Best hi-hat microphones

Hi-hat microphones are a necessity for the passionate musicians out there. All the loud thud and strike of the instrument should be cherished like a divine thing! Some serious music producers, singers, and recording artists go for the hi-hat microphones that can do the mentioned work, no matter how expensive they might be.

People from the music industry usually go for a small diaphragm condenser microphone when they have to mic hi-hats. Hi-hat condenser microphones can be used in various styles of music from blues to jazz, hip-hop, and whatnot! Although there is no need to mic the instruments that already produce immense sound, to refine and make them sound fresher people tend to mic their instruments. The synchronization and the tempo of the strike by the drummer should be perfectly captured so that the listeners can pick up the same essence too. The beat pattern should be captured precisely and the proximity effect should be minimized.

Getting the perfect hi-hat microphone and positioning it accurately are both needed badly or else what’s the point, right? The positioning of the microphone should be according to the application and the instrument being used. Also, the type of microphone that is being used as certain microphones pick up sound from specific and focused directions. They should be positioned in such a way that they minimize all of the off-axis noise and capture the essence of the sound that we want.

When buying a microphone for hi-hats you must consider every possibility and component as you would be spending a fortune on it and you don’t want to regret it afterward, right? For your assistance, we have shortlisted the following products that will blow your mind with the features they offer!


Best hi-hat microphones

Here, we will cover every minor and significant aspect of the Best hi-hat microphones including the buyer’s guide, and some common questions related to the buying journey. Let’s begin.


1. Neumann KM 184

Neumann KM 184 Cardioid Small-diaphragm Condenser Microphone is the most versatile miniature hi-hat microphone out there with a frequency range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz.

It is equipped with a similar capsule as the KM 84, but it is distinctive in the 0 frequency response function. The KM 184 brings out the sizzle in the cymbals due to the gentle rise in frequency of about 9 kHz. This feature helps in the tonal balance that makes the sound more versatile and smooth.

The transducers used in the microphone are pressure gradients to offer smooth frequency response even for off-axis sound incidence in addition to the 0-axis.

The KM 184 is a top-notch item that has some exceptional technical specifications that are highly needed if you are a serious musician!

The manufacturers reduced the self-noise level to only 22 dB (CCIR), which resulted in the increased acoustic pressure handling capacity up to 138 dB.

It features balanced and phantom-powered (48V) output for smooth performance.

Moreover, the KM 184 has an announcer’s mic for broadcasting, a spot mic that makes it an ideal option for a wide range of gigs.

It is pretty simple and has a lot of perks (functionality and durability-wise) that make it worth the money!

Pros:

  • Top-notch quality and precision
  • Professional miniature hi-hat mic
  • Versatile
  • Reliable for a wide range of performances
  • Sturdy and reliable

Cons:

  • Nothing so far!

2. Shure SM81-LC

Shure SM81-LC Cardioid Condenser Microphone is an ideal option for studio recording and much more! It offers a clean yet wide frequency response and the self-noise is reduced to a minimum for better performance.

The rugged construction plus the versatility makes it stand a wide range of temperatures, humidity, and acoustic incidence. It is ideal for guitar, piano, and cymbals due to its wide range of frequency responses, low RF susceptibility, and low distortion over the acoustic incidence of any type.

Shure SM81-LC operates on the phantom power that delivers professional-quality sound and recording.

The Shure SM81-LC is equipped with a 3-setting switch that allows a variety of adjustments to the microphone’s frequency responses. It collects the sound pretty smoothly and offers room for flexibility during recording or jamming sessions.

Wind and/or unwanted noise are canceled smartly to give you the output that is clean and lively! The minimal distortion is all that is needed when it comes to microphones and it provides just that!

The 0 dB/10 dB lockable attenuator switch allows the microphone to collect the loud sounds without cracking them or altering them.

In a nutshell, Shure SM81-LC is the most versatile hi-hat microphone on the market that has not only loads of features but is also budget-friendly. It picks up some very low sounds pretty smoothly due to its high sensitivity, bringing out the most of it via output! High, low, deep notes? It is fit for everything and much more.

Pros:

  • Durable steel construction
  • Phenomenal sound isolation
  • Variable low-frequency response
  • Zero to minimum distortion
  • Minimum off-axis coloration
  • 20 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response

Cons:

  • Requires precise positioning

3. AKG C 451 B

AKG C 451 B Reference Small-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone is an ideal choice for capturing percussive sounds. The improved and professional-grade details and electronic circuitry in this microphone assist in catching rich transient sounds of drums, acoustic guitars, and other instruments that produce percussive sounds.

It adds beauty to the precise artistic sound that a musician would like to produce; all those grooves and punches of your music would just stand out with this tool! Your way to get the great bass sound of all time!

The high overload capability and interchangeability of the capsule give the best result even with the snappy sounds. Moreover, the capsule is permanently fixed to the preamp for increased stability under rugged mechanical stress or high incidence acoustics.

The variable pre-attenuation switch offers 0 dB, -10 dB, and -20 dB; you can choose and have fun with these high pass filters!

AKG C 451 B is one of the best hi-hat studio microphones of all time, and it is worth all the money you would be spending to buy it!

Pros:

  • Extremely light diaphragm
  • Minimal noise distortions
  • Protection against RF interference

Cons:

  • Nothing so far!

4. Beyerdynamic M201 TG

Beyerdynamic M201 TG Classic Dynamic Hypercardioid Microphone is an exceptionally versatile microphone out there that gets tons of jobs done at a very low price!

The positioning is super smooth due to the compact dimensions that this microphone has.

It captures low-frequency sounds pretty smoothly and cancels the noise and other forms of distortions properly.

The Hypercardioid unidirectional polar pattern makes it an ideal choice for close-miking during live performances, recording, and percussive acoustics. It offers a wide range of applications and offers maximum sound clarity due to the professional-grade details.

The unique “hum-buck” coil that this microphone is equipped with is responsible for the cancellation of the interferences that might alter the sound when the microphone is positioned close to the acoustics or certain powered gadgets.

M201 TG Classic has uncountable perks and it is an ideal choice for hi-hats, rack toms, cymbals, and percussive acoustics. It works like wonders when it is placed at a distance from the sound source; especially with acoustic guitars and snare drums!

M201 TG Classic is one of the best hi-hat microphones under $500 with high-quality features that would change your music experience.

Pros:

  • Maximum neutrality
  • Equipped with light moving coil transducer
  • Versatile
  • Durable construction
  • Great value for money

Cons:

  • Nothing so far!

5. Rode NTG4+

Rode NTG4+ Supercardioid Condenser Shotgun Microphone is equipped with an inbuilt rechargeable lithium battery that is operational for over 150 hours.

The NTG4+ is a smart microphone with a super-easy digital switching option on the exterior. The high-pass filter (Flat/75Hz), attenuated pad, and high-frequency boost can be controlled using the digital interface on the microphone in minutes. The microphone’s settings remain unchanged even if gets switched off.

The NTG4+ is equipped with a top-quality, precise condenser capsule and low noise circuitry offers maximum noise cancellation. It offers higher sensitivity and a rich sound pick-up. The higher sensitivity in return helps in the onboard equalization and level control, which can be adjusted via digital switching options.

The output is phenomenal and the sound-capturing quality will blow your mind! All of these features are provided to you at a relatively low cost. It is an ideal option for a hi-hat mic under $500 that you can find on the market.

The NTG4+ comes with an RM5 mic clip, a foam windshield, a ZP1 pouch, and a micro USB.

Pros:

  • Digital interface
  • Budget-friendly
  • Rugged construction
  • Versatile and durable

Cons:

  • Not good at rejecting unwanted noise

6. AKG C12VR

AKG has astonished the users for almost 65 years with its professional-grade products that had helped in delivering the crisp and iconic sound of all times! The manufacturers put their heart into making the most phenomenal products that offer a divine experience every time. The passion of the company and its employees has given the recording artists, and music producers wonder in the shape of microphones!

AKG C12VR Reference Multipattern Tube Condenser Microphone is a vintage restoration (VR) of its classic predecessor AKG C12. It has some of the most popular features of the classic model but it also has its perk and some pretty awesome advancements.

AKG C12VR Reference Multipattern Tube Condenser Microphone is equipped with an edge-terminated capsule and original vintage 6072A vacuum tube design that delivers the same, old yet powerful sound you’ve ever heard! The 1950s dual-diaphragm and transformer provide exceptional sound quality.

The AKG C12VR is referred to as the holy grail of microphones in the music industry.

The C12VR features 9 polar patterns that are adjustable and include omnidirectional, cardioid, and figure-eight variations. This feature offers ease of use and unlimited flexibility.

To be fit for all kinds of recording applications, the C12VR has an adjustable attenuation between -10 and -20 with a gain boost of +10 dB (Boost Switching).

The 2-position High Pass Filter in this microphone eradicates the low-end noise and other unwanted distortions in a way that the mid and high-end frequencies can be accentuated.

Pros:

  • State-of-the-art construction
  • Reliable and versatile
  • Vintage restoration of the most iconic mic in the history
  • Maximum flexibility and adjustment options
  • Phenomenal design

Cons:

  • Extremely expensive

7. Shure KSM137/SL Stereo Pair

Shure KSM137 Stereo Pair is an extraordinary option among other hi-hat microphones. The intricate, highly consistent construction makes it the best hi-hat microphone with a splendid transient response.

KSM137 features a lightweight, ultra-thin gold-plated Mylar diaphragm for splendid transient response and sound isolation.

The highly consistent single cardioid polar pattern is designed exclusively for the studio application but it is durable enough to be used for live application too.

The preamplifier that is used in this microphone is discrete and transformer-less to ensure transparency and capture the transient sound quickly. Therefore it is ideal for recording purposes as it offers high transparency and cancels self-noise too.

It helps in eliminating the proximity effect and minimizes harmonic and intermodulation noises.

The subsonic filter eradicates very-low-frequency distortions i.e. less than 17 Hz caused by heavy mechanical stress.

The KSM137 has a 3-position (0 dB, 15dB, and 25 dB) adjustable pad that helps it to withstand extremely high sound pressure levels (SPLs).

The KSM137 is a versatile, rugged, and reliable option for percussive acoustics, brass instruments, pianos, and guitars.

Pros:

  • Great sound quality
  • Great value for money
  • Works great with almost every instrument

Cons:

  • Nothing so far!

Things to Consider Before Buying the Best hi-hat microphones:

Diaphragm Size

For hi-hats, small-diaphragm microphones are used as they bring out natural, detailed, and unaltered sound. These microphones have a consistent pickup pattern that remains constant at almost all frequencies. They offer a great transient response so that the sound appears to be as pure as it can! Small-diaphragm microphones offer excellent low-end response and are compatible with pianos, acoustic guitars, brass instruments, stringed instruments, and percussion too.

Polar Patterns

Polar Patterns account for the field of sensitivity in the microphones. They are the dedicated areas where the incident sound waves get captured and the distortions are minimized. The polar patterns of the microphones can be omnidirectional (captures sound from all directions), unidirectional (captures sound from only one direction), and bidirectional (captures sound from two designated directions only).

The unidirectional (captures the focused sound only) microphones that are used with hi-hats are of three types depending upon their polar pattern; cardioid, hyper cardioid, and supercardioid.

All of these unidirectional polar patterns offer maximum off-axis and rear-axis rejection.

Microphones with cardioid polar patterns capture the sound waves that are coming from the front. They reject the sound waves coming from the sides and behind.

Microphones with supercardioid and hypercardioid polar pattern captures have sensitive rear lobes for picking up the sound waves. They capture sound from a 180-degree field and reject the sound waves from 90 and/or 270-degrees, respectively.

The supercardioid mic accepts a little more sound from a 180-degree field but rejects more from each side. The hypercardioid accepts more sound from 180 degrees but rejects more of the sound coming from 90 or 270 degrees.

Sound Quality/Output

The microphone and the instrument being used should go hand in hand to get the perfect sound! The quality of sound or output is the main thing, right? The hi-hats originally produces a very high-frequency sound so the compatible condenser microphone should be used along with them. You should not compromise on this one! You don’t want to lose your rhythm quality and tempo due to an incompatible microphone.

Stereo pair is usually used with hi-hats to get the maximum sound quality. The top and bottom cymbals have their unique sound qualities and both of them should be synchronized this purpose is served with a pair of microphones.

Intention of Usage

Hi-hat microphones can be used in a wide range of gigs from recording to jamming in a live concert. So you must decide what kind of work you are going to get out of it before buying one.

Price

High-quality microphones don’t have to be way too expensive! Considering your budget is needed badly as there are unfathomable options on the market and they vary in price. Some of the options are way too pricey but serve the same as a low-budget variant would. To compare the features and look at the prominent things that you need in your product.

Sensitivity

Microphone sensitivity refers to its capability to capture or detect the quietest sound out there. Considering the polar patterns here, there are different areas where they detect the sound and the areas where they do not.

SPL-Handling Capability

The sound pressure level (SPL) of the microphone is another crucial factor that one should consider while buying a microphone. It refers to the maximum level or volume that the microphone can withstand, and is measured in decibels (dB). It depicts the capability of the microphone to handle loud instruments. It is the opposite of the sensitivity of the microphone.

Frequency Response

The microphone’s ability to pick up a range of frequencies from high to low is its frequency response. In other words, how responsive the microphone is to various frequencies will be its frequency response.

It is measured in hertz (Hz) and ranges typically from the lowest frequency that a microphone captures to the highest that it will capture. The range that is required also depends upon the instrument you would be using the microphone with. Microphones with a frequency response range of 80 Hz to 15 kHz are considered ideal, but then again you must consider the instrument in use here too!


Conclusion

Best Hi-hat condenser microphones are Holy Grail for the musicians who want their rhythm and music quality to reflect as they intended. They just bring out the natural, unaltered essence of the sound making it more lively and crisp. To get there, you must get your hands on the best hi-hat microphone out there, so that the quality of the music remains uncompromised.

You need to do all the research you can do before buying a microphone! Many low-budget microphones stand out in the world of high-end ones so you must compare, and dig out essential information beforehand. Just have a little round table conference with your budget, the intent of use and the sound quality you intend to get out of the microphone and things will be heaven!


FAQs

Is a hi-hat microphone a necessity?

It honestly depends on the musicians and their style and their needs. Hi-hats can be very loud on their own that some musicians do not mic them. But you can always take your chances!

What is the best way to mic a hi-hat?

Position your microphone neither too close nor too away from the hi-hat. Just accurate enough so that it does not get hit accidentally. It should be pointing directly down towards the cymbals so it captures the sound perfectly.

How many microphones should be placed with the drums or hi-hats?

Typically a stereo pair of condenser cardioid pickup pattern microphones is placed above the sets of drums, one on the left side and the other on the right side.

What kind of microphone should one use with cymbals?

Condenser microphones with cardioid pickup patterns are ideal for cymbals/hi-hats. It allows the sound to just cut through it and helps in minimizing the proximity effect.

What is a shotgun mic?

Shotgun microphones typically have a hypercardioid pickup pattern that allows the sound to be captured around a focused area. It minimizes off-axis noise pretty well and is better at the sound quality. Rode NTG4+ Supercardioid Condenser Shotgun Microphone is one of the best shotgun microphones on the market.

What is a hypercardioid microphone?

Hypercardioid pickup pattern microphones have focused sensitivity and are very directional. The most sensitive areas where it picks up the sound are on-axis ones, typically the area where the microphone points. These kinds of microphones are prominent in filmmaking and recording purposes.

Is a hypercardioid microphone good at rejecting off-axis noise?

Hypercardioid microphones are directional and focus only where they are pointed at. Their off-axis rejection is pretty grand so you don’t have to deal with any unwanted noise i.e. wind, other instruments in the proximity, footfall noise, etc.

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