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The Secret Life Of Instrument Mics

Plug in one of these trusted workhorses, and you’re good to go

By Gary Gand February 20, 2017

Crown PZM 6D

Description: Electret condenser type with hemispherical pattern when used on a floor, wall or ceiling. Operates with phantom power. For numerous applications. Includes dual-frequency response switch to select between “rising” or “flat.” Supplied with wired 15-foot cable with XLRM connector. Frequency response is 20 Hz to 20 kHz.

G.G. Take: Gets extra snap out of a kick drum. Lay it in the bottom, on top of the pillow in addition to your fat drum mic. Check polarity please. I did the Talking Heads “Remain in Light” tour with three drum mics (total!) ­a PZM 6D between the rack toms (at their engineer’s request), another over the percussionist and then a 421 in the kick. The best bootleg board tape I ever made (of a well-known jazz group named after the state associated with sneakers) was from one PZM 6D taped to the lid of the grand piano on the tall stick on stage. It’s mono, but the balance and tone is unequalled in my career as a secret taper.

Sennheiser MD 421-II

Description: Dynamic type with cardioid pattern for a range of applications, generally lower-frequency instruments. Includes a five-position bass roll-off switch. Supplied with microphone clamp for 3/8-inch thread. Frequency response is 30 Hz to 17 kHz.

G.G. Take: Nothing sounds better for sax than a fresh one right out of the box. Great on kick drum and double bass fiddle (stuff it between the legs of the bridge wrapped in foam pointing up at the neck). Great to fatten up a Celestion loaded 412 cab in tandem with an SM57. Check polarity for most warmth. Be careful, as a lot of these were tom mics in a former life and have taken a beating, which can impact sound quality.

Sennheiser e609 Silver

Description: Dynamic type with supercardioid pattern. The flat-profile capsule is designed for extremely close micing of guitar cabinets. Also can be used for some drum micing, particularly toms. Supplied with MZQ 100 clip and protective pouch. Frequency response is 40 Hz to 18 kHz.

G.G. Take: In the ‘70s this was called a 409 and was the vocal mic of choice for Pink Floyd and the Doobie Brothers. The recent Evolution Series 609 version didn’t live up to everyone’s memory, so Sennheiser devised this popular new re-issue. The flat paddle design makes it cool for hanging over the front of a guitar amp without need for a mic stand. Techs have been doing this for years with various other mics even though the sound is blowing across the mic diaphragm for less than good frequency response.

Electro-Voice RE20

Description: Dynamic type with cardioid pattern, for numerous applications such as bass drum and other drum apps as well as wind instruments and piano. Includes bass roll-off switch. Supplied with 15-foot cable and stand adapter. Frequency response is 45 Hz to 18 kHz.

G.G. Take: My personal favorite for BIG bass drums. I recently mic’d a marching band and this provided the range that bass guitar would normally occupy. (They use sousaphones, which have no low end and can’t be mic’d as they’re a dance “accessory.”) Also a good choice for trombone and baritone sax. Mic a piano with heavy compression for that kitschy “elevator music” sound.

Electro-Voice ND468

Description: Dynamic type with supercardioid pattern, for numerous applications depending upon mic placement. Some applications include guitar and bass amps, brass instruments, tom-tom and snare drums. Supplied with soft, zippered “gig” bag and 311 mic clamp. Frequency response is 30 Hz to 22 kHz (close mic’ing).

G.G.Take: This is a relatively recent upgrade of the popular 408, one of the first clamp-on tom mics. It has a swivel yoke that some find more stable than the mini goosenecks used by others. Ball grill works well for outdoor gigs (lowers wind noise). Beware of older 408s ­– the foam inside the grill can deteriorate if the mic has been exposed excessively to high humidity and moisture.

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About Gary

Gary Gand
Gary Gand

President, Gand Music & Sound
Gary has been designing and mixing sound for 40 years and is president of Gand Concert Sound, Elk Grove Village IL., just west of Chicago.

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