Sunday, May 26th, 2013 | by Eric Beam
Since last summer’s massive kick drum mic shootout, a few new microphones have appeared on the scene — mics not only tailored specifically for kick drum, but with onboard EQ options to add versatility and reduce mix-time angst. Eric Beam agreed to conduct a second shootout session, this time focusing on Dynamic Kick Mics with Onboard EQ.
This is your first chance to hear the new AKG D12VR and Telefunken M82, head to head! Also invited to the session were the beyerdynamic M99 and Electro-Voice RE320.
Eric tried all the EQ options on each mic, in each of two different positions on the drum. Strap on your subwoofer; here we go!
Kick Drum: 24” Gretsch Jasper (7.1mm, 6-ply Maple/Gum shell, no reinforcement hoops)
Batter head: Remo Powersonic
Resonant head: Remo Renaissance (ported)
- Just inside the port in the resonant head, pointing at the beater.
- Inside the drum, 4–5 inches from beater.
Mic Preamp: Hardy M1
We have kept the same format from the first session: the first four hits you hear in each audio track is the isolated kick drum microphone, followed by a few measures with additional overheads/room microphones. This will give you an idea of how the microphone responds to the source, as well as how it stands up in a mix context.
[We’ve put the audio player widgets into a separate window so this review page would load faster; click the button below to access the audio files.]
AKG Acoustics D12 VR
Processed, low-end heavy, hollow.
The design of this mic appeals to the “tech” in me. Phantom powered active electronics paired with a dynamic mic element seems like a great match. With the addition of colored LEDs, what’s not to like?
That said, the “purist” in me is slightly resistant to the idea of more electronics in my recording chain. The build quality is good, but might not handle life on the road for that many years. I get the same protective feeling I do towards 414’s with this guy.
I found the D12 VR to have a processed sound. If you are after low-end thud, this is the mic for you. It is very low-end heavy. In a recording situation I see this being a potential issue. The low end is something I rarely find lacking in most close mic’d situations.
I did find this to be the best-sounding choice for the internal position, close to the batter head. For single-mic live situations, where the kick channel benefits from the isolation of being put deeper into the drum, this mic would do very nicely.
beyerdynamic M 99
The M 99 is a nice sounding, versatile microphone. I would have no problem grabbing this mic for any kick drum recording task. It delivers a natural, true to the source signal.
I am a fan of capturing a mostly unaltered sound, and tailoring it later during the mix. In a live situation, however, when minimal processing is available, this characteristic might not be desirable.
Yet this mic is able to cover much more then just kick drum duties. [Ed. note: in fact, this mic was my top pick in the Ultimate Podcast Mic Shootout.] It is worth noting that its included mount is an elastic shockmount, which is a positive or negative depending whether isolation or durability is more desired.
Like the M 99, this mic is more on the unaltered side of the spectrum. Its low-end extension isn’t as defined as the M 99 to my ears, but nothing some EQ wouldn’t bring out. This mic also can be used on much more then just kick drum, which is nice. As I mentioned in the first review, the rear-positioned mount isn’t ideal due to microphone’s weight.
Telefunken Elektroakustik M82
Both natural or hyped, versatile, open.
I really like this mic in the “out” position. Only a handful of kick mics can deliver clarity and presence like this guy can. Something more than high-frequency EQ is needed to give me the sense that I can feel the attack & resonance. This mic gives me a sense of what I feel while playing behind the kit itself. Many tailored kick mics tend to give a “all click + hollowness” vibe to my ears, but not the M82.
I was also impressed by the versatility of the mic. The passive EQ options cover a broad range of colors. I see this mic being added to my collection very shortly.
I feel the M 99 and RE320 have a fair amount of overlap. I feel that both of these mics are best suited to studio applications. They have the ability to take on drums, bass cabs, and even spoken word.
The D12 VR and M82 would do well both in the studio and in live situations, but the M82 has a much wider sonic palette to choose from. I see the M82 being complementary to anyone’s drum mic collection.
Thanks, once again, to Eric Beam for conducting this in-depth evaluation — with video! Be sure to swing by RhythmInMind.net for more drum and recording stuff (and sythns too).
If you’re using any of these kick mics and loving them (or hating them!), leave a comment below.
Thanks to Harman (AKG) and Telefunken for the evaluation loan of the d12VR and M82, respectively. AKG, Electro-Voice, Telefunken and beyerdynamic provided no compensation for this review.