Best Overhead Drum Mic Options

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A multi-piece drum mic set is usually sufficient for recording. Upgrading your microphones will eventually be the next step toward even higher recording quality. Overheads in low-cost mic setups frequently make cymbals sound brittle or do not make the kit seem “glued together.”

A good pair of matched overhead microphones may give a lot of complexity to drum recordings from either the overhead or room mic positions. They also provide a better reference point for mixing drums because they capture the entire set.

What I look for in Quality Overhead Drum Mics

Drum mics

Whether you like it or not, the recording quality is still influenced by the quality of your equipment. If sound sources are your ingredients, and your production and mixing process is the cooking process, the quality of your recording gear is the quality of your equipment, such as knives and pans.

No matter how amazing the ingredients are or how talented you are as a chef, your progress and quality will suffer if your equipment isn’t up to grade. When recording stereo sound sources such as overheads, grand pianos, acoustic guitars, or field recordings, matched pairs of microphones reduce the danger of phase difficulties. Investing in a good set of matched microphones reduces these risk factors and improves consistency and predictability.

Mismatched microphones in stereo can cause “comb filtering,” in which grooves in the frequency response arise as a consequence of competing distance, diaphragm type, transient response, and other variables. These will produce stereo recordings that are unsettling to listen to and have been known to trigger nausea in certain people.

Mic Versatility

While this article refers to matched pairs of microphones as overhead mics, the microphones shown frequently provide more usefulness than is explained here. Stereo miking may be employed in practically every recording circumstance, and the more adaptable the features and tonalities of your microphones, the more you can do with them.

What You Should Know about SPL Rating

SPL is an abbreviation for “Sound Pressure Level,” and it is measured in dB. For real-world sounds, the precise unit of measurement is “dB SPL,” which distinguishes it from “dB VU” (Voltage Units), which is the form of measurement in the analog domain, and “dB FS” and its variations, which are measurements in the digital domain. Take notice of the SPL since it impacts how loud your sound source may be before distorting the real diaphragm of your mic. Using a mic with a lower SPL value than your sound source may wreak havoc.

Going to Know dB Pads

A dB (Decibel) pad dampens the signal from the microphone into your interface or preamp. This is handy for powerful, high SPL sound sources that may overload your preamp, especially if it has its own pad. Having a microphone with a pad provides you with additional options.

Overhead Mics I Recommend

Rode M5 Matched Pair Cardioid Condenser


Type: Condenser

Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Frequency Response: 20 to 20000 Hz

Sensitivity: -34.0dB re 1 Volt/Pascal (20.00mV @ 94 dB SPL) +/- 2 dB @ 1kHz

Impedance: 200 ohms

Maximum SPL: 140 dB

Dynamic Range: 121 dB

Equivalent Noise Level: 19dBA (A-weighted)

Power Requirements: 24V or 48V Phantom Power

Connection Material: Not specified

Weight: 2.8oz (80g)

Extras: Microphone Clips and Wind Screens

Rode began in 1967 as Freedman Electronics, which was created by Henry and Astrid Freeman. Freedman Electronics steadily rose to prominence in the Australian audio business, eventually becoming one of the industry’s most prestigious companies. Following a financial crisis, Freedman Electronics began investing in the development of their own range of microphones. This microphone range helped to build the brand’s reputation. And the M5 exemplifies why this company’s reputation remains strong.

The wonderful thing about this microphone set is how seriously Rode takes its sound matching process, which makes them an excellent choice if you’re just intending to use these mics to record in stereo.

In terms of response, these mics are thought to be an excellent choice for anything from drums to violins. In fact, many people remark they have a startling tonal quality for their modest price.

It’s difficult to go wrong with this moderately priced Rode stereo condenser mic pair. Few microphones have the reputation of being requested by musicians. The M5 is a favorite of many drummers in the community, particularly for cymbals.


Quality matches the price point

Captures the sound of the cymbals very well

It can also work well with guitars and other acoustic instruments


Could have extra features

The mic could be quieter

sE Electronics sE7


Type: Condenser

Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Frequency Response: 136dB SPL, 156dB (with pad)

Sensitivity: 19mV/Pa (-34.5dBV)

Maximum SPL: 136dB SPL, 156dB (with pad)

Dynamic Range: 121 dB

Equivalent Noise Level: 16 dB(A)

Power Requirements: 48V Phantom Power

Connection Material: Not specified

Weight: 0.28 lbs.

Extras: Microphone Clip and Wind Screen

The sE7 by SE Electronics is a back-electret tiny diaphragm condenser microphone intended for flexibility. It has a transformerless architecture as well as class-A circuits.

Because it is a matched pair, it is ideal for capturing stereo sound sources like overhead, room, or binaural microphones. Due to its high SPL handling and built-in pad, it may also be utilized on drum shells. Besides its small size, the sE7 works well with acoustic guitars, miking up a cab, and field recordings in addition to drums.

The sE7 is difficult to beat for a terrific value mic pair. If your cymbals are more on the bright side, the sE7’s more natural timbre will come in handy when mixing the raw recordings recorded with it.


Great price to performance ratio

Favor a more natural-sounding capture

For drums with brilliant sounding cymbals


No case included with mic

Lauten Audio LA120


The Lauten Audio LA120 is a high-quality tiny diaphragm FET condenser microphone with pressure-gradient capsules. Instead of making concessions with one capsule, this feature allows each capsule to be appropriately customized.

Low and high-cut filters are enabled via switches on the side of the microphones for greater versatility. Its tiny size also allows for easy installation, particularly in more complex drum arrangements.

The adaptability of the capsules, along with the available filters, makes it suitable for spaced pair, XY, and ORTF stereo mic approaches, not just for overheads but also for acoustic guitar, ambient microphones, and more.

The Lauten Audio LA120 is a diverse pick, do-everything pick beyond usage as overheads if you want a top-quality mic pair without spending astronomical amounts.


Captures sound accurately

Preserves dynamics very well

Great for rock recordings

Piercing cymbals can be filtered out with built-in high cut filters


No major issues

Rode NT5 Matched Pair Cardioid Condenser

rode nt5

Type: Condenser

Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Frequency Response: 20 to 20000 Hz

Sensitivity: -38 dB re 1 Volt/Pascal (12 mV @ 94 dB SPL) +/- 2 dB @ 1kHz

Impedance: 100 ohms

Maximum SPL: 143 dB

Dynamic Range: Not specified

Equivalent Noise Level: 16dBA (A-weighted)

Power Requirements: 24V or 48V Phantom Power

Connection Material: Not specified

Weight: 3.56oz (101g)

Extras: RM5 stand mount, Wind Shield, RC5 case

A fascinating bit of info about the Rode NT series is that it was named after the manner the company’s microphone first took off, which was characterized as “like a rat up a drainpipe.” The Rodent-1 was the unofficial name for Rode’s first microphone, which was eventually changed to Rode NT-1.

This microphone’s most noticeable characteristic is that it is one of the most inexpensive microphones with gold sputtering. Gold is a very excellent conductor of electricity and is very resistant to corrosion, allowing it to keep its conductivity for extended periods of time, which is why it is frequently used in high-end audio equipment. Gold sputtering employs a thin coating of gold, which aids in maintaining conductivity while keeping prices low. This is especially useful on microphone capsules (where sputtering is employed on the Rode NT-5) because it allows the material to move swiftly while yet preserving conductive qualities.

This goes a long way toward improving a microphone’s functionality and is most likely one of the reasons why the NT-5 pair has received such positive feedback. The Rode NT5 matched pair is highly recommended if you’re seeking a flexible overhead mic combination that can also act as your main mics.


Very versatile

Works well with cymbals, guitars, and even wind instruments

The sound is very detailed and smooth

While not cheap, you do get more than you paid for


The mic can be a little too bright when used with other sound sources

No carrying case

sE Electronics sE8


Type: Condenser

Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Frequency Response: 20 to 20000 Hz

Sensitivity: 25 mV/Pa (-32 dBV)

Impedance: 110 ohms

Maximum SPL: 139 / 149 / 159 dBSPL (0/10/20 dB pad) (0.5% THD @ 1kHz)

Dynamic Range: 121 dB

Equivalent Noise Level: 13dB (A weighted)

Power Requirements: 48V phantom power

Connection Material: Gold-plated XLR connector

Weight: 4.97 oz.

Extras: Mic clips, windscreens, stereo bar, and metal storage case

“Huge sound” is generally created by giving a particular component as wide a dynamic range as feasible. The sE8 is a tiny condenser mic with a broad dynamic range for a small-diaphragm “pencil” mic.

In their factory, these pairs are individually matched for the optimum stereo imaging and phase correlation.

Its low noise allows it to be utilized on softer, more subtle sound sources, and its large headroom with two selectable pads allows you to mic even the most aggressive drummer without compressing or distorting the circuitry.

Two low-cut filters efficiently decrease stage noise or if you want to reduce kick drum capture on the overheads.

The SE Electronics sE8 is a well-known stereo pair that never fails to wow. It competes with microphone pairs that cost more than it does. sE does an excellent job of matching its microphones in-house, so if you’re looking for a consistently matched pair for stereo recordings, the sE8 is the way to go.


Well-matched microphones

Accurate and balanced without losing upper head sheen

Captures great sound on acoustic guitars as well

Well suited for ORTF ambient recordings


Mic clip can be too loose

Rode NT1-A-MP

rode nt1

Type: Condenser

Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz

Sensitivity: -31.9dB re 1 Volt/Pascal (25.00mV @ 94 dB SPL) +/- 2 dB @ 1kHz

Impedance: 100 ohms

Maximum SPL: 137dBSPL

Dynamic Range: 121 dB

Equivalent Noise Level: 5dBA

Power Requirements: 24V or 48V Phantom Power

Connection Material: Not specified

Weight: 0.72 lbs.

Extras: 2 x 20′ cables, 2 x windscreens, 2 x shockmounts (may vary per retailer)

The Rode NT1-A-MP is not an independent model from the Rode NT1-A. (The MP stands for “Matched Pair”). On its alone, the NT1-A has a reputation for being one of the quietest microphones in the business. As a result, it is ideal for recording intimate nuanced performances.

Recorded sessions have a superior noise floor when employing a pair of overheads or room microphones instead of contributing to the collective noise when using many mics. Their exceptional SPL handling allows them to keep up with even the loudest drummers without distorting internally.

Because of its low noise and balanced response, the NT1-A has already established itself as an industry-standard microphone. If you have a fantastic sounding kit in a great sounding space, get a set of these to capture every nuance.


Has a neutral wide range sound signature

Dark cymbals don’t lose their richness


Only order from trusted sellers, or you could get the wrong pair.

AKG C214 Stereo Pair Large-Diaphragm Cardioid Condenser

AKG C214

Type: Condenser

Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Frequency Response: 20 to 20000 Hz

Sensitivity: 20 mV/Pa (-34 dBV)

Impedance: 200 ohms, Recommended load impedance 1000 ohms

Maximum SPL: 136 / 156 dB SPL (0 / 20 dB Pad)

Dynamic Range: 123 / 143 dB-A (0 / 20 dB Pad)

Equivalent Noise Level: 13dB (A weighted)

Power Requirements: 12V to 52V Phantom Power

Connection Material: Not specified

Weight: 9.87oz (280g)

Extras: Carrying Case, Shock Mount, Metal Carrying Case, Pad -20 dB, Low cut filter 160 Hz (6 dB/Octave)

The AKG C214 Stereo Pair is an intriguing option on my list because it is a popular voice mic that is also adaptable enough to function as overheads and does so well.

While the 20dB pad may appear to be a basic feature, it helps the C214 to transition from capturing the intricacies of vocalists and acoustic instruments to handling thunderous cymbals.

Another fascinating feature of this mic is its high-pass filter, which can filter out unwanted low-frequency material, enhancing its overhead application.

Most owners think that the AKG C214 is well worth considering if you’re looking for a flexible pair of microphones that can be used for orchestral/choral recordings as well as overheads.


Great sound quality

Very Versatile

Has great clarity for drum recordings


It can have a brittle sound

Unsure about the SPL handling capability

Beyerdynamic MC 930 Stereo Set Small-Diaphragm Cardioid Condenser

Mc 930

Type: Condenser

Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Frequency Response: 40 to 20000 Hz

Sensitivity: 30 mV/Pa (-30.5 dB)

Impedance: 180 ohms, load impedance 1000 ohms

Maximum SPL: 135 / 140 dB SPL (0 / -15 dB Pad) @ 1 kHz

Dynamic Range: Not specified

Equivalent Noise Level: 16dB (A weighted)

Power Requirements: 11V to 52V Phantom Power

Connection Material: Not specified

Weight: 4oz (115g)

Extras: Carrying Case, Mic Clips, Wind Screens, Low cut filter (switchable, 6 dB/octave at 250 Hz), Pad ( -15 dB)

The Beyerdynamic MC 930, like many of the microphones on this list, is designed for flexibility by combining a tiny diaphragm condenser capsule with high SPL handling characteristics.

Beyerdynamic chose a cardioid polar pickup pattern for this mic, making it simple to use. This is accompanied by a built-in pad that offers 15dB of suppression and a bass roll-off filter for controlling the excessive lows.

Some sellers provide two shock mounts, two windscreens, and a carrying bag with the MC 9300, which adds to its total value and lifespan. While it is a significant purchase, many who possess the Beyerdynamic MC 930 think it is well worth it. It undoubtedly impresses consumers, both visually and musically.


Beautiful transparency and overall sound quality

Works well with many instruments and vocals

Impressive build and aesthetic


A hefty investment

LyxPro SDPC-2 Stereo Pair Pencil Condenser Microphone


Type: Condenser

Polar Pattern: Switchable (Omni, Cardioid, Super Cardioid)

Frequency Response: 30Hz to 18 kHz

Sensitivity: -38dB ± 3dB (0dB=1V/Pa at 1 kHz)

Impedance: 100 Ω ± 30% (at 1 kHz)

Maximum SPL: 135 dB (at 1kHz)

Equivalent Noise Level: 24dB (A weighted)

Power Requirements: 9V to 52V Phantom Power

Weight: 2.55 lbs. (Bundle)

Extras: 2 custom-fit foam windscreens, 2 microphone clips, and a nifty aluminum storage case.

The LyxPro SDPC-2 is a budget-friendly pair of condenser microphones with changeable capsules. They allow you to choose between three polar patterns: Omni, cardioid, and super-cardioid.

This increases LyxPro’s adaptability and general use, making the already low price even more appealing.

Ultimately, the package includes two custom-fit foam windscreens, two microphone clips, and a handy aluminum carrying box. The budget does not imply mediocrity. The LyxPro outperforms a few big-name rivals for the price. This inexpensive pair will undoubtedly make your kit stand out if you want a sharp, contemporary attack and frequency response.


Value for the price point

Flat and transparent sound quality

Works well with cymbals, acoustic guitars, and choirs


The sound can be a bit too bright

Lower build quality

Some cosmetic issues


Question: Why are Matched Microphones Important for Overhead Drums?

Answer: A pair of matched microphones will produce more accurate results than a pair of mismatched microphones. The greatest stereo sound is produced by matched pairs of microphones. Because they reduce phase difficulties, they will provide you with the most accurate findings. Issues with phase might result in “comb filtering” sounds, which are not desirable when seeking a high-quality recording.

Question: What Kind of Microphones are used for Drum Overheads?

Answer: A matched pair of cardioid condenser microphones are often utilized for drum overheads, allowing for a more detailed stereo sound recording with high sound quality. With using condenser microphones, you should prepare your space as much as possible with acoustic treatment because they will bring in sound reflections and background disturbances.

Question: Where Do you Place Overhead Drum Mics?

Answer: They are positioned in such a way that they can pick up all of the drum sounds. They’d usually be placed between the cymbals on each side of the drum set. Their positioning might vary depending on how the drum kit is configured. Some recoding engineers will even include a hi-hat overhead.


Before purchasing a set of overhead microphones, keep in mind that you’ll need an interface and some software. Once you have those items, you may select a pair of microphones that you believe will be the greatest match for you.

There are other solutions available; these are just a few that have shown to be the most effective for drummers.

Every microphone manufacturer has some excellent items. After reviewing each overhead microphone above, I believe that the best overall is the SE Electronics sE8. When I think about the sE8s from SE Electronics, two things immediately come to mind: power and bang for your buck. These small-diaphragm condenser microphones provide a wonderful tone, which is unusual for mics in their price range. Along with that, the reaction is really quick and efficient.

They make your cymbals sound fantastic, regardless of how high-quality they are. That’s one of the best things about drum microphones, and it’s especially true for these. They contain 80Hz and 160Hz high pass filters and 10dB and 20dB pads, making them quite flexible in terms of the sounds they can capture.

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