Good morning, and thanks for visiting Midnightdrummer.com!
I am pretty sure that you found this blog post because you were searching for the best mics for toms.
Okay, then this article is what you were looking for!
Today, I will help you make a buying decision for the best tom microphones available at the moment.
To make the decision as easy as possible for you, I will categorize the microphones in low,- mid- and high-priced and I will also categorize them in terms of their ideal application on the drum set.
Here are the contents:
The best mics for toms (now & forever)
Before, I will go more into the details of the best mics for toms, I'd like to introduce my personal fav, which is this one:
How to choose the best mics for toms
There are many things to consider when buying mics for toms:
Of course, your budget is the no. 1 influence when buying a set of tom mics. Some microphones cost a fortune and others are low-priced and still good sounding.
If you are searching for tom mics for your next gig, you should aim for robust microphones which are easy to set up and don't need a scientist to achieve a great sounding result.
In this case, there are a few low-priced options, like the Sennheiser E604 and microphones from other manufacturers like Beyerdynamic, Audix and Shure.
Studio recordings and its requirements in terms of sound-quality are quite different compared to (live-) gigs.
So are the microphones.
It's not a must, but in many cases, the drum set microphones become more sophisticated and sometimes incredibly expensive.
Many times there are more microphones set up during a recording session in the studio than it would be necessary when playing live.
Because the more sources (mics) are being recorded, the more audio-material is available to choose from in the final mix.
Also, several signals – for example, snare top mic and snare bottom mic – are being blended to get the ideal sound.
The best tom microphones for the studio are those which can capture the sound you expect from toms and a drum set in general.
Of course, this expectation differs from person to person, and therefore it is impossible to say, which tom mic is the absolute best in any situation.
Experience as an audio-engineer
The more a microphone costs, the more it can become an art to capture the sound you expect from it.
Most microphone classics like the Sennheiser MD 441 N or an Electrovoice RE-20 have their own sound characteristics which an audio-engineer has to be aware of.
An experienced audio-engineer would probably prefer the (very) old (grey)
Therefore, the sound-potential of a particular microphone can only get maxed out, if someone in the studio knows how to handle the mic and what its purpose is.
The Electrovoice RE-20 (click here for more info), for example, can be used as a kick drum microphone and on floor toms also.
Finding the right microphone for the sound you want to capture isn't easy and takes a lot of experience.
So keep in mind that you should know the purpose of any mic before you spend your money.
Best tom mics for studio recordings
Let's assume you have a huge budget to spend on tom mics for recordings in the studio...
I would suggest the following – click the links for the latest price:
Of course, these tom microphones aren't the only ones which are expensive. These are simply my preferred mics at the top of my personal mic-wishlist.
Best clip on mics for toms
The most convenient microphones and the easiest to set up are clip on mics for toms.
At the moment, I can only speak for the Sennheiser E604 as great clip on mics, and I would recommend them to anybody who is new to miking drums.
Still, there are other manufacturers with outstanding products, which you should consider when buying clip on mics for toms:
Need more cheap tom mics?
Of course, there are even more cheap tom mics available.
A great place to find “cheap” ones is eBay and other online auctions. And don't forget garage sales or other vintage gear markets nearby.
If you can't find a great bargain, there are still really cheap ones available here.
By the way: “Cheap” doesn't always mean “bad”!
The Best condenser mics for toms – AKG C414 XLS
I mentioned at least one condenser mic for toms already.
It's this one:
I suppose, this microphone wouldn't be considered to record toms with by most audio-engineers, but it works pretty well.
Listen to Gavin Harrison's recordings, and you will know what I mean. He's using the AKG C-414 XLS for his tom toms and if I'm not mistaken, he learned using condenser mics for toms from world-class drummer Simon Phillips.
My final thoughts
As you can see, there's not just one way which can lead to the perfect tom sound.
The best thing you should do is:
Buy or borrow a few microphones and try out how they sound on your toms. That's the only way you will gain experience and sharpen your ears.
Don't rely on other people's opinions – just experiment with mics and sound, and you will finally create the sound you were aiming for.
Enjoy drumming and talk soon!