Drums can make or break a song, so it is imperative that you have the right high-quality equipment to accentuate all the notes throughout your gig or recording session.
You’ll need professional quality microphones for all of your instruments, but an overhead mic for your drum set can set the tone for your record.
If you’re new to the music or drumming scene, you may be wondering what an overhead mic even is, or whether or not you need one.
Overhead mics are simply microphones that can be positioned above the instrument, away from the drum kit to prevent distracting the musician, without reducing the sound quality.
Unfortunately, music shops have stopped stocking a large variety of overhead mics, so you’ll have to find your new equipment online.
This can be difficult when you don’t know where to look, which is why we’ve chosen five of the best overhead drum mics on the market at the moment.
There are a few factors that you should consider before deciding which overhead drum mic you’re going to purchase, which is why we’ve also included a buyers guide below to brief you of these so that you can refer to your new knowledge while looking at your options.
IN A HURRY?
Why It's Our Top Pick
The quicker you choose your overhead drum mic, the quicker you can get to recording your tracks and getting your name out there.
With this in mind, we won’t leave you in suspense any longer - the best overhead drum mic on the market is the Rode NT1 Kit, and here’s why:
- It’s made with three layers of durable materials for maximum protection.
- It is covered by a 10-year warranty.
- It offers almost zero self-noise to keep the attention on your musical ability.
Top 5 Best Overhead Drum Mics
OUR TOP PICK
Starting our list off is the NT1 overhead mic from Rode, which is one inch in diameter and closely resembles the highly renowned NT1-A microphone. As this is a kit, you will not only get the condenser microphone but also an SMR shock mount which prevents the vibrations from affecting the overall result.
The NT1 offers high frequencies with super low noise levels and a well-rounded bass reproduction to ensure nothing is taken away from your recordings and that they are of the highest sound quality possible.
The transducer is actually within the microphone to reduce internal vibrations as well, adding to the next to no noise promise from Rode. In fact, the noise level from this mic is a mere 4.5dB.
The exterior of the mic is made from 6061 aluminum which is then plated in nickel to give you a greatly durable mic which is bound to last you a lifetime.
It is also coated in military-grade ceramic which prevents it from scratches or wear and tear. Moreover, the membrane is gold plated to amp up the durability even more.
- Covered by a 10-year warranty.
- Very quiet microphone.
- Made to be as durable as possible.
- There is an option to buy a refurbished option which may be a fake replica, so bear this in mind and choose the new option.
- No option to purchase a set of matched microphones.
Another pair of matched microphones, this alternative from Samson features gold-plated XLR connectors, shock-mounted mic clips and a portable case included.
Thanks to the polar pattern of these mics, the outside noise level is barely picked up to keep all the attention on your drumming.
The maximum sound pressure level of the C02 mics is 134dB SPL, giving you the optimal settings to be able to record every aspect of a drumkit without being left with a distorted recording.
This is incredibly beneficial as you do not have to worry about fiddling with settings before recording each song depending on the sound level it’ll be emitting.
Samson is known for making reliable and high-quality audio solutions, which is why this pair of overhead mics is so popular. Moreover, considering the fact that you’re getting two mics, the price is very inexpensive and surprising.
- It comes with a variety of different accessories to ensure high-quality recording.
- Versatile enough to record all sections of a drum kit without adjusting any settings.
- Attractive price point.
- Self-noise is higher than desired for many users.
- May not be suitable for acoustic recordings.
These cardioid condenser microphones come in a matched pair, giving you the ability to get a surround sound recording without any inconsistencies in the finished track.
In fact, the dB level difference between the two microphones is less than one, ensuring the variation is as minimal as possible.
Both the microphones are ½ inch wide, with a black finish on the exterior and a gold-plated membrane. They offer low noise to keep all the focus on the drumming, and come with stand mounts and WS5 windshields.
Rode manufactures its mics with state of the art machinery and highly-skilled professionals, giving you peace of mind that this pair of overhead mics are made to be of professional quality and durability. Moreover, you’ll also receive a foiled certificate of authenticity to ensure you’re getting the real deal.
- Two matched mics with less than one dB level different.
- Made of high-quality materials.
- Make very minimal noise.
- Doesn’t come with a stand.
- May not be the best choice for string instruments, but work well for drums.
This pair of microphones is the most budget-friendly option on our list, offering two microphones, two windscreens, two adjustable mic clips, three capsules - Super Cardioid, Cardioid, and Omni - and a carry case for amazing value.
You can flip between each of these capsules with one hand without any of the hassle of unmounting anything.
The microphones are sensitive enough to capture even the smallest of noises so that nothing will be missed in each of your tracks, and you can use them to record any instrument you desire.
For the low price point, these microphones are ideal for people just getting into recording music who don’t have the budget or desire for more professional-quality models as they still offer good sound quality.
- It comes with a range of different accessories.
- Very sensitive.
- Three capsules to choose from to give you more recording capabilities.
- High self-noise level.
- Rather fragile in terms of durability.
You can choose whether to purchase this overhead drum mic either singularly or as a matched pair, depending on how you’re going to be using your mic.
You can also choose between two sizes and whether you want it configured to be better for vocals or instruments, ensuring you can build your optimal microphone for your individual use.
There are nine polar patterns for you to choose from, giving you the option to choose the best setting for each recording session, ensuring that each of your songs is of the highest sound quality possible.
Moreover, there are three attenuation levels to pick from depending on how you’re using your microphone.
The front of the overhead mic holds an LED light that tells you when you’re in danger of overloading the mic so that you can adjust the noise levels to keep from blowing out the microphone.
This is a great benefit as you don’t want to finish recording only to find that the sound pressure was too extreme throughout the whole song.
- Lots of settings to choose from to adjust the mic for your individual recording sessions.
- Option for only one mic, or two matched mics.
- Overload warning light.
- The advertising features a false part number, so bear this in mind before purchasing compatible accessories.
- The mic mount is on the fragile side, potentially putting your mic in danger of falling.
Best Overhead Drum Mics Buying Guide
Before you choose your new overhead drum mic, there are some things that are worth knowing so that you can make a more informed choice and find the best model for your individual situation.
There are hundreds of potential suitors on the market, however, only a fraction of them are going to benefit you in the way you want and need them to.
Keeping the below considerations in the back of your mind while perusing the market will ensure that you choose the optimal mic for you.
Type of Overhead Drum Mic
When looking at overhead drum mics on the market, you’re likely going to see that there are multiple types of models to choose from. Above we have looked at both condenser and matched microphones, so it depends on your personal needs to which type you go for. You can also get condenser mics that are matched.
These mics offer great sound quality in which you can hear every detail in the recording. They are sensitive enough to capture every note while remaining far away from the drummer as not to get in the way. Moreover, condenser mics are durable and sturdy, so they’re well worth the investment.
Having said that, condenser mics are better suited for recording purposes and may not offer the best performance if you’re using them during a live gig.
Matched microphones are often made together with the intent of them being used together, therefore they complement each other perfectly and you get a well-rounded sound. If you’re using mismatched microphones, you may find inconsistencies within your recording due to the differing frequencies.
Many musicians figure this out too late and have two expensive microphones on their hands that don’t work well together. Spacing them further apart may reduce the noise irregularities, however, it’s likely that it will never completely go away. For this reason, it’s important that you choose matched microphones if you’re going to be purchasing more than one.
Overhead drum mics are designed to be held above the instrument, meaning that you’re going to need a large stand to hold it at the right angle.
While most microphones on the market are compatible with all overhead stands, some require a specific stand which may hike up the overall price point to be much more than if you were able to purchase a basic stand, or if you could use one that you already owned.
Moreover, you should check to see if you need to purchase any other equipment to use your chosen overhead drum mic. Most models come with all the required wires and gear to be able to use your mic, but it is better to check before you are disappointed by missing equipment.
Overhead microphones are often equipped with large price tags, however, there are more budget-friendly options in the market, so don’t be deterred when you see the market average price for overhead drum mics.
We have included a budget-friendly option above which works well for the price, so this is ideal if you’re just getting into the world of recording and don’t have enough budget to spend on a professional-quality model.
On the other hand, it is worth noting that more expensive overhead drum mics are often considered investments and will last a long time, making the overall price worthwhile when you compare it to how many years of use you’ll get from it.
You may not be able to use inexpensive models for as long as higher quality models, potentially costing you more in the long run.
Expanding on what we just mentioned, overhead microphones are a worthy investment and can often be used for much more than just recording drums. Providing you choose a high-quality model, you’ll be able to use it to record numerous instruments such as guitar, vocals, and drums.
The benefit of microphones is that they don’t really differ depending on what they’re used for, which is why they’re often so versatile. Unlike other recording equipment, you can use your microphone for almost anything worth recording, which is another reason why it is worthwhile to invest in a high-quality overhead mic rather than purchasing a number of lower quality models for each instrument.
Sound pressure refers to how loud the drumming is and whether or not your overhead mic can take the maximum level. Think of your microphone as an eardrum - if the sound is too loud, you could potentially burst the eardrum and ruin the sound.
You may have heard of people blowing out their microphones by singing too loud, which is exactly what can happen if your mic is not equipped to handle the sound of your drums.
Microphones with lower sound pressure levels can often distort the recording because the pressure is too much for them to handle. This is why it is better to choose a model that can handle high pressures, especially for drums as they are undoubtedly the loudest instrument to play.
If you choose a microphone with a lower sound pressure capability, you may have to position them further away from the drumset to prevent the microphones from blowing out. This might lessen the sound quality and deplete some of the details in the recording. The sound pressure level is often referred to as ‘SPL Rating’, so make sure you look out for this in each advertisement.
Decibel (dB) pads are another thing to consider when choosing an overhead drum mic, which determines the sensitivity of the microphone. While the general rule is that sensitive mics are considered better due to the fact that they can capture more of the details during the recording, this may not always be the case.
For instance, if your song includes a lot of cymbal action, which is a loud and high-pitched note, a mic on the highest sensitivity level may become distorted when hearing the cymbals.
Decibel pads enable you to adjust the sensitivity level so that you can use the microphone whether you’re recording a loud song or one on the quieter side. This is another feature that makes the overhead mic more versatile, so it is a worthwhile capability looking out for.
Quality and Durability
Overhead drum microphones must be of a high quality to produce amazing sound quality, otherwise the point of using a microphone is diminished. While you may not want to pay for the highest quality model on the market, you’ll need to ensure that the model you choose is decent enough to offer no lower than great sound quality.
Check whether the manufacturer has been praised for its design and creating of the microphones, as this is a good indicator of the overall sound quality and durability that you can expect to receive from that particular model. What’s more is the materials that your overhead drum mic is made of. Some are even made of gold counterparts!
Frequently Asked Questions
How high should overhead mics be?
This depends on the SPL of the individual mics, how loud you want the drums to be in the recording, and where the optimal balance is. For this reason, there is no set height for your overhead drum mics to be.
You’re going to need to conduct some trial and error before you find the best height for your microphones.
Before you go, take a look at our best microphone for acoustic guitar post. Guaranteed to satisfy!