to grab the sound right in front of it. This lessens drum bleed from the adjacent toms and other drums. The frequency response is 40Hz to 18kHz, leaving plenty of room to pull out the best of the drum’s tone, body, snap or boom.

The e604’s are great for studio AND live, which makes them a sensible choice for those trying to maximize their dollar.

best tom microphonepic via

As you can see in the picture above, the clip on the mic enables it to be mounted directly to the drum. This also eliminates an extra mic stand. When miking drums, this can easily turn into a large Frankenstein project with microphone stands wedged in between and around drums every which way. So the small clip is super handy.

Sennheiser e604 User Reviews

One Amazon reviewer uses these for his church sound, with great results:

I use these for my toms at church. Small. lightweight. clips are great for latching onto drums. I put the mikes about 4 finger lengths from the batter head on the drum, but that’s preference… depending on how much tone of the drum you want

Another reviewer likes the isolation it provides for his drums:

Excellent sounding microphone. In my opinion, this mic isolates the drum sound far better than say an SM57 or Audix D series. The clip feels a little plastic-y…if that’s a word. But the sound is truly outstanding.

A reviewer at B&H Photo and Video noted the durability of our pick for best tom mic:

I’ve used these for many years on many gigs. Always performs well and is compact.

Sennheiser e604 Professional Reviews

Over at Discmakers, they conducted a shootout between various drum microphones:

The panel “loved the sound of the toms” using the 604s. They described the 604’s sound on the toms as “beefy, with a gutsy punch and plenty of attack.”

This professional sound guy loves using the e604s:

The Sennheiser E604 is a rugged, cardioid instrument microphone especially designed to handle the sound pressure levels of drums, percussion and brass instruments without noise and peak distortion. The E604 features a cardioid polar pattern that is effective in minimizing noise and feedback at the off-axis sections of the capsule. The element features a neodymium magnet with borron. The result is a high output gain with low noise and reliable performance regardless of climate. An integral stand mount screws directly onto mic stands and the included clip attaches the microphone to the rim of a drum.

Notable Alternatives

The Step Up: Sennheiser MD421

Sennheiser MD 421 II Tom MIc

User R. Martin left a review on Amazon stating:

A great mic on many things, but absolutely UNREAL on toms. It’s exactly the sound you want. If you record drums, you need this mic in your life.

The MD421 is also a great all around mic for the studio. It’s a favorite by many for recording electric guitars, kick drums, bass guitar, and even vocals (in certain situations). If you are put off by the price, just know that you will be getting a mic that works in many applications.

The downside is that it is a bit large. For this reason most use it in the studio, where it can be set up and left in place for a long time. Although some engineers do use it for live applications. Our main pick is much more handy for both live and studio work, and takes up much less space and does the job just as well as the MD421.

Side Step: Sennheiser e904

Sennheiser makes a mic called the e904, which is also a solid choice. According to Robb Blumenreder, Product Manager for Sennheiser USA, these are the differences:

The e 904 features all metal construction while the e 604 is a fiber glass composite with a stainless steel sound inlet basket. The e 904 is physically a bit smaller (though heavier) and features a more robust sound inlet basket – some drummers that have less control are prone to hitting the e 604 with upstrokes on the snare or toms, denting the grill. The e 904 features gold XLR pins and an additional 3 – 6 dB greater gain before feedback over the e 604. The e 904 will have more attack and snap than the e 604 due to its increased transient response time, it also has a roll of that starts around 140 Hz (ideal for larger PA systems) with a freq response down to 40 Hz.

Both mics carry a 10 year warranty and come with the quick set-change mic clips to snap right on the rim of the drums and an evolution mic pouch for storage.

If you’re not sure which to pick, go with the e604, or listen to some A/B tests on YouTube. like this one.

Classic Choice: Shure SM57

Shure SM57 Tom Mic

Reliably used as tom mics for decades. This is a great choice, since it sounds great on toms and you might already own a couple. It will take up a lot more room in your drum miking configuration than our main pic. But if you’ve got the room, definitely use it. It is also standard issue for miking snare drums.

Conclusion

Most of us home studio producers have neither the money or space to buy every mic. But with a handful of strategic buys (and perhaps borrowing a mic or two from fellow musicians), you’ll have more than enough options to cull the best sound from your toms.

If you’re looking for some straightforward tom miking techniques (or even full drum miking for that matter), check out the following:

Recording Drums – Tape Op Magazine Sep/Oct 2002

For me, the sound of a “real” studio versus a home setup has more to do with the live sound than it does the cost of equipment: It’s the interaction of the instruments with the room and how that interaction is captured on tape. With no other instrument is this more evident than with a drum kit.

Studio Secrets: How to Record Toms – Drum Magazine

As a general rule, dynamic mikes are used when you want to minimize the high frequencies of the toms. This includes most styles of rock, as well as much pop music. Conversely, when the high tom frequencies are desired, such as in jazz, fusion, and some pop music, a condenser mike is the better choice. But remember, rules are made to be broken! All these mikes are directional, meaning they increasingly reject sound the further you move off axis from the front. This helps keep the other voices of the drum set from bleeding into the tom mikes.

Happy recording!


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Best Tom Microphones

Sennheiser E604

Best Tom Microphones

Important Specs

Microphone Dynamic
Pick-up pattern Cardioid
Freq Response 40 - 18000 Hz
Sensitivity 1,8 mV/Pa
Warranty 10 Year
Dimensions 3.3 x 5.9 cm
Weight 2.1 Oz
more specs

Synopsis:

The best microphone for recording tom-toms for most people is the Sennheiser e604. It's affordable, has universally great reviews from home recording enthusiasts and professionals alike. The e604s have clips which enable one to affix them directly to the rim of the drum. They are flexible enough to work in both live and studio applications. If you want the best sound for your dollar, the Sennheiser e604 is the one to get.

Shure SM57

Classic Option

Shure SM57

Reliably used as tom mics for decades. This is a great choice, since it sounds great on toms and you might already own a couple. It will take up a lot more room in your drum miking configuration than our main pic. But if you've got the room, definitely use it.

Sennheiser MD 421 II

The Upgrade

Sennheiser MD 421 II

Most people would consider this the industry standard tom mic. It is also flexible enough to be used in many other studio applications. As you can see, it is a fairly large mic, which means more microphone stands and space taken up around the drum kit. For significantly less money you can still get great recordings with our pick. No mistake though, this is a great mic.

- M

Sources

  1. Jon Burton, Sound On Sound, 20140101
    Engineering Drums Live: Part One
    “As Craig 'Bozz' Porter, FOH engineer for Papa Roach, Machinehead and Megadeth, has learned, it's important to try these techniques out for yourself. "Experiment and read! Don't be afraid to try new things, that is what soundchecks are for. Read articles by solid and respected touring engineers so you can get different opinions and perspectives — but keep in mind that everyone has opinions. Take it all in, play with the techniques, and make them your own.””
  2. Alex Stobbe, Real Time Pro Audio and Video, 20170622
    Sennheiser MD 421 ii Microphone Review
    “Floor tom! Floor tom! Floor tom! You have to hear a nicely tuned floor tom through this mic. The bass that it picks up is incredibly clear and gives you a great signal to work with. As well, the hits are incredibly defined! This is by a land slide my favorite floor tom mic. [...] You guessed it. The 421 is a winner on toms. However, depending on how much bass you want to come through, you may want to go one notch past the M bass roll-off position. I don’t like how big these mics are for rack toms live. But they sure do sound great.”
  3. Mike Snyder, Drum Magazine, 20170623
    How To Mic Tom-Toms
    “As a general rule, dynamic mikes are used when you want to minimize the high frequencies of the toms. This includes most styles of rock, as well as much pop music. Conversely, when the high tom frequencies are desired, such as in jazz, fusion, and some pop music, a condenser mike is the better choice. But remember, rules are made to be broken! All these mikes are directional, meaning they increasingly reject sound the further you move off axis from the front. This helps keep the other voices of the drum set from bleeding into the tom mikes.”
Originally published: June 23rd, 2017

Important Specs

Microphone Dynamic
Pick-up pattern Cardioid
Freq Response 40 - 18000 Hz
Sensitivity 1,8 mV/Pa
Warranty 10 Year
Dimensions 3.3 x 5.9 cm
Weight 2.1 Oz
more specs



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