Capturing the best sound from your drum is crucial in a recording studio. This is very easy for those who use e-drum kits since you just plug into the audio output, and you are good to go.
But for those of us who only believe in acoustic drums’ natural sound, getting the right equipment to get the sound can be a huge challenge. You need microphones that can sustain high decibel levels over long periods.
Your mics should also capture high-quality of various sounds from the kit. A well-recorded song can show a huge difference between something done in the studio, and another one done at home.
And this is where you need a good pair for overhead drum microphones. The idea is to capture the kit’s full sound and create a unified sound on the other mics. As such, they are very important and versatile.
Buying a quality pair once is a clever investment.
But what overhead microphones carry these features? There are so many products today that choosing the right one may not be that easy.
Don’t worry. I am going to help you invest your money where it matters. This list has some of the best overhead drum mics the market can offer.
What are the best overhead mics for drums?
Overhead microphones have become very common today and not just drum accessories. Therefore, you will meet such a question as to what are the best options everywhere.
Here are some of the features you may want to look for in these devices:
- A balance between sensitivity and durability. Microphones are used to capture sounds at specific levels of decibels. But acoustic drums are very loud – and can be very low too. You need a microphone that can capture these levels without breaking. If you need high sounds, they have to come out as clearly as possible. And if you say it is high sounds, then there should be no doubt about their quality. Getting the right snare sound is key to incredible music production. The microphone should be able to get rid of any noises that may come along with the sounds.
- Functionality. Some people prefer recording in a studio while others like doing it at home or don’t have enough money for studio work. For this reason, you need a microphone that can work from any place. Home recording gives you the space to work on your songs at your pace. If you want studio-quality audio, it will be a good idea to invest in good microphones. There is no other way around it.
- Versatility and portability. Even though you want to record drums, there are other instruments and vocals that complete the music. There are some microphones that don’t work very well with these instruments. It is advisable that you check your mics and ensure they are versatile enough. Apart from this, they should fit into the area you have. Most of us don’t have huge rooms for our equipment; hence, portability is crucial.
Based on these features, here are five of the best-overhead mics for quality music.
1. Shure KSM137
Everyone in the audio recording market has heard about Shure. It is one of the biggest manufacturer of microphones, and they do an incredible job.
If you have ever been in a studio, you have come in contact with a large number of mics from the manufacturer. It is a name that has set its roots in the industry for a long time.
It is therefore expected that a pair of KSM137 should be top on this list. Besides, their microphones are three times more expensive than the matched pair of Rode M5.
They come with a number of features that make them very versatile for studio operation. You can always count on them for versatility, functionality, and durability.
One of the features I find very attractive is the three-position dB pad. With this function, you can change the mic’s input volume, which means you can alter its sensitivity to avoid distortion. It is a wonderful feature when juggling between drums, vocals, and guitar.
It also comes with a low-frequency filter that keeps low frequency from rumbling as well as reducing background noise. This is very vital when working on a kick.
- Extremely reliable and from a reputable brand
- One can adjust sensitivity to work with various instruments
- Low-frequency filter to get the right bass and kick
- Some users have found it a bit flat on a few occasions.
- It comes with mic mounts, but they are not shock-proof, which may cause some vibrations.
2. Rode M5
Rode is my second-best microphone manufacturer. The company started in 1967 as Friedman Electronics, and they have been successfully serving the audio industry. They started by conquering the Australian audio industry before launching their own line of mics.
This means they have more than 50 years of experience and a reputable name. And they compete with brands like Shure in terms of quality.
If you are looking for a budget-friendly option to capture your drums and an extensive range of instruments or choirs, then an M5 Matched pair will do you good.
This small-diaphragm mic is designed with low noise and full frequency response, making it great for recording spaces that don’t require too much amplification.
The sound matching features are perhaps the best part of these microphones if you will use them exclusively on the stereo.
Also, it is designed with a sleek matte black finish and comes with a WS5 windshield and RM5 stand mounts. You can never get it wrong.
- Works well for small space
- Can capture a wide variety of instruments
- Very affordable
- The grill is made of thin material, hence wobbly
- It is less advanced than other similar products.
If you are looking for serious recording equipment, a pair of high-quality overhead drum microphones should not miss on your list. And in this case, I am referring to Neumann KM 184.
This is a pair of mics that offer incredible versatility, durability, and beautiful sound quality. It will get all the clear sound and get rid of the noise in the room.
It is a mic that is designed to get rid of natural noise while in the recording process. There are very few mics that do this, which makes it a wonderful choice for any serious audiophile.
- A versatile and durable solution
- It eliminates natural noise during the recording process
- A reputable brand
- It is quite expensive compared to other mics with similar features.
4. AKG C214
AKG makes amazing audio equipment. It is a brand that you may have already heard about.
AKG C214 is one of the best options. If you don’t want to spend too much on the AKG C4141, you can trust it to offer the same quality.
It can be used on a wide range of equipment, and the feature to minimize background noises makes it ideal for any environment.
You can use the mic both live and studio performance, which is actually an added advantage. It features a double mesh grill that ensures sturdiness without affecting sound quality.
- Can work with any a variety of instruments
- Good for studio and life performance
- A wonderful choice for acoustic sounds
- It is bulkier than most other mics with similar features
5. Rode NT1-A
Rhode has proven itself a trustworthy brand once again with its entry-level NT1 matched pair. It is pricier, but better all-round performance is a good justification.
Low ambient noise is critical to a studio recording. and these microphones will give a clean, noiseless performance. It is one of the quietest things you will get anywhere.
It also has a reputation for capturing a wide frequency range. They are, therefore, very versatile with multiple instruments or different aspects of a drum kit.
The detailed highs and lows it offers create a balanced sound. And the top-notch SPL capability means it can handle even guitars.
- Very quiet
- Clean sounds at any frequency
- Durable and well-built
- Sometimes the highs are just too punchy
- The pop filter might not be the best for some users.
What drum mics are best?
There are three main types of drum mics.
- Condenser microphones. These microphones let’s get a detailed sound recording with the best quality because they are very sensitive. They are also very durable and will give perfection to each recording. But it will not help you much in a live recording.
- Matched pairs. If you are looking to get sound from different instruments with ease, this is one type you should not forget. They are made together with the idea of providing on microphone setup for all recording needs.
- Diaphragm. If your mind is set on great sound details, this is a good place to begin. It features a large membrane that will ensure you are getting clean sounds. However, you may want to choose one with a smaller diaphragm if you measure your drumming level just to make sure you are getting it right.
Here are some of the best drum mics.
We all know the kick is the most important component of the kit for most drumming. But it does not get adequate coverage sometimes.
What you may need for a 3-channel setup is a mic that lets you shine your kick drum. A specific type of dynamic is needed here.
It must have a frequency response set for the low end.
Apart from the kick, we have the snare, which is another crucial piece. Hence, it is a 4-channel setup; it is recommended that you add a snare.
There is one mic that is used widely for professional studio recording. It may not be the best for beginners, because of the price, but it is the best example of what you need.
I am talking about Shure SM57.
This beast offers high max SPL, a tight cardioid pattern, and durable casing. You will always be glad you made the investment.
There are very few who will argue in favor of the hi-hat as the most important component. This is why you need a microphone for it.
A cardioid small diaphragm condenser will be wonderful for capturing the high-frequency detail while rejecting off-axis noise. You can be sure to get clean sounds.
A very popular choice is the Neumann KM184. But since it costs a fortune, there are other condenser mics you will find equally useful.
In most cases, you will not get tom coverage individually since they are already covered under overhead microphones.
But They do have specific solutions, like the SM57 found in most studios. Many people also go for fuller, rounder sound from other classic dynamic mics, like Sennheiser MD421, Sennheiser MD441U, and Electrovoice RE20.
Other cymbal solutions
There is no specific microphone for a ride and crash cymbals because the overhead mic covers them. But if you decide to get one, a small diaphragm microphone will be a good choice. You can check out a few here.
Where do overhead drum mics go?
There are many positions for placing your overhead microphones. But for those who want to capture every special moment, there are three basic techniques:
- Spaced condensers. Here, the mic is positioned above the kit. This configuration gives out a great deal of flexibility. Position them low above the cymbals, so that removes the emphasis from the rest of the kit.
- X-Y configuration. In this case, you can use two cardioid condenser mics arranged with elements as close as possible together at a 90-degree angle.
- ORTF method. In this setup, a pair of cardioid condenser mics are positioned 17cm apart at a certain angle from each other. It gives out a phase image like the X-Y configuration, but more weight is on the cymbals.
What are the drum overheads?
Drum overheads are microphones used in recording and live performances to capture ambient sounds, transients, and overall mix of the instruments. In drum recording, they offer a stereo image of the full kit.
Getting the best sounds from your drums is satisfying. And I hope this guide is good enough to give you that feeling.