Hands-On Review:The right mics for percussion performance
By D.J. Adams
Drums are as unique as the artists who play them. Like singers, each has its own “voice.” Drums and percussion instruments exhibit certain subtle nuances that are defined by characteristics like tone, timbre, pitch, and projection.
In live performance and studio work, it’s important that the listener be able to clearly recognize that voice. It’s what makes the listening experience so special.
Each piece in your drum kit has its own personal signature to put on a musical piece. Every component of your Latin percussion set has something particular to “say.”
Bringing out that true sound in live performances and studio recordings is a challenge for sound techs, recording engineers, and discriminating drummers. Audix instrument microphones are more than up to that challenge.
Isolation is good for you
The trick to miking drums is isolation. First, your microphones must be capable of capturing the sound of each individual drum. Then you need a clean separation between each of the individual mics.
The high-sound pressure level Audix D-Series hypercardioid mics are meticulously manufactured to only pick up the drum they are miking and not the rest of the set.
Many sound engineers are discovering that the Audix D-Series mics require little or no EQ and noise gating. They easily isolate the sound of individual drums within a kit and hone in on the “sweet spot” of each one.
The D-Series mics are compact and lightweight for easy, less-intrusive setup. Though small, they feature full-size VLM Very Low Mass diaphragms with a super-sensitive internal air-suspension system. This combination helps reproduce the true three-dimensional sound of each drum and reacts to sound waves, harmonics, and sub-harmonics with superior quickness. This results in faster, more precise sampling of the original sound.
Plus, the rugged aluminum housings and sturdy grilles are good news for the working drum artist.
Let’s look at the mics.
The D1 is the mic for your snare, hi-hat, and even bongos. It has a bright, contoured response for that added sparkle and big presence. It boasts a natural articulation and attack. The D1 excels at reproducing the leading-edge transients that bring life to drum recording.
The D2 is the champion of tom mics. Its low-mid punch and added warmth brings out the bottom you want listeners to enjoy. The D2 is ideal for congas also.
The D3’s tight hypercardioid pickup pattern and outstanding off-axis rejection are a couple of the features that make it number one for cymbals and timbales. It handles extremely high SPLs without noticeable sound coloration.
Put the bottom back in your kick drum! The D4 utilizes an entirely new capsule specially designed to capture high-SPL frequencies below 100Hz. Unlike many other kick drum mics, it doesn’t suffer from dramatic roll-off below 80Hz. You get extended low-frequency response with a clear, true image. The D4 is one of the most compact low-frequency mics you’ll find — placement is a breeze. Use it for your kick drum, floor toms, and timpani.
The SCX-one (SX1-C) is a top-quality, transformerless, studio condenser mic. Though principally designed for studio use, it makes a perfect “overhead” cymbal mic when used with the cardioid and hypercardioid capsules. Use it to mic timbales and percussion “toys” also.
The Audix Mic Application Guide
The Audix Microphone Application Guide is simply one of the best miking tools you’ll find. It’s a comprehensive, yet easy-to-understand 31-page reference manual. It’s packed with proven techniques and tips for using the D-Series and SCX-one mics in virtually any live and studio situation.
There are guidelines, tips, and testimonials from some of the world’s best drum and percussion artists. The Audix Microphone Guide includes clear color photographs with detailed information for microphone placement. It’s an invaluable resource with precise applications for best results with snares, toms, cymbals, congas, timbales, bongos, and percussion instruments. There are even about ten pages of tips and applications for woodwinds, brass, piano, organ, guitar, and bass. It’s a must-have companion to Audix instrument mics.
The guide is included with every Audix mic so you can put its wisdom to work right away.
- Instrument dynamic
- Hypercardioid pattern
- 144dB maximum sound pressure level
- Proprietary anti-feedback design
- VLM™ Very Low Mass diaphragm
- Reduced phase shift
- Superior transient response
- Highest level of gain before feedback
- Exceptional, 30dB off-axis rejection
- Gold-plated contacts
- Durable spring steel grille
- D1: True hypercardioid pattern, 46kHz-18kHz response, 250 ohm impedance
- D2: True hypercardioid pattern, 44Hz-18kHz response, 250-ohm impedance
- D3: Tight hypercardioid pattern, 50Hz-19kHz response, 150-ohm impedance
- D4: Broad hypercardioid pattern, 38Hz-19kHz response, 200-ohm impedance
- SCX-one: 130dB SPL condenser with choice of four interchangeable capsules—cardioid (40Hz-20kHz), hypercardioid (40Hz-20kHz), omni and omni/presence (20Hz-20kHz), 150-ohm impedance
- Made in U.S.A.