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Two Diaphragms, One Bass Drum

Boom and click are the sonic qualities that compose what most people hear in the overall sound of a bass drum. For that reason, both live and studio engineers have spent their careers laboring over ways to best translate those integral characteristics to a large audience, often sculpting the boom to be round, full, and woody, and the click to be precise, clear, and texturally complimentary to musical style.

Because these two aural components are so different — for one thing, they occupy opposite ends of the frequency spectrum — many engineers use two bass drum microphones instead of one. The first mike is used to capture the low-end information, while the other is used to capture the highs. The bass drum’s two signals can then be equalized, compressed, and processed differently, opening up a whole new world of stylized possibilities.

Engineers have chosen to put dual bass drum mikes in every position imaginable: a large diaphragm condenser microphone inside for lows, a small diaphragm condenser on the outside batter head for highs, two mikes with aligned diaphragms taped together and positioned internally, and so on. Using this two-microphone method allows equalization on the boom without adversely affecting the click, separate compression settings for each signal’s audio, and separate reverbs such as a sizzling “plate” for click and a bigger “room” for boom. In this scenario, processing options are virtually endless.

Realizing the growing demand for dual-diaphragm bass miking tools, manufacturer Audio-Technica developed the AE2500, essentially a two-mikes-in-one product that features a dynamic and a condenser element within one enclosure. Priced at $699, the AE2500 could be a great option for those who desire two bass drum diaphragms, two channels of bass drum audio to work with, but only one mike body to position.

Used judiciously, the AE2500 or two bass mikes along with two signal processing paths could get you much closer to the complex, nuanced bass drum sound you’ve been dreaming of.

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