[Use headphones or speakers for the audio examples to get an full frequency representation of the signal]
Early last year I picked up a Audix D6 kick drum microphone online after hearing a lot of fellow engineers, both locally and in the online community, rating it pretty highly. I took the plunge after hearing a few audio examples online on YouTube videos and microphone shoot outs on podcasts and here’s what I think about it.
According to the spec sheet from Audix, the D6 is a “dynamic instrument microphone used for stage, studio and broadcast applications. The D6, which is characterized with a cardioid pickup pattern for isolation and feedback control, is equipped with a VLMTM (Very Low Mass) diaphragm for natural, accurate sound reproduction.
The D6 is lightweight, compact and easy to position. With a wide frequency response of 30 Hz – 15 kHz and the ability to handle sound pressure levels in excess of 144 dB, the D6 is an excellent choice for miking instruments requiring extended low-frequency reproduction such as kick drums, large toms and bass cabinets.
The D6 includes a precision machined aluminum body, black anodized finish, laser etched model and serial number, steel mesh grill, Switchcraft® or Audix XLR connector and is supplied with a tension-fit heavy duty nylon mic clip” (www.audixusa.com)
The first thing that struck me was the frequency response:
It is marketed as a microphone that sounds big and fat as soon as you turn it on and the frequency response built into the mic seems to suggest that this should happen. The frequency response is very similar to what I would do on a mixing desk anyway. The thing that really stood out for me is how much of a dramatic scoop in the mid-range at 500hz is and also how much of the frequency spectrum is in said scoop. I was initially worried about what the mic would sound like. What if I didn’t want that frequency spectrum cut out in my mix? However, upon using it, I found it to be really responsive. It gives the initial thumping kick drum that I expected and it does sound really nice when you first turn it up, especially when you have some subs involved whilst mixing a live show. It is also very responsive to any EQ you do around it, so if you need to, say, cut some of the 250hz – 400hz region because that’s what is needed in the mix, then it doesn’t sound excessively scooped.
Using it with some relatively heavy compression sounds really nice too. Because of the frequency response boosting at 60hz and 5khz, it helps emphasise the thump and click of the kick drum with a dry un-EQ’d signal.
I’ve used the D6 to record bass guitar too. This impressed me a lot as it had a nice scooped sound of the amp from the microphone, and when blended with a more full range signal from the DI, the D6 really compliments a potentially bland DI signal to give a bass guitar more character. Just remember to time align the 2 signals afterwards if you’re recording.
It’s suits most modern genres: rock, metal, pop etc. I’ve found that if you’re after a more transparent sound for jazz, or possibly stripped back folk, then this may not be the mic for you. However, on the subject of folk, it does sound very nice on the back of a Cajon alongside another mic at the front, be it a condenser or dynamic, both work fine. This allows for the thump to come through adding weight to percussion if the band or act is not using a full drum kit, whilst allowing for the snap to come from the front mic of the Cajon where the snares are.
The only slight thing I have found, having used it for a while now, is that the mic clip sometimes doesn’t quite grip it tightly enough. It holds it really well during a live show or a recording session, don’t get me wrong, but when you go to pick it up, or get it out of the mic pouch, it sometimes falls out because of the weight of the mic itself. Not a major thing but worth noting none the less.
Overall I’m really happy with his mic, I bring it to every gig now and have found it to be really useful for low range instruments ranging from kick drum, bass guitar and even tuba, but also helps to add weight to smaller instruments that need it like cajons and smaller kick drums. But if you’re in the world of jazz and folk, perhaps try it first before committing to purchasing one. You never know, it could work really nicely, but it’s always worth a test drive.
+ Big kick drum sound from the get go
+ Lots of character
+ Relatively inexpensive
— Might not be what you need if you want a transparent sounding mic.
— Sometimes slips out of the mic clip when you pick it up.