The best bass microphones offer a great way of embodying your hits with sound quality and fullness. Improper recording of kick drums and electric bass guitars makes your mixes appear ‘weak’ and ‘malnourished.’ No one wants that.
As such, it’s critical that you get the best bass mic for your bass instruments. When purchasing your bass microphone, first, remember to go for a piece that will handle high SPLs without distorting so easily.
Second, opt for a mic with a strong cardioid pattern that cancels all stray sounds from other sources. In fact, a mic with hyper-cardioid directionality is preferable for a loud studio.
To help you narrow down your options, we have identified 6 of the best bass microphones for 2017. As you’ll realize, we opted for the dynamic microphones since they are tough and rugged for use with high-SPL instruments. As usual, we’ve arranged them from the most affordable bass mic to the priciest. Here they are…
There would be no other good way to kick off this write-up than with this phenomenal microphone; the Shure SM57. Sibling to the SM58 and ranking high in our other list of the best dynamic microphones, the SM57 is by far the most widely used microphone on earth.
Mind you, it’s also one of the oldest mics on this list dating back to 1965 and has been used by various presidents of the United States of America. There must be a reason why this mic has held on for so long.
First, Shure SM57 is a tough piece of studio gear that will last you several decades with everyday use both in the studio and on the road. This is amongst a few others that you can deliberately drop on your hard floors and still rock the stage with them.
Second, Shure SM57 can be used in almost every studio project. Enquire from some of the already established studios. The chances are that they have a number of these mics in their cabinets for use in different applications including recording vocals. Its contoured 40 to 15,000 Hz frequency response is ideal for rich vocal pick up.
Third, its uniform cardioid pickup pattern makes this workhorse the best in isolating one source in a loud studio environment. In addition, its high SPL capability (149dB) can withstand extremely high volumes without going to distortion. These mics are mostly used for miking guitars cabs, drums, and vocals.
Pyle-Pro PDKM7 microphones aren’t amongst the most known microphones on the market today. However, most people who’ve used these microphones compare their sound quality to the SM57 above.
Pyle-Pro PDDM7 comes in a full set of 7 microphones to mic your kick, snare, toms, and overheads. At below 150 bucks, the PDKM7 is a cheap drum kit that will allow you create outstanding recordings without costing you the earth.
The kit brings you 1 microphone for the big drum, 4 drum mics for the snares and toms, and 2 condenser shotgun microphones that can be used for cymbals and pianos.
The big drum mic is a dynamic microphone that utilizes uni-directional polar pattern and with a 50 Hz-15 kHz frequency response. It also has a sensitivity of -60 dB +/- 3dB and an output impedance of 500 Ohms. The small drum microphone is also dynamic and uses the same directionality and has equal frequency response but -52 dB sensitivity level. All the mics in this set have a compact size that makes them easy to position. Moreover, they come with all the accessories required for mounting except the stands
The AKG D112 is an egg-shaped microphone that is quite hard to confuse with another model. One thing is clear; you can never go wrong with it if you’re searching for the best bass microphone under 200. This microphone is known all over as the best for kick drums since it’s exactly what it has been built for. But why is it considered the best bass mic for bass?
To start with, this microphone was probably designed to carry on the legacy of the world-renown D12. Secondly, this microphone has been designed to withstand harsh treatment from the Heavy-footed drummers. You’ll find this bass mic quite heavy since it’s made of nothing else but metal. Its heavy-duty construction aims at protecting it from heavy day-to-day vibrations and abuses. Its capsule has also been thoughtfully designed to offer optimum stability.
Again, its extremely high SPL handling capability (160dB) is pretty hard to faze. Mind you, this level isn’t the D112’s maximum SPL limit. AKG states that this bass mic knows no upper maximum level. AKG D112 is a dynamic microphone with a special diaphragm with very low resonance frequencies. Its sound reproduction remains detailed and powerful even below 100Hz. If you want to capture the impact of the beater as it is, the D112 is all you need.
At 4’’ (L) and 1’’ (W), the Audix D4 is one of the smallest bass microphones that we’ve come across. But don’t get it wrong. Its compact size is its stronghold in that you can handle and position it with much ease. Despite its small size, Audix 4 has an incredibly wide frequency response of 40Hz- 18 kHz.
This bass microphone offers a punchy and bottom end when used to mic almost every kick drum. Good enough, it has been designed to bring out some real good sound reproductions from below 80Hz that most mics tend to roll off. Audix claims that it can go as low as 63 Hz.
These low-frequency reproduction capabilities and 144dB Sound Pressure Levels make the Audix D4 a good mic for miking large rack toms, cajon, djembe, leslie bottom, floor toms, tympani, acoustic bass, trombone, bass cabinets, baritone saxophone, and small kick drums among other instruments that need an extended low end.
Worth pointing out, D4 microphone is fitted with a Very Low Mass diaphragm that offers an excellent transient response. Again, it’s a hypercardioid mic with tight off-axis rejection. The result is a good bass microphone with a natural and accurate sound reproduction.
Unlike the SM57 (reviewed above), Shure Beta 52A is one of Shure’s best bass mics that have been specifically tailored for use with bass equipmenta. It’s easy to tell that from the microphone’s shape itself.
Like its big brothers, Shure Beta 52A has a solid build featuring an all-metal body construction and a steel mesh grille that resists wear and abuse. The mic also boasts an advanced shock system onboard that reduces the effects of mechanical noise. It also contributes to this microphone’s prolonged performance.
Its best-in-class design is also seen in its internal circuitry too. Shure Beta 52A utilizes a powerful Neodymium magnet and, therefore, has a high signal-to-noise ratio output. It boasts the standard 20Hz-20kHz frequency response. It also has a special low end extension that takes the frequency response to 10Hz-20kHz which, though we can’t hear, makes the performance sound better.
Shure Beta 52A doesn’t stop at that. Its amazingly high 174dB of SPL capabilities is just unbeatable and the best for this application. Coupling that with its supecardioid pattern with its high gain-before-feedback and out-of-this-world off-axis sound rejection, you get the best bass microphone with superb attack and punch regardless of the SPLs.
Sennheiser E604 microphone kit could be the priciest in this list (at around $350), but it’s in fact amongst the most affordable. This kit brings 3 versatile microphones. Simple mathematics shows that you get each microphone at a reasonably low budget.
While these mics work better on various parts, they are more fun to mic the Tom Tom with. The E604 are known for making it easier to find the toms’ sweet spots. The mics are small and ship with a highly versatile mount and clip. These 2 make mounting the mic on your instruments easy. It’s also easy to move the mics from one drum to the other as needed.
A nice feature with the clip and mount is that they have excellent isolation that reduces the problem of resonance and vibrations coming from the instrument.
And how is its sound reproduction? The E604 uses a cardioid pickup pattern. Needless to say, it hears sounds from the front and ignores drum bleed coming from the nearby toms. It also has high SPL handling of over 160dB that offers plenty of room to a furious beater.
Most dynamic microphones can be used for miking the drums and other bass instruments. However, getting the best bass microphone that is dedicated to that task is crucial. One reason why you need to go for these mics is that they are built like tanks. Most of them are all-metallic and will withstand constant abuse in the studio and on-road. Besides being pretty affordable, they also help in protecting your other expensive studio mics.
Quinn is an audio engineer who is passionate about music production gear. He's been a journalist profiling popular musicians and the gear they use. When not helping musicians and audio producers in studios, he's scouring the market to find the latest gear and music production tech.