When you use microphones in a drum kit, the first place to start is with a pair of overhead microphones to capture the stereo spread of the entire kit. This, in theory, should get you a complete sound, with all the drums in the kit falling within the range of these two microphones. But, it is for added definition and depth of frequency response that we will almost always see microphones on all the drums in a kit along with the hi-hats too. But of course, no one microphone is properly suited to the task of capturing every drum’s different characteristics up close, so a different tool is needed for each application. The one drum, or section of drums, that often gets overlooked is the toms, but MXL have changed that with the A-5T dynamic tom drum microphone.
TIGHT AND PUNCHY
The toms are often the hardest drums to tune properly and can create the most problems with resonant issues, so it only makes sense that you should have a specific microphone designed for this purpose. The tricky part is that you get a crisp higher mid-range from the attack of a tom with a booming bottom end to follow, so you need a microphone that will capture all of this. Set up fairly close to the top head of a rack tom, the A-5T does just that quite well. I find it better suited to smaller toms in the 10 to 13 inch range - most of your rack toms in fusion style kits - and it wasn’t as full sounding with larger floor toms, although it still delivered plenty of punch. That is what you want from your toms, a full, warm decay that follows a sharp, punchy attack to the note.
These are a fairly easy microphones to work with, especially if you are placing them on every tom around a kit. They come with drum mounting clamps, so you don’t have to use a stand for every one, which saves on space and setup time. In the mix, they are fairly forgiving, as they seem to sit in there nicely without too much EQ work required unless you have a loud stage that needs taming. And when you think of the purpose of every microphone on a kit beyond the overheads, these adhere to the task at hand, in delivering more definition and clarity to each individual drum on the rack. They’re ideal for the engineer or drummer on a budget that wants to bring more life to the live of recorded sound of a drum kit and they don’t require a degree in order to get a decent sound out of them.
Hits and Misses
Warm and dynamic sound for to drum use
Compact, drum mounted dynamic microphone
Capable of handling very high sound pressure levels
Not so good on larger floor toms