Drum overheads are an essential part of any drum recording or live performance setup. They capture the overall sound of the drum kit and help to balance the individual drum sounds. Choosing the right overhead drum microphone is essential for getting a great drum sound, but with so many options available, it can be overwhelming to know where to start.
In this article, we will introduce you to the 5 best overhead drum mics on the market and provide an in-depth buying guide to help you choose the right one for your specific needs. We will cover a range of microphone types and price points, from budget-friendly options to high-end, premium models.
Whether you are a recording engineer, a live sound engineer, or a drummer looking to upgrade your mic setup, this article will provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision. We will cover the key features to consider when choosing an overhead drum mic, including polar pattern, frequency response, durability, price, and compatibility with your recording setup.
By the end of this article, you will have a clear understanding of the options available to you and the knowledge you need to choose the best overhead drum mic for your needs. So let’s get started!
5 Best Overhead Drum Mics:
The Shure SM57 is a classic and versatile microphone that is often used on drum overheads. Its cardioid polar pattern helps to reduce any unwanted background noise, making it a great choice for recording in noisy environments. The SM57 also has a frequency response of 40Hz to 15kHz, which means it can capture a wide range of sounds, including the subtle nuances of cymbals. It is also very durable, making it a great option for touring drummers.
The AKG C414 is a highly acclaimed microphone that is often used on drum overheads. It has a wide frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz, which means it can capture the full range of drum sounds. It also has multiple polar patterns, including cardioid, omnidirectional, and figure-8, which allows you to tailor the microphone to your specific recording needs. The C414 is also known for its excellent transient response, which means it can capture fast-changing sounds, such as cymbals, with great accuracy.
The Sennheiser MD421 is a popular choice for drum overheads due to its versatility and durability. It has a frequency response of 30Hz to 17kHz, which allows it to capture a wide range of drum sounds. It also has a cardioid polar pattern, which helps to reduce background noise and feedback. The MD421 is also known for its smooth and natural sound, making it a great choice for recording both live and studio drum performances.
Neumann TLM 103
The Neumann TLM 103 is a high-end microphone that is often used on drum overheads. It has a frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz, which allows it to capture a wide range of drum sounds. It also has a cardioid polar pattern, which helps to reduce background noise and feedback. The TLM 103 is known for its clear and detailed sound, making it a great choice for recording both live and studio drum performances.
The Shure KSM9 is a premium microphone that is often used on drum overheads. It has a frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz, which allows it to capture a wide range of drum sounds. It also has a cardioid polar pattern, which helps to reduce background noise and feedback. The KSM9 is known for its clarity and definition, making it a great choice for recording both live and studio drum performances.
When choosing a drum overhead microphone, it is important to consider your specific needs and budget. All of the microphones listed above are excellent choices, but each has its own unique set of features and capabilities. Ultimately, the best microphone for you will depend on your specific recording needs and preferences.
Things to consider when choosing an overhead drum microphone:
- Polar pattern: The polar pattern of a microphone determines its sensitivity to sound coming from different directions. Cardioid polar patterns are best for isolating specific sounds and reducing background noise, making them a good choice for drum overheads. Omnidirectional polar patterns, on the other hand, are equally sensitive to sound coming from all directions, making them a good choice for recording full drum kits or drum circles.
- Frequency response: The frequency response of a microphone determines the range of sounds it can capture. A microphone with a wide frequency response (e.g. 20Hz to 20kHz) will be able to capture a wide range of drum sounds, including the subtle nuances of cymbals.
- Durability: If you are a touring drummer, it is important to choose a durable microphone that can withstand the rigors of the road. Look for microphones with sturdy construction and tough exteriors.
- Price: Overhead drum microphones range in price from budget-friendly options to high-end, premium models. Determine your budget and look for a microphone that offers the features and capabilities you need within your price range.
- Compatibility with your recording setup: Make sure the overhead drum microphone you choose is compatible with your recording setup. If you are using a digital recording system, for example, you will need a microphone with a digital output.
By considering these factors, you can choose the best overhead drum microphone for your specific needs and budget. Happy shopping!
FAQ: Overhead Drum Mics
What are the best overhead drum mics?
Some popular and highly-rated overhead drum mics include the Shure SM57, the Sennheiser MD421, and the Audio-Technica AT4050. These mics are known for their clarity, durability, and versatility, making them suitable for a wide range of drumming styles and applications.
How do I choose the best overhead drum mics for my needs?
There are a few factors to consider when choosing the best overhead drum mics for your needs:
- Frequency response: Choose a mic with a wide frequency response that can capture the full range of frequencies produced by the drums.
- Polar pattern: Consider the polar pattern of the mic, as this will affect how it picks up sound. A cardioid pattern is commonly used for overhead mics, as it is more directional and can help reduce ambient noise.
- Price: Determine your budget and look for a mic that offers good value within your price range.
- Compatibility: Make sure the mic is compatible with your recording or amplification setup.
- Brand reputation: Consider the reputation of the brand when choosing a mic, as this can be a good indicator of quality and reliability.
How do I position overhead drum mics?
Overhead drum mics are typically placed above the drum kit, facing down towards the drums. The exact positioning will depend on the size and configuration of your drum set, as well as your personal preference. A common technique is to place the mics about a foot or so above the drum set and slightly angled towards the center of the kit. Experiment with different positions to find the sound that works best for you.
Do I need a separate mic for each drum?
A: It’s not strictly necessary to have a separate mic for each drum, as overhead mics can capture the sound of the entire kit. However, using individual mics for specific drums (such as a snare drum mic or a bass drum mic) can give you more control over the sound and allow you to tailor the levels of each drum in the mix. This can be particularly useful in recording situations.