If you go to gigs a lot, you know how important your live kick drum sound is.
That’s why choosing the best kick drum mic you can afford can make a huge difference to your live sound.
The comes to the difference in choosing microphones for recording vs. live sound, it’s a case of getting the perfect tone vs. creating an inspiring performance!
In the studio you’re going to spend ages tuning your kick drum just right while on stage, the kick drum is likely not going to be tuned at all and have already played a string of shows on tour.
I’ve scoured forums and spoken to sound engineers and producers to put together the best list of kick drum microphones for live sound!
But first, here’s a comparison summary for you!
Best Kick Drum Mics for Live Sound: Comparison
In summary, all these mics will do the job but some are more suited to certain scenarios over others.
The overall winner and best kick mic for live sound has to be… the Sennheiser e902.
|Microphone||Freq. Range||Best For:||Tone||Check price|
|AKG D112||20 – 17,000 Hz||Vintage Sound||Punchy|
|Shure BETA 52A||20 – 10,000 Hz||Rock / Pop||Hyped|
|Audix D6||30 – 15,000 Hz||Metal||Hyped|
|Sennheiser e902||20 – 18,000 Hz||Everything!||Neutral|
The AKG D112 is the first kick drum mic people think of; it’s a staple in the industry and for good reason.
It’s a large diaphragm microphone which is said to better capture low-end frequencies.
The microphone also features a presence boost at 4kHz – perfect for cutting through in the mix.
It has a rugged build, so holds up to touring and isn’t as easily damaged as AKG’s flimsy Tom mics!
Pros & Cons:
- Widely known & available
- Great for a vintage, less EQ’d sound
- Positioning is awkward
- XLR location is problematic
The AKG D112 can be tricky to position – most people find the best place for it is a few inches outside the port hole on the resonant side and pointed at the place where the beater strike the batter head.
They actually have a MKII version of the D112 although a lot of people think the original is a better, more reliable purchase!
The Shure BETA 52A is another top contender for best live kick mic and it’s often disputed which is better, D112 or the Beta 52A.
The 52A is part of Shure’s affordable range of mics and the latest in their evolution to perfect live kick sound with minimal setup, EQ and hassle.
This supercardioid dynamic microphone has a similar frequency response to the D112, ranging from 20Hz to 10kHz with a boos at 4kHz.
The series of microphones are renowned for their reliability and ease of use, if you’re looking for plug and play mic for live sound, this should be your choice!
Pros & Cons:
- Easy to use – plug and play friendly!
- Good rock-friendly sound – well balanced EQ.
- Might sound too “EQ’d” for some environments
The Beta 52 is best 1 to 2 inches in front of the kick port hole, just beyond where you can physically feel a puff of air when the drum is kicked. For a more resonsant sound, point it toward the side of the front head and if you’re looking for more click, point it directly at where the beater strikes the batter head.
What if the kick head doesn’t have a hole in it? Well read on, this next mic is for you!
If you work with a lot of metal / hard rock artists… this one’s for you.
The Audix D6 is loved for it’s size, so if portability is a factor, this is the live kick mic you need.
The Audix D6 has a very hyped sound, which means it has an exaggerated sound which can be a bit too much in some scenarios.
…But, it’s good for one specific scenario; when there isn’t a hole in the kick resonant head.
The hyped sound profile of the D6 means it’s perfect to use on kicks that don’t have a hole.
Pros & Cons:
- Provides lots of attack – perfect for heavier music.
- Hyped EQ – great for metal!
- Despite its size, positioning can be tricky due to it’s hyped sound profile.
- Clicky sound (a con if you want something more punchy).
If you’ve got a port hole in the kick, place the Audix D6 2 to 3 inches inside for a good balance between low-end and click.
If you don’t have a port hole to work with, place it 1 to 2 inches away from the batter head, pointed straight at the middle of the head.
This award winning microphone is an update from Sennheiser’s popular 600 series.
Sturdy, light, compact and reliable – this mic is everything you want in a live situation.
The mix of lows needed for the bass bins and the click of the beater hitting the batter head to cut through the stage sound is what makes this live kick microphone so desireable.
Pros & Cons:
- Solid all round sound with deep lows and cut-through click
- Great one-mic option for live shows
- The XLR comes out of the back instead of near the stand thread which makes cable management slightly messy
- For an all around sound: position the mic, 1 inch in within the port hole of the kick.
- For more ‘click’: position the the mic 2 to 3 inches away from the batter head (where the beater strikes) from the front of the kick.
Which kick mics do you think are best for live sound? Let me know in the comments!