SM57 for snare

Mastiff

Senior Member
I found a Shure SM57 on ebay for $60, which seemed like a good deal, so I picked it up. I hooked it up today, and to my ear it sounds really muffled with all the highs cut. I have very little experience with mikes though. What I know for sure is that my condenser overheads pick up way more highs and brightness and sound way better to me. Is this the nature of the SM57 on a snare? Or maybe the mic is faulty?
 

Mastiff

Senior Member
Thanks for the input guys. I may just be on the steep part of the learning curve here. I had the mic aiming pretty close at the top head, but when I did some experimenting and aimed it at the bottom head, it sounded very bright. I'm going to experiment some more, but I suspect the overheads are picking up the whole snare more (plus reflections from snare side), and the top head itself is simply pretty dull and low by comparison. I may just aim the SM57 at the snare side instead, and call it good.
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
Thanks for the input guys. I may just be on the steep part of the learning curve here. I had the mic aiming pretty close at the top head, but when I did some experimenting and aimed it at the bottom head, it sounded very bright. I'm going to experiment some more, but I suspect the overheads are picking up the whole snare more (plus reflections from snare side), and the top head itself is simply pretty dull and low by comparison. I may just aim the SM57 at the snare side instead, and call it good.
Yes, this. The first time you hear a close-mic'd snare drum (from the top only), you wonder what the hell that awful, pinched sound is.

Keep experimenting with placement, and with mixing the 57 in with the overheads. For an interesting experiment, try using the 57 as an overhead itself, for comparison. It's very educational.
 

danondrums

Well-known member
I found a Shure SM57 on ebay for $60, which seemed like a good deal, so I picked it up. I hooked it up today, and to my ear it sounds really muffled with all the highs cut. I have very little experience with mikes though. What I know for sure is that my condenser overheads pick up way more highs and brightness and sound way better to me. Is this the nature of the SM57 on a snare? Or maybe the mic is faulty?
I have a new one and had this experience as well.
The sound produced varies greatly by angle and where it's pointed so you may want to check out some videos on mic placement.
 

Iristone

Well-known member
Close mics are meant to augment the sound of the overheads. If you listen to the close mic by itself it doesn't give the full picture of the sound. That said, 57 on top of the snare is a tried-and-true combo that will never go wrong.
 

Mastiff

Senior Member
Close mics are meant to augment the sound of the overheads. If you listen to the close mic by itself it doesn't give the full picture of the sound. That said, 57 on top of the snare is a tried-and-true combo that will never go wrong.

I needed my former snare mic for something else, and stuff was sounding pretty decent with just overheads. But I was finding sometimes the overheads had too much cymbal compared to snare and I wanted to be able to bring up the snare. That's why I got this mic. I figured I really wanted to get the crack and attack as part of the snare which I'm not hearing on the snare mic from above. Having said that, I have not tried doing a mix with the SM57 on top yet, so it could be my inexperience confusing me again.
 

Iristone

Well-known member
I needed my former snare mic for something else, and stuff was sounding pretty decent with just overheads. But I was finding sometimes the overheads had too much cymbal compared to snare and I wanted to be able to bring up the snare. That's why I got this mic. I figured I really wanted to get the crack and attack as part of the snare which I'm not hearing on the snare mic from above. Having said that, I have not tried doing a mix with the SM57 on top yet, so it could be my inexperience confusing me again.
Maybe try mounting it at an angle to the head, pointing to the centre of the drumhead? I always use my '57 this way, and it seems plenty bright to me (my drum is pretty bright to begin with though)
 

Mastiff

Senior Member
It could be a fake too. Those are so hard to check these days.
In hindsight I should have just bought from Sweetwater. I didn't get a mic holder with this one, so I'll end up eating up most of my savings buying one of those anyway. In the mean time, the mic inside my bass drum is held to the boom with gaffer tape. :cautious:
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
when I did some experimenting and aimed it at the bottom head, it sounded very bright.
To be fair, the snare snappiness does come from the bottom head & wires. The top head is mic'd more for attack, there's as much thin tom sound as snare sound coming from it. Ideally, you'd want to mic both. But with overheads, you'll pickup some snare attack, so miking the bottom only is okay for non-critical recordings.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
I never buy used mics. Period.

The weird thing about a mic is that it could still make a sound after being dropped or getting wet, but maybe it won't sound as good. So, you can even show up to buy a used mic, try it out and see that it works, then go home and for some reason, it doesn't sound as good as it should. Used mics is a tricky thing. Heck, I steer clear of just about all used electronics.
 

Chris Whitten

Well-known member
Condensers tend to be very bright, and you don't necessarily want that. It could be that your overheads are very bright and that's what you've got used to.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
I needed my former snare mic for something else, and stuff was sounding pretty decent with just overheads. But I was finding sometimes the overheads had too much cymbal compared to snare and I wanted to be able to bring up the snare. That's why I got this mic. I figured I really wanted to get the crack and attack as part of the snare which I'm not hearing on the snare mic from above. Having said that, I have not tried doing a mix with the SM57 on top yet, so it could be my inexperience confusing me again.
If you back the mic away a few inches, the signal will sound a bit more like a snare drum, and less like a when your face is pushed against a snare drum head. If the mic is not over the rim of the drum, you will also get more snare sound. Of course, there will be a bit more hi-hat bleed, but you can raise the hi-hats, move them a bit further away, play them more lightly, etc. (You'll never get rid of ALL the bleed, and that's okay.)

You can use a bottom snare mic, but usually there's too much rattle for that to be the only snare mic, come the final mix.

If you want a more "snare-ey" snare drum, you can swap out your standard snare wires for 30 strand or 40 strand.
 

Mastiff

Senior Member
If you want a more "snare-ey" snare drum, you can swap out your standard snare wires for 30 strand or 40 strand.

Funny, because I have another thread asking about how to get a snare sound with almost no snare noise. For some reason the solo'd top snare mic sounded muffled in a bad way, not the cool shell resonance thing I was thinking of. Plus, the thunky low snare sound is not good (IMO) if you are doing busy things with doubles and ghost notes, so you need the ability to do both.
 

Neal Pert

Well-known member
Try just speaking into the 57 and listen through headphones or through the PA. It should basically make your voice sound about right. If it sounds muffled, still, the problem is with the mic.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Funny, because I have another thread asking about how to get a snare sound with almost no snare noise. For some reason the solo'd top snare mic sounded muffled in a bad way, not the cool shell resonance thing I was thinking of. Plus, the thunky low snare sound is not good (IMO) if you are doing busy things with doubles and ghost notes, so you need the ability to do both.
Uh oh. Now you're understanding why drummers have lots of snare drums. I didn't mean for this to happen haha!
 
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