Choosing a good kick drum microphone is absolutely essential in providing a good music experience to your audience, since kick drums are usually the ones with the lowest frequency in the entire set, so you will want a specialized kick drum mic in order to capture the low frequencies emitted by your bass drum. It is very important to position your bass drum mic properly so that you do not pick up any ambient noise or unwanted notes in your bass drum mic feed. Stray notes from your snares and toms may bleed into the bass drum mic, which is why it is very important that your kick drum mic should be a very directional type. Meaning that, you might have to get a cardioid or even a hypo cardioid microphone for your bass drum.
What you need to know when looking for bass/kick drum microphone?
In order for a kick mic to perform at its best, it needs to cancel out the sounds coming from the sides almost completely, including the sounds from the rear. While cardioid mics do cancel out rear sound, and most of the sound from the sides, the hypo cardioid mics are even better at this job. They make sure that your resulting sound feed only contains bass drum frequencies and notes, nothing else. Another very important for a bass drum mic is the ability to handle high SPL levels, or sound pressure levels. Look for a mic that can take a maximum of 120 dB or more, if possible. Bass drums are known to have high attack and are quite powerful in terms of raw sound output, so you do not want a mic that cannot take the heat when you go crazy with your feet on those kick pedals. Finally, look for a mike with good sound attenuation to prevent excess feedback, as well as a low-pass filter to filter out the higher frequencies that might be bleeding in from the cymbals and toms. This will leave you with powerful, deep lows, which is what you expect to hear from your bass drums. We have put together a list of some of the most amazing bass drum mics in the world, along with the pros and cons of each mic.
Sennheiser e602 II Evolution Series Dynamic Bass Drum MicrophonePro: Very high SPL tolerance
Con: Hard to find
The Sennheiser name is synonymous with quality and performance. In the case of this bass drum mic however, they added a new parameter- affordable performance. It offers an incredibly amazing 20 Hz-16000 Hz frequency response range along with the ability to handle over 155 dB of sound pressure, which is unreal for something this affordably priced. The lows sound pronounced, clear, and deep. The amount of “thump” that you get on your bass drums is fully picked up by this mic and transferred straight to the amps and mixers. It is made from thick metal sheets and coated in a fine black color, both its sleek looks and smashing performance come together to make this the one the best microphones that your money can buy.
AKG D112 Large Diaphragm Dynamic MicrophonePro: Large diaphragm to reduce noise
Con: Included mic clip is not very sturdy
The AKG D112 is an extremely popular microphone that is often considered as an industry standard and benchmark as far as bass drum mics go. The reason for that is its incredibly warm and powerful output that often doesn’t even need any equalizing before you release it to the speakers. The sounds captured by this microphone are extremely deep, low frequency, and sound unadulterated. It happens to have an extremely high SPL tolerance too, something that every good bass drum mic needs, especially during a live performance.
AKG D112 Large Diaphragm Dynamic MicrophonePro: Frequency response has been tuned specifically for bass
Con: Might deliver excess feedback at times
Where similarly priced competitors deliver a cardioid configuration on their mics, Shure went one step ahead and gave us a microphone with a super cardioid configuration. What it means, is this mic dispels unwanted noises more efficiently than a simple cardioid mic since this one is much more directional and only captures sound from the source, i.e. the bass drum. So you can say goodbye to the sounds of toms and snares that would bleed in no matter how hard you tried to position your bass drum mic. Add a 174 dB SPL tolerance on top of that and you have yourself a truly unbeatable bass drum mic that truly delivers a powerful “punch”, full of deep, hard, pounding bass.
Audix D6 Dynamic MicrophonePro: Extremely well-tuned low frequency response
Con: Requires a little bit of EQ at the 150 Hz range
With a maximum SPL tolerance of 144 dB, a 1k off-axis rejection ratio, and a frequency range of 30-15000 Hz, there are very few mics in the market that can compete with this beast. It delivers dynamic and highly responsive low frequency sounds, with a ton of kick and a slight pinch of tonal character that makes it sound lively and energetic. The frequency response of this mic is specifically tuned for the bass drum and you might need to fine tune it in your equalizer around the 150 Hz frequency range, because the audio sounds slightly off-character over there. But it is a one in a million occurrence and this mic is one of the most popular ones in both live performances, as well as recording studios.
Shure BETA 91A Half-Cardioid Condenser Kick Drum MicrophonesPro: Built-in preamplifier
Con: Needs sound isolation
This is a very unique bass drum microphone. Not just because it does not require a external mount, but because it also has a built in preamplifier. The slim profile, along with the half-cardioid design means that you must put it inside your bass drums to get the best results. If you use pillows inside your bass drum, just put this mic over them. It has a half-cardioid configuration that is optimized to pick up true bass sound from inside the drum itself. But it also leaves the mic vulnerable to stray sounds from the sides which means that using it outside the drum on an external stand could lead to complications with noise. The extremely high SPL tolerance is also a requirement given its unique operating conditions.
Heil Sound PR48 Kick Drum MicrophonePro: PROS
Anyone who has used the Heil PR48 knows that there is hardly any competitor out there in the market that can rival the amount of “oomph” generated by this amazing bass drum mic. That deep, reverberating thud in your chest when you hear the sound relayed by this mic is mainly due to the built in low-pass filter that only allows low frequency signals to pass out of the mic, and when you couple that with a giant 1.5″ diaphragm you experience pure and magical audio, untarnished, and powerful. There are hardly any things to complain about with this mic, except for the fact that it is perhaps too good at what it does. So if you end up feeding too much bass into it, you might get some rather bone-shaking results from your woofer.
Telefunken M82 Kickdrum MicrophonePro: Dual function EQ built-in
Con: Might need some EQ tuning to get the right bass feedback at super low frequencies
The M82 is an extremely versatile and advanced kick drum mic that can even be used for other acoustic devices such as snares, toms, and even for vocals. And all that is because of the unique nature of this microphones filters. It can filter out both low as well as frequency sound, and has an extremely high SPL tolerance. If you wish to focus more on the bass, then just engage the “KICK BOOST” mode. This will slice away some of the low-mid range frequencies and make your kick drum sound more snappy and lively instead of damp and “boxy”. If you want more attack from your bass drums, and a deeper response, you can use the “HIGH BOOST” mode. This will tilt the upper mid-range frequencies(above 2KHz) by 6dB and 10KHz. This will allow you get more “groovy” beats and a polished high end response.
AKG Pro Audio D12VR Dynamic Kick MicrophonePro: Extremely good sound quality
Con: Requires a phantom power supply
The AKG D12VR represents the epitome of what we call “auditory perfection”. It has excellent low pass filters that keep unwanted notes and frequencies away from the mixer, while the super high SPL tolerance lets you make the most out of your bass drums without having to worry about an over-strained mic. A cardioid polar pattern lets you capture exactly what you want, and nothing more. This means no more noises or unnecessary sound bleeding. Analog circuitry is implemented in the active filters, delivering vintage sound characteristics along with a warm and subtle, yet powerful bass output.