The 5 Best Snare Mics of 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 recommendation as the best snare mic is the Shure SM57, and there are countless drummers and sound engineers around the world that will agree with me on that! 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 product is the Beyerdynamic M201 TG Classic. It’s a very versatile and durable mic that works great on snare drums.

The 5 Best Snare Mics of 2022 for Studio and Live Performance

1. Shure SM57-LC
Editor's Choice - A legendary mic, which works great for snare drums
2. Beyerdynamic M201 TG Classic
Low-end beefy sound for all occasions
3. Sennheiser MD 421 II
World-class sound reproduction
4. Audix i5
Natural, distortion-free sound
5. Shure PGA56
Industrious mic in every sense

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. 

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. 

Pros

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

Cons

  • Very few!

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

Polar PatternCardioid
Microphone TypeDynamic
SoundClean, balanced
Microphone Clamp IncludedYes

2. Beyerdynamic M201 TG Classic

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. 

The hypercardioid 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. 

Pros

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

Cons

  • A bit pricey

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 PatternHypercardioid
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. 

3. Sennheiser MD 421 II

World-class sound reproduction.
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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. 

It is a 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. 

Pros

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

Cons

  • A bit pricey

It is a quite sensitive mic with 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. 

4. Audix i5

Natural, distortion-free sound.
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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 drum. 

It can easily handle pressure levels over 140 dB without distortion. An important thing when you’re dealing with high-pitched instruments. 

Pros

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

Cons

  • Lack a certain brightness

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. 

This is a very small and light microphone weighing around 0.4 pounds. So, it is easy to install, and easy to carry around. 

Polar PatternCardioid
Microphone TypeDynamic
SoundClear, balanced
Microphone Clamp IncludedYes

The Audix i5 is a decent mic to pair with your snare if you’re looking for good quality at a fair price. 

5. Shure PGA56

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. So, you can be assured it is a good choice for your snare. 

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

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 to 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. 

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 towards them. If not, you can place it facing the exposed bottom head. 

Verdict

My recommendation as the best snare mic is the Shure SM57-LC, and there are countless drummers and sound engineers around the world that will agree with me on that!

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. 

I have listed out my top five mic and some helpful tips to make recording easier. Hope you found what you were looking for. Happy recording!

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