When it comes to recording drums, the sound of your overheads can make or break your record. You need to get your hands on a set of overheads that are both in your budget and that will deliver great results.
Taking a trip down to your local music store isn’t the best option, as they don’t stock as many microphones anymore.
We’ve curated this list of the six best overhead mics for drums so you don’t make the same mistakes everyone else does when purchasing overhead microphones.
The topic of overhead microphones is subjective — there are plenty of other options available, but I feel that this list covers both affordable mics to the highest-quality pro mics you can choose from.
Table of Contents
The Best Overhead Mics For Drums In 2020 at a Glance
I’ve included some audio samples for microphones I’ve either used myself, or have tracked with in the past.
Be sure to listen on studio monitors or high-quality reference headphones. All the audio examples below have no EQ or compression added, aside from anything that may have been used on the way in.
|OUR TOP PICK||Neumann KM 184 Stereo Pair||♫ Audio Example|
|Best Mid-Level||Shure KSM 137 Stereo Pair||♫ Audio Example|
|Budget Pick||Rode M5 Stereo Pair|
If you’re really on a tight budget and are just starting out, the microphones listed below will be a perfect choice for home recording.
You won’t get the most amazing results ever, but these might be a good starter option to learn on.
Behringer C-2 Stereo Overhead Mics
The Cheapest Overhead Microphones for Drums
Behringer is a company that has prided itself in making high-quality, affordable products. The C-2 Stereo overhead mics for drums are no different.
These are the best budget overhead drum mics. Even so, they will deliver decent results for the money. This is the only set of overhead mics for drums under $100.
You’re not only limited to just recording drums with these types of microphones.
You can also dream up other applications for your overhead microphones: recording piano, acoustic guitar, room microphones, etc.
The only other thing to note about these overhead mics for drums is that they are a little thin sounding.
If you’re primarily recording cymbals and later on replacing the close microphones with samples, you’ll have no issue with these. Be prepared to use a lot of EQ cuts on these, as they are very harsh in the high end.
Rode M5 Overhead Mics
Best Overhead Mics for Drums Around $200
Next up on our list is the Rode M5. These drum overheads will sound significantly better than the Behringer mics, giving you a fuller sound with a less-harsh high end.
Rode makes killer microphones for an affordable price. Just like the C-2, this is a stereo pair of pencil condenser microphones that will give you a nice overhead recording.
These drum overhead microphones provide more detail in your recording and will require less-aggressive EQ moves.
The Rode M5 is perfect for the studio recording or any live application. They’re durable and cheap, so you know you can tour with them.
At around $100 each, you won’t be going wrong, especially if they’re your first matched stereo pair of microphones.
Side note: Another excellent microphone from these guys is the Rode K2. It’s perfect for recording a mono overhead or also works great as a room microphone.
Drum Overhead Mics for Around $500
The AT4041 pair is by far the greatest sounding pair of overhead microphones on our list thus far. These microphones give a nice and crispy high-end without sounding harsh.
They are perfect for cymbals, overheads, room mics, on acoustic guitar, pianos, horns, and even are useful as a snare bottom microphone. These microphones feature a transformer-less design, giving you a quieter noise floor.
Included in the protective vinyl case is the two microphones, two stand clamps, and two windscreens. Everything about these overhead mics for drums screams quality.
Shure KSM137 Studio Pair
Overhead Mics for Drums Under $1000
A company we have yet to see on our list is Shure. For those wondering, I have purposely left out the Shure SM81 pencil condenser microphone.
I have never been a fan of that mic and think that the KSM137s far outshine in performance and sound. They’re also cheaper.
Hear the microphones on a kit — no EQ or compression:
These are the most expensive on our list so far, and they perform well and sound incredible.
As we get into this range of microphones, most of them will sound amazing. It’s really up to your personal taste.
While you can use these microphones for your drum overheads, you can also use them on hi-hats if need be.
Acoustic instruments also sound excellent with these microphones.
A standard in many studios. These are the best overheads under $1,600
Neumann makes expensive microphones. For the price, these are the best sounding drum overhead mics and will give you the highest quality drum recordings.
Here’s a raw recording of the KM184s as drum overheads:
The KM184s are industry standard microphones and have been used on tons of records.
Your cymbals will shine and your drums will sound big and full. Many engineers swear by these mics and often use them on tons of different applications.
They are extremely detailed microphones and can handle very high SPL. In addition to drum overheads, these microphones sound excellent on acoustic instruments.
Neumann U87 Stereo Matched Pair
The BEST Overhead Microphones for Drums
If you have a ton of money to spend on your studio build, you should get two Neumann U87s to use as drum overheads.
They are by far the best sounding microphone and you’ll also be able to use this microphone on tons of different applications.
Have a listen to them on drums as overheads:
They’re punchy, full of life, and yet, not so brittle in the top-end.
You’ll be able to track amazing sounding vocals, record guitars, amplifiers, you name it.
Now there are some microphone makers who are essentially making U87 clones. Some come close, others are way off.