Today we’re going to discuss drum overheads. We’re starting out with 3 different types of microphones – things really typical to see in drum overheads. You’ve got a FET Large Diaphragm Condenser (LDC) with the Neumann U87. You’ve got a FET Small Diaphragm Condenser (SDC) with the Neumann KM184 and then we have a Ribbon Mic with the Coles 4038. The condenser mics are (or are set to) Cardioid polar pattern, while the Coles like most ribbons, are a Figure-8 polar pattern. This means they have a bi-directional pickup and are side-address.

Generally SDC’s are going to be the most detailed and the tightest of the bunch. LDC’s, being a condenser, you’re still going to have a good amount of detail, however you’re going to get a bigger image of the kit and a little bit of smoothness with the upper mids and highs. Normally LDC’s have greater low-end extension than SDC’s, but SDC’s render tighter lows. Something to note here is that both the LDC (Neumann U 87) and the SDC (Neumann KM 184) that we’re using in this test have a FET (Field-Effect Transistor) Circuit and also have an Output Transformer. Both FET and Transformers help to smooth and thicken the sound, as well as adding harmonic richness – much like tubes, but in a more focused way. And lastly, we have ribbons, which are the most different. Typically ribbons are going to be darker, and a little richer. Chances are you’re going to have to add a little bit, if not a good amount of top end EQ back into it just to open things up in the highs. This is referred to as “top lift”.


Neumann SKM 184 Stereo Mic Set

These are just really typical examples of these types of microphones. They all have a unique sound which makes them differ from each other. However, there are also many other great mics that are wonderfully suited to drum overhead work, such as Vacuum Tube LDC’s or even Tube SDC’s. Also, there other ribbons, such as the AEA R84, (or R88 Stereo Ribbon) which doesn’t have as thick of a sound as the Coles 4038, but which also has that smoothness ribbons are known for. Some other FET SDC’s we love are the Soyuz 013 FET and the Telefunken M60.

If you would like to discuss microphones for Drum Overheads, or any other application with one of our experienced Pro Audio Sales Experts, please call us at 919-682-5552. 

Additional Gear Used in This Demo

Neumann KM 184 Microphone

Coles 4038 Factory Matched Pair Ribbon Microphones 

Soyuz 013 FET Matched Pair