Best Hi Hat Mic: A Detailed Observation Of The Top Mic Options Of The Year
I remember how complicated was my search for the very first hi-hat mic I have purchased myself. Using a separate microphone for your hi-hat will seriously improve the overall drum’s sound quality, make it more appealing, rich, and harmonious. For both experienced musicians and those who just start working with the drum set sound, implementing microphones is essential to enrich the sound, underline hi-hat rhythm and energy.
For sure, a hi-hat adds its colors to the sound even without the mic, but to take full control over the sound tempo and quality, it is essential to use a hi-hat that will seriously improve the overall sound.
There are plenty of various types of mics depending on your budget, sound requirements, how often, and where you play the drums. While a lot of drummers prefer to use common overhead drum mic configurations, expecting them to transmit the sound of hi-hat along with the snare, cymbals, bass, etc. as a unified sound, they lose the individuality of each component and clarity of its sound effect. To identify the key features of the most popular mic models, let’s review the top 14 hi-hat’s list I have created based on my experience and the general online trends.
What To Look For in a Hi-Hat Microphone?
- Looking For The Perfect Hi-Hat Sound: Top 14 Hi-Hat Mic List
- 1. Audio-Technica PRO 37: Professional Studio & Live Solution
- 2. Shure SM81-LC: Ultra-Durable Premium Mic
- 3. BEHRINGER B-5 Gold-Sputtered: Affordable & Versatile
- 4. Heimu Professional HCM71: Worthy Super-Budget Option
- 5. MXL V67N: Premium Sensitive Cymbal Pen Mic
- 6. AKG P170 High-Performance Instrument Microphone: The Best Hi-Hat Mic Studio Model
- 8. Rockville Pro MIc Kit 1: Best Hi-Hat Mic For Recording With Full Metal Mic Body
- 9. Audio-Technica ATR-1100 Hi-Hat Mic: Unidirectional Instrumental and Vocal Microphone
- 10. Olympus ME-52W Noise Cancellation Microphone: Best Hi-Hat Mic WIth Noise Protection System
- 11. Best Budget Hi-Hat Mic For Recordings: CAD CM217 Microphone
- 12. Shure SM48S-LC Microphone: Best Hi-Hat Mic For Performance Recordings
- Best hi-hat mic holders
- Buying Guide for the Best Hi-Hat Mic
- Frequently Asked Questions
There are several factors you should consider while choosing the right hi-hat mic for recording:
Diaphragm size – hi-hats produce mostly high frequencies, so the best way to catch them properly is to use small-diaphragm condenser microphones that are designed to deal with higher frequencies. It’s highly important to have a clear hi-hat sound both on stage and in the studio as you can’t provide a smooth rhythm without this instrument picked up correctly.
- Design – I recommend giving your preference to lightweight mics with rugged metal bodies to endure longevity and avoid carrying too much weight when you need to relocate the setup. Aluminum mics provide zero radio-frequency interference, which means you can use them near wireless sound systems without catching any sound artifacts.
- Size – don’t think that small and lightweight hi-hat mics will provide low sound quality. That’s definitely not the rule. Manufacturers just care for your setup size and weight.
- Pricing – fortunately, the price range for cymbal mics is quite broad. However, you should consider your budget to be able to record the entire kit, not just one or two parts.
- Extras – it’s very nice to have a mic along with some useful accessories, such as a transportation case, air noise filters, attenuation pads, and microphone clips. Unfortunately, top options rarely come with anything like that.
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Looking For The Perfect Hi-Hat Sound: Top 14 Hi-Hat Mic List
1. Audio-Technica PRO 37: Professional Studio & Live Solution
This mic by the famous Japanese manufacturer zero radio-frequency interference. definitely has its own signature sound. It seems that the engineers designed this model with digital recording in mind as the frequency response of the hardware cuts off sharply at around 15-17 kHz, but it catches both lows and airy highs surprisingly well. You can use this one to record any cymbal without worrying about recording glassy sounds. At the same time, the mic’s tone is bright and easily discernible in the mix.
The 112dB dynamic range makes it versatile and lets you catch all those subtle dynamic moves. Besides, PRO 37 provides a maximum input SPL of 141dB so that you can use it for any style. It supports 11-52V phantom power so that you can use it with inexpensive mixers. The price for the unit is below $200, which is a bargain for such a rich feature list.
- Professional performance for studio recording and live sound reinforcement
- Low-mass element for superb transient response
- Affordable professional unit
- 112dB dynamic range
- 15-30 kHz frequency response
- Warm sound with lows and airy highs
- The price used to be much lower
2. Shure SM81-LC: Ultra-Durable Premium Mic
This super-sleek and super-sturdy mic by Sure comes in a nice shockproof case along with a clip and a windscreen so that you can set it up on the stage right away. However, you should mind that it’s highly sensitive, and more gain/compression adjustments are necessary before you start playing.
The sound quality of this mic is exceptionally high. It doesn’t make any noise no matter which preamp you are using. The output clipping level is very high, which is great for heavy hitters. Unlike most other mics, this one doesn’t kill the low end with a filter. Instead, it picks up the lows perfectly well, so there’s no need to worry about distortions. It’s an excellent premium option if you need a sensitive cymbal mic.
- 0 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response
- Selectable low-frequency response: flat 6 or 18 dB/octave rolloff
- Neutral response
- It’s one of the sturdiest mics ever
- 3 waveform modes
- Pure sound
- 20 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response
- It’s quite costly but can be purchased with a drum mic kit
- You may find it too sensitive
3. BEHRINGER B-5 Gold-Sputtered: Affordable & Versatile
Although Behringer is a quite controversial audio hardware brand, it managed to do everything right with the B-5 budget condenser microphone. For a price lower than $100, this buddy comes with a set of 2 cardioid and omnidirectional pickups, features input attenuation and low-frequency roll-off, and cuts off as much noise as possible for the price.
Of course, you don’t need the omnidirectional mic to record cymbals, but having it is a great option in case you need to be as versatile as possible at your home studio, and the budget is limited. You can use this one for recording virtually anything unless the lows really matter to you.
- Professional gold-sputtered diaphragm condenser microphone for unsurpassed audio quality
- Ideal as main and support microphone for studio and live applications--perfect for acoustic instruments and overhead etc.
- Gold plated XLR
- Low-cut filter
- 140 dB max SPL
- 20Hz-20kHz Frequency response
- Two capsules for omni and cardioid recording
- Works only with +48V phantom power
- Not the best for professional use
4. Heimu Professional HCM71: Worthy Super-Budget Option
It may sound crazy, but this mic comes for just $15-$45, though it really can produce acceptable sound quality if you use it on cymbals. Of course, it’s far from the ‘noble’ sound of Sure or MXL, and the sensitivity is pretty low, but, come on, could you expect at least something from it?
The unidirectional pickup works just fine when you place the microphone close to a cymbal. I bet you won’t hear any noises as it doesn’t catch them at all. The Chinese manufacturer is quite secretive, but I think the frequency response is somewhere between 30Hz and 15kHz. If you want a mic that does the job for the lowest price possible, this one will surprise you for sure. Don’t expect much, and you’ll be satisfied with rather clear cymbal recordings.
- UNIDIRECTIONAL-captures source signal such as guitar amplifier or vocalist, while shunning off-axis sound minimizing background noise & feedback reproducing audio without interference from instruments or speakers on stage.
- DYNAMIC - For optimal clarity and punch, robust & resistant to moisture, achieving high gain before feedback, makes this microphone ideal for live vocal applications and for recording amplified instruments.
- The best mic below $50
- It cuts off all the noises providing perfect focus
- Excellent frequency response range
- Sounds quite clear
- No built-in attenuator
- No extras in the box
5. MXL V67N: Premium Sensitive Cymbal Pen Mic
MXL is a pretty young player on the market, but it already has a well-established base of celebrity users. For slightly more than $100, the V67N instrumental microphone has powerful guts. Both omnidirectional and cardioid polar patterns have flat frequency responses (20Hz – 20kHz). The sound reproduction quality is very precise, partly due to the Mogami cable internal wiring.
At first, it might seem too sensitive, but when you get the right gain point, you will receive a balanced cymbal sound with most of the dynamics reproduced on tape. The SPL handling is great, but, in my opinion, it lacks the ‘air’ range a tiny bit.
- Ideal for stringed instruments, cymbals, and percussion
- Flexibility—interchangeable cardioid and omni-directional capsules
- Posh wooden case and a stand clip
- Interchangeable omnidirectional and cardioid capsules
- Flat frequency response
- Wired with Mogami cable
- Lacks the airy highs a bit
6. AKG P170 High-Performance Instrument Microphone: The Best Hi-Hat Mic Studio Model
About The Brand: AKG is one of the most experienced mic producers that is focused on creating professional-level musical tools, including microphones, headphones, and accessories. It was founded in 1947 in Vienna, Austria, and quickly became the brand recognized by the music industry.
AKG P170 hi-hat mic is a high-quality tool for the clear sound of your recordings that will help you improve your sound, and it can also be applied to all kinds of percussions, acoustic guitars, and various strings and woodwinds. It is a great option in case you plan to work with other instruments or to use it for band music recordings and performances. Being a budget version of AKG C451 B, this mic for cymbals will help you create a pro-level sound for an affordable price.
The mic is pretty lightweight and has a great design, optimal for hi-hat recordings. It is possible to set up the mic in any position and be sure it will remain still during your performances and recordings. It has a ½-inch diagram that provides a high level of sound clarity and transient response.
- Lightweight 130g mic model that has 160mm height;
- Great sensitivity: it is 15 mV/Pa mic that can enrich all types of recordings;
- Can be used for studio and live recordings;
- Great audio frequency; from 20 to 20000 Hz.
- Rugged all-metal body and robust design - Withstands tough day-to-day use
- Switchable attenuation pad - For high SPL applications up to 155 db SPL
- A great alternative for more expensive pro-level mics
- Can be used for different types of instruments
- A small and lightweight model with an ergonomic design
- Great for both studio and live performance recordings
- Doesn’t have additional jacks or extension cords included in the set
- Not the cheapest option on the list
8. Rockville Pro MIc Kit 1: Best Hi-Hat Mic For Recording With Full Metal Mic Body
This mic is made by Rockville Audio, an experienced manufacturer of professional audio products that are used by professional musicians, implemented in car stereo systems, marine, and home audio systems. I can identify this company as middle-class audio gear manufacturers that produces decent and affordable items.
Rockville Mic Pro-Kit is a great universal soldier that will help you reach a new level of drums sounding. It is a full metal microphone that goes with a mic stand, making it easier to find the best mic position for your hi-hat. The bottom part of the stand has plastic coverage to prevent unexpected sliding. The best feature of this mic is that the bottom part of the base is made of 20mm sick iron, while the top part – of 15.2 mm sick iron, which guarantees its durability and protects the mic from any damage.
This microphone is a great variant for those looking for an all-in-one kit, including hi-hat mic placement, high-quality bag, and original cable that perfectly fits the mic. Having an M-56 cartridge with a neodymium magnet, this microphone is much more sensitive compared to other brands in the same price segment. There is almost no background noise and an excellent tone! The cable is made without aluminum, which makes it much more durable and supports the original sound.
- The microphone has a pro-level 56 cartridges;
- Optimal frequency response that varies from 80 to 13Khz;
- Light microphone — it weighs only 2.4 lbs that makes it easily-portable;
- High level of sound sensitivity: -72 ± 3dB;
- Impedance 600 Ohms ± 30%;
- High-quality 100 % OFC copper cable.
- Rockville Pro MIc Kit 1 - High-End Metal Microphone+Mic Stand+Carry Bag+Cable. Mic Features: M-56 Cartridge. Full metal mic body. Type: dynamic. Neodymium magnet. Polar Pattern: uni-directional.
- Frequency Response: 80 - 13Khz. Impedance: 600 Ohms ± 30%. Sensitivity: -72 ± 3dB. Mic Stand Features: High quality metal mic stand. Made of strong iron tubes! Black Painted Finish.
- Full-metal mic coverage
- Great sound quality for its price
- Goes with the cable, stand, and bag
- Easy to transport
- Not specifically designed for hi-hat
- It cannot compete in quality with more experienced pro brands
9. Audio-Technica ATR-1100 Hi-Hat Mic: Unidirectional Instrumental and Vocal Microphone
Audio-Technica is a well-known brand that has representatives all over the world, producing professional-quality equipment for the best sound, including microphones, headphones, gaming headsets, and turntables. Their products have been chosen for Grammy and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame opening ceremonies. Creating several legendary models, they proceed in developing great microphone models for a great price.
Audio-Technica ATR-1100 is the best hi-hat mic model to start your acquaintance with the brand and instrument mics in general. This microphone can be used for both instrumental and vocal recording with its unidirectional polar pattern that allows to effectively focus the mic pickup. Thus, you don’t have to worry about your hi-hat mic placement — it will enrich your sound and protect it from the feedback.
This microphone can be plugged into the preamp, mixer, or any type of audio interface in case you need to improve the sound quality – it has a plug adapter to connect with the input jack of any device you need. This is a great option for those who start their work with hi-hat sound and want to get a simple and functional item for a reasonable price.
- This microphone is super lightweight with only 5.3 ounces — great for those who need something portable and easy to fix;
- Good frequency response from 800 to 12000 Hz;
- 59 dB mic sensitivity – more than acceptable for first concerts and recordings;
- Extra-long cable (3 meters) that is permanently attached to the mic.
- A great introduction to Audio-Technica's quality and durability
- Ideal for vocal and instrument miking in performance and practice
- Simple and easy to work with a microphone
- Reasonable price
- Super lightweight
- Can be used for instrumental and vocal miking
- Only one size and color model
- Goes without a mic stand
- Not the top-quality option
10. Olympus ME-52W Noise Cancellation Microphone: Best Hi-Hat Mic WIth Noise Protection System
One of the most well-known producers of various optical, musical, video, medical, and other technical items, Olympus Corporation is also one of the oldest market players: the company was founded in 1919 in Japan, and now it has spread its impact on all regions of the planet, with big representatives in the EU and United States.
Olympus ME-52W microphone is the best hi-hat mic for recording in case you want to record at home, in your garage, or directly at the concert. It has a windscreen cover high-quality hi-hat mic clamp for dynamic live performance recordings, protecting your sound from unnecessary noises. This model can be plugged into a digital recorder with a 3.5mm jack, which makes it the perfect variant for unidirectional recordings in noisy areas or those that aren’t professionally equipped for noise isolation.
This microphone can be easily placed nearby with the help of an extension cord that goes with the microphone. It allows fixing the mic on the required height in an optimal position for recording. Thanks to flexible sensitivity settings, it is possible to choose an optimal mode for more distanced or quiet music.
- Lightweight model — only 0.1 ounces;
- Goes with a 3.3-foot extension cord — increased mobility of the mic that can be placed in the required position;
- Has a clamp for quick and easy hi-hat mic placement;
- 3.5mm jack will help you to connect the mic with your recording item or PC.
- Noise canceling microphone for Olympus digital voice recorders
- Ideal for use in high-noise environments
- Effectively cancels unnecessary noises
- Super small and lightweight
- Has a tie-up clip, extension cord and windscreen protection
- Cannot be used with iPhone or other mobile phones
- PA-1 plug adapter not included – in case you need to connect the mic to 2.5mm jack, you have to purchase it separately
11. Best Budget Hi-Hat Mic For Recordings: CAD CM217 Microphone
CAD Audio is a great producer of professional microphones for live sound and recording markets based in the US. It also has a number of sub-brands that help them extend the segment of the audio market in such spheres as recording, broadcast, consumer electronics, and others.
CAD CM217 microphone is one of the most popular mic models of CAD Audio that has a highly useful lightweight design with a hi-hat clamp included in the set. It also has a hi-pass filter and pro-quality attenuator that will help you receive the best possible sound. The best offer for its price, this microphone can also be used with acoustic guitars and drum kits.
Being easy to use, this mic will immediately show the difference of your sound, making an accent on the required instrument, and producing a clear and powerful sound. The mic is easy to fix, set up, and turn on using the buttons on its body. A great option for percussion that will help you improve your sound in the studio and during live performances.
- The mic weighs only 0.352 ounces — a great model to fix it anywhere you need;
- Designed specifically for drum overheads, hi-hat, and ride cymbals;
- It can also be used with strings;
- All metal-body for higher mic protection;
- The CAD CM217 is a small diaphragm condenser microphone that was designed for acoustic guitars
- Stringed instruments, cymbals, hi-hats, and more.
- Specifically designed for hi-hat performances and recordings
- Goes with the mic clamp
- Easy to fix and set up
- Great quality for such price
- No extension cord or jack adapter included
- Cannot be used for vocal recordings
12. Shure SM48S-LC Microphone: Best Hi-Hat Mic For Performance Recordings
Shure is one of the most recognized brands that produce pro-level microphones and audio electronics. Founded in 1925 in Chicago, Shure created microphones used by military representatives during the Second World War, was awarded by Technical Grammy, and became the leader in the wireless microphone market.
Shure SM48S-LC is a combination of classic cardioid dynamic SM48 mic that is used for instrument and vocal recordings. This mic has a brightened mid-range accompanied by the bass roll-off for effective management of the proximity effect. Thus unidirectional microphone is perfect for live performances, having high gain before feedback. It rejects any types of off-axis sounds and produces clear, rich, and explicit music.
To reduce even the most intense ruggedness and any handling, wind, or breathing noises, the mic has a shock-mounted cartridge and built-in pop filter. The mic goes with a special bed that protects it from dust and damages. Personally, I really like the mic’s design: it has a lockable on/off switch that makes it much easier to work with the mic during concerts. It also has a supplied stand adaptor that allows using it almost anywhere you need.
- The mic weight 1.25 pounds – heavy enough not to lose it;
- Has a cardioid pickup pattern that excludes any off-axis sound;
- The built-in pop filter improves the clarity of the sound;
- Useful on-off lockable switch for easy usage;
- It has a shock-mounted cartridge that fights against any ruggedness or other external sounds.
- Cardioid pattern rejects off-axis sound
- This version of the SM48 has a lockable on/off switch
- A high-quality mic that can be used for instrument and vocal recordings
- Helps to receive extra-clear sound without any undesired noises
- Goes with supplied stand adaptor
- Has an on/off switch
- It has a vocal-oriented frequency response
- Cable not included
To get the best experience from your work with your hi-hat, it is essential to choose the right mic holder that will help you fix the mic in the right position and keep it standing still during your performance. To help you choose an optimal mic stand, I want to get you acquainted with some of my favorites.
Best hi-hat mic holders
13. Hi-Hat Mic Mount: High-Quality Mic Holder For Live Performances and Studio Recordings
Hi-Hat Mic Mount is the best mic holder that will make any live drumming performance more comfortable. It has a set of tuning keys and is also equipped with a wrench and affixed wing nut to make your microphone fixing easy and solid. With this mic holder, you will reduce your on-stage footprint and focus on the music more than on the technical background of the sound.
This mic holder is easily portable and lightweight, and it is possible to apply it nearly anywhere. Securely holding your microphone, Hi-Hat Mount can be used not only at home or for studio recordings, but also on live performances. It is possible to choose the exact mic position and the distance between the mic and hi-hat to receive the best sound.
In case you have several microphones of different sizes, Mic Mount is a perfect match for your performances, as it has adjustable keys to perfectly fit up to 15’ hi-hats. To regulate the distance between the hi-hat and the microphone, you can use clips that will help keep it stable during your performances. I have tried it for my 13”, 14” and 15” mics and standard mic clips — it fits all of them, so there is no need to seek several mics, holder models.
- This mic holder has tuning keys, affixed wing nut, and is equipped with a special wrench;
- Is super lightweight – 1.15 pounds;
- Portable design;
- Made of solid high-quality materials;
- Can be used with all types of drums.
- Hi-Hat Mic Mount
- This Hi-Hat Mic Mount reduces your onstage footprint and will not impede your live drumming performance
- Made of solid and lightweight materials that make this mic holder easy to set up and fix the mic
- Can be used for studio and live recordings
- Easy to set up
- Doesn’t disturb you during the performance
- Doesn’t have a mic clip
- No developed height adjustment
14. Best Hi-Hat Mic Placement: Mic Holder For Hi-Hats
Mic holder for hi-hats is one of the best options for those who want to start their acquaintance with mics and learn how to properly fix them when setting up the drum set. This mic holder has one fixing slot and can hold any type of microphone. Being super small, this mic holder will help your microphone remain stable, and it is shock-mounted to protect your sound from vibrations, wind, or any other disturbances.
The design of this hi-hat mic clamp allows you to quickly set up and dismantle it, which is great for live performances. It is easy to semi-permanently mount this mic on your hardware and remove it at any time. This is great when you are just trying to find your perfect sound or need to use it for live performances.
The quality of your sound heavily depends on both the microphone you use and its position. To make your mic as stable and possible, precisely determining an optimal mic position and that will be different for live and studio recordings. Thus, this microphone holder is an important part of your drum set in case you want to produce better sound even during dynamic performances.
- Shock-mounted to escape vibration;
- It has a durable chrome over steel design — high-quality and stylish item;
- Easy to set up and removed the holder;
- Rubber isolator under the microphone clip helps to reduce vibration.
- Works with all types of microphones
- Can be adjusted for the optimal sound
- High-quality item for the affordable price
- Has a one-year warranty from the manufacturer
- Doesn’t have a mic clip
- Can set up only one mic
Buying Guide for the Best Hi-Hat Mic
What Makes a Good Hi-Hat Mic?
Despite the common beliefs, the quality of a hi-hat mic doesn’t always depend on its price. A good hi-hat mic is one that has a sensitive small diaphragm and can pick up all the high frequencies produced by this instrument without hissing and clicking. Hi-hats produce sharp overtones and usually stand next to snares, so the best option is to use condenser mics as they are easy to adjust for picking up clear sound on a short distance and cutting off the vast majority of the noises made by the rest of the drum kit.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to mic and record hi-hat and cymbals?
Recording hi-hat and cymbal sound require a set of decent microphones and a lot of patience as finding the sweet spot for each mic can be a huge challenge. Although you may think that it’s logical to record drums at a distance, it’s actually impractical. I and any sound engineer recommend you record the entire kit as closely as possible to get the clear non-reverbed sound. You can always add any effect during post-production, but you can’t remove the natural reverberation of the room, even if it’s very low. Another challenge is to deal with mic stand position consistency.
It’s very easy to move the stands with the vibration of the kit, as well as to miss the right frequency if you move the kit while playing. For this reason, many drummers choose the microphones that can be mounted right on the cymbal stands. If your style isn’t that aggressive and you are sure that the kit stands still all the type, use any stand type. As the cymbals are usually quite loud, you have to set up the mic gain on the mixer to avoid any red peaks on the input. Otherwise, you will need to record the cymbals all over again.
How to set up a Hi-Hat Mic?
Setting up a mic for hi-hat, you should remember several tips. First of all, the microphone must be 2”-4” above the hi-hat top. The distance depends on your style. If you are a heavy-hitter and dynamic patterns are not that important, you should place the mic at 3”-4”. If you need to catch those tender frequencies while playing jazz, for example, place the mic closer. The distance also affects the gain of low and mid frequencies. The closer you place the mic, the richer hi-hat lows you get on the recording.
You have to angle the microphone so that you can’t see the snare. This way, you will minimize the pickup of the snare sound and the bleed of the rest of your kit. You should strictly avoid placing small diaphragm microphones close to the edge of the hi-hat as the airwave produced by the closing hi-hat can overload the input sound and mess up the recording. Moreover, even a high-quality microphone’s diaphragm can be damaged by the hi-hat airflow. That’s why you have to put it above or below the instrument to get an evenly controlled sound. However, you should remember that by placing a mic below the hi-hat, you cut the stick attack significantly and attenuate the tone of the upper cymbal.
How to Choose The Best Hi-Hat Mic for Your Recordings?
Being able to work with various models of hi-hats, I can say that all of them have their specific advantages, and it is essential to define the exact characteristics you require from your microphone. It depends on the performance location, the level of isolation, budget, and many other aspects.
To choose the best microphone that will get your sound to the next level, take into account the characteristics of your drum set, type of music, recordings frequency, and location. In case you are looking for a better sound during your live performances, I highly recommend choosing more expensive options, because the quality of the microphone, its sensitivity, and protection from noises will impact the quality of your drum sessions. For those who are only getting acquainted with hi-hats and want to improve the quality of their sound while playing at home or in the studio, more affordable models can be a great option to start working in this direction.
Moreover, pay attention to those mics that can be used for vocal recordings in case you know you might need this option for your performances. But keep in mind these mics aren’t specifically created for mic recording thus the sound will be slightly different. In case you have already worked with this type of mics for your hi-hat, please share your experience with me. Whether it was good or bad, I am interested in any real feedback on the issue.