Shure PGADRUMKIT7 Mic Pack
by Miguel Monroy
A professional-quality microphone kit at consumer-level pricing.
It’s become increasingly common for drummers to bypass professional recording studios as they acquire the skills and tools to record from home. Shure has made a name for itself by providing some of the most reliable microphones available, especially gold standards like the Beta52 for the bass drum and the SM57 for the snare. Recently, Shure launched a new line of mics in the PG Alta series that’s bound to make a lot of home-recording enthusiasts quite happy. The series includes eleven new models that, according to Shure, offer “professional-quality audio for practice, performance, and recording.”
We were sent the PGADRUMKIT7 ($499) microphone kit for review. It includes a PGA52 for the bass drum, three PGA56s for toms, a PGA57 for the snare, and two PGA81 overheads. Also included are three microphone clips, three drum mounts, seven XLR cables, and a soft carrying case. All of the microphones in this series feature a black-metallic finish. The PGA52 and PGA56 mics also feature a quick-release latch for easy positioning on the kit. Let’s take a look at each microphone and see how a couple of them compare to the gold standards that we referred to earlier. Be sure to check out our audio examples of each test at moderndrummer.com.
PGA52 Bass Drum Mic
This cardiod dynamic microphone has a cartridge that’s tailored for low-frequency clarity, with a frequency response of 50–12,000 Hz. We used the PGA52 on a 24″ maple kick drum and also ran a comparison against a Beta52A. The PGA52 displayed a strong presence in the mid- to low-frequency range and had less attack than the Beta52A. Where the Beta52A captured a thick, crisp attack, the PGA52 was slightly boomy and had flatter high-end response. Even still, the PGA52 worked great for capturing the low-end punch of the 24″ kick, and it captured just enough of the high-frequencies so the attack could cut through without any EQ.
PGA57 Snare Mic
Also a cardiod dynamic microphone, the PGA57 features a cartridge that’s tailored for snare drums. It has a frequency response of 50–15,000 Hz and has a slightly rounded screw-on grill. When tested against an SM57, the PGA57 displayed the same type of mid- to low-frequency boosts that we heard in the PGA52. When using the PGA57, the overall tone of the snare was thicker. When used on a 6.5×14 maple drum, the PGA57 helped capture some of the depth of the tone while also providing a flatter attack. The SM57 delivered a more even representation of the snare, while marginally favoring the mid to high frequencies.
PGA56 Tom Mic
These cardiod dynamic snare/tom mics are designed for
close-miking applications and have a frequency response of 50–5,000 Hz. With the quick-release swivel latch and drum mount, positioning the PGA56 was quick and easy. We mounted the mics on three maple toms and had great results. The PGA56 captured the warmth and tone of the maple shells clearly without favoring any particular frequency range. Whether we were playing heavy, thunderous tom patterns or light, articulate fills, the PGA56 captured everything flawlessly. They also delivered a true, accurate representation of the toms.
The PGA81 cardioid condenser microphone requires phantom power and is ideal for use as an overhead. It’s designed to be sensitive, and it has a flat response from 40–18,000 Hz. We tested a pair of PGA81s in a configuration that included the bass drum and snare mics, and we tried them in conjunction with all of the other mics. In both setups, the flat response of the PGA81 delivered an authentic representation of the natural sound of the kit. Depending on how the PGA81s are positioned, you can capture more depth from the toms or more subtle articulation from the cymbals. For those with limited inputs or a preference for minimal miking techniques, the four-mic configuration was more than satisfactory. For those who will be close-miking the toms, the PGA81 will serve well for focusing more on the cymbals. The PGA81 is a reliable condenser that will accurately capture any sound source on which it’s focused.
For $499, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better option that features this many quality microphones, plus cables, clips, mounts, and a carrying case. If you’re thinking about getting into home recording or need an affordable set of mics for live applications, the PGADRUMKIT7 is a great place to start.
Mics: PGA52, PGA56 (3), PGA57,
and PGA81 (2)
Accessories: clips (3), mounts (3),
XLR cables (7), and carrying case