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How To Position Your Snare Drum Mic

Published: Mon May 12, 2014  News Feed

The Best Way To Mic Up Your Snare Drum

Forget fancy microphones and lots of effects. If you want your drum track sounding good you need to make sure the original sound source is the best it can be. Below are a few steps to follow to ensure the position of your snare drum microphone is placed effectively.

Snare Drum Microphone Placement Position

The key is getting the right balance between tone, playability and isolation.

Tone - getting the best sounding snare possible
Playability - ensuring the microphone placement does not hinder your playing
Isolation- limiting your snare drum microphone picking up any other sound than the snare drum

And here is how you can achieve this:

Drum Studio Setup


First things first, make sure your whole kit is set up properly. There is nothing worse than spending days on a recording to listen back and realise one of your toms is out of tune. There is no proper way to correct this without mangling your recording, so make sure your original sound source is as pure as can be. Tune up your drum heads, replace them if you really want to sound good, and make sure there is no unwanted buzz from any of your hardware. Buzz could be a result of loose hardware, or metal touching other metal. Be vigorous and spend a lot of time on the preperation stage, as this really is the foundation to a good recording.

Snare Mic PositioningPosition

The positioning of the microphone has a huge effect on the type of snare sound you are trying to achieve. Placing the microphone above your snare will give you more of a crack, at the side will give you a more full, beefy sound, and placing it underneath will give a fizz. It is worth experimenting with all three, as all sound engineers have different preferences, although micing from the top is the most common practice. Some engineers experiment and place one mic above and one below, which captures a mixture of the crack and fizz, but is more resource heavy and requires a more advanced skill set in managing the phase relationship between the two microphones. The angle you place the microphone at can also play a huge part in the tone as well as how isolated your snare microphone will be and the angle is worth experimenting with before hitting the record button.

Snare Microphone AngleDistance

You don't want to place the microphone too close to the snare as you will mainly capture the sound of the skin and consequently get a dull tone. Increasing the distance of your microphone will increase the depth of your sound and allow the whole snare to be heard, but if you go too far away you might loose some of the low end frequency. Somewhere in between is your best bet - start at around 4 inches and again have a quick experiment before going straight for your first take.

When experimenting with the positioning, distance and angle of your microphone, remember that playability is one of the three key principals of micing up your snare drum correctly and you must be able to play as normal without them getting in your way. Most snare microphones are not designed for taking a beating with your sticks and this can cause unnecessary damage. If you find this to be a problem then the Shure Beta 57A features a hardened grille that is a lot more robust.

Which Microphone Is The Best?

As mentioned previously, an expensive microphone doesn't always mean the best results. A lot of the magic is in the placement and process - but once you get all that right, that's when the quality of the microphone can have a difference. Here is our top 3 recommendations for both professional and home studios, ordered from lowest to highest in price.

Shure SM57Shure SM57 - You will find the SM57 in most studios around the world. Some sound engineers swear by these for both vocals and instruments, and they make a great snare mic that are extremely reliable and affordable for the amount of uses you will get out of it.Beyerdynamic M 201 TG Microphone

Beyerdynamic M 201 TG - Another workhorse found in many studios over the years, the 201 is extremely sensitive and is known to still sound great when placed at a distance, which makes this great for drummers with bad aim.

AKG C414 XLS Mic

AKG C414-XLS - This high-end condenser microphone was the 2014 Sound on Sound award winner and the tone you can get with this is amazing. Slightly more bulky than the others, and a lot more expensive. Recommended for professionals who have mastered the art of placement and are ready for the step up to expensive microphones.

This is our opinion - how do you mic yours? Let us know below!
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