Best Overhead Drum Mics for the Money | Samson C02

best overhead drum mics for the money

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Samson C02 Small-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone (Pair)


Sound Quality


Build Quality




Frequency Response


Transient Response



  • Includes all the accessories you need

The first thing I learned about recording drums is that we only really need TWO microphones. Regardless of the configuration, you’ll always be using at least ONE overhead microphone. That being said, I started searching for the best overhead drum mics for the money and finally settled on the Samson C02 Stereo Pair Condenser Microphones.

I researched some of the best overhead drum mics for the money, but nobody could compete with the pair of Samson C02. Not only are they the most affordable option, but they’ve also been one of the bestsellers because of their quality. If you’re planning to start recording drums at home, the pair of Samson C02 is the best way to start your microphone collection. It can be used for many other applications (acoustic guitar/piano, vocals, etc…), but we’re going to be focusing on drums for today!

Comparing the Samson C02 with the best overhead drum mics

Since we’re comparing apples with apples, I won’t be talking about some of the other more expensive overhead drum mics. When I was doing my research, I was considering the most popular recommendations while keeping the budget under 500$.

I also disregarded microphones that seemed to compromise quality in any way.

For example… Many people have compared the Samson C02 with the Behringer C-2, but they’re not in the same league. Behringer actually makes some excellent quality products, but in this case, I’d be misleading my readers by recommending it.

Here are the microphones you’ll want to compare with the Samson C02:


Out of all of these choices, the pair of Samson C02 proved itself to be the most affordable.

We’ll also be talking about why the Samson C02 outshines most of these microphones. However, keep in mind that some of these are significantly more expensive (that’s because the C02 is WAY below our budget).

The best overhead drum mics for the money are versatile

One of my favourite things about the pair of Samson C02 is its versatility. With one purchase, you’ll be covering LOTS of ground (especially with acoustic instruments).

The microphones are rugged enough to be used on-stage, but work just as well in the studio!

Samson C02 Pencil Condenser Microphones (Pair)

Being a minimalist, I prefer to keep my recording setup as small as possible. That being said, the pair of Samson C02 really cleared up some room in my microphone cabinet. These microphones take care of ALL my stereo recording needs.

Here’s what you could record with them:

  • Drum Kits (overheads, room microphones)
  • Acoustic Guitar (using one or both)
  • Acoustic Piano
  • Vocals (using one or both)

If you haven’t got yourself any condenser microphones yet, the C02 will definitely fill that gap. The fact that you have two of them makes them even more versatile!

Anything that could benefit from some high-end “sparkle” could benefit from the Samson C02.

When I was researching the best overhead drum mics for the money, I was surprised that the Samson C02 wasn’t mentioned that often. If you read any customer reviews though, you’ll only hear positive things about this valuable, yet affordable stereo microphone pair.

Many reviews claim that there aren’t any other “budget” overhead mics that can compete.

Samson C02 Pencil Condenser Microphones (Pair)

The general consensus is that the pair of Samson C02 is perfect for anybody looking to start recording music at home without breaking the bank. I personally own them along with an AKG Perception P5 S and that’s it! It should be more than enough for beginners.

Here’s what some folks are saying:

  • The Samson C02 stacks up against the Shure SM81
  • The Samson C02 knocks the Rode M5 out of the park
  • Using outboard preamps unleashes the C02’s potential
  • The Samson C02 covers LOTS of ground

Perhaps some of us have looked past them because of their unbelievable price point?

Either way, I usually expect this type of “bang for your buck” from RODE. It looks like Samson was capable of beating them at their own game this time!

The best overhead drum mics for the money are fully-equipped

Most people are usually surprised when unboxing their pair of Samson C02. The package includes everything you need to get started (except microphone stands and XLR cables).

It reminded me of the RODE NT1-A bundle (which was replaced by the C02 in my collection).

Samson C02 Pencil Condenser Microphones (Pair)

Before telling you what it includes though, you should make sure to purchase yourself some high-quality microphone stands with extendable boom arms. It’s important because we’re going to need to position the pair of Samson C02 quite high.

Here’s what you WON’T need to buy:

  • Protective carrying case
  • Windscreens
  • Shock-mounted microphone clips

These are some pretty essential accessories, but some manufacturers don’t include them all.

It’s one of those things that could go unnoticed if you haven’t done your comparisons, but Samson’s really got a winner with the C02!

The Samson C02 are the best overhead drum mics for the money

If you’re not convinced, I encourage you to do some of your own research as well. However, I personally believe that the Samson C02s are the best overhead drum mics for the money.

It was difficult to make my decision because I was also considering the RODE M5.

Recorded using the Samson C02 stereo pair in “Recorder Man” microphone configuration.

After reading some other reviews though, it seemed like the pair of Samson C02 was much better compared to the M5. It was also more affordable and came with a carrying case, so that’s basically what pushed me towards the C02.

Here are some of my favourite features:

  • Gold-plated XLR connector
  • 134 dB SPL
  • Matched within 0.5 dB of each other

Just keep in mind that these are ACTIVE condenser microphones, so your audio interface should be equipped with +48V Phantom Power (or else they won’t work).

Lastly, you’ll also want to provide yourself with two adequate microphone stands and two XLR cables. I’ll be leaving you with this shopping list if you need some recommendations.

Samson C02:

Hercules MS432B Microphone Boom Stand:

Pig Hog PHM10:

If you were looking for the best overhead drum mics for the money, I think you’ll be more than satisfied with the pair of Samson C02. Recording drums using just overhead microphones has been done many times and the results can be stunning if you’re using the appropriate microphones. You’ll also want to make sure that you’ve mastered microphone placement for maximum control. If you’re interested in acquiring these skills, consider subscribing to my weekly newsletter to have access to my latest content. I appreciate your support, thanks for reading!


2 Responses

  1. Feedback is a very important thing when it comes to drums, when in a studio, you need to mic almost all your instruments to get the best out of it. I play drums a lot but nit professionally, getting a quality overhead drum mic is a bit of a challenge even in church. Thanks for sharing this article, I’ll definitely find a way if getting one of these.

    1. Hey BeyondCol,

      Depending on the type of church you’re playing in, you’re right. It may be a challenge to use condenser microphones as overheads. If there’s a lot of reverberation, I recommend checking out the AKG Perception P5 S.

      You could technically use two of them as overheads (less definition though) and also mic every other drum with one of them (snare, toms, kick, etc…). It’s much better for live situations because it’s dynamic. Condensers are probably too sensitive for your situation.

      Let me know if you need any help!

      – Stefan

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