Audix D4 and OM6 Review
Originally published here: http://www.audixusa.com/Acrobat/D4_OM6_review.pdf; rescued from Internet obscurity 2011-01-03.
by Geno Porfido, Recording Magazine
It seems that a lot of the mics introduced are designed to compete with one another. That’s a good thing for consumers, of course. But Audix has introduced two dynamic mics that are different from the rest. That’s also good for consumers.
The D4 is a hypercardioid dynamic mic intended for kick drums, bass, toms…and just about any application that needs an extended low end. The OM6 is a hypercardioid dynamic model designed for vocals and even voiceovers. It has good off-axis rejection and, according to Audix, a sound that comes close to a condenser mic. While both these mics are perfectly suited for live sound, my studio tests prove that they’re handy at recording too.
The Audix D4 is possibly one of the smallest kick drum mics you’ll ever see. It’s about four inches long by one inch wide, but don’t let that fool you. On every kick drum I miked with the D4, there was ample punch and bottom end. This mic was designed to accentuate the below 80 Hz stuff that many mics roll off. It’s specified as being flat down to 63 Hz, with a slight rise around 80 Hz and response down to 35 Hz, where it’s about 12 dB down.
According to Audix this mic also remains smooth in the 800 Hz to 1 kHz range; they feel many similar mics are “scooped out” in that region, creating a slightly hollow sound. I must admit to being a fan of a certain low mid scoop in certain instances. But one thing I noticed immediately with the D4 was that its smoothness in that range gives it a fuller mid tone than most bass drum mics pick up.
The high end is also interesting. To my ears it sounds different from anything I’ve heard-not crisp or clicky, but more natural sounding. It’s a departure from the kick drum sounds we’re used to.
I put the D4 up against two of my favorites, an old AKG D12 and an Electro-Voice RE20. While the D12 had a fatter and wider bottom, the D4 had a slightly deeper tone. And the high end on the D4 was much cleaner, minus that D12 midrange honk. Versus the RE20 the D4 had more punch, and again the top end was interestingly different. I certainly found myself using radically different eq than usual, but it still needed a good boost at 60 cycles to put that kick drum right in my chest where I like it. [Audix’ Cliff Castle comments: “The D4 sounds best placed just slightly inside the drum (not more than an inch or two). It doesn’t like to be too far inside or near the head. It likes to see a full wave and is capable of faithfully reproducing it.”]
While I would hesitate to say that any one mic is better, I will definitely say that the D4 is a good mic to have in any collection. Mainly, I like its subtle deepness and open, unhyped top end. Because it’s very different from any of the kick mics I’ve used for the past 24 years, I’ve been using it on every session as I continue to feel out its strengths and weaknesses.
I also used the D4 on floor toms with good results. But the biggest surprise was that it was really exceptional on bass guitar. Usually I’ll mic a bass and take a DI, and usually the DI comes out sounding punchier and cleaner. But in this case the bass tracks really came across with monster tone from the mic.
The same applies to using the D4 on a Leslie cabinet, where I’d normally put up a D12. Using the D4 the Leslie came through with nice tight bottom. And with the hypercardioid pattern this mic employs, it was easy to mic a good foot or so from the cabinet and still get good separation from other instruments.
Bottom line on the D4: a good kick drum mic with a different curve than you’re used to; I’d certainly give this one a shot if you’re open to trying new mics. For live applications, that extended bottom end and open top are going to make new friends at the back of the room.
And its small size is a big plus. For the first time in my life I was able to put that sucker anywhere I desired between the maze of pillows, drum rings, rack tom mounts, and dirty laundry usually found inside bass drums. All in all, a combination of nice tight sound, smart design, SPL handling ability up to 144 dB, and good looks. The D4 should make a good addition to the world of mics.
The first thing that catches your attention about this hypercardioid dynamic mic is its weight (10.5 ounces) and overall sturdiness. It’s hefty, built solidly out of zinc alloy with what they call a Fusion coating. One very small consideration: for live work, the mic’s smooth finish and sleek curvature from the skinny body to the round ball top could make it tricky to maintain a solid grip.
Audix specs the OM6 as responding from 40 Hz to 19 kHz and quotes an SPL handling ability of greater than 144 dB. They target the OM6 especially for vocals and voiceovers, and one would have to agree with that assessment. It sounds quite good in that capacity, as I found out when using it to record a voiceover for an audio business card.
But what the heck, I thought — let’s try the OM6 on guitars! And sure enough, it worked out very well in a multi-mic situation with the old standby Shure SM57 on one speaker and the OM6 on another. The Audix was a bit crisper, and it really bought out the crunchies. Its clarity also worked well (better, in fact) for getting a cleaner guitar sound.
My next test was to give the OM6 lead vocal honors in place of the usual AKG C414. Of course this was an unfair contest — the 414 is almost five times the price — but I wanted to see how well this mic compared with that favorite classic.
The members of Direct Touch, a NJ/NY rock band, were my first test victims. Well, the lead vocals we recorded with the OM6 were keepers. My one caveat: there’s a definite presence peak, maybe from 3 to 6 kHz of so, that’s really going to give a hard edge to some vocalists. That’s exactly what the doctor ordered for live sound, especially if the mic is good at squelching feedback. In the studio, though, it lacks a bit of crisp top in the 10–14 kHz range.
Nonetheless, it definitely sounded clean and clear, and in cases where lead singers prefer using a handheld mic in the studio (“it’s the performance thing…”), I’m going to give that honor to the Audix from now on.
While it’s not going to replace any of my high- end German large diaphragm studio condenser mics, it will replace other hand-helds I have for these instances, and also for doing reference vocals in the control room where feedback rejection and decent volume are called for. And for that live mix, this thing will cut like a blowtorch on tin.
Bottom line, you’ll have no trouble finding many uses for the OM6.
Audix acoustic engineer Fred Bigeh has put a lot of care into it, and it has a nice modern look. So we have two good, well made Audix mics that were designed to be different from most mics on the market.
Prices: D4, $329; OM6, $349.