Think about it. When you listen to or play any song, which sound do you hear the most? It’s the Hi-hat!
Here’s the thing. Many people think it is enough to just mic the snare since the hi-hat is close by.
The problem is that the snare is so sharp that much of the clarity of the hi-hat sound gets lost if you solely rely on a snare mic.
For these reasons, you need to seriously consider getting a microphone specifically for your hi-hat.
The benefit of this is that you can pick up the full range of sound.
Not only will your hi-hat sounds come out clearer, but you can limit the range on the snare mic as well so everything sounds sharper.
Our short guide will show you what to look for in hi-hat mic and give you our choices for the top 7 recorders out there for the best sound possible!
If you are in a hurry these are our TOP 3 Picks:
After going through so many hi hat mics, we have come up with our list of the top microphones on the market. As with anything, you get what you pay for and the more you are willing to spend, the better the sound is likely to be.
That said, we have included mics for each price point so whether you are a rockstar ready to spend the big bucks or a newbie just trying to hear yourself play, we have something for you!
What to Look for in a Hi-Hat Mic
Not all mics are created the same. You can’t just put a microphone next your cymbal and expect to get good results. What you need is a small-diaphragm condenser mic. This sounds complicated, but it is not too hard.
There are just a few things that you need to look for.
Basically microphones are all about size. Smaller-diaphragm means it hones in a smaller area so that the sound is more targeted. Along with this you want to look for the phrase, “cardioid pickup pattern”.
Again another complicated word but it just means the way the microphone pickups up sound.
Think about the sound a cymbal makes, it radiates outward and these sound waves are what this type of microphone can pick up.
This is honestly the best of the best. The price alone costs more than a lot of complete kits! The Neumann is the pinnacle of microphone design.
These microphones have the best sound range quality out of anything of the market. It definitely is an investment, but one that will pay for itself down the road with its functionality and durability.
With a product description that reads more like a car than a microphone, the Neumann KM 184 features everything we mentioned in what to look for in a great hi hat microphone.
- Cardioid Polar Pattern Transformerless circuitry Trouble-free operation even with unbalanced equipment Balanced output phantom powered (48V)
- The Neumann KM 184 Small Diaphragm Cardioid Microphone has become the classic high-quality miniature microphone
- The pressure gradient transducer used in the KM 184 features very smooth frequency response not only for the 0 axis, but also for lateral (off-axis) sound incidence
- In typical usage, there is no coloration of sound over a wide pickup angle
- Although the KM 184 has the same capsule as the KM 84, the microphone differs slightly on the 0 frequency response: The KM 184 has a gentle rise at about 9 kHz (which brings out the sizzle in cymbals), a characteristic that was introduced very successfully with the KM 140
- Sound 99% 99%
- Quality 98% 98%
- Performance 98% 98%
This is another very solid microphone and definitely better suited to the midrange buyer. The dynamic range and intelligibility of this microphone is truly out of this world.
Not only this, it performs well in a range of environments, not just the studio but even out and about. This microphone records high fidelity audio and is useful for a range of uses as well.
Audio Technica has a great reputation and although it doesn’t have quite as many features, most users will barely notice the difference!
- Specially engineered to meet the most critical acoustic requirements of professional recording, broadcast and sound reinforcement
- Hypercardioid polar pattern reduces pickup of sounds from the sides and rear, improving isolation of desired sound source
- Direct-coupled, balanced output results in a clean signal even under high-output conditions
- Transformerless circuitry virtually eliminates low-frequency distortion and provides superior correlation of high-speed transients
- Switchable 80 Hz hi-pass filter and 10 dB pad
- Sound 94% 94%
- Quality 96% 96%
- Performance 92% 92%
Although it isn’t particularly great for picking up your deep notes, it is fantastic at getting the high ones which is why it is well-suited as hi hat mic.
- 0 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response
- Selectable low-frequency response: flat, 6 or 18 dB/octave rolloff
- Low noise and high output clipping level
- Cardioid polar pattern, uniform with frequency and symmetric about axis, providing maximum rejection and minimum coloration of off-axis sounds
- Phantom powering (DIN 45 596 voltages of 12 to 48 Vdc)
- Sound 92% 92%
- Quality 94% 94%
- Performance 90% 90%
This solid wireless mic system can get the job done!
Considered a universal mic, it can get a host of jobs done. It also has a “hum-buck” cable that blocks out interference quite well. It also has really small dimensions which makes it great for positioning.
For a small range microphone, it has some exceptional smooth pick up of low frequencies. But it really shines with dynamics and this is what sets it apart from even higher priced microphones.
- Universal microphone with hypercardioid polar pattern and wide range of applications
- Integrated hum-buck coil; low-mass moving coil transducer
- Small dimensions for unobtrusive positioning
- Offers clarity, neutrality and superior intelligibility
- Rugged construction; includes microphone clamp and storage bag
- Sound 88% 88%
- Quality 90% 90%
- Performance 92% 92%
Best of all, it is part of a series of microphones that fit a whole range of uses so you can create packages that your whole band can use!
- Small diaphragm design perfectly suits overhead drum applications
- Designed for demanding applications where extended frequency range, high SPL handling, fast transient response and small size are required
- Nearly flat response from 40 Hz to 20 kHz and a super cardioid pattern
- Includes clip and protective pouch
- Sound 92% 92%
- Quality 90% 90%
- Performance 94% 94%
You can’t beat this one on price. This is the best sound you can get for the best value.
Although not quite as crisp as the other microphones on this list, it’s value it pretty unbeatable. Coming from Audio-Technica, you also know that you are getting a solid product even if it is in the lower price spectrum.
It doesn’t quite have the sound quality of other mics on this list, but other than that it delivers on size, durability and overall quality.
So if you’re on a budget or just setting up your this home studio this is a no brainer.
- Ideal for interviews, group vocals, strings, cymbal overheads, acoustic guitar and piano
- RoHS compliant free from all substances specified in the EU directive on hazardous substances
- Omni-directional so can be used for total sound recording
- Sound 90% 90%
- Quality 89% 89%
- Performance 92% 92%
Other than that, it is by far the best budget mic on the market!
- 100Hz-20kHz frequency response
- Cardioid polar pattern
- Die-cast zinc housing
- Steel mesh grille
- Integrated mic clip
- Sound 85% 85%
- Quality 87% 87%
- Performance 86% 86%
How to set up a Hi Hat Mic
YouTube is going to be most helpful here. There are some great videos on how to place and set up your hi hat mic, but here are some quick tips so that you can follow along with any of these tutorials that you might watch.
- Place your microphone so that it is between five and ten centimeters from the top of the high hat. You want to angle it so that you are unable to see the snare. This is so you can reduce as much possible any other sounds from the snare or other parts of the drum kit.
- You also want to make sure it is along the outer edge of the cymbal
- Make sure it is high enough so it does not interfere with your playing
- Experiment based on your style and sound. Different players use their high hat differently so play around with it to find the sound that you like best.
What Makes a Good Hi Hat Mic
Now that you know what to look for in a hi hat mic and how to position, now you need to make sure you know what makes a good mic. Just like any other microphone, sound quality is determined a lot by its components and style.
As mentioned you are looking for a small-diaphragm microphone.
The other thing you have to consider is the sound a hi hat makes. It is really designed for a mid to high range frequency so you need to make sure you have a microphone that is well calibrated for this.
Different mics are going to “hear” things differently so you need to watch some different videos and play around in your local shop to find the one that suits you best.
Here are seven great hi-hat mics that can work for any price point. Overall, we have to choose Beyerdyanmic as the best combination of price and quality, but all of the mics on the list can do the job of getting your Hi-Hat crisp and clear with good brightnes.
Off course when you go down in price the overall quality tends to decline, but we’ve just covered some decent affordable options that will definetly get the job done. Just don’t expect to use the Audix on a high end professional recording studio.
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Let us know if you have any doubts in the comments below and best of lucks!