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Buyer's Guide - Kick Drum Microphones

Guides

So you need to record a drum kit, or mic up your kit in a live performance setting. The kick drum is the power house behind the kit and needs to be treated as such. When you are practicing, the kick might sound loud enough. But in a live setting, it will be drowned out by the bass and guitars. In the studio, the overheads won't pick up the low end and the kick drum will fail to cut through and beef up your mix. You can remedy these issues by finding a great microphone that will give you control.

Specifics

Microphones optimized for kick drums are going to sound dramatically different from a standard vocal or instrument microphone. They have more low-end response and can handle higher sound pressure levels. Most, if not all of your favorite drum recordings have used a kick drum microphone to dial in the tone of the drum and make it sound the way it does.

To get a great sounding kick drum, we highly recommend getting a specific microphone that does the job really well. Having that microphone will give you control over volume, EQ and other parameters that are essential to a great sounding live performance or studio recording.

Some things to keep in mind...

 

Frequency Response

Frequency response is a fancy expression that translates to, "the range of frequencies/pitches that a microphone can pickup." The microphone's diaphragm is what picks up the sound. The materials and size of the diaphragm determine the frequency response and ultimately what the microphone sounds like. Kick drum mics need to capture lots of low end energy, so they need to have a frequency response that can capture that and in many cases, accentuate it.

Depending on the style of music, you may want a certain amount of high end slap/click. EQ can help, but finding a microphone with a frequency response tailored to your style of music will help give it the extra push it needs without adding EQ, which can lead to more cymbal bleed.

Polar Pattern

Polar patterns on drum mics are much more important than many engineers realize. Other than placement, it determines how much bleed you will get from the cymbals and other drums. When you get huge amounts of cymbal bleed in your tom, kick and snare tracks, gating and compressing them while maintaining a natural sound becomes nearly impossible. For this reason, some of the top engineers in the industry go with hypercardioid, or even super cardioid mics for a tighter pickup pattern. That said, it is definitely possible to make a great recording or live performance with a cardioid microphone, they just tend to have more bleed.

Primary and Supplemental Microphones

It is important to get a great sound with your main kick drum mic, but sometimes, one isn't enough. What many engineers do is get a punchy sound with lots of attack by putting the main microphone up by the beater head. That close to the beater in many cases will yield in a less-than-impressive low end. In order to compensate, a sub-kick microphone like the Solomon LoFReQ is placed on the outside of the kick, very close to the resonant head. This will bring out the best in the low end while staying out of the way of the high end attack.

Recommendations...

 JazzBeta 52A - $189.00

Shure has been in the industry for years. It's no surprise that we recommend the Beta 52A as one of the best kick drum mics for jazz. When placed right at the kick port (or at the resonant head), it has lots of low end that jazz drummers love with just enough beater sound to sit in a mix. The Beta 52A is also available in a Shure drum mic pack for studio engineers or touring musicians, or in one of our exclusive Pixel Pro Audio bundles.

RockHeil PR48 - $243.00

Most rock music requires a kick drum sound that hits you in the chest. The PR48 delivers just that. The PR48 is probably the most versatile out of our three recommendations. It is a great companion for a drummer who plays multiple styles, but is especially well-versed in rock music. The PR48 is also available in Heil's HDK drum mic packs for studio engineers and touring musicians, or in one of our exclusive Pixel Pro Audio bundles.

MetalAudix D6 - $199.00

Since its inception in 2002, the D6 has been a go-to microphone for metal drummers, producers, and sound engineers both in the studio and on stage. It consistently delivers a full and exciting kick drum sound that needs very little, if any, EQ compression or other effects. It has a mid scoop and boosts in the low end and top end for the perfect modern response heavy drummers rightfully expect. Our engineers have recorded multiple heavy songs with powerful drums that cut through thanks to the D6 and other Audix microphones. The D6 is also available in Audix drum mic packs for studio engineers and touring musicians, or in one of our exclusive Pixel Pro Audio bundles.

These are our recommendations for kick drums, but there are lots of great options. If you have any questions about miking up your drum kit, you are more than welcome to give us a call at 855-269-0474 and speak to one of our experienced engineers about getting the right sound for you.

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