Recording A Hi Hat

The hi-hat consists of two cymbals mounted on a metal stand, with a pedal-and-spring mechanism designed such that the cymbals can either be brought together by pressing the pedal, or raised to a predetermined distance by releasing the pedal.

The hi-hats are generally part of the main groove and produce a strong, high frequency sound.

Microphone Type

  • Dynamic microphone
    • Polar Response: Cardioid or super cardioid
    • Example: Shure SM57, AKG 451

Technique

Position the microphone above the hi hat, facing down, at a distance anywhere between 5-25cm. Point the head of the microphone at a slight angle, close to the area where the drummer impacts the hi-hat with the stick. It is good practise to keep the hi-hat microphone hidden by the hi-hat shell to separate it away from the snare, helping avoid unnecessary spill.

Top Tips

  • Be careful not to position the hi-hat microphone close to the area where air currents are created by the opening and closing of the hi-hat. This can cause wind noises; much like a singer creates when breathing into a microphone, and is much undesirable
  • Using a dynamic microphone gives a trashier sound whereas a small diaphragm condenser microphone produces a brighter sound
  • It may not be necessary to mike up the hi-hat if there is enough sound being created in the overheads