Best Overhead Drum Mics Review – Top Rated Models in 2019 with Buying Guide
Looking for the best overhead drum mics? We have tried to make our selection useful for you, especially if you are tight on time. With careful examination and taking into account consumer reviews, we have concluded that the AKG Pro Audio C414 is the unit that you should consider when looking for an overhead drum mic. The capability to select between 9 polar patterns and the high volume that this microphone outputs indeed recommends it. The filter that can refine the sounds using three bass filters is also a big plus. If you are unable to get the AKG Pro Audio C414, then you should look for the Rode NT1KIT, which is next on our list.
Our Top Choice
Designed for recording all types of musical instruments from violins to drums, this model includes two microphones that have gathered appreciation for their outstanding sound. The product comes with nine selectable polar patterns you can set according to your needs. Thanks to the noise filter featured, wind noise, proximity sounds, and sound vibrations are significantly reduced. Plus, it can deliver a high volume of up to 158 dB.
The sound proved to be too bright in the case of some customers who tried the product.
Consider this model if you want to record your musical instrument and do so with minimum background noise.
Promising to capture sound from a source in front of it and to eliminate any background sound, this microphone comes with a Rode SMR shock mount. Thanks to the suspension system this mount consists of, any noise made by vibrations or movement around the microphone is canceled. With a frequency range that stretches from 20 Hz to 20 kHz and durable materials, this unit is worth keeping in mind.
At least one buyer was dissatisfied with the volume delivered by this unit saying it the mic is too quiet.
Make sure you check this model before you come to a decision as the specs it comes with promise a great performance.
Recording your drums will reach a whole new level with this versatile and durable device. Featuring cardioid polar patterns you usually find in professional microphones, this model is designed for studio use mainly but it can work well with live performances, too. The item withstands extremely high-sound pressure, which means the mic will receive the sounds you produce accurately and with no noise.
Only one buyer who tried it says it stopped working after 2 weeks. Otherwise, it is highly appreciated.
If you want to record the sounds you produce when playing drums, consider this unit for great results.
6 Best Overhead Drum Mics (Reviews) in 2019
We have selected these critically acclaimed microphones based on their performance, their durability, and their popularity. Each of them provides great sound, and they are all different and should be appropriate for different audio preferences. If you’re looking for the best drum overheads, you should check them out.
1. AKG Pro Audio C414 XLII Stereoset Vocal Condenser Microphone
These good overhead drum mics come as a couple and are highly appreciated for their outstanding sound that comes from the famous AKG C12. The microphones are very well prepared for recording all types of acoustic instruments, from the soft sound of kids’ violins to the heavy beat of your drums.
The device comes with nine selectable polar patterns that can be set according to the needs of any application. If you want to record something close-up, the microphones come with attenuation level that goes to – 18dB, to avoid unnecessary sounds. But at the same time, they can deliver a high volume of up to 158 dB when needed.
The noise filter incorporated is capable of employing three different bass-cut filters that reduce wind noise, proximity sounds or sound vibrations. AKG microphones are well known for their capability to record and reproduce sounds since 1971 accurately. They are musician tools that have been used on a lot of studio recordings and live performances and have always delivered.
Offering a ton of onboard control options, this mic is one of the most versatile out there.
You can choose between five polar patterns when using this mic and that means you can record from any direction you want.
Furthermore, you can merge two of these settings to get a unique voice, and that gives incredibly versatility.
The microphone also has a high-pass and a low-cut filter that also comes with three settings, very useful at avoiding rumble at low frequencies
Due to its clarity and capacity to keep noises away, this mic is great for vocal performances and for recording drums
With the mic, you also get a shock mount, windscreen, and the pop filter, and all of these accessories are meant to help it capture the perfect sound.
Some complain that the mic has too much midrange and that gives a “boxy” sound.Buy from Amazon.com for ($2299)
2. RØDE NT1KIT Cardioid Condenser Microphone
This kit is based on a new microphone designed by Rode, the NT1 mic. This is a diaphragm condenser type of microphone, meaning that it can accurately capture sound from a source in front of it while negating the adverse sounds around. Along with the main unit, the buyer also gets the Rode SMR shock mount.
Consisting of a suspension system, the mount cancels the noise made by vibrations or movement around the microphone. The same shock mount comes with a removable pop filter, that is at the same time visually appealing. All the elements are made to last for a long time.
The model has been designed to highlight the midrange of frequencies, but at the same time, it is particularly good at capturing the low sounds produced by the snares and any bass pedals. This is due to the frequency range that stretches from 20 Hz to 20 kHz.
This mic draws inspiration from classic models used predominantly in the studio, so if you’re looking for that image and sound, it’s the mic for you.
A lot of engineering has gone into this model, as the body is machined from aluminum and coated in a layer of military-grade ceramic to ensure durability and a nice finish.
With the mic, you get everything needed to start recording, including the shock mount, a dust bag, and the pop screen.
The mic is isolated from the supporting frame using a complex support, and that means it won’t capture any noise, even if it moves.
Its interior capsule containing the circuits is also very-well isolated from the exterior and that will help it record the sounds clearer.
It doesn’t come with roll-off settings, and that means you can’t get rid of some frequencies you don’t want.Buy from Amazon.com for ($269)
3. Shure KSM137/SL Stereo Pair
The Shure KSM137/SL is a versatile and durable device that will allow you to record the sounds of your drums.
This is a highly appreciated microphone because it relies on the same cardioid polar patterns that professional microphones use. Made for studio use mainly, this mic is robust enough to be taken on live performances as well.
What makes it a good overhead drum microphone is the fact that it can withstand extremely high sound pressure. In other words, you can make exceedingly loud sounds when beating your drums and the microphone will still receive them accurately and with no noise. Given its purpose, this microphone is suitable for recording the more difficult sounds of the double bass or kick drum.
The components are precisely manufactured, including detailed gold-plated internal and external connectors. The diaphragm is very thin, measuring 2.4 microns, and made of 24 karat gold-layered material that is very sensitive to vibrations in the air.
While other, large-diaphragm models are good for recording the whole set of drums, these small-diaphragm ones are great for capturing them separately, so you can hear each of them better.
The two mics use a cardioid pattern, meaning that you just have to point them at the drum and they will only capture that drum, with no noise from other parts.
Due to its characteristics, these mics are good for drummers, but they can also be used for capturing the sound of other acoustic instruments including guitars.
The circuitry is of high-quality and all the important components have been gold-plated to ensure low resistance and better connections.
The mic comes with a low-cut switch which will enable you to get rid of unwanted low-frequency noise.
Although the mics are small, they still come with stands for each of them.
Although good overall they don’t excel at anything in particular.Buy from Amazon.com for ($665)
4. Rode M5 Matched Pair Condenser Microphone
As any other microphone ideal for capturing drum sounds, this one also comes with a broad frequency range that goes from 20 Hz to 20 kHz.
It can be used for live stage performances and indoor recording as well, and it is equally good at capturing the sounds made by acoustic instruments, choirs, or any other source of sounds that require the use of a diaphragm condenser microphone.
After many years of successfully building microphones, Rode has come up with this design of a pencil-style microphone that will prove useful even to the most demanding performers.
This pair of mics has been matched taking into consideration a difference between them of no more than 1 dB in output so that you will hear no difference between them in the monitor speakers. To make them look more attractive, the microphones are coated in a sleek matte black finished ceramic. For the money that you pay for these mics you also get a couple of WS5 windshields and RM5 stand mounts.
These mics come with a wide cardioid pattern meaning that they will capture the sound from a single direction only, from the drums.
They are great choices for recording purposes in the studio, as you can use them both to record a stereo sound of your drums.
The mics are also great for recording other acoustic instruments in the studio.
Coming with an exterior ceramic plating, the mics are both durable and attractive.
Both mics come with stand mounts and foam shields, so they’re able to capture the best sounds even if they get moved a bit.
One of the main reasons why these mics are great for drums is because they’re so small and they can be positioned however you want around the drums.
When recording with them, the resulting sound is a full and precisely articulated one.
The mics don’t come with a protective pouch or case.Buy from Amazon.com for ($199)
5. Neumann KM 184 MT Stereo Set Condenser Microphone
Another microphone that is good at natural sound reproduction is the KM 184 MT from Neumann. It is suitable for the close and distant recording of instruments, both stereo, and live recordings and makes a great overhead microphone.
This small mic can be proud that it captures any device with a fascinating depth of sound and complexity.
The cardioid frequency pattern ensures excellent reception of the sound in front of the microphone and negation of the additional noises that shouldn’t be captured. Due to the highly professional manufacturing process, these microphones produce a consistent sound.
This can be very useful when you want to get a stereo output sound. Therefore two of these microphones can be used as a pair to accomplish a remarkable stereo harmony. No self-noise can be heard coming from these microphones, and the sound they produce is crystal clear.
Although these mics look like any other large-diaphragm ones, they are actually full of innovative technology that will make them provide a direct and precise digital output.
Due to this complex technology, the mic is capable of achieving a dynamic range of more than 130dB.
One interesting thing about this model’s design is that the main body can be combined with one of 3 interchangeable capsules, each of them offering a different polar pattern.
The circuitry is so small that it’s impressive how precise and natural the sound it delivers can be.
The mics can be operated separately and each of them can be set to capture a different frequency better, and that gives a lot of freedom to express your music.
By using a specific software you can fine-tune the mics and the sound you want from them.
You will have to pay separately for each new capsule you get.Buy from Amazon.com for ($1500)
6. Shure KSM141/SL Studio Microphone
Designed for studio use but reliable enough for live shows, the KSM141/SL will make for a good overhead drum mic. It can withstand very high sound pressure and its low levels of self-noise and extended frequency response make it appropriate for recording the loudest drums and instruments.
The flexibility that it can provide in a high variety of recording applications comes from the mechanical polar pattern switch incorporated. The switch allows for changing between a highly consistent cardioid and accurate omnidirectional polar patterns.
For a superior response, it also has a 24 karat gold-layered, ultra-thin, Mylar diaphragm. This mic can be used for recording acoustic instruments such as drums, and because it is very good at reproducing low-frequency sound, it is suitable for recording bass or kick drums.
It features premium electronic components, and the manufacturing process ensures not only the quality of the microphone but also the durability of it.
This condenser mic is a multi-pattern one that will allow you to record things in a cardioid pattern or omni one, thus from a single direction or from all sides.
It also comes with cut-off and roll-off options so you can get rid of those unwanted frequencies.
Sounding great in the midrange, this mic is great for vocalists but it can also help those drummers looking for that sweet mid tonality.
There aren’t many mics that can get such a great sound when installed over the hi-hat or the snare.
Due to the two patterns, you can either choose to focus more on a single drum or the whole set.
No matter how you use the mic, it won’t capture anything that’s too far away, and that means noise levels will be minimal.
It sounds odd in the high-ends and you will have to get used to that.Buy from Amazon.com for ($399)
Yearly Guide & Report
Are you finding it hard to get the right drum mics that you really need? Check out the guide below and maybe you’ll be able to focus on the features you want most in your future mics.
Sound pressure level
As the eardrum, microphones have a certain threshold when recording sounds. If the sound is too loud, meaning it has too much sound pressure, then the microphone starts to distort the music in an unwanted manner.
A microphone that can receive high sound pressure levels is thus better. One such mic is required for use as an overhead drum mic because the drums will make a lot of noise.
The concept of sound pressure also comes hand in hand with the advantages that dynamic microphones have. Dynamic microphones are mics that convert sound into an electrical signal using electromagnetism.
What is significant about them is that they have no sound pressure level, meaning that they can record even the loudest sounds. Of course, there can be issues with older models, but those are just because of aging. In short, if a microphone is dynamic, it is generally suitable for recording drums up close.
Dynamic or condenser microphones?
As previously mentioned, dynamic microphones are suitable because of their ability to put up with high sound volumes. They are also considerably more reliable and have a longer lifespan. Another characteristic that they have is that they color the sound between the frequency of 5 kHz to 10 kHz.
This adds presence and clarity in a voice or a recorded instrument, and this is why some musicians favor this type of microphone.
They are relatively less expensive than other types of mics, and they require no battery or external power supply to be used. All the features mentioned above make them useful for recording drums from a very close range, when you don’t want to capture audio from any other source, such as your beloved metronome for drummers. You will thus need one of each of these microphones for each part of your drum kit.
The condenser mic works on different principles, and unlike the dynamic mic, it needs a power source. These types of microphones are renowned for their capability to capture a more extensive variety of sounds, from very lows to remarkably highs regarding frequency.
They come with the advantage that they can capture an acoustic instrument’s sounds from a more considerable distance. This makes for great use when you want to record the room’s ambiance as well. The condenser microphones that come with a small diaphragm are more suitable for recording drum kits because they can handle a higher sound level.
They also have a greater high-frequency range and a flatter frequency response and are thus excellent at picking up details and fast actions, like quick drum hits. Due to their precision in transposing the sound in a greater area, two condenser microphones can be coupled and transformed into a system that is extremely potent at delivering a stereo sound.
We have already detailed some information that can affect what type of microphone you select based on your choice — do you want one that records a drum well or do you want a mic that captures the whole set? In particular music styles like jazz, the tendency is to let the microphone record the entire assemblage so that the atmosphere is captured better.
So the setup in this situation might only be based on a couple of capable microphones that will get the stereo recording. Under different circumstances, like rock concerts, artists like to have a microphone for each piece of the drum kit and also a couple of condenser microphones overhead and maybe even one for the hi-hat and cymbals.
In any case, before deciding if a microphone is right for you or not, you must make sure that you have experimented with all the possible positions that it can be in. One of those placements may provide the best sound ever.
Whatever the music style preferred, it is generally acknowledged that an excellent overhead microphone should be durable. Not only will it have to put up with the occasional drumstick hits made by the very energetic drummer, but it will also need to endure the general road use and abuse — being carried around, handled by many people, and even dropped by some.
The microphones used for recording instruments come with a more significant price because they need to be of the best quality to reproduce the sound as well as possible. Some of the microphones even use components made of gold and each of these parts is meticulously created and assembled.
Also, the manufacturing brand might be renowned for their design process and the durability of their products. Better microphones have finer elements that are better arranged to capture the sound in the best way possible.