Best Snare Drum Mics of 2020 – Complete Review

The snare drum can rightly be called the baseline of pop music. Its sound has become as familiar to us as our own heartbeat. Often, we do not even consciously acknowledge its placement in a song, instead choosing to just go with the music. Like our own heartbeats though, we can immediately tell when something is off. 

Choosing the right mic for your snare drums is a crucial thing to consider. A bad mic can potentially make a good drummer sound like a complete amateur. Know what to look for in your snare drum mic.

Comparison Chart of the Best Snare Drum Mics

PRODUCTDETAILS
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Shure SM81-LC

  • Low distortion, even over long passages
  • Excellent frequency response, meaning even more accuracy
  • Supremely smooth directional pattern, meaning less unwanted feedback
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Sennheiser MD 441

  • Hum-compensating coil
  • Spring capsule mounting
  • Five-position roll-off switch
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Audix I5

  • Wide sound response
  • Very low mass diaphragm
  • Cardioid pattern designed for feedback and noise control
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Sennheiser MD 421 II

  • Five-position bass roll-off switch
  • Pronounced directivity makes for easier handling
  • Large-diaphragm handles high sound pressure levels
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Beyerdynamic M201 TG

  • Integrated hum-buck recoil
  • Particularly effective over a distance
  • Small size for unobtrusive positioning
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What is a Snare Drum Mic?

Well, you already know what a snare drum is. A snare drum microphone is specially made to record the sounds of a snare drum with accuracy and precision. They are designed to be able to pick up every single tap you make on your drums. 

The sensitivity and precision of these drum mics allow you to listen to high-quality recordings of yourself later on. For anyone looking to get into the drumming and recording world (however niche that particular market may be), investing in a drum mic would be a good idea. 

Why Did These Snare Drum Mics Make Our List?

The mics that we have selected here are all some of the most top-of-the-line, high-quality products out there. All of them share the same basic features that make a microphone ideally suited for recording a snare drum.

Sound

It seems obvious, but the sound a drum mic can capture and playback is crucial to a high-quality recording. Sound has many different factors by itself as well, including the accuracy of the sound, and the clarity.

Accuracy

All of these mics can capture sound precisely, while also being capable of reducing the surrounding noises. Accuracy is important when recording because having an inaccurate sound can lead to inaccurate editing or altering.

Usability

A better term for this would have been ‘handability’, but that does not sound like a real word. The usability of a mic refers to how easy it is to use. You do not want to struggle when setting up your mic - you have got too much music to play. You want something that is maneuverable and easy to set up.

Quick Take: 
Top 3 Picks

Here are the best snare drum mics:

  1. Shure SM81-LC
  2. Sennheiser MD 441
  3. Audix I5

Review of the Best Snare Drum Mics 

And now we get to the meat of the matter. This is what you really came for. After all, you already know what a snare drum mic is, and you certainly know what a snare drum is. What you want to know is what the best mic to buy is. Luckily, we have got you covered on that front. Take a look at what we consider to be the best snare drum mics.

Best Overall:
Shure SM81-LC 

Shure SM81-LC Cardioid Condenser Instrument Microphone

PROS

  • Low noise
  • Low distortion, even over large load-impedances
  • Decent price considering this is the industry standard
  • Low-response curve (sounds can be more accurately captured)
  • Sturdy steel frame for added durability - safe to use in most conditions

CONS

  • Not completely inexpensive if you are just starting out

What Recent Buyers Report

You would really be hard-pressed to find someone with any major gripes with this product. It is the industry standard for a reason, after all. Many have found great use with this in recording, especially acoustic instruments and snare drums. It can probably be considered as one of the most reliable and effective mics out there.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We pretty much agree with most users of this fine product. The Shure s(h)ure is great and useful. There may not be that much particularly special about it, but maybe that is the special part. It is accurate, reliable, and easy to use. The price range is reasonable too. Maybe it is still a little too steep if you are just starting out, but if you have been playing and recording for a while and are looking to upgrade your mic, you cannot go wrong with the Shure SM81-LC.

Who Will Use This Most

Pretty much anyone looking to record their drums (or any instrument for that matter) would be able to make use of this. If the snare drum is the heartbeat of pop music, the Shure is the coronary arteries (or some other, better metaphor). These would probably best be used by intermediate players/recorders, people who have been playing for a while and are looking to upgrade their sound.

Bottom Line

You simply cannot go wrong with this one. I do not think I can get away with saying “industry standard” again in this article, but that is just what it is. It is reliable and sturdy, with its low distortion and excellent frequency response, as well as its steel frame. Highly recommended? You bet.

Sennheiser MD 441-U versatile dynamic super-cardioid pattern microphone a five-position

PROS

  • Versatile and dynamic
  • Great feedback rejection
  • Excellent cardioid pattern
  • Durable and stylish metal casing
  • Low distortion, even at exceptionally high sound-pressure levels

CONS

  • Higher price tag

What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of people have found great success with the Sennheiser. This is probably one of the best quality mic products out there, and many have said that it lives up to its name with its dynamic, accurate sound capturing. The versatility of its use is also often cited, along with the minimal “boominess” of the sound, even when it is right up against the sound source.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The exceptional quality of the sound is what stands out most to us. There are also so many different functions and uses for this particular mic; you can use it for your snare drums, your vocals, your guitar, etc. Sure, this is the most expensive one on the list, but even then, there are still more expensive mics out there. High quality comes with a high price, and this may be one of the highest quality mics ever.

Who Will Use This Most

Because of its admittedly hefty price, this mic would probably be a better investment for professionals, people who are completely dedicated to their music. It also can be quite difficult to properly set up and optimize. An experienced musician, however, should have no trouble with this.

Bottom Line

Sennheiser seems poised to achieve the “perfect sound” they are striving for, especially if all of their products are as good as this one. This mic provides exceptional accuracy, versatility, and reliability. We would recommend any of the options on this list, but if we were to recommend a truly exceptional product to an industry professional, it would be the Sennheiser MD 441-U. 

Best for the Money:
Audix I5 

Audix I5 Dynamic Instrument Microphone

PROS

  • Sturdy, compact design
  • Dynamic frequency response
  • Ideally suited for snare drums
  • Can handle high SPLS without much distortion

CONS

  • Better suited for live performance than recording
  • Requires a lot of work in order to get the sound perfect

What Recent Buyers Report

The most commonly cited trait of this product is the price. Compared to other mics, the Audix is ridiculously cheap. Some users have said that it is not quite what they were looking for, but in general, most agree that it is a completely usable and decent mic, especially so when they consider the price.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We have to agree with most customers here: the price is great. This is the most affordable mic on our list. That being said, it may be the “worst” one too, but not by much as the quality of the sound does not falter, and the mic is still versatile enough that you could use it for live performance, recording, or radio broadcast.

Who Will Use This Most

If you are just getting into recording and want decent, versatile mic to start with, the Audix is for you. It has great capabilities and high-quality sound capturing. All of that along with a really great price make this an excellent deal. This is recommended for amateurs and budding professionals.

Bottom Line

The Audix is definitely not the best item on this list, but considering its truly fabulous price, it is not far from it either. With its high-quality sound capturing and versatility of use, the Audix is the perfect mic (particularly suited for snare drums) for beginners.

Best Snare Drum Mic for Recording:
Sennheiser MD 421 II 

Sennheiser MD 421 II Cardioid Dynamic Mic

PROS

  • Easy to handle
  • Even signal response
  • Great feedback reduction
  • Dynamic and natural sound
  • Dust and weathering resistant

CONS

  • Clip is easily broken
  • Slightly more on the expensive side

What Recent Buyers Report

Many buyers have claimed that despite the price, this microphone delivers on all fronts. The clipping mechanism has been cited as a downside, however, and a few have reported their clips being broken within the first week of use. Still, most agree that this is a minor downside and that the functionality of the rest of the mic is worth it.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Like the previous Sennheiser product mentioned earlier in this article, the sheer quality of this product is exceptional. This includes everything from the sound capturing to the physical design. The MD 421 is capable of so much that it can be used anywhere, for any instrument, in any environment.

Who Will Use This Most

Professionals would benefit the most from this product as there are so many different specifications to try out. An amateur or new-comer would have their hands full trying to find the right settings for their kit or performance, let alone what the different specifications do.

Bottom Line      

Sennheiser continues its pursuit of “perfect sound” with even more success. The fact that two of their products have been mentioned in this one article alone goes to show how dependable and exceptional they are. And the MD 421 is no different.

Editor’s Pick:
Beyerdynamic M201 TG 

Beyerdynamic M201 TG Classic Dynamic Hypercardioid Microphone for all Instrumental Applications

PROS

  • Sturdy design
  • Bass-heavy - perfect for snare drums
  • Built-in hum-bucking makes for less feedback
  • Unobtrusive, making it easy to place and position
  • List Element

CONS

  • A little bit more on the expensive
  • Clearly better-suited for live performance as opposed to studio recording

What Recent Buyers Report

Many people have cited the exceptional mid-range sound quality of this mic. In live performances, a lot of them swear by this mic because of its high sound quality over long distances.

Why it Stands Out to Us

All of the mics we have listed here share some great qualities, so it would be pointless to just keep rehashing them over and over again. What makes this one stand out is the impressive design. It is such an attractive-looking mic, and its small size allows it to be positioned anywhere.

Who Will Use This Most 

The bass-heavy sound that this mic can capture makes it ideal for snare drummers. The mic is also able to maintain a high-quality sound even when it is further away from the sound source. This makes it particularly suited for live performances. This mic would be recommended highly to professional performance artists.

Bottom Line

This is another great pick if you are looking for a mic in general, but even better if you are a snare drummer and want to record a high-quality sound. 

What to Consider Before Buying

There are a few things you should think about before you make your mic purchase.

Microphone Type

This may be the most important thing to consider. There are numerous microphone types, and each excels at different things. You need to know what it is you are going to be recording in order to choose a microphone type best suited for you. 

Some of these types are:

Condenser microphones - Probably the most commonly used. They come in with enough variety and versatility to be able to be used in almost any situation. They also tend to be a bit more expensive.

Dynamic microphones - It is in the name: they are dynamic and versatile. These are mainly used in live performance because of their integrated shock-absorption features which allow for a consistent, clear sound.

Budget

Obviously, you need the money to be able to afford the microphone you want. Unfortunately, I cannot teach you about budgeting, but keep in mind that sometimes the microphone can be worth the investment. Do not sacrifice quality to save a buck.

Conclusion

Now that you know what you should be looking for in a microphone, you can make the right purchase. Even if you find that you cannot afford any of the ones listed here, you can still compare any mics you do come across to this.