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All the factors I listed above lead to determining one thing: Sound.

How do you want your snare drum to sound?

Based on the answer to this question, you will make all the choices and purchases. This is not the right post to talk about, but the “bulk” of the work should be done there, in the process of choosing all these factors.

It is not so obvious, there are many drummers who have a sound in mind and do not know how to get it, or worse yet they do not even have in mind their favorite sound, but the most classic of situations is when you buy a certain type of snare drum/skin and then you want to get a completely different sound and you do tests to infinity to try to force your hand and take home the result.


Before seeing the models, it is useful to briefly see some technical features of the microphones, which you could read and not know the meaning:

  • Dynamic or condenser: For the snare drum, a dynamic microphone is usually used, which is those that use a cardioid pattern, which in simple terms excludes the sounds coming from behind the microphone while emphasizing the bass when positioned close to the sound source.

The condenser microphones are more sensitive to collect the surroundings and offer a better response to the mid-high frequencies.

  • Size: It sounds silly but the size is important, especially if we’re talking about a snare microphone. You will have to fit it between the tom and the hi-hat and having a very large one could be annoying.
  • Headroom: This term means the margin between the level of a nominal signal and the maximum level before saturation occurs (which often leads to distortion). This margin is measured in decibels.
  • Polar diagram: It is the graphic representation of the sensitivity of the microphone based on the directionality of the sound. It is very useful to know this aspect to know how to position the microphone and on which side it is able to capture the sound. They can be Omnidirectional, Cardioid, Semicardioide, at 8 and a gun barrel.

I don’t go into detail because I would go into too much detail, but it is of fundamental importance to know this aspect of the microphone before positioning it.



Needless to turn around. The Shure SM57 is the standard for miking the snare drum. Its value for money is what makes it the most used both live and in the studio.

Shure SM57

Obviously there are higher-end microphones and we’ll see some, but if you can fix one of these and try it on the snare drum. It never disappoints and is an excellent forklift (microphone for all situations including emergency).

A standard is a reference point. It is even worse. It is a guarantee.

It is a robust, reliable snare microphone that is easy to place and sounds good with all preamps. It is also used for vocals and guitar amps.

It is excellent because if approached to the snare drum it tends to exclude the hi-hat and to emphasize the low frequencies. Be careful because it may need help with high frequencies. Matters of taste.

In conclusion, if your budget is limited and you don’t have too much experience in miking, the Shure SM57 is the microphone for you.

For all these reasons I take it as a reference in this article.


There are plenty of other snare microphones, the market is very large. There are also many alternatives to the SM57 but they cost less. They are the classic microphones to snare cheap, some say they are the low-cost copies, but in some situations, they do very well their duty.

This category includes:

  • Audix i5: È The price is around that of the Shure SM57, but it has a slightly different answer. Cardioid microphone, capable of handling up to 140db without distortion. They are mainly used as an alternative in live mics.
  • Electrovoice PL35: You will see it mainly used on the toms, but it is not rare that it is also used on the snare drum, also in live cases, also because of the price and quality of beating the Shure in the studio are hard.


  • AKG P4: How many times have you seen it in provincial live? The brand is reliable, the price is good. If the budget is low, why not give it a chance?
  • Audio Technica ATM650: Very versatile, on the same price range as the SM57, if you happen to try it, the result is similar. There are not too many differences in size.
  • T.Bone series by Thomann: They are cheap microphones but they do their duty. As for value for money, they fit perfectly. Obviously no one expects a Neumann but they have removed many chestnuts from the fire to many sound engineers, especially in live situations.


  • Beyerdynamic m201: obviously dynamic microphone, not bulky. Not as popular as the Shure SM57, but more balanced, less average and is hyper-cardioid, that is more suitable to exclude the sounds around such as the hi-hat.
  • Sennheiser MD421: Some prefer it to the Shure SM 57 as it has a softer and more “fat” sound. There are two versions on the market, both with very similar sound characteristics.
  • Audio Technica AE3000: Microphone condenser, also excellent for toms, timpani and panoramic. You spend a little more but you have a microphone that is a little more versatile and with a more particular sound.

Electro-Voice RE20

  • Shure SM7b: Cardioid, it is mostly used as a voice microphone due to its flat and soft frequency response, sometimes even used for the snare drum despite its size, not exactly slim.
  • Electro-Voice RE20: I recorded the last album I played. It is not easy to place it over the snare drum, especially if like me the tom and hi-hat are very close and the crash is low. The quality, however, there is, no doubt about it.


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April 2021