You need a specific type of microphone to properly capture the sound from your tom drums. There are many mics made specifically for this purpose. Also, tom mics that are easily mountable can really make things easier during setup.
My top recommendation for rack toms would be the Audix D2 Hypercardioid Dynamic Microphone, due to its warmer sound and low impedance.
My top recommendation for your floor tom would be the Audix D4 Hypercardioid Dynamic Microphone. This mic is well-suited for percussive instruments and other low-frequency sounds.
However, do not limit yourself to these two. Explore below and find out which microphone fits you best.
- The 7 Best Tom Mics (2021)
- 1. Audix D2 Hypercardioid Dynamic Microphone
- 2. Audix D4 Hypercardioid Dynamic Microphone
- 3. Sennheiser E604 Cardioid Dynamic
- 4. AKG C414 XLII Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone
- 5. Sennheiser MD 421-II Cardioid Dynamic Microphone
- 6. Audio-Technica ATM230 Hypercardioid Dynamic Microphone
- 7. Shure SM 57
- Buyer’s Guide for Tom Mics
The 7 Best Tom Mics (2021)
Let’s compare these tom mics in a bit more detail.
Few mics give the natural, interference-free sound quality like the Audix D2. It is particularly great for rack toms as its hypercardioid pickup pattern isolates the tune of the drums.
- Clear, punchy sound
- Designed specifically for toms
- Small dimensions, easily portable
- Not that well suited to lower frequency sounds, e.g., floor toms.
Rack toms produce a unique low-pitched sound but a higher frequency than the kick drum or floor tom. To get the best sound out of them, you really need a mic that compliments them. This is where Audix D2 mics really show their true color.
It has a compact design, making it easy to move. It also has a scratch-resistant spring steel grille to add to its durability.
|Max SPL||144 dB|
|Frequency Bandwidth||68-18,000 Hz|
Even though it may not have an array of applications as compared to other mics, the D2 is a master of its trade that is bringing the sound of rack toms to life.
The Audix D4 is very similar to the previously mentioned D2 microphone, but the D4 is much more suited to floor toms.
- Brilliant low-end capture
- Value for money
- Small dimensions, easily portable
- Also suitable for bass drums and bass guitar
- Not much!
The Audix D4 has a hyper cardioid pattern. The microphone captures an isolated sound and gives you feedback control with high gains.
Boasting small dimensions, the D4 is a very mobile microphone. Its construction makes it convenient to install and carry.
|Max SPL||144 dB|
|Frequency Bandwidth||40-18,000 Hz|
The Audix D4 is made for a specific purpose of capturing the deep sounds of percussion. As expected, it does its job really well.
The Sennheiser E604 is an easy-to-use mic with a very handy clip-on mount. This mic can be attached to the rim so that it stays close to the action. It has very decent sound quality and it’s a popular tom mic for this reason.
Once you clip it and tighten the screws, you won’t have to worry about it falling off!
- Great performance at an affordable price
- Very high SPL handling without distortion
- Easy to position
- Lower performance than other higher-end mics
- Lacks versatility
The E604 picks up both high-and low end frequencies beautifully. Being near the tomhead, it delivers great sustain and attack, exactly as the tom intends.
|Frequency Bandwidth||40-18,000 Hz|
Sennheiser is an established name in the audio industry. If you want a reliable tom mic without spending a fortune, then you should look into the E604.
There is a reason this microphone has been used by some of the greatest musicians of all time. The AKG C414 XLII captures incredible sounds for every occasion. It’s a great option to use when recording toms in the studio.
- Amazing sound quality
- Variety of control features
- Warns of peak overload
- Nine polar patterns to choose from
- An incredibly versatile mic, which is also great for vocals and many other instruments
- It’s not cheap!
- It’s a condenser mic, so more fragile than dynamic mics and requires phantom power.
You can switch between 5 primary polar patterns—Omnidirectional, Cardioid, Wide-Cardioid, Hypercardioid, Figure-8, and 4 hybrid polar patterns. It also has an LED light to indicate the current pattern of the mic. A feature unlike any other.
|Max SPL||140 dB|
|Power requirements||448C phantom power|
|Frequency Bandwidth||20-20,000 Hz|
If you have the budget, you really can’t go wrong on this one.
Sennheiser’s MD 421-II has been a popular choice as a tom mic. The feedback rejection of the mic and bass roll-off isolates the sound of the toms and reproduces it in its natural tendency. This makes it ideal for both studio and live performances.
- Five-position bass roll-off for isolation
- Great feedback control
- Can tolerate high pressure levels
- No that easy to position next to toms (in comparison to the E604)
- A bit pricey
The MD421-II is one of those mics that’s handy to have for many different recording situations. Although it’s a bit pricey, it offers quite a lot of versatility that you won’t get from purpose-built tom mics.
|Max SPL||150 dB|
|Frequency Bandwidth||30-17,000 Hz|
Sennheiser MD421-II stays true to its reputation and produces incredible sound. Despite the price range, it is a nice microphone to have in the studio and on stage.
This is another mic that is specifically made for drums. You can put it on your rack toms or floor tom and the ATM230 will give you a good response.
It’s a compact mic that can be clipped on the rim, so it’s a good one to sneak on stage. Also, it has a rugged, all-metal body, so you can expect heavy duty use without worrying about damage.
- Handles very high SPL without fault
- Isolated sound
- Unique earth magnet improves sound quality
- Closer to the tom
- Not a well-rounded mic
- Quite heavy for a clip-on mic
Since this mic is made for drums, it handles high SPL levels with ease. Not only that, its low-end reception is phenomenal as well.
The ATM230 works with the hypercardioid polar pattern, which isolates the intended sound and controls feedback on par with the best mics in town.
|Frequency Bandwidth||30-12,000 Hz|
The SM 57 is exceptional for close quarters all the while maintaining a reputation for its toughness. I mean, butterfingers, constant bumps, or a long-life, it really can withstand it all!
This is one of the most popular and versatile microphones ever made. If you’ve ever made your way onto a stage or into a recording studio, you’ve probably seen an SM57 mic somewhere.
- Very popular among sound engineers
- Excellent gain before feedback
- Constructed for the harshest conditions
- High-frequency tolerance
- Almost none!
The SM-57 can easily detect extreme sound levels on the higher end of the spectrum. What results is a lack of distortion.
Another commendable quality of these mics is the cardioid polar pattern minimizing the background noise.
|Frequency Bandwidth||40-15,000 Hz|
Over decades as a staple in a musician’s life, the Shure SM 57 has rightfully earned its stripes. It’s a complete package especially if you are just starting out and don’t want to empty your pockets.
Buyer’s Guide for Tom Mics
It’s wonderful that you are beginning your recording journey, but before you buy your tom mics, here are a few tips you should consider.
Setting Up Mics on Toms
Clip-ons or mounted stand, it’s really up to your personal preference on how you want to mic your toms.
If you place your cymbals higher, then a stand works just fine. No hindrance in the kit and no high-frequency noise either.
However, if you do place your cymbals closer or even want to hide your mics during a live show, stick with clipping the mic on to the rim.
Here’s a video to demonstrate the process:
Do You Even Need Mics for Each Tom?
There are many different approaches to miking drums. You don’t necessarily need to mic every drum but it gives you the most versatility.
Some sound engineers ditch miking up individual drums altogether and just go for an overhead mic setup. For more information, check out our guide on how to record drums.
Tune Your Drums Properly
No amount of high-end professional studio equipment can make your kit sound good if it is not tuned well. Honestly, your first step should be to learn how to tune to the music you are playing. Get in touch with your instrument. There are plenty of guides online to help with this. A drum tuner can also help you along the way, but they’re not a perfect solution.
At first, buying recording gear can be a tentative decision. Setting it up, even more so.
So, keep in mind that you don’t have to be a professional sound engineer to be good at this. All it takes is a good ear and some experience to develop this skill.
Any of the tom mics mentioned in this list will do a fine job of capturing the sound. The differences between each are quite subjective and no matter the choice, they are all particularly well suited for tom drums.