The 7 Best Snare Mics (2022) for Studio and Live Performance

There are a lot of great snare mics on the market, but which ones should you buy? The snare is the most vital drum in your setup, and you should get a microphone that complements its sound as much as possible.

My top recommended snare mic is the Shure SM57. It’s one of the most popular mics for snare drums, and you’re bound to find one of these in almost every recording studio in the world!

My second recommended snare mic is the Audix i5. It’s an affordable, natural-sounding, and distortion-free mic.

The 7 Best Snare Mics (2022)

1. Shure SM57 LC
Top Pick - A legendary mic which works great for snare drums.
2. Audix i5
Budget Pick - Natural, distortion-free sound at an affordable price.
3. Sennheiser MD441-U
Pro Pick - High-end, high-quality super-cardioid mic for snare drums.
4. Beyerdynamic M201TG
Low-end, beefy sound for all occasions.
5. Shure PGA56
Budget-friendly, industrious mic in every sense.
6. Sennheiser MD 421 II
Great mic with world-class sound reproduction quality.
7. Shure Beta 57 A
Affordable, sturdy, and good-sounding mic from a legendary manufacturer.

Let’s compare them in more detail.

1. Shure SM57 LC

Top Pick
A legendary mic which works great for snare drums.
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The Shure SM57 LC is a cardioid dynamic microphone that offers clean pick, controlled response, and great dynamics at a very generous price. It’s a tried and tested mic for snare drums and shines with great results. 

Pros

  • Clean, natural sound
  • Brilliant pickup
  • Very affordable
  • Highly durable

Cons

  • No on/off switch

Its uniform cardioid pickup pattern isolates the source while eliminating the background noise. With a frequency response between 40-15,000 Hz, the mic makes sure that the true sound of your snare comes through, including the subtle ghost notes. 

There is a pneumatic shock-mount system that rejects handling noise, making it great for live sessions.

Polar PatternCardioid
Microphone TypeDynamic
SoundClean, balanced
Microphone Clamp IncludedYes

The Shure SM57 LC is also one of the more durable mics out there, so whether you’re hitting the road or playing in rough conditions, this one will last you years. 

2. Audix i5

Budget Pick
Natural, distortion-free sound at an affordable price.
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The Audix i5 is a very decent dynamic microphone to put up on your snare. It’s modestly priced and produces clear, accurate sound from your snare drum. 

Pros

  • Rejects distortion well
  • Natural, vivid sound
  • Very light; easy to install

Cons

  • Lacks a certain brightness

It can easily handle pressure levels over 140 dB without distortion. An important thing when you’re dealing with high-pitched instruments. It’s also fairly sturdy and compact, making it an excellent choice, especially considering the price tag.

Its VCM diaphragm isolates the snare sound so you can hear a natural response on the other side. You also don’t have to rely on EQ when using the Audix i5. 

Polar PatternCardioid
Microphone TypeDynamic
SoundClear, balanced
Microphone Clamp IncludedYes

This is a very small and light microphone weighing around 0.4 pounds. So, it is easy to install, and easy to carry around. The Audix i5 is a decent mic to pair with your snare if you’re looking for good quality at a fair price.

3. Sennheiser MD441-U

Pro Pick
High-end, high-quality super-cardioid mic for snare drums.
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If you’re after a high-quality option and have the budget to do so, the Sennheiser Professional MD 441-U should be your top consideration. This dynamic super-cardioid microphone is one of the best in the business.

Pros

  • Amazing sensitivity
  • Great for live performances and studio use
  • Delivers clear, natural sound
  • Superb build quality and accuracy

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Great for snare drums but for other uses – a cheaper alternative will suffice

The Sennheiser MD 441-U comes with an integrated pop filter that minimizes plosives, hums, and buzz sounds and is exceptional when it comes to narrow sound pickup, especially in loud environments like a live performance. It eliminates background noise very well.

Additionally, this mic has a treble boost switch, spring capsule mounting safeguards, and a 5-position low-frequency contour switch for sound containment and reproduction.

Polar PatternSuper-cardioid
Microphone TypeDynamic
SoundClear, detailed
Microphone Clamp IncludedYes

All in all, for snare drums, you will unlikely find a better option out there, however, for other uses, you can make do with any cheaper alternative.

4. Beyerdynamic M201TG

Versatile
Low-end, beefy sound for all occasions.
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A sleek-looking, featherweight mic that produces heavyweight levels of performance, the Beyerdynamic M201 TG Classic is an ideal fit for your snare and toms. 

Pros

  • Fantastic low-end sound
  • Built to last
  • Quite versatile

Cons

  • A bit pricey
  • Fairly quiet, preamp-dependant

The hyper-cardioid dynamic mic is great for bringing out deep, fat sounds from your snare with its 40-18,000 Hz frequency range. It has a linear frequency response, which means it produces the exact natural sound you intend. 

With this mic, Beyerdynamic is giving you truly high-quality since not only does it perform well, but is also durable. It has a solid outer shell that can withstand a good onslaught. 

Polar PatternHyper-cardioid
Microphone TypeDynamic
SoundLow-end
Microphone Clamp IncludedYes

The M201 TG is a classically stunning mic that works really well for a wide range of applications. The price may be more than some others but well worth it. 

5. Shure PGA56

Budget-friendly
Budget-friendly, industrious mic in every sense.
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The Shure PGA56 is a cardioid dynamic microphone specifically designed to be mounted on the drums. Like all cardioid mics, the PGA56 also rejects unwanted noise and isolates the sound of your snare. What results is a dynamic, clear reproduction of the sound you intend to produce. 

Pros

  • Natural sound reproduction
  • Very easy to handle
  • Extremely affordable

Cons

  • Poor shock absorption

As good of a microphone as the PGA56 is, its biggest quality is its design. It is meant to be clipped on and off on the rim of your drums. This makes for an unobtrusive, hassle-free experience when you’re playing the drums. 

The small mic has a swivel joint with a quick latch release which means easy positioning anywhere you want. And when it’s sitting on your rim, it looks all class. 

Polar PatternCardioid
Microphone TypeDynamic
SoundClear, flat
Microphone Clamp IncludedNo

For all the drummers who are not big fans of big mics mounted on towering stands but still want great sound quality, the Shure PGA56 is just the mic for you. 

6. Sennheiser MD 421 II

High-quality
Great mic with world-class sound reproduction quality.
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The MD 421 II has been one of Sennheiser’s most popular microphones for many decades now. The reason behind its success is simple. Brilliant sound, great looks, and easy handling. 

Pros

  • Top-notch professional mic
  • Clear, natural response
  • Five-position bass roll-off switch for versatility
  • High SPL handling

Cons

  • A bit pricey
  • Not the best mic clip, especially considering the price

It is natural under most circumstances, particularly for recording your snare drum. This is because of its large diaphragm and effective feedback rejection, which makes it easy to handle high-pressure volumes. 

It is a quite sensitive mic with a signal response even from a moderate distance. Its cardioid polar pattern picks up and produces a clean signal to give your instrument justice. It boasts a rugged, stainless steel build with dust and humidity resistance. It can take on some wear and tear without any effect on its performance. 

Polar PatternCardioid
Microphone TypeDynamic
SoundBalanced
Microphone Clamp IncludedYes

This is a genuinely professional microphone. That means it comes at a hefty price. However, if that is not a factor for you, then by all means go for it.

7. Shure Beta 57 A

Durable
Affordable, sturdy, and good-sounding mic from a legendary manufacturer.
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Much like its top-pick counterpart, the Beta 57A is a great, budget-friendly, and good-sounding microphone for your snare drum. The durable build quality and great frequency response make it a very popular choice for drummers.

Pros

  • Excellent value for money
  • Good low-end, natural reproduction
  • Superb build quality
  • Tailored frequency response

Cons

  • Poor plosive rejection

Shure has made quite a name for itself by making durable and quality mics. The Beta 57A is superb when it comes to build quality and will do an excellent job for your snare drum.

The microphone is great for handling noise and comes with a pneumatic shock mount system for minimizing mechanical noise and vibrations. The only letdown is the poor plosive rejection but since we won’t be using it as a vocal mic, it’s not really a deal-breaker.

Polar PatternSuper-cardioid
Microphone TypeDynamic
SoundLow-end
Microphone Clamp IncludedYes

Overall, if you’re after something with good longevity, good sound, and value for money, the Shure Beta 57A should be among your top considerations.

Where should you place a snare mic? 

The positioning of your snare mic can affect the way how your snare sounds on the other side of the recording equipment. The closer you are to the center of the drumhead, the darker, fatter your snare sounds. The closer you are to the rim, the mic picks up more resonance, giving you that natural snare sound. 

Now moving along the y-axis, the nearer the mic is to the drumhead, the response is more sensitive. Your mic will detect all the subtleties, but the overall sound will be more compressed. Ideally, you want to place your snare mic an inch or two above the drum, near the rim. However, experimenting doesn’t hurt. 

How many snare mics do you need?

In most cases, one snare mic is quite sufficient to record your snare. Although, many drummers and sound engineers advocate two snare mics as well. One over and one under.

The bottom mic can be an excellent tool to record the rattle of the snare wires. This increases the overall dynamics of the snare. 

What type of snare mic should you get?

A dynamic microphone is best used to capture sharp, unidirectional sounds. It’s less sensitive which rejects noise and leaks less sound. These are particularly good for snares since you want to concentrate on the sound and you want to get the tight smack. 

On the other hand, a condenser microphone is very sensitive and works better in capturing the ambiance of the room. A snare hit through a condenser microphone might sound weaker in comparison. 

How far should the mic be from the snare?

Depending upon how you want your mic to sound, the elevation of your snare mic might need some trials. The nearer you are to the drumhead, the better your mic picks up the snare qualities of your drum. This includes the rattle, resonance, and ghost notes. 

As you move upwards, these qualities become dim, leaving you with the sound of the snare hit. For a compressed, low-end tone, it’s best to place the mic closer to the drumhead. 

How do you mic the bottom of a snare?

If you are going for a mic on the bottom of the snare, that’s great. There’s no added trick to mic the bottom. You do it the same way as you do the top. 

The only catch is you might want to keep in mind the snare wires. If you like their sound, then place the mic facing toward them. If not, you can place it facing the exposed bottom head. 

Verdict

Your snare is the heart and soul of your drum kit. So, depending on the music and the environment you play in, you want to do your precious drum justice by finding the right mic for it. 

My top pick is the Shure SM57. It’s one of the most popular mics for snare drums you can find in the world!

My budget pick is the Audix i5, an affordable, natural-sounding, and distortion-free microphone.

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Mike O'Connor

Drumming has been my passion for over 18 years. I play quite a few different genres and I really enjoy experimenting with hybrid kits that blend acoustic and electronic drums. I love all things drumming!

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