9 Tom Microphones
Toms are not as difficult to mic as Snares, and are not as impossible to find a microphone for as Kicks, but they are still fairly tricky and can certainly use their own microphone. For this book we used an Audix D2 for both of the rack toms, and an SM57 on the floor tom.
The Audix D2 are designed for this, and are small, yet good, but pretty much any instrument microphone would work for these. Just like the Snare and the Kick, the toms will create a large amount of noise, so having a microphone with a large-ish max SPL is probably a good thing. The rack toms are not particularly low frequency, nor are they particularly intricate, so many companies do not make microphones for rack toms, but here are some recommended microphones none the less: The budget option would be SM57’s for $90 USD a pop. This is good, except they do not come with clips or any way to mount them to the drums. This leaves you with the need for stands to get to the rack toms (because they are not made for toms). The recommended from me would be Audix D2’s, at $399 USD for the three pack with clips. This is about $130 USD per. On the upper end would be the Earthworks DM20’s for $349 USD a pop. While these are exceptional, and truly great in a studio setting, frankly the difference between these and Telefunkens in the live setting are not going to be heard by anyone except the engineer over headphones.
As for floor toms, this is a whole different beast. Floor toms are particularly low. In theory, you could use a kick drum microphone for the floor toms, but this would be absurd and not get the overtones that the floor toms have as well. So, much like the rack toms, many companies don’t make microphones strictly for the floor tom, but here are some thoughts on two different floor tom microphones: The SM57 is always a good choice, with a little bit of EQ magic bringing up the lows, the SM57 gets all the low and high of the floor tom, and is solidly budget friendly. Bringing the price up a bit to about $200 USD at time of writing, the Audix D4, and the Telefunken M81-SH are two excellent floor tom microphones. The D4 is designed for the floor tom, with the M81 being designed for both rack and floor toms, and being able to work beautifully on the snare. If I had to choose, and all I was looking for was a floor tom microphone, the D4 wins, but the M81 is far more versatile.