Is Amazon Prime membership worth it?

AKG Perception 170

Small Diaphragm Condenser Mic

Buy from Amazon $82.44 Buy from Guitar Center $99 Buy from Musician's Friend $82.48

We receive a small kickback from our partners when you click through and purchase the great gear we recommend. Details

The Best Hi Hat Mic

AKG Perception 170

  • Don Makoviney
  • Last Updated: June 24, 2017

Often used in overhead microphone work, The AKG Perception 170 is a small-diaphragm condenser microphone for recording percussion, acoustic guitars and perhaps most typically, drum set from the overhead position. Its lightweight 1/2" true condenser transducer diaphragm delivers outstanding clarity and transient response. It is an affordable alternative to the revered 'pencil' microphones. If you want a microphone to record hi hats that isn't noisy and doesn't cost too much, the AKG Perception 170 is the one to get.


The AKG Perception 170 is a small-diaphragm condenser microphone for recording percussion, acoustic guitars and perhaps most typically, drum set from the overhead position. Its lightweight 1/2″ true condenser transducer diaphragm delivers outstanding clarity and transient response. It is an affordable alternative to the revered ‘pencil’ microphones. They are often purchased in pairs for overhead applications.

What Makes A Great Hi Hat Mic?

A user on The Gear Page described it best:

“good condensers go “sss, sss” while typical dynamics go “shh, shh”, the fidelity on the highs isn’t the same.”

You’ll want something resembling a small diaphragm condenser, which will give you that type of fidelity.

The microphone should also have a proven track record of recording drums in most of the typical drum miking configurations.

User Reviews

“User SW80” reviewed the mic at Audio Fanzine:

“Great for overhead mics. I have been using this microphone for the last 3 years and it has always worked great with a number of different instruments tried out on it. At one point it was my first option to go with when someone would come to record an instrument track. […] This microphone does have a -20 db roll of (sic) switch and it is actually great for an overhead drum microphone. That is the reason that I am thinking of purchasing two more of these. The recordings you can get with the Perception are very clean and warmth. The makes the sound much better than I expected to get for a microphone that cost less than 100 dollars online. […] My least favorite thing about this microphone is that with it being a capsule microphone getting it to sit right in some setups gave me a headache. Working in a tight space trying to get this microphone to fit and still face the right way gave issues with it being so long. But you will not have any complaints with the recording quality of it.”

An Amazon reviewer noted:

“Versatile and clear mic. When used as overheads or as a second mic to pick up highes on acoustic instruments. the 20dB rolloff is a nice feature allowing you to record up close with instruments with high pressure levels such as drums. I’ve also used this as a snare side on a snare drum with good results. In a live situation with delicate instruments, I was able to pick up both a delicate bamboo flute and a set of Indian Tablas over hand drums with clarity and no feedback issues with the 20dB rolloff set back to 0 for more sensitivity.”

Professional Reviews

Sound on Sound reviewed the P170:

“In use, the presence peak translates to an open airiness at the top end, but because the peak is right up at 10kHz it doesn’t make the high end seem harsh or honky, as it might if centred at 4kHz or 5kHz, like some other mics. […] The Perception works well as a general‑purpose, cardioid‑pattern, small‑diaphragm mic, and although more money will buy you greater accuracy, there’s certainly no excuse not to make excellent recordings with this mic.”

Also Great

  • The Rode M5 works great for miking hi hats, as well as many other things. So much so, in fact, it is our pick for best drum overhead microphones.
  • The Shure SM81 is a microphone used on many classic recordings. Most producers who have done this awhile will have one of these in their locker. It’s a solid choice but costs a couple hundred bucks more, and you probably won’t see the recording difference if you’re just starting out.

Do I even need to mic my hi hat?

As Chris Brush says on his website, “different mics hear the hats differently and that, depending on the hats and the occasion, a different mic may yield a better result than just using the same mic for hats on every single session.”

If you’re not sure how to mike drums, or are looking for a good starting point, check out this post on Shure’s blog, Five Techniques for Stereo Miking Drums. Audio-Technica also has a great post with some YouTube tutorials to help visualize better.


Tell Me If There's A Deal For This

We'll send you an email when there is an eligible deal, promo code, or special on the gear we recommend.
FYI: We hate spam! Privacy Policy

indicates required



The Best Hi Hat Mic

AKG Perception 170

The Best Hi Hat Mic

Important Specs

Mic Type Condenser
Mono/Stereo Mono
Polar Pattern Cardioid
Diaphragm Size 0.5" (12.7mm)
Freq Response 20Hz-20kHz
Max SPL 135dB (155dB w/Pad)
Output Impedance 200 ohms
Signal To Noise 75dB (A weighted)
Self Noise 19dB (A weighted)
Pads -20dB
Connector XLR
Accessories Stand Adapter
more specs

Synopsis:

The AKG Perception 170 is the perfect mic or recording percussive instruments, as well as a bunch of other tasks. They can literally do anything. If you want a microphone to record hi hats that isn't noisy and doesn't cost too much, the AKG Perception 170 is the one to get.

Rode NT-5

The Step Up

Rode NT-5

The Rode NT5s are the big brother to the M5s. They cost a bit more, but are still significantly less than some of the other matched pairs available.

Shure SM81

Classic Option

Shure SM81

With a wealth of features including a 3 position high pass filter, and a 20dB pad. It’s versatile enough to accommodate a wide variety of other instruments as well. In fact, if you could only have one small diaphragm condenser in your entire collection… The SM81 would definitely rank among industry’s top choices.

- M

Sources

  1. michaelhoddy, Sweetwater Sound Forums, 20040702
    High Hat Mics?
    “Because much of the hi-hat sound comes from the overheads, typically the hi-hat mic is just adding presence and punch. The SM81 works just fine for this, but this is also one of those places where you could use a cheaper mic and get away with it. You'll want to avoid mics with a midrange (1-3k) boost to avoid a hard sound. Mics with a huge treble lift get obnoxious, too. This is one reason I'm not big fan of the KM184 on hat, although I've used it from time to time. The AT 4041 is dynamite in this application, better than the SM81, even. And cheaper, too. Give Shure's KMS-137 a shot too. It's quieter and flatter than the 81, and less brittle-sounding. ”
  2. Various, The Gear Page, 20170202
    Best option for miking hi-hats (Live) Cardioid or Condenser?
    “good condensers go "sss, sss" while typical dynamics go "shh, shh", the fidelity on the highs isn't the same.”
  3. Chris Brush, ChrisBrushDrums.com, 20130215
    Hi Hat Miking – Find a Sound You’ll Actually Use in the Mix
    “different mics “hear” the hats differently and that, depending on the hats and the occasion, a different mic may yield a better result than just using the same mic for hats on every single session.”
  4. Paul White, Sound On Sound, 20090201
    AKG Perception Condenser Microphones
    “In use, the presence peak translates to an open airiness at the top end, but because the peak is right up at 10kHz it doesn't make the high end seem harsh or honky, as it might if centred at 4kHz or 5kHz, like some other mics. [...] The Perception works well as a general‑purpose, cardioid‑pattern, small‑diaphragm mic, and although more money will buy you greater accuracy, there's certainly no excuse not to make excellent recordings with this mic.”
  5. Brian Leduc, Amazon Reviews,
    AKG Perception 170: Versatile and clear mic.
    “when used as overheads or as a second mic to pick up highes on acoustic instruments. the 20dB rolloff is a nice feature allowing you to record up close with instruments with high pressure levels such as drums. I've also used this as a snare side on a snare drum with good results. In a live situation with delicate instruments, I was able to pick up both a delicate bamboo flute and a set of Indian Tablas over hand drums with clarity and no feedback issues with the 20dB rolloff set back to 0 for more sensitivity.”
  6. User SW80, Audio Fanzine,
    User reviews for the AKG Perception 170: Great for overhead mics
    “ I have been using this microphone for the last 3 years and it has always worked great with a number of different instruments tried out on it. At one point it was my first option to go with when someone would come to record an instrument track. [...] This microphone does have a -20 db roll of switch and it is actually great for an overhead drum microphone. That is the reason that I am thinking of purchasing two more of these. The recordings you can get with the Perception are very clean and warmth. The makes the sound much better than I expected to get for a microphone that cost less than 100 dollars online. [...] My least favorite thing about this microphone is that with it being a capsule microphone getting it to sit right in some setups gave me a headache. Working in a tight space trying to get this microphone to fit and still face the right way gave issues with it being so long. But you will not have any complaints with the recording quality of it.”
Originally published: June 8th, 2017

Important Specs

Mic Type Condenser
Mono/Stereo Mono
Polar Pattern Cardioid
Diaphragm Size 0.5" (12.7mm)
Freq Response 20Hz-20kHz
Max SPL 135dB (155dB w/Pad)
Output Impedance 200 ohms
Signal To Noise 75dB (A weighted)
Self Noise 19dB (A weighted)
Pads -20dB
Connector XLR
Accessories Stand Adapter
more specs



Follow MSCGR

We send one email at the end of each week, never more than that. Also, we hate spammers and will treat your email with utmost respect.



Talk To Us

Did we miss a recommendation? Is there something you'd like to see us review? Typos? Mistakes? If so, drop us a line.


More Categories