The 4 Best Hi Hat Mics – Microphone Reviews 2021

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Photo by tommapson / CC BY

Mic-recording hi hats is undeniably harder and more time-consuming than recording any other instrument. There are so many individual components that need to be accurately captured sonically, which obviously means that you’ll need a special type of microphone to get the job done right.

Every microphone type offers different benefits. For instance, dynamic microphones are durable and don’t need a dedicated power supply; USB microphones are compact and portable; condenser microphones boast extended dynamic range, a more balanced noise floor and generally respond more favorable to ultra loud transients.

Overall, even though you could record your drums with pretty much any high-quality microphone, ideally you should use a condenser microphone. We’ll go into more details why after our products (which, let’s be honest, is why you’re here). So without much ado…

Here are our recommendations for the best hi hat mics on the market:

Hi Hat Mic 1: Blue Spark SL Condenser Microphone

Our opener pick is Blue’s Spark SL, which is arguably the best hi hat mic that money can buy. Its performance is unequalled and unmatched, even by more expensive boutique microphones.

It is remarkably light with only 0.7 pounds of weight, it boasts a uni-directional polar pattern and boasts 119.6 dB sensitivity level complemented by a well-designed high-pass filter. Essentially, the Spark SL offers the clearest, most versatile performance and is most suitable for professional recording studios.

Pros:

  • Unparalleled sonic performance
  • Exceptional tonal clarity
  • Lightweight and portable
  • XLR connection
  • Superior sensitivity rating

Cons:

  • Fairly expensive
CRAS - Blue Spark SL microphone session

Hi Hat Mic 2: Audix ADX51 Studio Condenser Microphone

Audix’s ADX51 is our runner-up pick. Basically, it’s designed in a similar fashion to Spark SL, and it offers a similar dynamic range and clarity. The main difference between the two is that ADX51 weighs nearly twice as much.

Even though it’s not as light and portable, this microphone offers more durability, and in that regard it is more suitable for portable studios rather than hunkered recording studios. Its brass construction affords it a rugged shell that is nearly impervious to physical damage.

Pros:

  • Built to withstand years of use and abuse
  • Precision-machined from robust brass materials
  • Exceptional dynamic range
  • Ideal for recording overheads; affords plenty of headroom

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Pretty heavy
Audix Microphones - How to mic an acoustic guitar with an ADX51 small diaphragm condenser microphone

Hi Hat Mic 3: Samson G-Track Pro Professional USB Condenser Microphone

Next up is Samson Technologies’ SAGM1UPRO. Basically, this is the first USB condenser microphone on our list that boasts variable polar patterns and connection types, which means that it’s just slightly more versatile, especially in terms of connectivity.

Even though it’s not lightweight per se, it’s substantially lighter than ADX51 (while still being heavier than Blue SL). It offers enhanced dynamic range and tremendous sensitivity level, making it perfect for recording drums in general, especially hi hats.

The inline controls are perfect for on-the-fly adjustments, and it’s actually much sturdier than it appears. Namely, the Samson Technologies’ SAGM1UPRO features a die-cast zinc base complemented with a heavy-gauge grille made of top-quality mesh.

The only shortcoming of this microphone is that you’ll only be able to use it with USB-compatible devices, which means that it’s an excellent choice for home studios but not so great for actual recording studios where this type of connectivity can only be afforded in the control room.

Pros:

  • Multiple polar pattern options
  • Onboard basic EQ controls
  • Several connectivity settings
  • Pristinely clear audio capturing capability

Cons:

  • Can only be used with PCs, laptops and similar USB-compatible devices
Pete Thorn Showcases Samson G-Track Pro USB Condenser Microphone for Live Streaming and Podcasting

Hi Hat Mic 4: MXL 606 Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphone

MXL’s 606 is a small-diaphragm condenser microphone that offers lightweight convenience and compactness complemented by a decently broad frequency range and responsiveness.

It features built-in bass roll-off function and an integrated attenuator that allow it to fit within any recording setup while its compactness makes it an excellent choice for recording drums.

This microphone is outfitted with exquisitely designed circuitry that makes any recordings sound substantially cleaner. Furthermore, it is generally much cheaper in comparison to our top picks, which makes it perfect for enthusiasts and amateurs on cash-strapped budgets. However, it’s not as durable, so you should handle it with care, preferably safely tucked inside a carry bag when not in use.

Pros:

  • Decently cheap
  • Great dynamic range
  • Built-in bass roll-off function
  • Exquisite circuitry

Cons:

  • Possibly flimsy
MXL 606 Unboxing Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphone. Close up views

The Best Hi Hat Mics Conclusion

Finding quality microphones to record hi-hats exclusively is sometimes considered a luxury where actually it’s more of a requirement if you want to capture a clean, accurate tone. Even if you’re playing loud heavy metal you’ll still need the precision that seemingly only condenser microphones can afford.

Condenser microphones reduce the ‘bleed’ of overheads, which basically means that you’ll be able to specify the recording areas in the easiest way possible. Furthermore, they’re perfect for close-up recording as they completely ignore the sounds generated outside of specified areas (above, behind, and from the sides).

The extended range of condenser microphones will help you tackle down all the frequencies of your hi-hat, regardless of your playing style and loudness. In that regard, there are a couple of things you should keep in mind, including proximity sensitivity, the frequency response range, the noise floor level, headroom, and obviously, the price.

The headroom provided by condenser microphones will help you with the mixing stage, as you’ll be able to tweak the EQ and volume with substantially more space to go around. The dynamic range of condenser microphones especially comes in handy when hi-hat is used more frequently than other drum components.

In a nutshell, there’s a myriad of reasons why this particular type of microphone is perfectly suited for recording both hi-hats and drums in general.

Of course, there are boutique models suited for professional studio engineers and budget mics that would sit a bit better with amateurs and enthusiasts. It’s up to you to determine how much you are willing to invest, so we hope you’ve liked our selection of the best hi hat mics and wish you luck with finding the model that suits you best.

  • Founder of Mechanical Caveman, Beau is an unrepentant tool enthusiast and, sporting deadlift-callused hands and an incongruous beer belly, all-around macho guy. When he doesn’t know re tools, he consults with his handyman and car-repairman buds to give you well-reasoned and cutting-edge info.

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