Cheap vs. Expensive Drum Mics – How Does a $1700 Setup Compare to a $100,000 One?

Produce Like a Pro’s Warren Huart recently conducted a session at the legendary Sunset Sound Studios here in Hollywood, in which he decided to compare drum miking setups – one radically more expensive than the other. All in the name of science, Focusrite sent out their Clarett 8PreX, which, as the name suggests, is an interface with 8 built-in mic preamps. Shure offered their PGA Drum Kit 7 – a collection of 7 mics designed specifically for miking drums – plus a pair of PGA 181 condensers. At the end of the day, the inexpensive gear totals a little less than $1700, and went up against $100,000 worth of Neumann, AKG, and Sennheisers.

Needless to say, shootouts like this exist to show just how damn good so-called “cheap” equipment can be. If $100,000 worth of mics always shit all over sub-$2000 setups, what would be the point? While mic choice is undeniably crucial for a solid recording, of tantamount importance is the room itself and, of course, the performer’s ability.

The moral of the story is this: If you’re trying to ball on a budget and make ridiculous-sounding recordings, in a lot of cases, don’t sweat the quality of your inexpensive stuff. It’ll do just fine. Find a room that sounds good and someone that can actually play.

Be sure to watch the video (on monitors or good headphones!) to hear for yourself what Warren was able to do with budget gear. Also, you can visit Produce Like a Pro to read more about the session and download the multitrack to mix at home!

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Gear Gods intern Maxwell studied English at Cal Poly Pomona and has since realized life ain’t all about semicolons and syntax. He’s studying audio now, and will probably judge your music taste before your grammar.