Best Drum Overhead Mics Under 500 Dollars: Stereo Pair Shootout

Choosing The Best Drum Overhead Mics For Recording On A Budget

Drum overhead mics are also an essential part of most any live drum recording session. After all, they record what becomes the foundation of the drum mix. The glue that provides fullness and balance to the overall drum bus. It’s very important to pick the best drum overhead mics that suit your needs for your recordings. Most studio engineers have a pandora’s box of condenser mics at their disposal for this role. A matched stereo pair of Shoeps CMC6 overhead mics would fit the bill nicely, but most of us don’t have the extra three or four thousand dollars to spend on them. In this post we will look at four stereo pairs of small diaphragm condenser microphones under 500 dollars (per pair). I have also included a video with each mic being used for drum overheads. So put on your headphones and listen closely as we decide which pair of mics is most suitable for your needs in our search for the best drum overhead mics under 500 dollars.

Behringer C-2

The Behringer C-2 small diaphragm condenser mics are unbelievably inexpensive. When I first purchased my pair, I was thoroughly impressed with not only their performance, but also the extras they came with. Mic clips, a stereo bar and a hard shell plastic case were all included for the rock bottom price of $59.99! The C-2’s seem to be fairly “plain jane” when listening to recordings in comparison to other, more expensive, mics. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Their sound is quite uncolored and the frequency response seems to be fairly even across the spectrum. They don’t deliver the kind of low end fullness that some of the more expensive mics do, but they sound great for the money! They also have low self noise (especially when used with a good preamp) and can tolerate 150 SPL which are both good traits in drum overheads for recording.
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Rode M5

The Rode M5 overhead condenser mics are the next step up the pricing ladder at roughly 200 dollars for the pair. In listening to the Rode M5 it’s easy to hear that it delivers more low end frequency than the Behringer C-2 . It’s very full sounding and extremely smooth. The high transients aren’t as evident to me due to this added presence of low end. If a pair of Rode M5’s were all I had to work with, I may pick them as my drum overhead mics of choice, but I rely on overheads to deliver the high frequency sheen and shimmer of the cymbals more than low end. I believe these may compete a bit too much with the tom mics for a full drum mic setup, but in my opinion they would be perfect for a three or four mic setup (overheads plus kick and / or snare).
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Sennheiser Evolution e 614

The Sennheiser Evolution e614 small diaphragm condenser mics also make wonderful drum overhead mics for recording purposes. At roughly 400.00 dollars per pair, they are close to the top end of our price range. Their price makes me ask the question: Are they worth in excess of 200 dollars more that our first two competitors? It’s obvious to me that they aren’t as full as the Rode M5’s, but they are much more detailed and crisp in the high frequency range. I believe these mics would be perfect to capture the nuances of the cymbals and add fullness to the overall drum kit without competing in the low frequency range. Watch the video and listen for yourself!
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Oktava MK-012

The Oktava MK-012 is the most expensive pair of drum overhead mics in this review. These mics are very balanced across the frequency spectrum, providing a full, detailed sound. The specs state they can withstand 130 db, but I’ve read reviews that dispute that. The design of these mics is much more versatile than the other mics in this comparison. There are actually different capsules that can be attached to the mic body. To get the function of an omni mic, you change the capsule. To add a -10db pad, an additional pad module is screwed on under the capsule. Oktave even makes large diaphragm capsules for this mic body as well. This modular design is unique and let’s you get more performance for your money!
Comparison Chart | Read Amazon Reviews

And the Best Drum Overhead Mics Under 500 Dollars Are…

Unfortunately, when picking drum overhead mics, the decision is completely subjective. In my mind, as little as I use drum overheads, I believe the Behringer C-2’s are good enough for my recording purposes. I also really like the sound of the Rode M5’s. Their added fullness would make it possible to get a really killer sound by just adding a mic to enhance the kick. For completely different reasons I’m drawn to the Oktava MK-012 because of it’s modular design. For less than $800.00 I can get a pair of killer small diaphragm condenser mics and an excellent large diaphragm mic for recording vocals, etc… So the decision is up to you. Which mics do you think are the best drum overhead mics under 500 dollars? Be sure to check out my other posts for the best in pro audio! | Check Out Behringer C-2’s on Amazon!

Drum Overhead Mic Feature Comparison


Behringer C2'sRode M5'sSennheiser e614Oktava MK‑012
TypeSmall Diaphragm CondenserSmall Diaphragm CondenserElectret CondenserSmall Diaphragm Condenser
Polar PatternCardioidCardioidSuper CardioidCardioid, Hypercardioid,
Omnidirectional
OperationPressure GradientPressure GradientNot PublishedPressure Gradient
Frequency Response20 Hz - 20 kHz20 Hz - 20 kHz40 Hz - 20 kHz20 Hz - 20 kHz
Max SPL140 (0 db)
150 dB (-10 dB)
140Not Published130
Self Noise (A-Weighted)
Signal to Noise Ratio
75 dB (19 dBA)19 dBANot Published19 dBA
Impedance75 Ohms200 Ohms50 Ohms (at 1kHz)less than 300 ohms
Low-Cut Filter6 dB/Oct at 120 Hz SwitchableN/AN/AN/A
Pad-10 db SwitchableN/AN/AN/A