Pursuit Of The Perfect Drum Sound
Fig. 4 An old trick was to combine a small condenser and a dynamic by taping them together. Aligning the mike elements for phase coherence was an arduous and imperfect task. Fortunately Audio Technica created a dedicated combo that does the same thing, with the diaphragms aligned and fixed at the factory. If this sound appeals to you, stop the DIY method or buy a big bottle of aspirin.
Necessity, She’s A Mother
There are some other interesting mike-tools that come from dissatisfaction with store-bought solutions. The Earthworks Kick Pad is a short tube with XLR connections on each end. The passive device is attached in-line with a microphone and provides a pad (sound pressure attenuator) and a bass drum-tailored equalization curve. In effect, it lets you turn a standard dynamic microphone into a pre-purposed kick drum mike.
When the two-mike technique was first tried, some engineers used gaffer tape to bind a small diaphragm condenser mike to a large diaphragm dynamic (Fig. 4). The SDC gave the attack and the dynamic gave the fundamental. The problem with this solution was getting the microphone elements aligned for optimal phase response.
The Audio-Technica Artist Series ATM250DE takes the guesswork out of this method by including both mikes in a pre-set, pre-aligned package. A special dual mike cable splits into a Y, allowing each microphone to be connected to a different recording channel.
Finally, the Yamaha Subkick is one of the coolest inventions of the bunch. Microphones and speakers are both transducers. They turn sound into energy or energy into sound. One day some engineer decided to hook up his extra car stereo speaker to some XLR cables to see what it sounded like as a microphone. Before long so many people were using this homemade solution that Yamaha stepped up and created a sturdy industrial version. Although it looks like a popcorn snare mounted perpendicular to the floor, the Subkick (Fig. 5) is really a 6.5" monitor speaker doing duty as a dynamic microphone. At a fraction of the price of the Neumann U47 FET, the Subkick is a very popular outside microphone.
Fig. 5 Hard to believe, but this is a great kick drum mike. The Yamaha Subkick is a much more convenient solution than trying to DIY this. Yamaha includes a protective mesh to protect the speaker (removed for photo), a hard protective shell, XLR port, and small snare stand for stability.