Here at AcousticDRUMS.com we have made it one of our goals to find ways for you, the acoustic drummer, to record drums at a high quality level without having to spend a ton of money. It would be easy to tell you that you can only get a good drum recording by buying a setup of microphones that surpasses the cost of your entire drum set. (By the way, at $200 to $3000.00 a microphone, this would be easy to do). The simple fact, however, is that you don't need to spend a ton of money to achieve a good all around drum sound.
It is true that there are plenty of cheap microphones out there that give you cheap results, but likewise, there are many inexpensive microphones that give you good results. But how do you know which are which without wasting a lot of money purchasing different microphones and experimenting with them? Well, you let us collect the microphones and experiment for you.
For this review, we have experimented with the Nady Drum Mic Kit DMK-3. First off, I will tell you that no matter what results we achieved with these, we were blown away at the price. You can get a kit of three drum mikes, in a padded carrying case with built in mike clips for around $99.00. That's a mere $33.00 a microphone, not counting the carrying case. However, who has money to throw away if the microphones are useless?
I am pleased to say that we found the Nady microphones to be anything but useless. The DMK-3 kit comes with two DM70 microphones and one DM80 microphone. The DM70 microphones are designed for snare drums and toms while the DM80 is designed with a lower frequency range for low toms and bass drums.
Lets start by looking at the design of the microphones. The microphones are relatively small which is a bonus when trying to place them so that an errant drumstick does not easily hit them. Another huge bonus to these microphones is that the microphone clip is actually part of the microphone. No more annoying slippage! The microphones stay secure and in position once you place them where you want them.
The microphones are designed to handle high sound pressure levels (a must for drums) without distortion. In testing the microphones I had absolutely no problem with the microphones distorting, no matter how loudly I played.
When using the DM70 on the snare drum I found it to have a solid and full sound. It was a bit heavy and lacked the transparency that some more expensive microphones, or even a Shure SM57 has, but it was adequate for most applications. However, when using the DM70 on the toms, I was very pleased with the results. Where the DM70 lacked in transparency on the snare drum, it made up for it in body on the toms. It produced a solid, full sound that you could almost feel in your chest when listening to the recording. For the price range of this microphone, it is a definite option for miking toms. I won't exaggerate and say that it has the sound of a Sennheiser 421, but for the price difference, it is a definite option for those of you who want a dedicated drum microphone for your toms.
I tested the DM80 on both my 16" floor tom and on my bass drum. The results on my floor tom were astounding! The force and tone it produced on my floor tom made such an impact that I actually had to roll back the level on the floor tom mix a bit to make it blend in with the rest of the kit. It seemed to have just enough lows to make a real statement with the floor tom, but not too many lows to muddy it. On the other hand, when I used the DM80 on the bass drum, the results were less than spectacular. It seems to lack the real low end that is needed to produce the thud needed for a good bass drum sound. I tested it back to back with an AKG D112 bass drum microphone using the exact same EQ and mike placement and the difference was very pronounced.
The AKG gave a full-bodied sound balanced with a clean attack while the DM80 was very hollow sounding. I would not recommend the DM80 as a bass drum microphone, though it is better than using a "standard" microphone on the bass drum. It is also about $200 less than an AKG D112. When you consider that, the DM80 may just be the ticket.
All in all, the DMK-3 drum mike set is a very useful tool to have around. In miking a 5 piece drum set, the DMK-3 would be a perfect fit for miking the three toms. In conjunction with a Shure SM57 on the snare drum, an AKG D112 on the bass drum and a couple decent condenser microphones (such as the Nady CM 85 which comes in a two pack CYM-2) for the overheads, one could have a good microphone setup for the entire drum set for around $450.00. Not bad, and definitely less or equal to a decent drum machine!
For those of you with fewer budget restraints than most of us have, we have put together a list of the most commonly used drum microphones in major studios. Some of these are quite spendy, while others are surprisingly affordable, such as the Shure SM57. We have organized them by category.
|Kick Drum:||AKG D112|
|Snare Drum:||Shure SM57|
|Tom Toms:||Sennheiser 421|
Eric Scot Porter is an accomplished drummer out of Oregon's own Bay Area. His recent solo project, Kingdom, is available on-line from Amazon or CDNOW . You can check out several MP3 audio clips of Kingdom at The Orchard. You may forward your comments and suggestions to him via firstname.lastname@example.org ...
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