Best Overhead Mic for Drums to Buy in 2020

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Since I was a young boy, I always dreamed of becoming a famous artist, and this dream was largely motivated by the fact that most of the coolest teenagers on the block were in some bands. Therefore, I knew that if I wanted to achieve the “cool kid” title, I had to be a member of a famous band. This motivation gave me the drive to experiment with playing on various musical instruments.

By the time I was eight, I had already settled that I wanted to play a drum set. As I grew up, the dream of joining a band started being less about being cool and more about my passion for music. This is what kept me playing 20 years later while being a member of different bands at different periods of times.

Over the years, I had to learn of the different challenges that artists face, most pressing one among them is being lacked the right equipment. This is a challenge that is attributable to the lack of enough capital and knowledge of the best music kits available in the market. Most artists would attest to the fact that they did minimal research when buying their first music kits. They just took what was available or used instruments and kits that they had seen in other artists’ hands. However, with time and experience, you grow to appreciate the differences and develop preferences.

Being an experienced drummer myself, I have decided to help other upcoming artists find solutions to this challenge. This is why in this article, I review some of the most reliable and affordable overhead microphones for drums. Having used most of them for several years, I can tell you for sure that reliability of such microphones relates to their ability to effectively capture sounds, be resilient to various sound frequencies, and reject background noises. The mics also encompass issues such as pattern options.

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Review of Affordable Overhead Mics for Drums to Choose in 2020

NameDimensionsWeightMax sound levelCommentaries
Behringer C-2 Studio Condenser Microphones11.9 x 5.1 x 3.4 inches1.65 pounds136 dBCardioid pickup pattern for effective feedback elimination
CAD Audio Stage7 Premium 7-Piece Drum Instrument Mic Pack39 x 15 x 9 inches20 pounds144 dBIncludes 2 Ultimate Support JamStands
Click image to open expanded view
Rode M5-MP Matched Pair Cardioid Condenser Microphones
8.6 x 6.3 x 3.4 inches3.25 pounds140 dBCompact 1/2 inch cardioid condenser microphone
LyxPro SDPC-2 Stereo Pair of Pencil Condenser Stick Microphones9.4 x 8.3 x 4.5 inches2.55 pounds136 dB3 Included Capsules
Shure KSM137/SL Stereo Pair9 x 12 x 3 inches3 pounds164 dBHighly consistent cardioid polar pattern

In this section, I will review a range of affordable overhead mics. These are high-quality microphones that you can consider if you are operating on a tight budget or just starting small.

Behringer C-2 Studio Microphones –The Best Overhead Mic for Drums

Behringer C-2 Studio is among the most affordable condenser microphones available for beginner artists. Before I engage in a more expansive review of this product, it is important to cover the subject of condenser microphones in general. A condenser microphone should be the one you need to seriously consider for your live or studio recording needs. They have improved sound sensitivity and a broader frequency range. This effectively makes them suitable to capture sounds of acoustic instruments or a musician’s vocals in such settings. Their basic working is that they produce sound using a plate, which is electrically charged. This plate is placed close to a capacitor found next to the capsule of this types of microphone.

Behringer C-2 Studio Microphones – The Best Overhead Mic for Drums

Behringer is a brand that has built a strong reputation over the years, offering customers affordable studio kits around. Behringer C-2 has surely lived to this reputation. It is possible to get some of the best-quality condenser microphones for an affordable amount. Did I forget to say that these microphones come as a pair? Yeah, for such a bargain price, and they still manage to offer you a matching pair!

Behringer C-2 are mics developed to reproduce the presentation of a piano, choir, or any other acoustic instrument. What’s more? The matching pair ensures that those intending to use them as overhead drum microphones, live sound, and acoustic guitar recordings have their needs catered for.

So, what should you expect when unwrapping your package? Inside the compact case is a matching pair of C-2 mics. Other accessories accompanying them are a pair of two stereo bar mounts, which helps you set these up as overhead mics. The package also contains matching windshields and gold-plated connectors.

In terms of design, Behringer C-2 contains a small diaphragm that is approximately 16 mm, or equivalent to 63 inches. A common attribute of such small diaphragm condenser microphones is their prolonged elevated frequency. This feature is among the reasons behind the steady response of the microphones to sound frequency from your instruments and vocals. This reason also explains why I give them an excellent rating on the best budget-priced overhead mics for drums. On this front, you can rely on Behringer C-2 because they have a wide frequency range of 20HZ to 20kHZ.

The C-2 also contains a low-frequency roll-off switch and an inbuilt 10dB attenuation attribute. Their role is ensuring that the mic can withstand high signals, for example, loud vocals. Moreover, the switch makes it possible for the microphone to filter sounds possessing a frequency below the audible range of a person’s ear.

Therefore, you do not have to worry about interruptions in your recordings by noises from cranky stages or those emanating from handling your mic. Additionally, the C-2’s FET circuitry manages to minimize the amount of noise produced when the mic is in use to a large extent.

Another innovative feature of the Behringer C-2 is their capsule containing the cardioid pickup pattern. Its role is to separate sounds from non-corresponding sources. This is one of the attributes that makes it suitable for overhead drum recordings. The idea is that it has elevated sensitivity to sounds coming from the front and sides. It is also the same feature that improves the microphone’s ability to filter out destructive signals through differentiation of various sound sources to avoid unwanted feedback.

In terms of operation, the Behringer C-2 is powered using a 48 volts DC phantom power. As a precaution, first, switch off the playback set-up. Then connect your C-2 to the mic’s input of the mixing system. With that, you are ready to fire them up by activating your phantom power.

Behringer C-2 Studio Condenser Microphones, Matched Pair
  • 2 matched condenser microphones for stereo studio recording and live applications
  • Ideal as main and support microphones for studio and live applications

PROS:
  • A cardioid pattern capsule for separating sources of sounds
  • Highly affordable for artists with minimal capital
  • Comes in matching pairs
CONS:
  • Frequency response could be better

CAD Audio Stage7 Premium 7 – Best Overhead Mic for Live Drums

If you are you searching for thebest overhead mic for live drums, this comprehensive review on CAD Audio Stage7 Premium 7 mic kit may influence your purchase decision. Being a start-up drummer with a tight budget, you won’t find a pocket-friendly kit containing a full set of seven microphones that you can mike over your drum set elsewhere.

In the set, five of the mics fall under the dynamic microphone category while the other two are condenser types. The dynamic category of microphones is very suitable for artists working with drums because they operate under the principle of electromagnetic induction.

CAD Audio Stage7 Premium 7-Piece Drum Instrument Mic Pack With Vinyl Carrying Case & 7 - 25' XLR Cables + 2 Mic Stands & 2 Kick Stands

The powerful nature and simple design of this kit make it a popular choice among the drummers. The combination of both dynamic and condenser types of microphones in the CAD Audio Stage results in the ideal kit option for studio recordings and live performances by drummers.

One thing I find convenient about the CAD Audio Stage7 is that the set comes in a compact carrying case that is fitted with shoulder straps. Therefore, you can conveniently carry them when going out for live performances. So, inside the case, you will find:

  • One-piece of D19 dynamic snare mic accompanied by its drum mount.
  • One piece of D10 dynamic kick cardioid microphone together with its mic clip.
  • Three pieces of D29 dynamic tom microphones; each of them has a drum mount.
  • Two pieces of C9 overhead condenser microphones

The following are also present as accessories:

  • Seven heavy-duty XLR microphone cables
  • Two short JamStands with a telescoping boom and an adjustable height of between 16 and 23 inches. This makes it suitable for miking music instruments placed near the surface of the floor, such as a kick drum.
  • Two Tripod JamStands microphones that have a predetermined length boom for extra stability.

The D19 dynamic snare microphone contains a super-cardioid polar pattern. The microphone also has a frequency reaction of between 90HZ and 14kHZ. For this reason, it is best suited for capturing and fortifying sounds of the snare drum and other acoustic musical instruments. This microphone’s polar outline offers the off-axis filtering needed for sound clarity during stage performances. Several reviews indicate that the gadget is efficient with other electronic music equipment. You can use instruments like a bass guitar and unique side drums effectively with D19 simultaneously.

The D10 mic has a bigger diaphragm and a frequency range of between 50HZ and 16kHZ. The design has emphasized on harnessing the click, thumb, and crack while reducing the restricted tone sounds. Its design also makes it durable due to its full metallic body coupled with a hardened steel shield. In terms of application, it is best used with instruments such as kick drums, floor toms, and bass guitars.

The D29 mic possesses a super-cardioid capsule with a sequence similar to that of D19. However, in the case of D29, it has been harnessed to achieve a frequency reaction ranging from 90HZ to 13kHZ. This tweaking effectively increases its suitability for capturing the sound of tom drums. The D29 can also be conveniently utilized with other musical equipment such as the floor toms, bass guitars, and rack toms.

Finally, the C9 overhead condenser microphone has an excellently designed metallic body. The cardioid polar pattern that is common in all condenser microphones helps in ensuring the C9 remains sensitive to sounds originating from in front while repelling sources coming from behind.

This gadget has been fitted with a roll-off pad that helps it in reducing any acoustical transmission emanating from the floor via the stands of your mic. Improved sensitivity of C9 microphone too high frequencies ensures that it can be comfortably utilized with other stringed music equipment. In summary, if you are a beginner drummer, CAD Audio Stage7 has got you comprehensively covered.

CAD Audio Stage7 Premium 7-Piece Drum Instrument Mic Pack with Vinyl Carrying Case + 2 Mic Stands &...
  • CAD AUDIO STAGE 7 PREMIUM 7-PIECE DRUM PACK: The CAD Stage7 is a seven-piece drum mic pack that includes one D10 cardioid dynamic mic, three D29 dynamic tom mics, one D19 dynamic snare drum mic, and 2 C9 instrument condensers for high hats, cymbals or overheads.
  • D10 KICK DRUM MICROPHONE: The D10 is a cardioid, moving-coil dynamic microphone specifically designed and carefully equalized for kick drum capture and reinforcement. Designed for kick drum, excellent results are also obtained when used on floor toms, electric guitar, and electric bass cabinets.

PROS:
  • Value for money as it comes as a complete set
  • Effectively combines both the dynamic and condenser type mics for better sound quality
  • Very suitable for drummers
CONS:
  • The clips may fail to hold the mic firmly in the mount

Rode M5-MP – Great Cardioid Condenser Microphones to Take Note about

Often being referred to as the Rode M5 Pencil Styled Condenser mics, these are a half an inch microphones, which produce minimal noise and comprehensive frequency response. The M5 is designed and produced by an Australian audio company known as RØDE Microphones located in Sydney. This is a company that prides itself on research and innovation. Hard not to believe this when you have successfully used their different products.

Rode M5 is a full-metallic mic that has a ceramic coating for its sleek black finishing. The coating helps to improve its durability and gives it nice aesthetics, which is why the company has proprietary ownership of this technology. Its unique innovation follows in the footsteps of their renowned NT5 brand by setting the standards of thebest mic for overhead drums. The M5 was developed with the intentions of crafting a more affordable version of the NT5. Since it is a small condenser mic, the M5 is suitable for recordings in studios and also for live stage performances. It is also suitable for use by choirs and with a wide range of acoustic instruments.

Rode M5-MP – Great Cardioid Condenser Microphones to Take Note about

During the unboxing process, you should, of course, expect to find matching pairs of Rode M5’s. Accompanying them are gold plated connectors, windscreens, and RM5 mic stand mounts. For such a stylish mic, I honestly expected it to be put in a casing of some sort such as the Behringer C-2. These stands have an adjustable lever for you to set up and tighten the mic to your desired angle. Even though the microphones are sold as a pair, the company’s cutting-edge technology enables them to assure that the mics can be used individually as well. The company assures customers that as a pair, their variation in sensitivity does not exceed 1dB. I once tested them at my friend’s home studio, and they sounded similar to me. This makes me agree with the manufacturer about their sensitivity variation. The mics have also been developed with the resilience to handle sound pressure of about 140dB. Hence it is a good fit for live performances.

Among the notable features of the M5, there is a half an inch capsule that contains an inbuilt cardioid polar pattern. It mainly performs the function of collecting sound emanating from the front and minimizing sensitivity to sounds originating from the back. What I have found interesting about the M5 is that it remains rigid whether the frequency is low or high.

If you are among those who have been desperately searching for stereo recording, I would suggest you look no further than the M5. I believe this because of a high-quality off-axis reaction that it has. For example, as you drift off the axis, the resonance remains fairly steady while the frequency level diminishes.

Similar to Behringer C-2, Rode M5 has a frequency range of between 20HZ and 20kHZ. The manufacturer quotes that it has a sensitivity of -34dB and self-noise of 19dB, which is common for all such condenser microphones without transformers. However, the good news about M5 is that it will not produce unnecessary humming or buzzing sounds that are going to disrupt your recording.

It is also hard not to note that these mics lack filter switches or pads. However, given the fact that they have a maximum SPL of 140dB, they can easily cope without them. You may also have noticed that I have not talked much about the M5’s usage in vocals. This is because it is not what the manufacturer had in mind when designing these microphones. However, you will be surprised at the quality of sound produced when you test them with alternating voices such as bass, tenor, or alto.

Finally, like similar gadgets, M5 has to be powered. In this case, it is recommended you to use a 48 V phantom power. The energy should be connected using the gold-plated XLR cable that forms part of your accessories. The gold coating helps in improving power conduction since it facilitates signal transmission. This explains why the M5 capsule also has a gold-coated diaphragm.

Rode M5-MP Matched Pair Cardioid Condenser Microphones
  • Compact 1/2 inch cardioid condenser microphone with low noise and a full frequency response
  • Matched pair has been carefully selected to ensure a variation of no more than 1dB sensitivity betwe

PROS:
  • It has a 1-year warranty that extends to 10 years if you register your product with RØDE Microphones;
  • Affordable;
  • Available as a certified matched pair;
  • Great sound quality for an overhead drum mic;
  • Flat frequency reaction, hence possible to EQ.
CONS:
  • Lacks a polarity switch / dB pad;
  • Sometimes difficult to attach to the mount.

LyxPro SDPC-2 Stereo Pair – One of the Best Kind of Mic for Overhead Drums

When you go researching on affordable overhead mics, LyxPro SDPC-2 definitely has to be somewhere in your list. However, affordable does not mean that this brand compromises on quality. The LyxPro SDPC-2 is a second-generation mic in the LyxPro’s series of stereo pair microphones. As opposed to other gadgets that I have reviewed, LyxPro SDPC-2 sets the standards by having three detachable capsules. This means you can manually alternate between the capsules in a bid to tailor your pick up patterns. This is quite catchy for such low-priced mics.

LyxPro SDPC-2 Stereo Pair – One of the Best Kind of Mic for Overhead Drums

For such an affordable price, you also get a compact aluminum carrying case. I consider it very classy, secure, and convenient manner of packaging. Inside the package, you can expect to find the following:

  • A matching pair of LyxPro SDPC-2
  • 2 flexible microphone clips
  • 3 detachable capsules
  • 2 microphone shields

So, what makes LyxPro SDPC-2 a good mic for overhead drums? For starters, it contains three capsules (cardioid, Omni, and super-cardioid) that can be used interchangeably. This is a huge advantage to a drummer using these microphones. In all the other microphones I have reviewed, none has three capsules. However, with LyxPro SDPC-2, you get to alternate them depending on the situation of usage. It is even more exciting that you do not have even to unmount the mic when changing the capsules. However, be careful when changing them because the mics can be sensitive.

For those wondering about the ideal situations to make use of the different capsules, here is an illustration:

  • The Omni capsule: ideal for use in a quiet studio/room. Can be used when recording audio with multiple vocalists. This is because it is capable of equally collecting sounds from all directions. However, ensure that the room is free of echoes and other environmental noises when using this capsule.
  • The cardioid capsule: It is ideal for collecting sounds from the front. This makes it for use in rejecting noises from the back. As such it can make for a good choice as an overhead mic and also for use in live performances.
  • The super-cardioid capsule: Excels at collecting sounds from the front while rejecting noises from both the back and sides. Suitable for use with high-frequency musical instruments such as drum sets. Conveniently utilized by drummers to mike their drums overhead.

The LyxPro SDPC-2 comes with a frequency range of 30HZ to 18kHZ. This makes them suitable for use with acoustic instruments. They also work well for drummers setting up a home recording studio. This is because these mics can capture high-frequency sounds from a drum set. I also came across another review that noted that the LyxPro SDPC-2 is a popular choice among autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) artists because it helps them achieve 3D and stereo effects in their work. LyxPro SDPC-2 also has a maximum SPL of 135dB, which is considered fair for use in very loud environments.

LyxPro SDPC-2 Stereo Pair of Pencil Condenser Stick Instrument Microphone Pair - Interchangeable...
  • Pro-Grade Pencil Condenser Microphones Suit Overheads, Acoustic & Woodwind Instruments
  • Stereo Pair Most Accurately Captures Even Slightest Audio Nuances for Recording

PROS:
  • Very affordable
  • Provides value for money with three interchangeable capsules for customized pickup patterns
  • Can be used for recording stereo effects
  • Quality-built design
CONS:
  • Change of the capsule may require you to change the instrument’s position for better results
  • Not suitable for use in recording low-frequency drum set sounds

Shure KSM137/SL Stereo Pair – The Best Kind of Mic for Overhead Drums

The Shure KSM137/SL entails a matching pair of cardioid polar pattern mics. It is regarded as an end-address condenser microphone, which implies that you have to point the front end of the mic to the instrument as opposed to the side. This is why the manufacturer recommends using this stereo pair in a studio for miking of drum overheads, electric, and acoustic instruments. However, the mics can still get the job done when used for live performances, choirs, and orchestras.

Shure KSM137/SL Stereo Pair – The Best Kind of Mic for Overhead Drums

Made from high-quality materials, KSM137 boast of high innovative engineering in their designs. This makes them effective in capturing the full sonic subtle variations of crucial studio performances while remaining resilient to the rough conditions of a staging environment. In simpler terms, they set new benchmarks in audio performances in terms of clarity, durability, and sound quality.

On unboxing the elegant case that comes with these microphones, you can find the following inside:

  • A stereo pair of KSM137 with an exceptional champagne finish
  • Two foam windshields
  • Microphone adapter

The KSM137 fall in the small diaphragm category of the condenser microphones. Combined with its Class A distinct preamplifier, they facilitate a transparent collection and momentarily response to sound frequencies. The quality of materials used for the preamp circuitry makes it possible for KSM137 to have minimal noise and sound alterations. For example, the circuitry is gold-coated to minimize contact resistance and improve signal transmissions.

In terms of frequency, the KSM137 boasts of a range of 20HZ to 20kHZ. This frequency response, coupled with its stable cardioid pickup pattern increases the performance of this mic. By performance, I also mean the range of application it can be put into. There is no limit to the recording situations you can use this stereo pair. For example, it can be used for studio recordings, drum overheads, string instruments, orchestra, percussion, and many more. This is even made better by the presence of a low-frequency filter that helps in eliminating undesirable background noises.

Moreover, it has a 3-position pad that can switch between 0dB, 15dB, and 25dB. This switching ensures that you can use the microphone in a very loud situation without having to worry. The concept is that the switching adjusts the input volume of the microphone. This control makes it better-placed to handle varying degree of loudness. In a real sense, these switchable pads are what make these mics an excellent fit for use with instruments of high-frequency sounds such as a drum set.

In terms of being resilient to very loud situations, it is hard to ignore the fact that the KSM137 has a maximum SPL extending to about 152dB. This is a record high for a microphone with affordable pricing. To put this into context, imagine that the sound of a jet taking off is about 140dB. This implies that it would still work well, even near such a loud noise.

Another strength of the KSM137 is that the mic contains a low-frequency filter that switches between three positions. What this does for you is that it cautions your sound quality from the low-frequency grumbling, especially for artists using a kick drum or heavy bass instruments. The filters are also applicable in eliminating background noises that are quite common during live performances.

In terms of power, the KSM137 has to be given a boost like all other condenser microphones. It makes use of phantom power, preferably 48 volts.

Shure KSM137/SL Stereo Pair with (2) KSM137, (2) Foam Windscreens, A27M Stereo Microphone Adapter...
  • Highly consistent cardioid polar pattern
  • Ultra-thin, 2.5 micron, 24 karat gold-layered, low mass Mylar diaphragm for superior transient response

PROS:
  • Excellent low-frequency sound production
  • Minimum self-noise
  • Wider frequency reaction
  • Resilience to high SPL
  • High-quality repression of radio frequency interference
CONS:
  • A little bit pricier compared to other condenser microphones

Already Settled on the Best Mic for Overhead Drums?

As things stand, I have provided you with a review of the top five overhead mics I find great for beginner drummers. If you haven’t decided on a specific mic yet, let me help you narrow down some important pointers that you should use when choosing the overhead mic for drums. I have used the same points while completing this overview.

  • The first factor is the issue of price. The mistake most upcoming artists make is that they want to use equipment like the one being used by A-list celebrities. You have to start somewhere and grow. Therefore, do not strain your budget excessively. What about the overhead mics I have reviewed above, all of them are capable of producing quality sounds and getting the job done. Therefore, check for their prices online and settle for the one within your budget.
  • Another issue to consider is the purpose you are going to use the mic for. By this, I mean whether it will be for recording in a studio, live performances, or band training. This is because such consideration influences certain elements such you require, for instance, if you should pay attention to a condenser of the dynamic type of microphone. Also, will you require one with a cardioid, Omni, or super-cardioid polar pattern? These things matter as well.

By putting these factors into consideration, it is easier to narrow down the mics that meet your unique needs. Based on the review I have provided, it is now simpler for you to know what to pay attention to when choosing the best microphone within your budget. For example, it may influence the decision on whether you will go for the brands that provide mics as a kit or those that come as a matching pair.

Take your time to read about each microphone and its applicability in detail, consider the pros and cons of them. Are you still concerned about a few mic options to choose from? Leave a comment below, and I will gladly advise one based on your story!

10 Total Score

User Rating: 5 (1 votes)

5 Comments
  1. Nice review, Chad. I would say that a stereo pair of Shure KSM is the best kind of mic for overhead drums I ever used for studio recording, both rock bands and orchestra. That’s a great investment in my opinion because having these mics means you won’t need anything else.

  2. Thanks for the review. I was looking for a good mic for overhead drums because mine is rubbish. I was using a set of cheap Pyle microphones, it was fine at first but with time I noticed that volume level became very low and later it also began recording to much noise.

  3. Hi there, Chad. My band is planning to do our first record ever and that’s why I came here. I want to know what is the best overhead mic configuration for metal drums recording. Any ideas?

    • Hello! There are no secret techniques for recording metal drums. First of all, keeping the mic far from your drums gives you wider stereo, but if you’re looking for the opposite effect then try keeping the mic near the cymbals. Some early metal bands were using additional cymbal mics, but you can experiment and use it as you want. But I would recommend also trying a good old XY method where you place two microphones near each other so they would resonate and with each other, which should give even more to your stereo image.

  4. It’s good to see the Behringer C-2 on this list because I consider it the best overhead mic for drums. It serves me well for a couple of years, I managed to record hundreds of bands using a pair of these. I’m also glad that you noted it’s poor frequency response, though it works fine with loud acoustic instruments like piano or drums.

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