Show 89 – Nothing But Kick Drum Mics

This week Ryan is joined by Randy Coppinger to determine which of the most commonly used microphones would give us a great kick drum sound.  This is a big segment.  This show is almost double the time of our regular show and only one segment.  If you ever wanted to know what is the best way to get your kick sound, this show just may give you that answer.

Download Show #089

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


Randy’s Kick Drum Wiki – Check out the Gregg Bissonette interview and pictures of this shootout.

Kick Drum Mic Types from Recording Hacks

Full Length Mixes of Examples


Audix D6
AKG D112
Electro-Voice RE20
Heil PR 40
Shure SM7B
Sennheiser 421
Crown PCC-170
Audio-Technica AE2500
Audio-Technica ATM250 DE

25 thoughts on “Show 89 – Nothing But Kick Drum Mics

  1. Pingback: Pro Tips from Gregg Bissonette: Getting a Great Kick Drum Sound |

  2. Great show guys! I have the Audix DP7 set. It has all the D series,I5 and ADX-51 sdc overheads.
    I also have been very happy with the D6. I found that the D2 and D4 tom mics have the same thing going on. Even if you move them they still have that focused sound. Loved the SM7B also. I’ve got a rapper coming in to track in a couple of weeks and was thinking about picking one up for that session. You may have pushed me over the edge on that purchase Ryan. Ever used the SM7B on a rapper?

    • I have used the SM7 on rap, punk, rock… If there is a string vocal, it will take the abuse and give very pleasing results. When I know that I have a strong vocal coming up, I package the large diaphragm condenser back in its nice aluminum case and give it the day off. Don’t expect it to be like a condenser, but it will be awesome!

  3. Excellent episode. I enjoyed the shootout and the positioning examples. Very useful demonstrations. Like you guys, I also appreciate the virtues of the Sennheiser MD421. It’s a great utility mic for a ton of applications including kick, guitar, and even vox. Just wanted to give a heads up that they are not as expensive as noted in the episode (which is a GREAT thing for all of us that want one!). The MD421 MKII can be had for $375 new which puts it in the same neighborhood as the RE-20 (a few dollars less actually). They can be found for around $250 used, which is how I got mine. Thanks!

    • Thanks for the correction on the price for the 421. I think that for some reason most of the prices were list and not street. Not quite sure why that was happening. Thanks for listening and for taking the time to share your experience with the mics.

  4. Thanks for this show guys – well done! It comes at a time when I have just (Saturday) completed recording the drums for a new set of tracks for the Tastebuds. Being fresh in my mind I thought maybe It would be good to share my thoughts with you.

    Having already been turned onto the D6 I was hoping to have one around for this session, but it wasn’t to be. As it turned out this was maybe a blessing in disguise, since the band wanted a more ‘raw’ (zeppelin-ish) drum sound this time around and I associate the D6 with a more ‘produced’ sound – which may be it’s ‘weakness’.

    We had only 7 hours to lay down 5 tracks, with the whole band playing live (some in the studio and some in the control room), and I know this drummer hates hanging around(!), so I didn’t have much time for trying out a lot of options. As it was I threw both a 421 and D112 inside the kick, close to the batter head, and my choice on the day was the stalwart D112 – which I like a lot. It responds well to EQ, especially when I need to get extreme, but it has an honest, if unflattering raw sound. In this context a less flattering sound is going down well with the band. The D112 has never let me down, so I’m not sure what’s not to like to be honest!

    (I don’t have my own D112 Ryan, so if you need a new home for yours you know where I am!)

    I placed my home-made 8-inch driver sub-kick right in front of the resonant head. A tiny amount of this incredible signal goes a long way. Finally I placed an ADK S7 around 4 feet in front of the kick to give me an option to add some resonant ‘boom’. I’ll often tunnel this mic in with some blankets, but on this occasion, again in the ‘keep it raw’ theme, I decided to let it pick up spill from the whole kit. I’ve been knocked out by this mic so far, but I have tended to place it in less mission-critical positions, so it hasn’t featured much in my mixes as yet. I have a feeling this may the time for it to shine; it’s picked up an incredibly good ‘thud’ for the kick and some gorgeous full-bodied low-end/mid from the kit as a whole. If I’d had the time I would also have tried this mic inside the kick’s shell, but that’s still waiting for its moment.

    I went for a 421 on snare top, rather than a 57, since I feel it gives me a deeper sound that would work well in the ‘Zeppelin’ mould. Under the snare I placed my stalwart 441, which gives me crispness and a nice supportive low end for the snare.

    For room and overheads I decided to trade stereo width for phase coherence, so I went X/Y on both the overheads (KM184) and the room mics (MXL V67G). The overheads were slightly higher than usual – when I come to the mix I’ll be relying on getting more of the overall kit from the overheads and/or rooms – a tighter stereo field will hopefully give me a more solid foundation to work from.

    421s on the toms – it ain’t broke, so I’ve no need to fix it.

    I put Rode NT55s close in on hat and ride. I’ll probably need little of either, but they’ll let me add a little extreme zing to pick them out of the melee.

    Hope this is of some interest!

    BTW – I first saw Gregg Bisonette (‘The Prince of Pound’) playing with Dave Lee Roth – he’s an incredible drummer,. With a great ear for musical punctuation. Please say ‘Hi, and thanks!’ for me!

    • As always, we always want to hear your input. I would like to hear a 441 and 421 on snare for that matter. I know Randy is going to come back out soon and we are going to do the entire thing again centered around the snare. I am sure that we will have some interesting findings there as well. I also love that so many are coming to defend the D112. It is still a great mic and I would not hesitate to use it, but I do have a few others that would go before it. I think that if I get a D6 and already have the SM7, that will give me the range from overproduced to round and natural. The D112 is somewhere in the middle. Maybe that is what it did not stand out to us in the shootout because it was right down the middle. Something to think about.

  5. It’ll be while before I get to the final mixes, but if I can drop you some roughs of the kit I will (band permitting, of course).

    If you guys think the mount for the 421 is bad (and it is) you should see the mount for the 441. This truly is the mic mount from the ninth level of hell! I’ve only ever seen one 441 with a reasonably intact original (clear, brittle plastic) mount – and it’s the one I own. In my case I decided to coat it with superglue to slow the progress of the stress cracks, but the glue ran everywhere and it looks like a melting candle! I bought a new Sennheiser mount, which they now make in a more robust black plastic, but the thing is very droopy and inspires no confidence at all.

    Sennheiser make some great mic’s, but somewhere along the line they must have employed a design sadist who’d been dumped by a recording engineer!

    BTW, when you do your snare shoot-out I’d suggest trying KM184 and NT5/55 (suitable padded) under or over – see what you think. I also occasionally like to aim a U87 at the side of the shell. Lots of options!

  6. I’ve used the D6, I think it’s great. I got the feeling this segment was aimed at hard rock/metal/modern pop, with finding mics that cut through the mix. What would be your top suggestions for something like jazz and blues? Or if you want more of an actual pitch from the drum (see Tori Amos’ “Scarlett’s Walk” – that kick almost sounds like a concert bass drum). A condenser out in front of the kit?

    • The D6 is a great mic only if you like how it sounds. I would use it with several different styles of music. For a more natural tone I would use the SM7 inside the drum and a nice big condenser a couple feet in front of the kick.

  7. Pingback: Need help choosing overhead mics and kick mic - Home Recording Forum

  8. I realize that the shootout was for bass drum mic’s that are used for the recording scenario. If you had to choose what one would you use for the live band setting?? Does the AKG d112 still suck in live settings? Or what about the Audix D6, good for live settings?


    • I would not hesitate to use a D112, D6, or a Beta 52 in a live environment. They will all get you what you need. They are all custome EQ’d to get you what you want. In all actuality… they are only just a little bit different from one another in the end. In the studio, you will notice a lot more than you ever would live.

  9. Pingback: The Big List of Microphone Shootouts

  10. Pingback: Kick drum mic shootout | recording hacks

Leave a Reply