THE INCREDIBLE BEYER DYNAMIC M 201
WORLD'S BEST SNARE DRUM MIC
by Mark King for proworkshop.com
Beyer Dynamic is an old German company that builds microphones, headphones, wireless systems and conference systems. Beyer Dynamic has been family owned since it was founded in 1924. In this article we're going to look at the M 201 TG, a hyper cardioid dynamic microphone that is arguably the worlds best snare drum microphone.
I've used a lot of different microphones on the snare drum for recording. The Shure SM-57 is a very popular mic for snare drum mic'ing duties. It produces a nice bright sound and it's what I choose when I'm at all afraid the drummer may hit the mic.
I have an Audio Technica ATM450 which is a condenser mic, I sometimes use this on the snare drum if the drummer has a very light touch. But the undisputed king of tone (for me) on the snare drum is the Beyer M 201 TG.
This thin, hyper cardioid microphone is extremely smooth in its response and each microphone comes with an actual Audio-Precision printout of the serial-numbered microphone's performance. The slender black body is easy to tuck into a crowded drum set and it's unobtrusive.
The hyper cardioid pickup pattern dramatically helps reduce bleed from the hi hat and cymbals. This must be heard to be appreciated. This is the single biggest advantage this microphone offers over anything I've tried. The flat response of the microphone really helps the tone of a good snare drum come through. The natural bass roll off helps reduce kick drum bleed into the snare mic as well.
This is a very high quality made in Germany product. Each microphone is serial numbered and comes with a padded black protective storage bag. The microphone clip is a high quality rubber type.
I normally mount the M 201 TG in a shock mount that I have to further reduce the possibility of mechanical noise being transmitted into the microphone. By itself the microphone is very well isolated from mechanical noise pickup.
Another great application for this microphone is for recording the trumpet. The M 201 TG can take very loud sounds without distorting. The smooth frequency response complements brass very well although for saxophone applications I'm still a ribbon microphone man :-)
Lately I've been enjoying the M 201 TG on a Marshall 1960 speaker-cabinet loaded with Vintage 30 Celestion speakers. It's smooth like the Royer R-121 but does not roll off in the high frequencies like the ribbon in the Royer. The low frequency contour of the Beyer is also a very nice complement to a big 4x12 guitar speaker system. Sometimes a Shure SM-57 can sound fizzy in the high frequency area when mic'ing up a crunchy sounding guitar amp, the Beyer M 201 TG never sounds fizzy.
THE LAST WORD - TONE
When it comes to microphones the most important attribute is how they sound. The Beyer M 201 TG has amazing sound quality. If you're using an SM-57 or two on the snare drum you'll be blown away by the improvement the M 201 TG provides. If you can only afford one then use it on the top of the snare drum and listen to how the hi hat/cymbal crosstalk and bleed is eliminated from your snare drum sound. It's a real game changer for isolating the snare from the cymbals.
It's not a cheap microphone but it's not ultra-expensive either. It's dynamic and does not need any phantom power.
If this microphone was lost or stolen I'd be ordering another one immediately. That's the best testimony I can think of, this is a tool I need in my kit.
Good music to you!