Best Overhead Drum Mics - Top Choices in 2022

Written by: Zander Brooks
Updated:

Overhead mics are a critical component to making your drum set. They help you record the sound of your cymbals and give you the overall sound of your drum kit. Whether you are recording your drums in a studio setting, making a demo, or just want to create your own rehearsal tracks, you’re probably going to need a pair of quality overhead drum mics.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the five best overhead mics for your drumkit. We’ll give you the features for each pair and go over the pros and cons, too. We’ll also talk about the criteria we used to pick the best ones. So don’t worry if choosing a good set of overhead mics for your drumset is overwhelming – we’ll help you wade through the choices. Let’s get started!

Related:

The Five Best Overhead Drum Mics Reviewed

Beyerdynamic MC 930 Small-diaphragm Condenser Microphone - Stereo Set Best Sleeper Overhead Drum Mic

Features

  • This is a cardioid condenser mic
  • Require +48V phantom power
  • Provide a warm, detailed sound
  • Reflects unwanted noise
  • Includes shock mounts, case, and windscreens
  • Frequency response: 40Hz-20kHz
  • Max. SPL at 1kHz: 125dB
  • Max. SPL with pre-attenuation: 140dB
  • Connector: 3-pin XLR male

Summary

This Beyerdynamic set is like a best-kept secret in the music industry, which is why we named it the best sleeper overhead drum mic. More people need to know about this high-quality mic. These mics can handle high SPLs, making them ready for everything – especially loud sources. In addition, the cardioid pickup pattern helps you mic just the sounds you want without getting the sounds you don’t.

You’ll love the warm, detailed sound provided by the Beyerdynamics. Not only do they make great overhead drum mics, but they’ll also work well for guitars and other acoustic instruments, giving you more flexibility when you need it.

Pros

  • Natural sounding
  • The cardioid pattern helps you dial in the sounds you want to capture without getting the sounds you don’t
  • High-quality and durable mics for the cost

Cons

  • These mics may sound muddy in the low mids, but your EQ can fix this issue
  • The wide cardioid pattern may be too wide for some applications

Soyuz 013 FET Small-diaphragm Condenser Microphone (Stereo Pair) Most Flexible Overhead Drum Mic

Features

  • This is a small-diaphragm condenser mic
  • Includes a 20dB pad to use for louder sounds such as drums
  • Versatile and great for stage use
  • Uses a cardioid pattern with interchangeable capsules
  • Made in Russia
  • Includes a wooden mic box
  • Frequency response: 20Hz–20kHz
  • Sensitivity: 20mV/Pa
  • Impedance: 150 ohms
  • SPL: 143dB
  • Equivalent noise: 16dB (A-weighted)
  • Power: 48-volt phantom

Summary

The Soyuz 013 FET is a small-diaphragm condenser microphone with lots of flexibility due to its cardioid pattern and interchangeable capsule. It gives excellent midrange accuracy and a highly musical feel in its sound recordings. Screw in the 20dB pad for extra loud sources, like your drum kit.

The natural warmth of these mics makes them versatile, and they work equally well as overhead drum mics as they do a piano mic or for other acoustic instruments.

Pros

  • Well-built and solid mics that provide a warm, musical sound
  • These mic give a natural live feeling that isn’t harsh or tinny

Cons

  • The included mic clips feel flimsy compared to the weight of the mic
  • These are not a stereo pair but there are stereo pairs available at a higher price point

Neumann KM 184 Stereo Set Small-diaphragm Cardioid Microphones – Best High-End Articulation for Overhead Drum Mics

Features

  • Neumann KM 184s are a stereo pair Condenser mic
  • Of the "fet100" series with a transformerless microphone circuit
  • These mics use a cardioid pick-up pattern
  • Exceptionally low inherent self-noise (16dB A-weighted)
  • Exceptionally high overload capacity (up to 138dB SPL before overload)
  • Exceptionally clear sound reproduction free of coloration
  • Very smooth frequency curves parallel to 0 degrees sound incidence

Summary

The Neumann KM 184 Stereo Pair is a great example of a professional overhead drum mic. They can easily handle the high sound pressure of a drum kit – even up to 138dB. They’ll also manage the subtleties of soft acoustic guitars, giving you plenty of flexibility when you need it.

You don’t have to worry about overloading these microphones with sound; even with the loud drumset, you’ll still get a crisp, clean cymbal. It just works great for that high-end articulation you need to get a beautiful recording of drums, guitars, and even acoustic piano.

Pros

  • The Cardioid pattern makes it easy to pick up the sounds you want and not the sounds you don’t
  • Can handle high-pressure (loud) sounds, up to 138dB before clipping
  • Very clear and detailed sound with crisp high-end articulation

Cons

  • These mics may come across as harsh if not EQ’d well

Shure KSM137 Small-diaphragm Condenser Microphone - Stereo Pair – Best All Around Overhead Drum Microphones

Features

  • Small diaphragm condenser mics
  • Pro-level recording capabilities at a friendly price point
  • Versatile and works well for acoustic drums to acoustic guitars
  • A built-in subsonic filter eliminates the sub-17Hz low-frequency rumbles that can be caused by unwanted vibrations
  • Uses a cardioid mic pickup pattern
  • Transformerless preamplifier
  • 3-position pad (0dB, -15dB, and -25dB) for handling high-SPL sources
  • 3-position highpass filter switch counteracts reduces stand-vibration noise
  • Includes: stereo mic adapter, stand adapter, windscreen, and carrying case

Summary

This pair of Shure KSM137s gives you premium performance at a friendly price point. They offer a consistent cardioid polar pattern to provide you with excellent sound isolation just where you need it. In addition, the subsonic filter gets rid of that low-frequency rumble that can happen from unwanted vibrations and stand the noise.

This versatile mic set is durable and precise, so you’ll love using it in the studio and for live performances.

We love the perfect balance of high-end features and middle-end pricing that gives you an affordable and professional sound recording.

Pros

  • Wide frequency and dynamic range without distortion
  • Clean, crisp high, end sounds
  • Naturally reduces unwanted noise from vibrations

Cons

  • It may sound harsh due to its clear recordings, but using the included windscreens can soften the harshness

Rode M5 Small-diaphragm Condenser Microphone - Matched Pair – Best Budget Overhead Drum Mic

Features

  • These mics come at a great budget price
  • This is a matched pair of small-diaphragm cardioid condenser mics
  •  Frequency Response: 20Hz to 20kHz
  • Includes two WS5 windshields and two RM5 stand mounts
  • Requires +48V phantom power

Summary

If you need affordable, you don’t want to overlook the Rod M5 Small-Diaphragm condenser mics. You won’t find many mics at this accessible price point, and you’ll be surprised by the quality they provide for recording and sound reinforcement. In addition, they include windshields and stand mounts, so you don’t need to spend a ton of money on accessories too.

These mics are also versatile, working great as overhead drum mics but also for plenty of other instruments. The cardioid pattern is easy to focus on the sounds you want while leaving out the sounds you don’t.

Pros

  • It offers a bright and snappy sound that isn’t too harsh
  • Can handle cymbal crashes easily
  • It offers a natural-sounding midrange with sparking and crisp high-end sounds

Cons

  • These mics do not come with a case
  • These mics do not fit in standard SHUR clips due to their small size

Criteria for Choosing the Five Best Overhead Drum Mics

Finding the right recording equipment is always challenging, but finding the best overhead microphones for your drum kit can be even more so. The problem with recording overhead drums is all of the variables – the kit, the venue, the type of sound reinforcement you are looking for, and of course, your budget.

Let’s talk about some of the criteria we used to choose the five best overhead drum mics. We have a wide range of microphones for you to look at a variety of price points so you can find one that fits your budget and your needs.

Budget

You can easily dump a lot of money into your overhead mics for drums. But you just don’t have to spend a ton of money (unless you want to!). There is a wide range of price tags that you can choose from, just as long as the mic has the features that you need.

Only you can decide how much you are able to spend on a pair of mics. First, you’ll want to consider if you’re going to be using them every day or just once in a while. Are they for live performances? Or just rehearsal space for you and your band? Answering these questions will help you decide how much you want to invest in a set of mics.

Durability

Often, you’ll be carting your mics around for gigs. If this is the case, you’ll want to make sure you get sturdy, durable mics that won’t break easily from getting jostled around when you gig. On the other hand, if you’re going to set up your microphones in a small studio and leave them there all the time, you might not be as concerned about how tough your mic is. So consider the purpose you’ll be using it for when you think about how durable you need your mics to be.

Microphone Size

If you’re going to use your mics for gigs, you might want them to ‘disappear’ into the background and aren't as heavy to lug around. If this is the case, you’ll want small, thin mics, so they aren't as obvious. But then again, if you are using them in the studio for recording and not for live performance, the size might not matter to you at all.

Accessories

Want kinds of accessories do you need for your microphones? You’ll need some kind of mic stand or clip so you can put them right where you want them. Are these included in the cost of your mics? Or will you need to purchase them separately?

You’ll also need some windscreens to keep out harsh or unnecessary noises. If you are gigging, you’ll want to have a carry case that protects your investment, as well.

Pickup Pattern

Most of the mics on this list have a cardioid microphone pattern. The Cardioid pickup pattern is a phrase that means that the pickup area – the area of sound that the microphone can take vibrations from – is roughly shaped like a heart. The intake area is the top of the heart, and the bottom of the heart is the area where the microphone does not pick up.

This pattern is essential to understand because you’ll want to direct the microphone to pick up only the sounds you want to hear – like the sound of your cymbals and the rest of your kit – and not the sounds of the audience or other band members.

Make sure you choose a microphone that has the pickup pattern you need and know exactly how it works so you can set it up to get the sound you want. Sometimes, mics don’t sound good, but it isn’t because the microphone is bad. It's because it just isn’t set up to pick up the sound correctly.

To learn more about cardioid microphone patterns, click here. Find out more about the difference between condenser and dynamic mics, here.

Sound Pressure Levels and Distortion

There’s no question that acoustic drums are loud. And you need to take this into consideration when you are choosing the right microphones. You don’t need extra sensitive mics when you mic a drum set – but you do need to consider SPL.

 SPL stands for sound pressure level, and you can purchase meters or iPhone apps to measure the SPL of your playing if you want to.

You’ll likely want to choose a mic with an SPL above 120 dB.

For example, if your playing volume is around 120 dB, and your microphone SPL is only a maximum of 110, you’re going to get clipping and sound distortion that won’t make for a good recording. On the other hand, if you find that your mics are constantly clipping, you may want to make sure that they have a high enough SPL for your playing. And if that isn’t the cause, perhaps you’ve got them set up to close to your snare or kick, and it is overwhelming your mic.

In short, make sure to purchase a mic that can handle the sound level of your specific playing.

Here’s a little bit more about the science of sound pressure levels.

Interference and Vibration Control

You may want to consider a mic that filters out unwanted vibrations that may come from nearby instruments or even your drum and mic stands. For more info on avoiding microphone interference, click here.

Sensitivity and Detail

We mentioned before that if you are using your mic for drums, you probably don’t have to be too worried about sensitivity since drums are just loud. However, if you’ll also be using it for other instruments, you might want to think about how soft your microphone can still pick up the details.

Regardless, you’ll want your mics to pick up the details of your playing – such as the crispness of your high hat and how quickly the sound is picked up. 

Phantom Power

Most mics work off of phantom power. Occasionally they’ll use batteries to power them. If your mics use phantom power, just make sure that your system can supply enough power to make them work well.

Versatility

The last thing to consider is versatility. Drum mics are an expensive investment, and if you can use them for more than one application, that’s even better. But, on the other hand, perhaps you also like to record acoustic guitar, a little bass, or even some violin riffs. Whatever your applications, will you need to buy a separate microphone, or will the overhead mics work for different instruments, too?

Perhaps being able to use your mics for additional instruments or other types of venues will allow you to invest a little bit more for a higher-quality mic.

Our Pick for the Best Overhead Mic for Drummers

There are plenty of great options out there for drummers to mic their kits. But there is one clear standout winner: the Shure KSM137 Small-diaphragm Condenser Microphone - Stereo Pair.

We love this mic because, first of all, it's made by Shure, which is a well-known name in the music industry for its durable, high-quality products. Second, this mic offers a standard cardioid pattern, which is probably the best way to record your drums.

The Shure KSM 137s have crisp, clean, high-end sounds and warm and natural mid-range sounds. It also includes a filter to get rid of any unwanted vibrational noise, such as from a nearby piano or from your drum stand vibrating. This filter gives you a cleaner, better sound.

Although you get professional sound from these mics, you won’t break the bank, either. They aren’t the cheapest mics out there (if budget is your only consideration, then go for the Rode M5s), but they are reasonably priced for the impressive sound they can provide.

Written By:
Zander has been playing drums for over 20 years. He is passionate about music and uses his years of experience to teach his students. While he is a full-time instructor, he is also working on growing a YouTube channel where he shares his insights. You can see him playing there, or on Instagram where he posts daily videos.

Copyright © 2022 MSpot. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy & Cookie Disclaimer.

mspot.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.