Best Mic for Bass Guitar, Amp and Cab [2022 Reviewed]

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ThumbnailMic for Bass Guitar, Amp and CabProRec ScorePrice
Electro-Voice RE20Electro-Voice RE20
8.1
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Shure SM57Shure SM57
8
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AKG D112 MkIIAKG D112 MkII
7.8
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Introduction

When most professionals record bass, they use a mix of DI (Direct Injection) and mics. Rarely will you ever see someone mic the bass amp/cab alone. Plugging your bass in direct gets you the bottom end that blends in really well with the sound of a miked amp.

With DI, you get the benefit of having no bleed when recording multiple instruments at the same time. However, it is not always the best approach. Using a mic will bring out the character of a bass amp or cab. It is a good idea to capture both and mix them together so you end up with a more coherent sound.

You can start out with a Dynamic or Ribbon mic, at an inch’s distance from your amp. The ribbon has a more smooth tone whereas the dynamic mic will pack a stronger punch, be heavier on the bass and give you a bit more attack (all the good stuff you want to end up with in your mix). Another approach is to use a condenser or tube microphone, placed a little farther away (about 2-3 feet) from your bass amp. A condenser mic records a well rounded and balanced sound while also giving you a feel of the room.

Dynamic mics are by far the most common, and arguably the best way to mic a bass amp/cab. They capture the bass in its true element. They are less sensitive, more affordable, and much easier to set up compared to condenser mics. Quality wise the dynamics are also more durable and the loudness of the amplifier does not damage them.

How a mic sounds differs from room to room, depending on how it is placed. Experiment with placement until you find the type of sound you are going for. Before using the EQ on an outboard or your DAW, use the EQ on your bass/amp/cabs. If you get the placement right you will hardly need any EQ when mixing. A little compression will help bring it out, keeping it from jumping around.

If you are using multiple microphones to record, pay special attention to your phase alignment. Phase issues can really mess up your bass lines. Don’t judge your bass recordings separately i.e. without other sounds in the mix, unless you are checking for noise. Your judgment should depend on the song or arrangement. Find a sound that works well with the mix, and not just by itself.

There is not just one approach when it comes to recording bass or any instrument for that matter. Engineers experiment all the time and everyone has their own approach. You can do that yourself over time and see what you think works best for you. You will have to use a good mic to capture the bass with the authentic feel of your rig, so be wise in your purchasing decision and choose a mic that will give you a high quality output.

Best Mics for Bass Guitar, Amps and Cabs Reviews

All text and image links lead to Amazon unless stated otherwise. All product scores are based on ProRec’s in-house scoring model

Electro-Voice RE20
8.1/10ProRec Score
8.1Average Score
ProRec Score – Electro-Voice RE20
Price to Performance
8
Frequency Response
7.5
Audio Senstivity
7
Sound Quality
9.5
Additional Features
8.5

The Electro-Voice RE20 is a powerful broadcasting mic, highly regarded for its performance with bass guitars, amps, and cabs. It is a dynamic mic that you’ll often find in recording studios all over the world. The mic is a lot more versatile compared to condenser or ribbon mics in the same price range which gives it a fair edge over its competitors.

Design-wise, the EV RE20 has a long steel body that is enclosed with a metal grille (not the most aesthetically pleasing) however, the grille safeguards the electronics and the long cylinder-like body gives the RE20 the sturdiness it is famous for.

The RE20 has a great frequency response that ranges from 45 Hz to 18 kHz. We were able to smoothly capture both the low and high frequencies while also rejecting any harshness on the extremities.

One of the main selling points of the EV RE20 is how effectively it eliminates the proximity effect. It achieves this via the “bass tilt down” switch through its patented Variable D technology. This means that the RE20 doesn’t distort sound even when placed very close to your instrument/amp. Another prominent feature of the EV RE20 is the inbuilt pop filter. The filter blocks any plosives making our recording sound very clean and natural. You don’t have to purchase an external pop shield since the inbuilt one already isolates any unwanted sounds.

The setup was pretty straightforward, we just ran a simple connection through an XLR cable and positioned the mic up in front of an Ampeg RB-210 bass amp that was hooked up to a fender bass. The mic has an output impedance of 150 ohms, which is why we used a shorter cable to avoid any audio distortion. The recordings were smooth with a very natural feel and no coloration. We observed a certain tightness where the mic picked up the low frequencies from the bass amp really well.

Furthermore, we also noticed the mic to have very low self-noise, which makes it great not only for recording bass but everything else as well. The RE20 achieves this via a large diaphragm made of acoustic alloy with a light aluminum coil which produces the basic electromagnetic field.

The mic follows the typical cardioid pattern and offers one of the best sound blocking off-axis with no voice coloration. At 180°, the RE20 blocks sound completely which makes it ideal for recording bass. We found the mic to be exceptionally directional, almost like a shotgun mic. We were unable to hear any background noise and the recording was smooth and crisp.

Looking back on the EV RE20, it has undergone a lot of improvements since it first came out in 1968. The sound quality has improved, becoming cleaner, and the pop filter works better. In contrast to the classic beige, the latest model of the RE20 (released in 2020) is matte black in color In earlier models, the company provided impedance switches where you could select your desired impedance. In recent models, however, there is a fixed impedance of 150 ohms. Features such as the minimal proximity effect and the classic design have persisted over time.

Different variations of the RE20 as well as closely related models have been released by Electro-Voice over the years. These include the popular RE27 N/D and RE320. The RE27 N/D employs a neodymium magnet with a modified diaphragm which enhances the SPL to 20 kHz (compared with 18 kHz on the RE20) however, this neodymium also adds some color to the recordings. For bass amps, we prefer the RE20 which produces a more natural sound.

The RE320 offers better frequency response on the lower end, reacting to sounds as low as 30 Hz (in contrast to 45 Hz on the RE20). The RE320 is better at capturing details since it has a higher sensitivity (2.5 mV/Pa) than that of RE20 (1.5 mV/Pa). Both microphones, RE27 N/D and RE320, have different features and applications but boast the same sound clarity as the RE20.

While the EV RE20 performed well in many areas, we did notice some shortcomings. For instance, the mic is relatively heavy which can limit mobility. Even in a stationary setup, we had to opt for a spider clamp to support its weight.

Another thing worth mentioning is that the RE20 has a sensitivity of 1.5 mV/Pa which means it needs quite a bit of gain (50dB) to record the lowest frequencies (we experienced this while recording bass as well as kick drums on a separate occasion). If you use the RE20 for recording vocals, it would be a good idea to use a preamp with at least 55 dB of gain.

Considering all things, we found the EV RE20 to be one of the best mics for bass. With low self-noise and an exceptionally directional cardioid pattern eliminating background noise, this mic captures sound with flawless clarity and quality. We recommend the RE20 as a great investment for your setup!

E-V RE20 Benefits

Blocks background noise effectively and reduces the proximity effect to a minimum.

It has an inbuilt pop filter.

Very versatile mic that is easy to set up, has low self-noise, and exceptional build quality.

E-V RE20 Drawbacks

The RE20 is heavier than most other mics.

It requires a bit of gain to properly record low frequencies.

All text and image links lead to Amazon unless stated otherwise. All product scores are based on ProRec’s in-house scoring model

Shure SM57
8/10ProRec Score
8Average Score
ProRec Score – Shure SM57
Price to Performance
9
Frequency Response
8
Audio Senstivity
7.5
Sound Quality
8
Additional Features
7.5

The Shure SM57 is one of the most legendary XLR mics of all time. It is a dynamic mic with a unidirectional cardioid polar pattern that captures on-axis sounds excellently. With a legacy spanning almost half a century, it is an industry standard used by beginners and pros alike, trusted for its clear sonic character and durability.

The mic has a die-cast steel body with a protective polycarbonate grille which makes it amazingly sturdy. We have been using our SM57 for many years now, yet the mic is as good as ever, despite the accidents it has endured. The sound quality hasn’t dropped at all but the body shows some bruises and marks. It weighs about 10 oz and is pretty easy to mic up to a bass amp with a z-bar. The SM57 comes in grey and black colors, and is coated with a non-reflective polish.

The SM57 has a frequency response ranging from 40 Hz to 15 kHz and a rated impedance of 150 ohms and an output impedance of 310 ohms. It has an audio sensitivity of 1.6 mV/Pa, and while that is on the low end, it works amazingly on bass amps and cabs with its midrange frequency boost response. The proximity response allows you to tailor how much bass you want by altering the distance between the amp/cab and the mic.

With loud amps the mic works like a beauty, capturing the loudness well and giving you a clean sound that is easy to mix and without excessive bass character. Using it on a bass cab, the SM57 sounded almost like a ribbon mic, delivering high quality amplification and detail capture. We recommend using the mic a couple of inches off-axis to avoid the harshness from the midrange frequency boost.

Figuring out placement with the SM57 may be tricky, but the excellent phase cancellation (especially if you are working with multiple cabs) and minimum audio feedback that the mic provides when properly placed makes the effort worth it. The mic has a great background noise rejection response which makes it ideal for live settings. The sound from the SM57 is clean and natural as the mic doesn’t add much filter to the sound. You can rely on the SM57 to record anything as it is. Add that with the ruggedness of the mic and you have a tank in your arsenal, that too at a budget.

Compared to its predecessor (Unidyne III 545), the SM57 has evolved a lot to become a studio staple. For one, the SM57 is more durable. It doesn’t feature an On/Off switch and has a non-reflective coating that allows it to blend into its surroundings. Some features such as the reduced acoustic feedback, proximity effect, and powerful on-axis sound capture remain the same in both.

Older models of the SM57, as old as those from the 80s and 90s, are used in studios to this day. Although the specs have remained the same and Shure has upheld the rugged mic quality, we observed a slight difference between the sound quality of the newer models and the old ones. The old SM57s seem to have a better response to the midrange and higher frequencies and are more suited for louder sounds. That being said, the new ones have an overall amazing response but fall a little short in this regard.

While the Shure SM57 has many benefits, it falls short in some areas. The SM57 doesn’t respond well to low frequencies or sound details. To record low to midrange frequencies, we had to max out the gain on our amp. The mic does take a bit of gain (min 40 – 50 dB) and will deliver the best results when used with a pre (built-in preamps on Audio Interfaces work great especially if you’re not recording something loud). The Shure SM57 has a good proximity effect but placing it too close to the cab/amp messes up the sound as well. To avoid this, keep the mic a little off-axis to the amp to avoid proximity-induced sound distortion.

The Shure SM57 is a legendary mic and has been a studio staple for many years. Boasting a high SPL and a midrange frequency boost tailored to record bass, the SM57 provides sound clarity and minimal audio distortion. With its sturdy design, reliable sound, and versatility, the SM57 is an amazing mic not only for bass but for everything else as well.

Shure SM57 Benefits

It has a high SPL and a midrange frequency boost to capture bass.

Provides rejection of background sounds and records a clear, warm sound.

Has a good proximity response.

Shure SM57 Drawbacks

Requires higher gain to record low frequencies.

Placing it too close to the amp will distort the sound.

All text and image links lead to Amazon unless stated otherwise. All product scores are based on ProRec’s in-house scoring model

AKG D112 MkII
7.8/10ProRec Score
7.8Average Score
ProRec Score – AKG D112 MkII
Price to Performance
8.5
Frequency Response
8.5
Audio Senstivity
8
Sound Quality
7
Additional Features
7

The AKG D112 MkII, although specifically designed for bass drums, has an awesome reputation for recording bass, especially cabs (due to high SPL). It is easy to spot the MkII in a recording studio with its unique egg-shaped body. Built to withstand daily use and considerable stress, the MkII can be a good road companion for you as well.

The D112 MkII is a dynamic mic with a cardioid polar pattern, and a wide frequency response, from 20 Hz to 17 kHz. Its polar pattern graph shows off-axis sound rejection, and two boost responses; one below 100 Hz and another above 4000 Hz. The MkII offers incredible low frequency capture in its price range. The large diaphragm and relatively high audio sensitivity of 1.8 mV/Pa aid the mic in capturing details a dynamic mic wouldn’t otherwise be able to do so.

Design-wise, the MkII is a large mic and comes with a threaded mount. The head is attached to the mount by a swivel joint that helps in angling the mic head (from 90° to 180°) without moving the mount. The diaphragm of the mic is covered with a grille that houses the electronics. A green stripe runs across the surface of the grille and ends at the open back design of the mic.

The mic goes as high as 160 dB and can essentially record all sounds in the human auditory range, which is a feat unto itself. The MkII has a resonant bass chamber which accentuates the bass. It also has a movable head that we angled in different positions to observe the bass effect. The mic was quick to respond to this and we were able to hear a noticeable difference as the mic emphasized or reduced boom based on the angle and proximity of the head to the amp.

The sound of the AKG D112 MkII is smooth with a booming character to it. The frequency boost response really helps step up its game. We set up the MkII to record an Ibanez GSR200 plugged into an Ampeg RB-210. It captured the lower end naturally while retaining the attack of the bass and picking up the loudness from the amp. The MkII sounds balanced and bassy, just how we like our bass to sound in the mix. We didn’t hear any self-noise, the sound was clean. We did observe that the MkII added a little color to our recordings, however, it was a pleasant effect that made the bass sound more professional.

The AKG D112 MkII is the improved version of the classic AKG D112 which has been used in studios since 1986. Although the MkII was released in 2015, it has been well received by musicians since it retains the features of its famed predecessor. The MkII features an attached mount, absent in the D112, which allows the heavy mic to be attached to a standard mic stand easily. With the addition of a mount, the position of the XLR connection has also been changed, from the shaft of the mic to behind it. This helps keep the cable in place, preventing it from slipping.

The swivel head on the MkII is another upgrade; this helps the mic capture the bass better by tilting in different directions to pick up sound. The classic strength, high SPL level, wide frequency response, low frequency amplification, and bass resonant chamber have been passed down from the AKG D112 to the AKG D112 MkII which make the MkII a great successor.

The MkII performs really well in some areas but we did come across a few drawbacks. Although the mic responds nicely to proximity and you can use it to your advantage when recording bass, this can go wrong you if you don’t position the mic properly. Make sure to work out the ideal placement for the type of sound you are going for. Another thing we noticed was that compared to other mics in this price range, the MkII lacks versatility. It is tailored for bass drums and works equally as well for bass, but you can’t use it to record a variety of instruments effectively. If you are looking for an all-rounder mic then you can find better, even cheaper, options than the MkII.

For recording bass, we can say that the MkII is a pretty safe bet. The improvements on the MkII, from the AKG D112, have greatly increased its usability while retaining the classic features of its industry-standard predecessor. With its superior bass recording quality, the MkII is an investment you won’t regret.

AKG D112 MkII Benefits

Can bear daily use and frequent travel.

It comes with a mount and swivel head which makes it easy to position the mic.

Is perfect for amplifying low frequencies.

Is tailored to record bass.

AKG D112 MkII Drawbacks

Proximity effect may distort the sound if the mic is not positioned properly.

Is not a very versatile mic.

Verdict

mic for bass guitars, amps and cabs comparison chart scoring model

Based on our scoring model, all three microphones show interesting variations in different categories. You’ll find the highest variance in the Sound Quality and Additional Features categories while the rest are pretty close. The top spot in Frequency Response and Audio Sensitivity is claimed by the AKG D112 MkII. The most reliable trajectory, however, in the whole chart is that of the SM57 which takes the second position in all categories except Price to Performance where it shines over the RE20 and AKG D112 MkII. The average scores are pretty close for all three, with the RE20 and SM57 having an overall variance of only 0.1 points.

The RE20 leads in two categories and scores far higher than its competitors. In Sound Quality, it dominates the SM57 (the second highest) by 1.5 points, showing the highest point difference in a single category on the chart which also happens to be the most important. The RE20 also excels in Additional Features for it performs the lowest in the other categories. However, you should note that while it does technically fall short in the other categories, the difference is so low that it is practically insignificant

Performing consistently well in all categories and leading in Price to Performance, the Shure SM57 makes a case for itself as a dependable mic. The lowest it scores in any category is 7.5 (in Audio Sensitivity) which is a good score compared to the lowest 7 of the MkII. In Sound Quality, the SM57 scores second despite its low price. We gave it a score of 8 based on its recording clarity and high-quality loudness capture. This makes the SM57 a very reliable mic since it performs consistently throughout in all categories. It is a true all rounder, a staple in any studio.

After intense comparative scoring, the best mic of all 3 comes out to be the Electro-Voice RE20. Although it leads only by a 0.1 point difference from the SM57, its performance across all categories and high scores in each make it the clear winner. The RE20 is an industry-standard mic that offers you a smooth, natural sound with a depth to the bass that you won’t find in its competitors. Its SPL is so high that you can ignore it altogether and turn up the volume on your amp as much as you want (just be mindful of your own ears!). If you want a good mic for bass, spend some bucks and get the RE20, a workhorse investment that will give you superior sound quality!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most important aspect of choosing a Mic for Bass Guitar, Amp and Cabs?

The most important aspect of choosing a mic for this use case is how it performs in Frequency Response, SPL and Sound Quality. Ideally, go for a mic that has a wide frequency response (covers both the higher and lower end well), a high SPL and obviously, good sound quality. Choose a mic that sounds clean and loud. A low end boost on the mic is another plus point.

How much should I spend on a good Mic for recording Bass?

You should be prepared to spend somewhere around $200 (as a minimum) on a good mic for bass. If you go cheaper, you will have to make compromises. Mics for bass are generally expensive but you can find some inexpensive all-rounders which sound good on bass with proper technique.

Why can’t I just record DI, do I really need a mic?

There isn’t one way to go about recording bass. While a DI will help you get a clear sound and capture the lower end of the spectrum, a mic will give it a professional spin and the classic bass character. Additionally, using a DI may not work out in certain situations, and you may have to opt for a mic. The best way is to use a combination of both and mix the recordings to get a coherent sound.

How do I set up a Mic for Recording Bass Guitar?

After plugging in the bass guitar into the amp/cab, set up the mic around the amp (about 5-18 inches away depending on how you want your bass to sound). Determine the axis of the mic and plane of the mic head to the speaker cone. A mic pointing at the periphery of the speaker cone will pick up warmer tones while a more roomier (bassier) sound when pointed to the center. You’ll have to experiment and see what works best for you. Placement largely depends on the room you are in and what your bass amp/cab sounds like. Just move your mic around and find a sweetspot that sounds good.