With the large array of products available today, it can be hard to determine what the best overhead drum mics will be for your kit. While the concept and designs of microphones can be straightforward, it can be difficult when applying those features that are offered for capturing your best sounds.
We understand your dilemma completely.
What follows is actionable information you can use when addressing some of the major issues surrounding overhead microphones, including:
- What microphones do around drum kits
- Determining what sound quality needed
- Matching those needs with a budget
What To Look For In Drum Overhead Mics
At their most basic level, a microphone (also called a “mic” or “mike”) is a transducer that converts sound into electrical energy.
Overhead microphones are used for capturing live recordings, picking up musical blends as well as the instrument sounds themselves. Your best overhead drum microphones are also used for focusing on full kits while recording all drums in stereo instead of mono.
Any mic used for recording live performances needs to have a solid build that can withstand constant adjustments and occasional mishits from drumsticks. These devices should also offer you easy breakdown and transport from different recording locations.
Main Features in Overhead Microphone
While the purpose of a microphone is obviously to capture sound, it is the placement of the mike that will determine what is picked up during your jam. You might be able to determine great locations based upon the style of music being recorded.
- Atmosphere heavy music such as Jazz benefit from locations that gather sounds from all of the pieces at once.
- Styles that emphasize each instrument, such as rock, are captured better from locations that focus on individual
In order to record drumming in stereo, at least two microphones will be needed. Locating these over the set makes for a good placement for cymbal mics, while positioning one more towards your side will convert it into a hi hat mic. Bringing them lower can convert them into bass, snare, or tom mics.
Home or Studio Recording?
Mike features and varieties will help to determine which device may be better suited for home or studio recording sessions. Most microphones used to capture music come in one of two configurations that allow them to thrive in your home or studio environment.
- Condenser designs– Condenser mics for drums require power to operate. This equipment is capable of recording a larger range of sound, including incredibly low or very high frequencies.
Their increased sensitivity allows them to acquire sounds at a greater distance. These features, along with the fact that they are less durable than dynamic gear, makes these better suited as studio recording microphones.
- Dynamic designs– Dynamic microphones do not require power to work, making them nice for recording drums at home. While their frequency range isn’t as great, this type of mike does color sounds in the 5 – 10 KHz range nicely.
These products can withstand higher sound levels, making them ideal for placing close to drum pieces. The dynamic design also tends to be more durable. These features make them good room mics for drums with limited spaces that may occasionally get hit or require frequent handling.
Condenser Microphones Make Better Overhead Gear
Due to their capabilities of capturing a wider frequency range and increased sensitivity levels, condenser mics work better in overhead positions then dynamic equipment can. Drummers will also appreciate the higher frequency rating as well as flatter response of condenser equipment that can pick up more details. This includes quick strikes from a drummer’s sticks.
This style of mike is also more versatile, depending upon the diaphragm size. The sensitivity of larger diaphragms can pick up kick and toms, while smaller diaphragms will sense higher frequency cymbals more effectively.
Consider Your Budget
Drummers, as well as aspiring producers or sound engineers, may wonder if decent live recording microphones need to cost a lot? The answer is, probably not as much as you might think.
A good quality microphone will start at about 100 dollars per mic. Anything below this will not be worth it. While you may find products as low as 50 bucks, these items will lack durability and you will need to replace them much sooner than they should need to be.
Another consideration is sensitivity on extremely cheap mikes. They tend to lack a decent range and signals may even be intermittent to some extent. Even bargain-priced items listing great features will be cheaply assembled with inferior components.
Prices ranging from 100 – 200 dollars will provide you with a quality microphone that is made to last while providing you with good sound capture capabilities. Remember that recording drums in stereo will require at least two mics, so that means that your budget should be at least a couple of hundred dollars at the minimum.
Dynamic designs offer more durability with fewer components, making these decent budget drum mics. Their lower price point is necessary, however, as your recording set-up will probably need more than two (especially with music driven by the individual instruments such as hard rock).
That being said, condenser designs do make the best cheap overhead mics. Their range and sensitivity make them a better choice for overhead positions, and that allows you to build great recording ability with just two devices. Highlighting specific pieces in the kit can be aided by selecting the proper diaphragm size.
These features could push the price up a bit but you should still be able to grab a couple of quality condenser microphones for roughly 300 – 400 dollars! You won’t need to break the bank!
|Mic purpose (which drum or cymbal)||Home or Studio usage|
|Electro Voice RE-20LyxPro SDPC-2 Stereo||Crash||Home|
|LyxPro SDPC-2 Stereo||Snare||Home|
|Rode M5 Compact 1/2″||Floor-Toms||Studio|
|Shure BETA 52A||Kick||Studio|
The best drum mics reviews
Microphones are not all built the same, and looking for the right device to meet your specific needs is important. These reviews are designed to help locate products that will accurately record your drum playing.
Their frequency range, ability to work with external devices such as pre-amps, as well as their overall design are worth consideration. Pairings these to recording assignments will help.
Shure SM57-LC – best overhead drum mics
SM57-LC can provide you with durability and versatility.
Shure started as a radio parts distributor in 1925.
Those needing the best overhead mics for various studio uses will appreciate this.
- It won’t distort when used with snare drums.
- Popular in studios for recording multiple instruments.
- Generates clean sounds from a range of instruments
- Will minimize background noises while focusing on your target
- Its design should withstand heavy use without damage
- Might struggle with capturing extremely high or low frequencies
- This product tends to register noise from your pre-amp
- Using windscreens will be mandatory in outdoor settings
Check on Amazon
These are good overhead drum mics, especially on higher registering snare drums.
AKG C214 – best overhead drum mics for recording
Those recording in X/Y configurations will appreciate this pair of microphones.
Austria’s AKG began manufacturing in 1947.
Studio personnel might view these as the best microphones for recording drums or even cymbals like the Hi-Hat.
- Good with the Toms and most other drumheads.
- Offers strong recordings made for the studio.
- Comes in a pair for better coverage
- Makes use of 20db pad and Highpass filter
- They come with elastic spider suspensions
- Might struggle with extremely low frequencies
- Less effective when only one microphone is used
- Seems to produce thinner sounds on some vocals
Check on Amazon
Those needing patterned overhead mics for recording drums should look into these.
Electro Voice RE-20 – best cymbal mics
Those needing home recordings of cymbals and hi-end vocals will appreciate its source isolation.
Since 1998, Electro Voice has produced audio gear for home, studio, and live venues.
For drummers, these could be the best mic for cymbals during home sound capturing.
- Great for your Crash cymbals.
- This is a top-end home device.
- This product isolates sound sources well
- Sounds clean even when extra gain is used
- Its enclosed within a Stylish steel casing
- This will use more gain on the preamp
- Mounting hardware needs improvement
- It doesn’t include a user’s manual
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Those needing overhead cymbal mics or vocal broadcasting will benefit from these.
LyxPro SDPC-2 Stereo – best snare drum mics
This pair of devices might be the best snare mics due to their interchangeable capsules.
LyxPro is known for their cables, microphones, speakers, and instrument accessories.
Drummers needing to capture higher frequency drum sounds at home are potential customers.
- Captures snare sounds cleanly without error.
- Its pencil design great for home uses.
- Comes with three removable capsules
- Records cardioid, super cardioid, and omni patterns
- This pair of microphone comes in an aluminum case
- Might miss detecting extremely low frequency drum sounds
- Various patterns require frequent moving of equipment positions
- Struggles to produce studio quality recording ranges
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These are considered your best mic for snare drum home sessions.
Rode M5 Compact 1/2″ – best condenser mic for drums
This set can be used as overhead condenser mic products for studio work.
Hailing from Australia, Rode ‘s authorized dealers can found worldwide.
Drummers, producers, and sound engineers looking to capture lower end sounds without an annoying rumble could find use from this set.
- Their low-end makes them great with floor-toms.
- A price-friendly studio option.
- This stereo pair is matched closely
- Covered up to 10-years by warranty
- They come at a competitive price
- Capsules are not removable
- Does not include a Pad or Highpass filter
- Its simple design cannot be modified or upgraded
Check on Amazon
These are a well-matched condenser drum mic set for studio usage.
Shure BETA 52A – Best Kick Drum Microphone
This product is designed to be a bass drum mic recorder.
Shure began development of their first microphone in 1931.
Studio professionals would take advantage of the lower-end sound grabs.
- It’s designed to work with kick and tom drums
- This is made to capture studio-quality recordings.
- Capture kick and tom drums with rumbling
- Shock mount is designed to absorb vibrations
- Provides quality output at higher sound pressures
- Microphone will not work well with higher sound frequencies
- Has a super-cardioid audible pattern only
- Knob must be checked and tightened at intervals
Check on Amazon
Users looking for the best mic for toms and bass drum recordings will be interested here.
Best overhead mics for drums
Even the best microphones will not capture quality recordings unless they are properly used. We have observed that two questions come up more often than any other in regards to mics for drum kits and have included their answers below.
It is important to select the best devices for the job they are performing. Proper selections provide cleaner sounds that represent your musicianship.
What are the best drum mics?
Often, units used to record drums are categorized as either of the following:
Drum mic kits – Attached to various points on the kit.
Overhead mics – Attached away from the drums.
In many instances, overhead can be more desirable. The best overhead microphones for drums need to capture a wide range of sound frequencies in multiple patterns.
What type of microphone is best for recording drums?
Two favored microphones for recording drums are the:
Condenser mic – Use two plates for recording, with sounds moving them.
Dynamic mic – Use induction coils and electro-magnetics to capture sounds through them.
For those at home recording drums, multiple devices will be needed to capture their drum kit’s full sound without rattling or rumbling.
The best overhead drum mics – who sounds better?
We rate the best overhead drum mics reviewed above to be the Shure SM57-LC. This item generates studio quality sounds over your kit. Mid to high frequencies, like the snare, are grabbed without distorting the recording.
You’ll be able to use it on a wide range of instruments effectively. It can also help to eliminate background noises when concentrating on a single audible source is required.
We suggest that you also look into the other microphones, all of which offer benefits that include:
AKG C214 – A studio option for those needing all but very low-frequency drum sounds.
Electro Voice RE-20 – For those needing to capture higher frequencies associated with cymbals.
LyxPro SDPC-2 Stereo – Suggested if you want to record your snare play clearly.
Rode M5 Compact 1/2″ – Recommended for those looking for a cost-friendly workhorse.
Shure BETA 52A – Highly recommended if you’ll be focusing on your bass drums and floor toms.