Punk PA: ‘Budget’ Drum Microphones.
So as part of our ‘Punk PA’ series of blog posts, we’ll take a look at some of the bargains that are available for miking up drums if the budget is a bit tight. This post will include that all important kick drum mic, clip on snare/tom mics and some of the instrument mics that make useful overhead/cymbal microphones.
Readers may want to check out a related post on this subject which deals with miking up a drum kit with only a few microphones and available mic channels. You can find this via the link below:
For the purposes of this review, we are going to be looking at microphones that will each give you change from £50 at the time of publishing. We’ll also take a look at complete kits around the £150 mark.
So what are we looking for in drum microphones:
Well, I guess the first thing to say is that modern rock and pop drums tend to be pretty loud, so we need microphones that can handle high sound pressure levels (SPL) without distorting, or even worse, breaking. The flip side of that is that for the close miking of snares and toms we don’t need anything particularly sensitive. Kick drums, snares and toms don’t have a great deal of high frequency content, so dynamic mics tend to be employed for these, whilst the complex high frequencies and harmonics produced by hi-hats and other cymbals usually require the extended high frequency response of condenser microphones.
Clip on type microphones for snare and toms are a boon. They save the cost and space taken up by stands so they’re particularly great for some of the smaller stages that amateur and semi-pro drummers and sound people will find themselves using. However, their proximity to the drum head makes them rather easy to hit so durability of the mic and the clip are important factors here. Once again they need to handle high sound pressure levels. Feedback rejection is not usually a huge issue. Due to their proximity, the levels coming of these mic will tend to be quite high, so your mic preamps won’t be wound up too high.
Kick Drum Microphones:
Modern kick drum microphones tend to be dynamic type microphones equipped with a large diaphragm to deliver the extended bass response required to accurately reproduce a modern, punchy kick drum sound. So they are larger devices than typical vocal or instrument dynamic types.
Bass Drum Microphone Review:
The JTS TX2 would be towards the top of any list of quality but cheap kick drum microphones. Equipped with the same microphone diaphragm as it’s more illustrious stablemate, the NX2, but in a paired down plastic enclosure rather than the super-heavy duty blue-metal finish. As a live sound man, I’ve used an NX2 for many years and never been disappointed with it’s performance.
Most large diaphragm kick drum microphones can handle all the sound pressure levels required for life inside or in the sound hole of a modern bass drum and the TX2 is no exception. Despite having a large dynamic capsule, the TX2 will still reproduce frequqncies up to 12khz which is important for the more defined elements of the sound of a bass drum including the ‘click’ of the beater against the head.
Placed just inside the sound hole of the front head, the TX2 reproduces all the energy and definition of a modern rock/pop kick drum sound with minimal EQ and/or processing. You can cut or boost around 6-8khz if you have the available EQ to give you more of a defined ‘click’, and maybe boost around 70-100hz if you want a really ‘big’ sort of sound. The TX2 will provide all the sound you need and you can work from there.
No clip is required for the mic, as there is a thread built into the section at the bottom of the mic and a locking pivot makes positioning it quick and easy. It is true that unlike other mics in the TX Series, the TX2 does have a plastic enclosure so it may not be the most durable of mics. We would recommend transporting it in a proper mic case, and avoid dropping it. Apart from that, it sounds great and it’s great value for those on with shallower pockets.
Clip On Drum Mic Review:
Proel DM1 Clip On Snare and Tom-Tom Microphone:
Great value, excellent sounding clip on dynamic microphone from the Proel product portfolio. This little dynamic is supplied complete adjustable rim mounting clip (see below). The clip facilitates quick and easy mounting and positioning and despite having sold many hundreds over the last couple of years, we’ve yet to find anyone who’se broken one. The mic sounds full and clear and easily handles the sound pressure levels from any snare/tom/drummer combination we’ve tried.
Sennheiser’s D606 sounded a tad warmer and the associated clip feels a little more flexible and ‘rubbery’ but we think the DM1 makes an excellent alternative and you can have three for around the price of a single D606. well worth checking out.
Soundwise JTS’ TX6 is also excellent, but it kinda gets disqualified because it doesn’t come with a clip and the price of JTS’ suggested clip is around £25. So it takes it out of the sub-£50 bracket. But well worth checking out.
Drum Overhead Mic Review:
There are a couple of overhead/hi hat mics we can recommend for drum kit miking on a budget.
Proel CM602 Condenser Microphone:
Once again, Proel offer the rather excellent CM602. A compact, discreet condenser mic that is ideal for dedicated hi-hat miking or as an overhead either singularly or as a pair.
It’s extended high frequency response captures the complex high frequency content and harmonics of hi-hats and other cymbals. It can also be used as a general overhead within the ‘three mic’ drum mic system discussed in the link at the top.
This mic works really well. It handles enough SPL and the response is crisp and clear. Because it is a powered condenser microphone it’ circuits generate a degree of ‘self noise’, and compared to some more expensive models this is quite high. For most small/local/grass roots type gigs this won’t really a problem, but it might be an issue for clients looking for a mic that will double as a studio mic for recording. Other than that, this is an excellent choice for hihat/overhead/cymbal miking.
The CM602 is supplied in a foam lined box case with compartments for the microphone and supplied case which is a nice touch.
LD Systems D1102 Condenser Microphone Review:
LD Systems products are always worth a look when it comes to value for money microphones and their product suitable for hi-hat/cymbal and overhead miking would be the D1102. Very small and discreet, this microphone has a crisp and clear response ideal for hi-hats and overhead/cymbals. It’s also equipped with a very handy low frequency filter which filters out unwanted low frequency content. Really handy if your mixing console channel isn’t equipped with one.
Important: The Proel CM602 and LD D1102 are condenser microphones and require phantom power from a suitably equipped mixing console or dedicated phantom power supply.