One place in my mix where I’ve been experimenting the past few weeks is the kick. Ever since I bought an Audix D6 last summer, it has been my staple and the results have generally been much improved from the Beta91/Beta52 combo that I inherited when I started this gig. However, I know that many friends who use the D6 nearly always use it in conjunction with a Beta91. For me, great results with this partnership have been illusive.
A few weeks ago I was reading some forums and had the revelation that the reason I might not have been blown away by the B91/D6 combo was that I was using the D6 for the bulk of my tone and supplementing with the B91. On a whim, I decided to swap those two and use the B91 full range down into the subs and then use the D6 for extra “body” in the kick tone. Along with time aligning the mics by 30-some samples on average and a bit of compression from Channel G, the results were awesome.
Fast forward to earlier this week and I was reading another forum and came upon a few posters singing the praises of a Yamaha Subkick with the Beta91. This caught my interest because we own a Subkick that someone purchased years ago. However, each time we’ve tried it we’ve been less than impressed and the thing has literally been gathering dust in the basement. This forum post caused me to revisit the Subkick, this time using it much like I do the D6.
If you’ve never checked out the Subkick, here’s the scoop. Yamaha took a 6.5″ speaker, mounted it in a 10″ drum shell and reverse-wired it to an XLR jack to convert the speaker diaphragm into a microphone diaphragm. This huge diaphragm allows the SubKick to pick up the low end that a normal microphone can’t. And as a dynamic microphone it can handle extremely high SPLs. Mounting the SubKick speaker into a drum shell focuses the sound to direct the signal into the diaphragm. It also protects the SubKick transducer from mechanical noise and damage.
For the first time, I experienced this weekend an application where the Subkick is awesome. The Beta91 communicates a very “present” kick sound. The beater is nice and present and the overall tone is “current” to me…exactly what you’d expect to hear from a much larger rig than mine. The problem is that it feels like its missing some of the 60-300 hz “body” that makes the kick good and round to balance the click. Enter the Subkick. The Subkick captured a lot of fundamental in the 60Hz range, had a significant dip at 300Hz, a smaller peak in the 600Hz range, and dropped off steeply after that. Frequency response is spec’ed to 2kHz, and there’s some information captured as high as 3.5kHz, but not much. It seems the perfect compliment to the Beta91.
There are a number of things to like about the Subkick, most of all its sound. It definitely gives you the thump you’d usually have to dig for with EQ when using a traditional setup. I’ve found I really like it as the source feeding kick to the subs because the low end is so focused and feels like it extends lower than the 91. Also, the rock-solid snare stand and tom mount used for “mic” placement are ingenius. In every application, it was a quick and easy setup without drift or drop. It stays where it’s put.
I A/B’d the Subkick with my usual D6 outside the kick setup, and it blew it away. Because of the nature of the beast, it completely ignores any cymbal or drum spill over 500 Hz, making for a nice, clean track at the bottom of your mix. A nice trick is to use the naturally clean Subkick signal to feed the key on a gate used for the internal kick mic, resulting in an easily accomplished clean kick signal.
Here’s a few samples of what I’m hearing. See what you think and it might be worth checking out.
This first sample is a Beta91 and Subkick. The clip starts out with both blended then isolates each one. I think it will be pretty obvious which tone is the Subkick. Warning that you probably won’t hear the Subkick on regular laptop speakers like the ones on my Macbook Pro. Good IEMs or headphones are recommended.
The second clip is the entire kit and alternating back and forth between the Beta91/Subkick combo and the Beta91/D6 combo. I can see times when each of these tones would be a great fit artistically. I think my conclusion is that I may end up putting all three mics up most weeks and then I have great flexibility for what I go with depending on the tune.