When it comes to getting the best sounds from your drum set, every component you invest in matters a lot. And in this case, finding the right microphone for your heart is key to a good recording and performing experience.
Some people may be wondering why the hi-hats are such an important part of a drum kit.
Well, listen carefully when a drum set being played for any song, or consider when you are the person playing. Which sound is the most predominant? It is the hi-hat.
Best Hi-Hat Mic to buy in 2023
Whether it is an electronic or acoustic kit, you will never miss the hip-hat sound for jazz or hard rock. It is used for keeping the beat, which could be the main reason for its position in a drum set. Most drummers play the hi-hat just as much as they use the snare drum accessories.
I have met a lot of people who think it’s enough to mic the snare since it’s mostly set close to the hi-hat. However, I would not recommend that you follow such setup.
Note that the snare drum is usually very sharp. As such, it swallows the clarity of the hat sound if only the snare mic is used.
Finding the right hi-hat mic could be another issue altogether. There are so many options on the market that it becomes overwhelming. This guide will show you what choices are good out there and how to choose the best hi-hat mic.
What to consider when looking for the best hi-hat microphone
Microphones have become one of the essential parts of any drum kit. Most drummers are looking for different levels of clarity on their drum sounds.
For the hi-hat, you want the sound to rise above the snare. A good microphone will get you there.
All microphones are created differently. Hence, you cannot just pick any microphone and put it next to the cymbal, expecting it to perform well.
It would help if you had a condenser mic with a small diaphragm.
Does this sound complicated? Well, it should not be too hard to understand once you start using different mics for recording.
We can say that all microphones come in the same size. Small-diaphragm means that the mic hones in a smaller area, which brings out a more targeted sound.
Another phrase you want to look for is “cardioid pickup pattern.” This means the microphone can eliminate unwanted noise, giving you only focused sounds.
Think about the sound that comes from your cymbals. It radiates outwards, which are the signals that the microphones pick.
It is like the microphone knows what a cymbal should sound like; hence, all other sounds become only noise. They will be eliminated whenever they come up.
Apart from these terms, there are several other specific things to understand before taking on the task to but these items.
Mic’ing the hi-hat
Mi’cing the hi-hats is not a must. Some drummers play without using specific mics from them. However, you may want to consider this if you are looking to enhance your sounds. It gives them clarity on the cymbals.
I have always found it necessary to use dedicated mics on my hi-hats. It makes my work easier if the sound from every component is clear.
You should know how to set the microphone in position.
The standard way to set them in place is to have them from above, facing downwards towards the hitting surface. As stated above, the microphone needs to pick a clear sound from the hat. Also, this is the reason you can never rely on the snare microphone.
It is important to prepare enough space so that hats can open and close easily. Space should not be too much, though. They may be dynamic, but setting them too far will make them pick other sounds that are nearer or louder, especially from the snare.
This is the standard way, but it’s not the only way to set your microphone on the hi-hats. I have come up with my own way of setting them, and they seem very innovative. Every drummer finds their spot as they continue using the mics.
I put mine under the cymbals, facing upwards. This way, I can set them as close as possible without affecting how the hat opens and closes.
However, it gives a slightly different response from the normal way.
It all comes down to personal preferences. Even if you think setting it to the side works well, go ahead and do as you wish.
The types of a mic to use
Microphones come in different types and with varying features. What works for the drum may always be what you want on your hi-hats.
The most recommended choice is a microphone with a cardioid or a super-cardioid pickup pattern. These are mics that pick up extremely fast transients.
Aggressive drummers will find these drums very useful, especially because they are easy to use and highly effective.
Also, pick a microphone that has a small diaphragm. This is because you are trying to pick up sound from a small area. Hence, a small and focused diaphragm gives you the specific sound you need.
Many of the condenser microphones I have reviewed below come with these features. Hence, you can pick any, depending on your budget.
Last but not least, consider the sturdiness and build quality of your microphone.
Since you will be hitting very close, changes in stray swings are very great, especially in rigorous music. Therefore, you are looking for something that can take in the punishment.
Luckily, many manufacturers understand this, and hence, they build microphones with protective surfaces. Most of them can withstand any form of punishment without breaking down.
No matter how expensive or good your microphone seems, it can only be good if it makes the best sounds. Sound quality begins with how you are playing your gear and extends into how you choose your components.
Not that the highest-quality microphone has no magic to make you sound great. Your playing is the first and most important aspect of using a hi-hat microphone.
But since you are ready to record or play loud, I am assuming your skills are well sharpened.
And then you need a decent pair of hi-hats. If you are going to use the mic on cheap hi-hats, like the ones that come with beginner drum sets, know that your sound will also be cheap. You will hear a cheap pair of hats throughout your mix, something that will make you sound bad.
This is one of the main differences between drums and cymbals in a recording scenario. Cheaper drums can sound pretty good, as long as you play them well. Or you can simply change their heads, and you have the right tones.
This is different for cymbals. I always advise beginners to invest in high-quality cymbals from the start. You never know where they can come in handy.
And now you can invest in a good quality hi-hat microphone. The features described in the previous section will good you good-sounding microphones.
Best Hi-hat microphone Reviews
One of the most common ways people use to know the best products is by the price. And expensive microphones are considered the best.
Also, the brand plays a crucial role in these choices. There are so many brands today that knowing a good product is may not be easy.
Whether you are on a budget or you have the money, these ten best hi-hat mics should be a good place to start your search. I am sure you will find one the satisfies your needs.
At the top of this list is the Shure SM81-LC condenser microphone. It comes from one of the most reputable brands on the market. It offers a very linear and wide frequency, representing the gold standard for recording drums.
This is without a doubt of the best hi-hat mics the market can offer. It delivers incredible details in sound reproduction. It will capture with clarity shimmering high frequencies without too sharp sounds. Hence, a perfect detail in your production.
Another cool feature is the inherent low noise and high overdrive protection. With this feature, you are sure consistent distortion-free in recordings even at the highest pressures.
Also, it comes with a selectable three-step low-frequency response. This feature is echoed by the choice of flat, six, or 18 dB roll-off. Hence, it offers great flexibility when recording. Use it with your drums set, and it will not let you down,
I have now heard or seen any complaints about this product.
Rode is another company in this field that has a well-established reputation. The M3 in Condenser Microphone is an excellent value and highly versatile product. It’s made in Australia following a very high standard and comes with a 10-year warranty.
A good microphone needs to deliver crystal clear mids and top-end frequencies from great hi-hats. This is the product you can rely on for such a service. It is perfect for cymbals and overheads. It will capture those subtle tones and accentuate differences in the way you play your hi-hats.
Well-balanced sounds, not too sharp, emerges from every stroke you take on the hi-hats.
One thing you will love most is the professional results this mic promises. And yet it’s among the most affordable options out there.
It features high-quality construction and works well for both studio and on-stage settings. It is a real workhorse that will sound well for any application.
The biggest downside is perhaps the price for those shopping on a budget. But if you can afford this product, you will enjoy more pros than cons.
Talk about the best companies for audio production equipment, and Behringer will be among the top. This B-5 condenser mic is a perfect example of what they can offer.
If you are buying on a budget, here is one hi-hat mic that will not disappoint. It’s affordable and yet delivers some of the best quality services.
It features a gold-spluttered diaphragm and XLR connectors for the best signal integrity. It is made with a pressure-gradient transducer, features a shock-mounted diaphragm module, ensuring you get a smooth performance.
It can capture the nuances of hi-hat with great clarity and detail, which makes it a good mic. For the money, you will love the quality of this product.
But then, don’t expect to get the quality of an ultra-premium microphone at this price. Still, it captures accurate sounds and a noise-free transmission.
I have used Neumann products, and I can easily say this is the best of the best. No wonder it more than what you can spend on some complete drum kits. Many consider the Neumann KM1845 as the pinnacle of microphone design.
The hi-hat mics offer the best sound range quality, compared with anything else on the market. It may be expensive, but it’s an investment that you might do once and never regret it. Besides, it will pay for itself along the way.
Describing these products sounds more like a car than a mic. In other words, it features everything good you can expect from a microphone.
Its cardioid polar pattern transformerless circuity offers trouble-free operation, even with unbalanced gear. It’s a truly professional solution, built for quality and versatility.
The only downside is its prices.
Audio Technica is another brand that has a good name across the market. Here is one of their hi-hat mics, PRO37, consider the best under $300 mics.
It is a solid microphone, with great sounds suited for a mid-range buyer. It features a dynamic range and intelligibility that is perfect for the modern world.
The mic is versatile enough to work in a wide range of settings. It records high-fidelity audio and is useful in many different instances.
It is specially engineered to meet the most critical requirement for acoustic drum recording. It features a hyper-cardioid polar pattern that reduces noise. The direct-coupled, balanced output and transformerless circuitry make a superior performance mic.
The only downside is that it can be overly sensitive to the smallest sounds.
Here is solid wireless in the mic system that will get the job done with ease. It is considered a universal mic as it reduces the need for too many cables. It is also very small, and hence, perfect for positioning.
It promises a smooth pickup of low frequencies. It really shines with dynamic, beating even some of the higher-priced products.
It’s a universal mic with a hyper-cardioid polar system and a wide application. Integrated hum-buck coil, small dimensions, great clarity, and rugged construction make it everything you need in a microphone.
The medium level sound quality and pickup could perhaps be the only downside.
7. AKG P170
This small-diaphragm condenser mic microphone is highly effective and affordable. It features a 20dB pad and has a clear and accurate sound. Its cardioid polar pattern pickup ensures you only get the focused sounds. It will not pick sound from the other instruments.
It’s small and lightweight, making it easy to position on the cymbal. Besides, it’s easy to use as you don’t have to worry too much about audio filtering.
One can use it for both studio and live performance, with a phantom power source. It is this need for a phantom source of power that is perhaps its biggest limitation.
This sE7 mic is a back-electret small-diaphragm condenser microphone that is perfect for a wide range of applications.
It comes without a transformer, bringing a punchy and immediate sound from the hi-hat. Its 6dB/octave 80hz highpass filter eliminates very low rumbles. On the other hand, the 20dB pad allows you to play your hat very loud with distortions.
High-quality construction and reliability make this hi-hat mic a perfect solution for recording. Besides, it’s very affordable.
However, the XLR connector does not connect cable with ease.
This Shure KSM137 bears the same quality as the brand. It features a gold-layered Mylar diaphragm, which is sensitive to sound. Its transformer-less preamp promises a transparent audio reproduction.
This hi-hat mic comes with a cardioid polar pattern pickup that ensures you only get the desired sounds. It isolates unwanted frequencies.
Also, the mic comes with a three-position pad for controlling the dB input. Hence, it’s easy to control high sound pressure levels. The hi-pass filter stops unwanted frequencies.
They’re not very many cons on this Shure hi-hat mic, only that its low end is a bit flat.
This Rockville ProMic kit comes with a good quality hi-hat mic stand, a carry bag, and a cable. It features an M-56 cartridge, a full metal body, and a Neodymium magnet.
It is a hi-hat condenser microphone, a polar pattern, and a unidirectional pick, which makes it a good hi-hat mic. The mic will pick frequencies from 80 to 13khz.
The included mic stand is made from high-quality metal and strong iron tubes with a black finish. It is an ideal product for the modern drummer.
On the cons, it is not explicitly designed for h-hats, and its quality cannot compete with more expensive products.
Overall, it is a versatile mic, affordable, and ideal for a wide range of applications.
Invest in a high-end hi-hat mic once, and you will be happy with the performance you get. All the products reviewed above are good recommendations for any recording needs. Just be sure to pick a small diaphragm condenser microphone.