Best Overhead Drum Mic
(Updated for 2019)

Written By James Quinn


Are you looking for the best overhead microphone for your drum set?

  1. You may need a new microphone because your old one is not giving you the best sound
  2. You may want to buy it for someone as a gift to complete their set
  3. Or perhaps your home studio is almost complete and needs the complete st of microphones.

Drum miking is dependant on what you intend to do with the set. You could just be starting your home studio, you have a bit of space, and you want to record real drum playing, rather than automated sounds. This tends to give your new music, a real feel.

Perhaps you are part of a band or you are a sound engineer for a full-on band, and you need to be able to mic the drums as well.

You may be starting off in the business of drum recording and need a hand in knowing what you should be getting.


In a Hurry? Our Top Pick Is.....

The Rode M5-MP Matched Pair Cardioid Condenser Microphones

We take a look at some of the best microphones on the market.

Yes, you are looking for a microphone for drums, but you also want on that is great as a general overhead microphone, picking up other instruments very well.

We take a look at the microphones that are on the market today.

Rode M5-MP Matched Pair Cardioid Condenser Microphones is one of our favourite picks, swings both ways in that it is great for studio recording and for live performances as well - check price here.

Look for a microphone with various polar pattern selection. It will give you more options. Also, think about the amount of excess and ambient noise it picks up. Think about durability. How well does it fair in tough conditions that most drum sets are exposed to.

When shopping for an overhead drum set microphone, also think about how much you are willing to spend. Sometimes there is a correlation between the price of the product and the quality of the product. Ultimately, be comfortable with the microphone you choose.


These Are Our 5 Best Overhead Drum Mic

#1. OUR OVERALL TOP PICK

1. Rode M5-MP Matched Pair Cardioid Condenser Microphones

OUR RATING

It is only fitting that our list is started off with a renowned brand. Rode has been at the forefront of microphone innovation for years now. The M5-MP follow in that trail. It is a condenser microphone that produces incredibly low noise.

The design is compact. They do say that dynamite comes in small packages. Rode sell these as a pair that has been matched for the purpose of keeping a consistency of sensitivity.

When you get one microphone that is more sensitive than another, be output becomes unbalanced. You would need to compensate for this disparity by creating different EQs.

The microphones come with a premium foiled certificate. This is how you know that you have got the real thing. One of the first things that will grab your attention is the detail that goes into the aesthetics of each microphone.

Rode has used a ceramic coating to not only build a stronger product but to also give it a sturdy feel and look. It is finished off with a professional-looking matte black paint. 

Both microphones are light and thin enough to fit into most mic stands. They bring you great versatility when it comes to what you can record with them.

Beyond the drums, you can also use them to record acoustic instruments and vocals. Like most microphone, they take the common XLR cable to connect to your mixer. Windscreens and clips are included as standard. This provides you with some of the more annoyingly elusive things that you will need.

You will need to get lithium-ion batteries to power it. What makes them suitable for recording drums is from an overhead position is that they are directional.

Pros

  • Hard to argue with this price for a pair.
  • They are durable.
  • The sound produced is exceptional.
  • They are versatile in use.
  • The instructions that come with the mics are easy to follow.
  • They are aesthetically pleasing.

Cons

  • They do not come with a mic holder.

RUNNER UP

Samson C02PR Pencil Condenser Microphones

2. Samson C02PR Pencil Condenser Microphones

OUR RATING

Pairing quality and affordability is the Samson C02PR condenser microphone. It delivers high-quality audio recordings at a reasonable cost. In line with this standard of quality are the gold-plated XLR connectors.

Most musicians will agree that this is an indisputable factor when it comes to the output. These are sold as a pair that can be synched to give you a complete stereo recording with each one acting as a mono.

Samson is not a new company on the market. They have been delivering high-quality audio equipment since 1980. The C02PR is designed to deliver good quality recording specifically for instruments. It has a low mass cardioid polar pattern.

This narrows down the area from which it picks up sound. The advantage of this is that you will get great recordings from the direction in which the microphone is pointed. Interference is kept to an absolute minimum.

If you are working on a recording that requires multiple placements, as drums would, this microphone is the perfect pick. Possible applications would include percussion instruments, strings and drums.

It would also work an absolute trick when you are recording multiple instruments. The cardioid nature of it will allow you to focus it on just one of these instruments without picking up too much from the other instruments. This makes it perfect for both recording in the studio as well as during a live set.

You will need to use phantom power to operate the microphones. Most professional condensers will share this requirement. Beyond this requirement, everything else is plug and play. There is not much setting up that goes into getting these mics going.

Each mic comes with its own stand bracket and a windbreaker. The stand bracket is of the screen-on type, which makes it easier to use all sorts of stands. There is a case included for protecting the two mics when travelling or just to store them away when not in use.

Pros

  • These provide great value for money.
  • Versatile microphones for all sorts of instruments.
  • They perform well both in a studio and for live recordings.
  • They are easy to set up and to use.
  • Evidently well-made.

Cons

  • There may be some hiss.
LyxPro SDPC-2 Stereo Pair of Pencil Condenser Stick Microphones

3. LyxPro SDPC-2 Stereo Pair of Pencil Condenser Stick Microphones

OUR RATING

Our next pick also comes as a pair. LyxPro is not a brand that we are familiar with. As such we went into this one with caution. This is a great approach to take when spending your hard-earned money one equipment.

The unique approach that they have taken is what sets them apart. They have designed microphones that come with interchangeable capsules.

What that means is that you will be able to get variable performances and versatility from the same microphone. This is a feature that would go a long way in situations where you may be using recording various instruments.

The three capsules are Omni, cardioid and super-cardioid. It is in knowing what each one is capable of that you would be able to get the best out of them.

The Omni is perfect for recording sound directly from multiple sources. It is capable of picking up vocal and instrumentals from various sources without distortion. If you find that you are looking to focus on fewer instruments, the cardioid will do a great job.

To take this laser focus one step further you can use the super-cardioid. It is ideal for recording a single source with minimal interference from the surrounding.

All of these are at your disposal. The beauty of it is that you can employ the services of two microphones at any given time. This delivers a richer stereo output.

The frequency response that you will get is 30Hz-18kHz. There is a sensitivity of -38dB. You will also get 2 windscreens, 2 microphone clips and a carrying case made of aluminium when you purchase this. The entire package weighs just 2.55 pounds.

You will undoubtedly be pleased with its performance when recording overhead drums. Being able to change the capsule will do wonders for you.

Pros

  • There are 3 capsules that can be interchanged.
  • The overall quality of the recordings was exceptional.
  • It is versatile in how you can use it.
  • It is fairly well made and looks durable.
  • Comes with clips and windscreens.
  • Very budget-friendly.

Cons

  • There have been some issues reported on threading.
Behringer C-2 Studio Condenser Microphones

4. Behringer C-2 Studio Condenser Microphones

OUR RATING

Behringer was one of the first microphone brands that I ever owned. Any music lover will know how sentimental that is. I have owned two more from this brand among an evergrowing collection of microphones.

The C-2 drew me in firstly because of the price. Having always been a fan of Behringer, I know that they produce reasonably priced equipment. This still took me by surprise.

For a matched pair of microphones to be this budget-friendly is unheard of. Especially when they are made by a recognised brand.

The C-2 is designed to provide you with a stereo recording solution both in a studio and for live performances. It has a cardioid pickup pattern. You will already know from our other reviews that this pattern ensures that the sound that you capture is devoid of feedback.

It has a low-mass diaphragm which ensures that there is ultra-wide frequency response. You will get immaculate sound on the other end. Once you have the mic in your hand you will notice that there is a small dial one each one.

This allows you to reduce the gain by (10dB). There was hardly any distortion experienced in testing.

The body of the microphone looks and feels durable. It is made out of metal die casting. For output, there is a gold plated XLR connector that is sure to produce good quality sound. Among other applications, the C-2 can also be used to capture vocals.

It comes in at a weight of just 1.65 pounds. Each package includes custom stand adapters, windscreens and stereo bar that you can mount the two microphones on. These are stored in a carrying case that is also provided.

Pros

  • Could not complain about the price.
  • The mics are sturdy and durable.
  • There is an option to turn the gain up or down.
  • The XLR connector is of high quality.
  • It does not pick up any surround sound or interference.

Cons

  • There is some feedback at times.
  • It gets easily scratched.
Pyle Pro 7-Piece Wired Dynamic Drum Mic Kit

5. Pyle Pro 7-Piece Wired Dynamic Drum Mic Kit

OUR RATING

Our final pick includes various microphones. I know what you must be thinking, this has to be very expensive. Well, you will be surprised to find out that it is a very cheap kit.

There are 6 microphones in total. You will get one large drum mic, 4 small drum mics and 4 condenser mics. The microphones provide high-quality recordings.

With all of the pieces that are included in this set, you will undoubtedly get the recording that you are after. Whether you are looking to capture low-end punch or more sensitive sound.

You can use the big drum mic to record high bass drums and instruments that have a low frequency. The small drum mic is ideal for toms and snare drums. You also have the overhead mics that are ideal for pianos, cymbals as well as your vocals.

There is incredible versatility throughout the kit due to the range of microphones that are available to you. Most of the microphones in the kit are compact and lightweight. This makes it much easier to place them on all sorts of stands. There are ⅜” and ⅝” threads that would fit onto most stands.

The microphones all use the regular XLR connector. This makes it even more versatile when looking to connect it to other devices. You can use it with your mixer or amplifier among other audio instruments. There is a silver carrying case included in this set.

Beyond the mics, there are also 4 clamps that are suitable for snare/tom mics as well as 2 windscreens for the condenser mics. The mics can be powered by a 24-48V condenser mic. The uni-directional polar pattern makes it ideal to record overhead drums. All in all, they weigh 6.6 pounds. 

Pros

  • The price cannot be beaten.
  • The microphone quality is sturdy.
  • The case adds to the durability and safety of your mics.
  • They fit onto various mic stands.
  • The clips are very strong.

Cons

  • The hardware leaves a lot to be desired.
  • The threading is all plastic.

Why You Need An Overhead Drum Microphone

There are different methods of mic'ing drums. It all depends on the type of sound you are looking for. How you mic the drum set and your end result is also what will help you choose the best microphone. Drums can be recorded using a single microphone placed strategically, to pick up sound from the whole kit, or by individually capturing sound from the different drum components. This is how you get isolated sound for the cymbals and every component sounds spectacular.

Overhead microphones are usually set up in order to get the overall picture that comes from the foundation of your drum. One or more overhead microphones are usually used to capture the sound. Most close drum microphones, tend to miss the sound of the cymbals. This is where you will be grateful for the overhead microphone.

The right amount of distance creates depth. The farther away the microphone is, the deeper it will sound. Avoid the direct flat sounds that come with the close proximity of the microphone to the drum. As a beginner, it is advisable to get a single overhead microphone. This way you do not have to worry too much about the placement of the microphones. As you progress in skill, you can then start to add more microphones. Now you will need to pay careful attention to the placement of the microphones. You have to do this so that you can avoid phase and mono compatibility issues.

Best Overhead Drum Mic - Buyer Guide

Generally, you can use the microphones you have on hand (even those you borrowed for a bit). But when you eventually want a good clean sound, you will go shopping for the right overhead microphone for your drum kit.

Can I use one microphone sound set up?

Short answer, yes! An overhead microphone will do the trick for you. It is just as sensitive to sound from all angles. When using just the one overhead microphone, you want to place it close enough to be able to pick up the sound you want. If you place it too far

How to balance my drum's sound

Have you ever heard the phrase, "play it by ear"? To balance your drums sound, you will need to be able to listen closely to the sound being produced. Experiment and get the best balance of drums to cymbals to room sound.

What type of room will you be playing in?

The relationship between the drummer, the drum and the room is often underestimated. The size of the room and what is in it will determine how much sound is absorbed. You will find that the material the walls are made of or panelled with, and likewise the floor, makes a huge difference in the way your drums will sound and ultimately what the microphone will pick up. You can have a large bare room, and make it suitable for absorbing sound, by adding soundproof panels. Giving the sound in the room, a place to be absorbed into and ultimately allow the output to sound great.

Positioning

If you want to have more than one overhead microphone, make sure they are placed in equidistance of the snare drum (physically measure just to be sure). Large-diaphragm microphones are great for recording drums and overhead microphones. As you do this, always check for the phase relationship between the two microphones and the snare drum.

Another set up you can try is with three cardioid microphones. Where you place the microphones above the toms, equidistant from the snare, in the vicinity of the cymbals. This will get you great stereo spread of the full drum kit. When you pan those apart you will hear the toms move from left to right because you set it up like that.

You can also have a 4 microphone setup. Remember to keep checking phase. It has the same principle as the three microphone setup with an added snare microphone.

A 5 microphone set up brings excitement and depth to the studio recording. There are several ways to mic drum kits. Your style of playing and the room can greatly influence which one suits you best.

How durable is it?

Check on the online reviews and hear what people have to say about it. Is it a durable microphone to have and how much wear and tear can it take. We all know that the equipment for your drumming kit has to be sturdy and tough enough to withstand the most tedious of setups and situations. Some microphones come with a case. This helps in protecting it and keeping it intact.

How is it mounted?

If you already have studio equipment, then you probably have a couple of microphones that stands in our arsenal. You do not want to keep buying more stands. It is, therefore, a good idea, to find microphones that are compatible with the equipment you already have, this includes the microphone stands.

How much does it cost

How much are you willing to spend on your new microphone or microphones. Your budget will be able to help you make a decision as to what microphone you can get. When it comes to condenser microphones, the cheaper they are in price, the cheaper they are in quality, so you do not want to be caught in a position where you have a microphone that you picked up on sale, and realize it is virtually useless.

What polar pattern does the overhead microphone have?

Microphones are designed with different polar patterns. These patterns determine what the microphone picks up. They prescribe directionality. There are a few basic types of polar patterns, and these are, cardioid, hyper-cardioid, figure-8, and multi-directional patterns. Each of these patterns offers different ranges. For overhead microphones, you want to use a cardioid. These microphones, pick up sound from the front and sides, ignoring the back end.

Read the labels carefully

If you have been mic'ing drums for a while, then you probably think you have it all on lockdown. Different mic'ing techniques work for different people. For some parts of the process, it is an exact science, whilst for some parts, it is about the experience and knowing what works for your sound. Your new microphone will come with a manual, a guide that directs and lets you know what type of power your microphone needs, the polar pattern it has and how to connect it. Yes, you may have been doing this for ages now, but we never stop learning. When we stop growing we start dying, so never be too proud to browse the manual and see what new things may be included there. Technology advances every day. This means there are new ways to make your drums sound better. Read and take heed of those.

Buy from reputable names

There are reputable names that have been selling music equipment for ages. There is a reason why some names have been around for as long as they have. They must know something right? When shopping for a good overhead microphone, look for one that has good reviews and is not too cheap (price can be an indicator). Reputable names will also have a great warranty on their products. The warranty will also tell you how much faith the manufacturer has in their product.

Final Thoughts

Try to think about your favourite song. The one that always gets you on your feet. Guaranteed, nine out of ten times, that song has a strong drumline in the background. Sometimes we do not realize how important instruments are in the music we play and love so much. The passion and energy that goes into playing the drums are pretty phenomenal. The beautiful synergy we call music is largely due to a strong presence of drum playing, its where the rhythm comes from.

In as much as the instruments we play are important and their quality is paramount, it is important to remember that the recording gear is equally important. There is no point in having a drum kit that sounds superb, but not many people can hear it. If you can mic a drum kit properly and effectively, it can give you the desired result. With all the microphones available on the market, It is possible to get that polished sound. Sift through the various options available on the market. Make sure to read the labels. Look for reviews from other users. Choose wisely. We hope our top picks can help you make a decision that will land your drum playing on so many records.