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 Guitar Center isn’t the best option, as they don’t stock as many microphones at the stores anymore.
We’ve curated this list of our 5 best overhead mics for drums so you don’t make the same mistakes everyone else does when purchasing overhead microphones.
Our Best Overhead Mics For Drums In 2018 – Quick Glance
The Most Budget-Friendly Overhead Microphones
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 For Drums – Overhead Mics Under $100
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 For Drums – Best Stereo Condenser Mics Under $200
- Acoustic Principle: Pressure Gradient
- Polar Pattern: Carded
- Frequency Range: 20Hz - 20kHz
- Warranty: 1 year with free extension to 10 years following registration
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.
Audio-Technica AT4041 – Overhead Mics For Drums Under $500
- Smooth, extended frequency response with a slight rise occurring in the high-frequency region
- Ideal for drum overheads, acoustic guitar, piano, horns and under snare
- Low-mass diaphragm improves transient response, increases response bandwidth and reduces handling and mechanical noise transfer
- Transformerless circuitry virtually eliminates low-frequency distortion and provides superior correlation of high-speed transients
- State-of-the-art design and manufacturing techniques ensure compliance with A-T's stringent consistency and reliability standards
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 KSM141 – Overhead Mics For Drums Under $1000
- A mechanical polar pattern switch for highly consistent cardioid and true omnidirectional polar patterns. Provides flexibility in a wide variety of recording applications
- Ultra-thin, 2.5 micron, 24 karat gold-layered, low mass Mylar diaphragm for superior transient response
- Class A, discrete, transformerless preamplifier for transparency, extremely fast transient response, no crossover distortion, and minimal harmonic and intermodulation distortion
- Premium electronic components, including gold-plated internal and external connectors
- Subsonic filter eliminates low frequency rumble (less than 17 Hz) caused by mechanical vibration
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 KSM141s far outshine in performance and sound.
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.
Neumann KM 184 – Best Pencil Condenser Microphones Under $1600
- Omni Directional
- Based on the famed KM series
- Versatile applications
Neumann makes expensive microphones. For the price, these are the best sounding drum overhead mics and will give you the highest quality drum recordings. 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 – Best Overhead Drum Mics
- Variable large diaphragm microphone
- Pressure-gradient transducer with double membrane capsule
- The studio microphone classic
- Three directional characteristics: omni, cardioid, figure-8
- Set includes U 87 AI, EA 87, WS 87, IC 3/25
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. You’ll be able to track amazing sounding vocals, record guitars, amplifiers, you name it.