The snare drum is one of the most important elements in contemporary recorded music. It helps anchor the song in so many ways.
The standard mic for snare is the workhorse of all mics, the Shure SM57. Tune the drum right and put a 57 on the batter head and you’re 80% there. Just like that. 🙂
If you have the room, use a 57 and a pencil condenser together and you’ll get a great sound. If you aim the mic at the center of the drum you will get more pop/snap and if you aim it towards the rim you will get more of the tone of the drum. You can also put a mic aimed at the bottom head of the snare drum. This can be either a dynamic or a condenser.
Two big issues arise with micing a snare. Having enough room to actually place the mic where you want, without getting in the way of the player, and keeping bleed from the high hat from getting into the snare mic. Sometimes you can fashion a piece of cardboard to keep the HH sound from getting into the mic or a piece of foam. All you can do is work with what ya got.
What are YOUR favorite methods for recording the snare drum?