5 Best Hi-Hat Mic for 2021 with Buying Guide

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When setting the pace or tempo of any song, having the best hi-hat mic becomes a significant factor. Whether you are performing live or in a studio recording, you need something to project good hi hat.

Well, the best hi-hat mic delivers just that. Even so, most drummers like overhead drum microphone setups. Therefore, they will only get a unified sound of the hi-hat alongside the bass, snare, cymbals, etc. As a result, their sound lacks the clarity and individuality of each drum element.

Several hi-hat mics are flooding the market. Each option has its price and has something you can get from it. This article looks at the best hi-hat mics that are used out there.

Comparison Chart for Hi-Hat Mic

 IMAGE PRODUCT DETAILS BUY
Shure SM81 Microphone - Best for professionals1.  Shure SM81 MicrophoneBest for professionals
  • Cardioid polar pattern
  • Rugged vinyl-coated steel body
  • 3-Step switchable high-pass filter
  • -10dB lockable pad
AKG Perception 170 Microphone - Best Durability2.  AKG Perception 170 MicrophoneBest Durability
  • All-metal body
  • 155dB sound pressure
  • Cardioid polar pattern
  • Switchable attenuation pad
Samson C02 Pencil Condenser Microphones - Best for the Price 3.  Samson C02 Pencil Condenser MicrophonesBest for the Price
  • Two microphones
  • Two foam windscreens
  • Two shock-mounted mic holders
  • Protective carrier case
Audio Technica AT2021 Condenser Microphone - Best Frequency Response4. Audio Technica AT2021 Condenser MicrophoneBest Frequency Response
  • Low-mass element
  • Cadrioid polar pattern
  • Wide dynamic range
  • Rugged design
Behringer B-5 Condenser Microphone - Best for Studio5. Behringer B-5 Condenser MicrophoneBest for Studio
  • Gold-sputtered diaphragm
  • Pressure-gradient transducer
  • Gold-coated XLR connector
  • Two interchangeable capsules

Review the Hi-Hat Mic

OUR TOP PICK

Best for professionals

Shure SM81-LC Cardioid Condenser Instrument Microphone

Things we liked

Reliable and durable steel body
Industry standard for professional use
Well defined low end
Great sound isolation
High overdrive safety
Adjustable low-frequency response
Good for recording

Things we didn’t like

Price is slightly high 

The Shure SM81 is one of the high-quality best hi-hat mic models you can get out there. It boasts an industry standard. In other words, it delivers quality perfect for professional application and recording functions. 

It’s also very versatile and has uncolored highs. With zero distortion, these hi-hats also handles high sound pressure. Besides being a typical best hi-hat mic, it is used with cymbals, pianos, and acoustic guitars as well.

More importantly, the high-end SM81 includes a cardioid pickup pattern. It hence delivers great sound isolation and ensures the least off-axis coloration. That means it collects the sound of the hi-hats with clarity.

About its construction, this best microphone features a rugged steel body with a vinyl coat. As a result, the SM81 is durable enough and can be used frequently. With proper maintenance, expect this microphone to last years.

It also has a 3-setting switch. Through this, you will get to make adjustments to the mic’s low-frequency response. It also offers flexibility during recording sessions. This feature is one that may come in handy where room or wind noise try to bleed into the mic. It offers you minimal distortion covering a huge range of load output impedance.

Equally important, it includes a -10bD lockable pad. Without changing the frequency response, this pad allows you to collect loud sounds.

As such, you can play your hi-hat very loud with no issue. Looking at what the SM81 delivers, it’s a perfect microphone for studio recording.

Shure SM81-LC Cardioid Condenser Instrument...
  • This microphone requires phantom power and performs best with a 48 Vdc supply (IEC-61938). However, it will operate with slightly decreased headroom and sensitivity with supplies as low as 11 Vdc. Most modern mixers provide phantom power. You must use a balanced microphone cable: XLR-to-XLR or XLR-to-TRS.
  • The SM81 is ruggedly constructed. It operates on phantom power and performs over a wide range of temperatures and humidity conditions. It is furnished with a swivel adapter, attenuator-switch lock, foam windscreen, and case for carrying and storage. Other accessories are available.
  • 20 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response. Flat response curve for accurate reproduction of sound sources.
  • Low noise and high output clipping level. Low distortion over a wide range of load impedances.
  • Cardioid polar pattern, uniform with frequency and symmetric about axis, providing maximum rejection and minimum coloration of off-axis sounds

Last update on 2021-04-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Best Durability

Samson C02 Pencil Condenser Microphones (Pair)

Things we liked

Easy machine washing
Excellent noise reduction
Blocks UV rays
Impressive thermal insulation

Things we didn’t like

Doesn’t block low-frequency noise
The felt fabric lining isn’t machine washable

The AKG Perception 170 is one tough best hi-hat mics. It boasts an all-metal body. With such a robust design, it can be used severally everyday. Besides being long-lasting, this microphone is also very sleek and great for recording.

Even with a metal body, the high-end AKG P170 is lightweight. It assures zero radio frequency interference. In simple terms, you can use it near wireless mics or transmitter stations without any problems.

Besides high temperatures, the AKG hi-hat mic is also resistant to humidity. It also has an impressive minimalist design. As such, you can use it conveniently during a recording session.

Also, these hi-hats can accommodate sound pressure of up to 155dB with zero distortion. It includes a switchable attenuation pad. With this, you can surge the headroom by 20dB. Thanks to this feature, you can record or perform on a close microphone without distortion.

Any drummer would like a versatile microphone. Luckily enough, the AKG P170 is the real deal. Other than recording, it’s also greatly used for broadcasting and live performances. It is a typical hi-hat mic and can work as a drum set overhead as well.

The performance of this AKG is top-notch. For that reason, many sound engineers with much experience give it a nod. Many musicians and and drummers who have used it also like it, it’s a great miking tool.

Sale
AKG Perception 170 Professional Instrumental...
  • Rugged all-metal body and robust design - Withstands tough day-to-day use
  • Switchable attenuation pad - For high SPL applications up to 155 db SPL
  • Small-diaphragm condenser microphone for recording of overheads, percussion, acoustic guitars and other strings
  • Delivers outstanding clarity and transient response
  • Lightweight 1/2 inch true condenser transducer diaphragm

Last update on 2021-04-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Best for the Price

Samson C02 Pencil Condenser Microphones (Pair)

Things we liked

Comes as a pair
Includes two foam windscreens for eliminating wind noise
Can endure high sound pressure levels
Ideal for both studio and live recordings
Comes with two shock-mounted microphone holders
Includes a protective carry case

Things we didn’t like

May capture unwanted noise

Are you after a condenser microphone at a reasonable price? If yes, the Samson C02 could be one of the great options. It is a typical condenser mic with a pencil style ideal for both studio and live recordings.

Unlike most mic counterparts, you will get the C02 as a pair. Hence, it’s ideal for scenarios where you need multiple mics. For instance, you could use them to project the hi-hat and snare to boot. With the C02, you get good audio clarity from specific drum components.

It also features a low-mass capsule.

Apart from that, the Samson C02 includes a cardioid pattern and an output impedance 200 ohms. This means it only captures the sound coming from the mic’s front. Hence, it effectively gets rid of ambient room noises. Also, it eliminates any noises from the close by instruments, thanks to its output impedance 200 ohms.

As a bonus, the Samson C02 includes a protective case that you will surely need. The microphone holders, on the other hand, come with shock mounts. Thereby, these features ensure low noise and extra security as well.

In vocal applications, the C02 allows reducing wind noise plosives. Thanks to the convenient two foam windscreens.

The mic’s linear frequency response is also very remarkable. Other than enduring high sound pressure levels, it also assures top-quality sound reproduction. It is great for use when doing recordings.

Sale
Samson C02 Pencil Condenser Microphones (Pair)
  • Cardioid Pickup Pattern
  • Gold-plated XLR connectors
  • Carry Case & shock-mounted mic clips included
  • Sold as stereo pair
  • Samson Audio (Author)

Last update on 2021-04-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Best Frequency Response

Audio-Technica AT2021 Cardioid Condenser Microphone

Things we liked

Reasonable price
Great sound quality with tweaking features
Low-mass element 
Ideal for both instruments and vocals
Superior build quality
Compact and lightweight 
Good for recording
Impeccable sound isolation

Things we didn’t like

Loose mic holder 
Its body may be too short for some drummers

Audio Technica is well known for delivering top-quality equipment. Luckily enough, the AT2021 is not an exception. It is one of the ideal condenser mic with a wide dynamic range and great frequency response.

The mic’s versatility is worth mentioning. Not only does the microphone project hi-hats, piano, and other instruments, but amps and vocals to boot. Because of this feature, the Audio Technica AT2021 stands out from its counterparts. 

Then again, the AT2021 features a cardioid pattern. It, therefore, only picks up sound from the front while avoiding rear and side sounds. In other terms, it enhances the separation of the sound you desire.

More importantly, the microphone’s sound quality is impeccable. With this mic, expect nothing less but a bright, clear, and audible sound.

Courtesy of its low-mass element, the AT2021 delivers clarity and transient response. This feature comes in handy during vocal applications. Besides that, this microphone also sensitive to transition.

It then features a premium compact design. For that reason, carrying the mic around is effortless. Despite it being a small diaphragm condenser microphone, this best hi-hat mic promises powerful performance.

Even more impressive, the AT2021 comes with a reasonable price tag. Hence, don’t fret about paying too much.

However, the mic’s mount isn’t that tight. So, for better security, get yourself another separate microphone holder.

Audio-Technica AT2021 Cardioid Condenser...
  • Condenser design for studio-quality vocal and instrument applications; ideal for acoustic guitar, overheads, piano and group vocals
  • Excels in high-SPL applications with extended response for smooth, natural sonic characteristics
  • Low-mass element for superb transient response
  • Corrosion-resistant contacts from gold-plated XLRM-type connector
  • Rugged design and construction for reliable performance

Last update on 2021-04-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Best for Studio

BEHRINGER B-5 Gold-Sputtered Diaphragm Condenser Microphone Silver, (B5)

Things we liked

Very affordable price
Impressive build quality
Has both pattern cardioid and omnidirectional polar patterns
Ideal for studio and live recordings
Decent audio quality
Great string signal integrity

Things we didn’t like

May be defective
Capsule screws loosen over time

For any drummer on a budget, the Behringer B-5 is good news. As you’d expect, it’s an ideal condenser microphone that works best for both studio and live recordings. The microphone’s sound quality is great—something every drummer would like.  

Other than that, it features a gold-coated XLR connection alongside a gold-coated diaphragm. With these, it delivers great string signal integrity. 

Unlike other best hi-hat mics, the B-5 includes a pressure-gradient transducer. Then again, the diaphragm comes with shock mounts. With these features, this best hi-hat mic delivers nothing less than a smooth performance. 

In all honesty, one of its cons is that it is not a high-quality mic model. However, for its price, the B-5 offers decent hi-hat sound clarity with the correct detail level. Expect it to deliver noise-free transmission comparable to high-quality hi-hat mid models. 

One of its greatest pros is that its mic’s build quality is also impressive. With appropriate maintenance, this microphone will last long without a doubt.

Outstandingly, it also features two interchangeable capsules. For that reason, it accommodates omnidirectional and cardioid pickup pattern.

BEHRINGER B-5 Gold-Sputtered Diaphragm Condenser...
  • Professional gold-sputtered diaphragm condenser microphone for unsurpassed audio quality
  • Ideal as main and support microphone for studio and live applications--perfect for acoustic instruments and overhead etc.
  • 2 interchangeable capsules with cardioid and omnidirectional pickup patterns
  • Pressure-gradient transducer with shock-mounted gold-sputtered diaphragm capsule
  • Switchable low-frequency roll-off and input attenuation

Last update on 2021-04-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Buying Guide for the Best Hi-Hat Mic

Sound Quality

We all know that a hi-hat naturally produces high-frequency sound. Therefore, we can agree that a compact diaphragm condenser mic is an excellent pick.

Remember, the snare can be sharp even in the absence of a mic. Assuming you are using a single mic, you may lose your hi-hat sound. As a result, you may lose your rhythm quality and performance tempo as well.

On a small stage, such a scenario may not be an issue. But can we say the same for a large studio or concert? Of course not.

It is thereby vital to verify and inspect the sound quality of your hi-hat microphone. By doing so, you’ll avoid picking the wrong device.

Type of Microphone

Do you know the different types of microphones? If not, they include ribbons mics, overhead mics, and condenser mics. Each of the mic types has a unique set of features that make it desirable. 

Even so, each type of microphone has its setup. Take an overhead mic, for instance. This device frees you from having to set it up every time. In other words, it doesn’t require frequent re-adjustments.

But if superior performance is what you are after, go for a condenser microphone. Remarkably, these mics deliver an extended and high-frequency response. 

Condenser mics also tend to be sensitive to minute variations. For that reason, they are ideal for both live and studio performances.  

Design

The material consisting of a hi-hat microphone is also essential. I would recommend a lightweight pick with a metal body such as aluminum. Besides lasting a long time, moving the microphone around won’t be a hassle.

Additionally, an aluminum body mic assures zero radio frequency interference. In other words, it works even with wireless microphones and transmitter stations close by without any problem. 

Compatibility

How you intend to use your microphone should influence the type to buy. If you want a microphone to support your acoustic instruments, a condenser microphone should do.

Such microphones are compatible with most equipment, be it acoustic guitars, cymbals, violin, etc. They also have an impressive smooth response. Hence, they make ideal hi-hat mics.

Size

As for size, consider a small diaphragm condenser microphone. Such mics are the best, especially for drummers who often are on tour. Besides, small size doesn’t necessarily portray low sound quality.

The primary goal is to make sure your hi-hat mic fits comfortably in your drum kit carrier. After all, who likes bulky devices?

Budget

Before making any purchase, you should be reasonable enough to consider your budget. That principle applies in buying a hi-hat mic as well. 

You’ll find lots of high-quality mic options flooding the market. And, they all boast different features and price tags to boot. The point is, you don’t have to strain your pockets trying to get a high-quality mic. 

Even on a strained or low budget, you can still acquire an excellent model with top-notch quality. In the same way, it’s not surprising to find high-price mics with sub-par performance.

Brand Value 

The brand value may not be as significant to some people. And, to some extent, I agree. But, it’s no secret that a mic from a renowned brand comes with some extra advantages. 

For instance, the device assures reliable quality. Also, in the case of an issue, reputable brands deliver vital customer service. Or, at least their consumer-related policies would be of help. 

So, if you can, I recommend buying from a reputable brand.

Extra Features

You’ll find some hi-hat mics with bonus features. Some models come with microphone clips. With these, you can adjust the mic’s position quickly during performances.

Others feature transport bags. Hence, carrying them around is effortless. Air noise pass filter and attenuation pads are other features worth looking out for. Th pass filter ensures that your microphone does not collect any external noise.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does the diaphragm size of a hi-hat mic matter?

Originally there were two diaphragm sizes, large and small. But now, there’s a recent development in the form of medium diaphragm mics.

Large-diaphragm condenser mics are the most versatile. Thanks to their multiple pickup pads and patterns.

You’ll also find large-diaphragm mics ideal for collecting loud sources with firm bass energy.

Medium diaphragms are a new and controversial topic. However, these tend to work best for high-frequency content. And, they also have excellent clarity and transient response. 

Even more impressive, they deliver all that while offering a round and warm sound as well. In simple terms, they provide what a small and large-diaphragm offers altogether.

Lastly, small diaphragm condenser mics are ultra-responsive. Thanks to their lightweight and small size diaphragms. They are perfect for instruments with extended overtones and sharp transients like hi-hats, harp, etc.

What are the different microphone polar patterns?

These include pattern Cardioid, Omnidirectional, Hyper-cardioid, Super-cardioid, Figure-8, and Multiple Patterns.

Mics with the Cardioid polar pattern collect sound in front of them. At the same time, they reject sound from the rear and sides. Cardioid polar pattern microphones are hence used for most microphone applications.

Hyper-cardioid and Super-cardioid have sensitive rear lobes for capturing sound. They are more directional, and positioning them is somewhat tricky.

Omnidirectional mics collect sound from every direction all the same. They make ideal studio microphones.

Figure-8 microphones are bi-directional. They only collect sound from the back and front while rejecting that from the sides.

Multiple pattern condenser mics allow you to switch polar patterns. In most cases, they include pattern cardioid, omnidirectional and Figure-8 patterns.

Why do I need a hi-hat mic?

Firstly, a hi-hat mic offers more control over the volume, tone, and proximity when recording. Unlike an overhead mic, this mic ensures a more robust sound. With the hi-hat setting the tempo, it has to stand out. 

How tall should I set up my hi-hat mic?

Make sure your mic is between five and ten above your hi-hat. Also, angle it correctly to avoid collecting sounds from other parts of your drum set. It should also be high enough not to interrupt your playing.

How far apart should I space my hi-hats?

This varies with the drummer and is more of personal preference. Some think hi-hats should be 4 or 5 inches apart. Others recommend half an inch of space. 

But if you are still unsure, try positioning them one or two inches apart and keep adjusting from there.

Conclusion

All drummers show their creativity with other parts of their drum kit. But, the hi-hat, in particular, helps maintain a specific rhythm and tempo. It’s very instrumental in adding a natural and unique touch to your recordings and performance. 

In some genres such as jazz or reggae, the hi-hat makes the drums lively. Having a device to amplify it makes everything much better. And that’s where the essence of the right hi-hat mic jumps in.

Our top pick is the Shure SM81 Condenser Instrument Microphone. It is ideal for capturing high frequencies. Moreover, it delivers high overdrive protection and has inherent low noise.

I have been playing drums for over 10 years and it is my love. I would like to provide you with the best information about drums.

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