The Best Microphones for a Bass Amp (Live Performances & Recording)

If you’re in the market for a new microphone for your bass amp, it can be a daunting task. There are so many options to choose from and they can get quite pricey so you want to make sure you choose the one which suits what you need best.

You also need to consider whether a mic or D.I. is the best option for recording or amplifying your bass. This is what we will take a look at first. Then we’ll take a look at what you need to consider when buying a microphone for a bass amp. Finally, we have embedded a video with side-by-side comparisons of the most popular and widely used mics for bass amps which should provide you with what you need to make the best buying decision.

Quick Look at the Best Mics for a Bass Amp

Before we take a deeper dive into choosing a microphone for a bass amp, here is a list of the mics mentioned in this post. They are all great options for using on a bass cab, but I recommend reading the rest of this guide because there is a comparison video further down the page.

Microphone vs D.I. (Direct Input)

Before you decide on purchasing a microphone for your bass amp, it’s worth weighing up the pros and cons of using a microphones vs. using a D.I. box to decide which option is best for your situation.

Advantages of Using a Microphone

  • You will retain the sound of your amp. The main reason for choosing a microphone over a D.I. is that you have found a sound you really like from your amp and you want to keep this sound when you’re either playing live or recording. If you were to use a D.I. box, you will probably find it very difficult to replicate that sound that you love.
  • Will likely work better with effects. If you are a bassist that likes to use a lot of effects through you amp, the end result of the sound will be heavily influenced by the amp itself. Switching to a D.I. will change the sound quite a bit so you will probably want to use a microphone on your amp rather than a D.I. if you use a lot of effects pedals.

Advantages of Using a D.I.

  • It’s the cleaner option. When I say cleaner, what I mean is that there are fewer things that can go wrong. A microphone will pickup background sounds, and when you have lots of microphones on a stage, it can be a nightmare to mix the sounds. Then there’s also the risk of the microphone moving or falling over which will effect the sound and it also means there’s another cable running across the stage. Overall, the D.I. route is going to be the easier and cleaner option.
  • Doesn’t require an acoustically treated room. The last point applies more to live performances. However, there is still an advantage of using a D.I. in the studio too. Whilst a microphone on a bass amp will only excel in an acoustically treated room, you can use a D.I. in any room and the end result will sound the same. If you don’t have an acoustically treated room, a D.I. will probably be the better option for you.
  • More control once recorded. This is another point which is more applicable to a studio setting. When you record bass with a D.I., you will have the raw input that you can play around with and apply plugins to your hearts content. If you only record with a microphone, the sound won’t be quite as easy to change. If possible, the best option is to record both. Then you can choose which sound you prefer or blend them together.

Why Using Both Is a Good Idea

If it’s possible, you will probably find the best option is to use a blend of a mic’d amp and a D.I. This gives you the advantage of the more natural sound from your bass amp’s cab, but you also have the ability to more easily manipulate the sound from the D.I. This is the option you find most bassists recommend.

This method is particularly good for recording because it covers all angles. If you really like the sound of the mic’d bass amp, you can just use that. If you really like the sound of the D.I. you can scrap the track with the mic’d bass amp. Or you can mix them both together. The point is, you’ll have all options available to explore.

Which Bass D.I. Should I Buy?

There are many Bass D.I. boxes out there, but one of the best options are the SansAmp Bass Drivers. They’re great quality and not too expensive, but the best thing about them is that they are very popular and always in demand. This means if you want to replace it further down the road, you should have no problem selling it and getting most of your money back.

Tech 21 PBDR SansAmp Programmable Bass Driver DI
  • 100% analog signal path
  • Digital programmability
  • For stage and studio applications.
  • Just tweak the knobs and double-tap a footswitch location to save a setting.

Things to Consider When Buying a Mic for a Bass Amp

  • Live performances vs. recording. If you’re going to be using the mic for live performances with your bass amp, you want to make sure you buy one that is durable. Some microphones won’t stand up well when gigging. The durable but reasonably priced Shure SM57 (Link to Amazon) is a great option for live performances.
  • Using the microphone for multiple purposes. If you want a microphone that can be used for other applications aside from your bass, you should avoid microphones that are specifically designed for bass/kick drums. On the lower end of the price range, the Shure SM57 (Link to Amazon) is a great all-round microphone, and if you have a higher budget, check out the Electro Voice RE-20 (Link to Amazon) .

Best Mics for a Bass Amp

Hopefully you have now decided whether a microphone, D.I. or combination of the two is the right choice for you. You should also have an idea of what to look for to make sure you choose the right microphone for your situation.

However, you will only really know which microphone is the best fit for you by listening to side-by-side comparisons. The video below provides you with this, and then you can find links to Amazon for each of the microphones below.

Conclusion

Choosing a microphone for a bass amp isn’t the easiest task. There are so many microphones in a wide range of prices, and you want to make sure you choose one which gives you the sound you want. Hopefully this guide has given you what you need to make that choice and also decide whether a microphone is the right option for you or if you will be better off using a D.I. box.

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