Federal Audio | Expect to pay: A$1,599
When pulling together a microphone arsenal for your studio, often the most critical (and typically most expensive) venture is a family of mics dedicated to drums.
Whilst you can certainly go down the road of scouring the interwebs for individual mics, often a far more practical (not to mention cost effective) approach is to invest in a dedicated drum mic pack.
Whilst there are numerous options available, from many of the big names in the mic world, one relatively new name to this round table has a particularly enticing pack on offer, which is what I have the pleasure of reviewing here; the Sontronics DM-Series DrumPack Plus seven-piece drum pack.
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Sontronics may not be a name that all audio aficionados are familiar with (and not to worry, all is forgiven), but since their founding by musician and audio enthusiast Trevor Coley in 2004 and debut to the market in 2005, Sontronics have been responsible for some of the most innovative, gorgeous and silky smooth sounding mics available to date.
From the breathtaking and iconic looking Mercury valve condenser to the Apollo 2 stereo ribbon mic, it’s easy to see why these mics are fast becoming modern studio classics, not just in Britain (the company being based in the quaint and cosy county of Dorset), but in studios across the globe.
The Sontronics DM-series microphones were released in 2011, after three years of painstaking research and development, with three mics in the series, the DM-1B (kick drum), DM-1S (snare) and DM-1T (toms).
It wasn’t until 2019 that the mics became available as dedicated mic packs; the standard 5-piece DrumPack which includes 1x DM-1B, 1x DM-1S and 3x DM-1T, and the DrumPack Plus, which includes an addition of 2x STC-10 small diaphragm condensers – more on them in a bit.
Interestingly, all the DM-series mics are condensers, sporting cardioid polar patterns and each meticulously designed for their respective sound sources, not a one shoe fits all affair.
On initial inspection, the craftsmanship and attention to detail is immediately evident, each of the mics are striking to look at, guaranteed to appear great on any drum-kit, especially under cameras, a point worth noting given the amount of filmed studio sessions happening in the past year.
Each mic is solidly built, with a robust weight to them, a design definitely worthy of the studio or to be taken on the road. As mentioned before, each of the mics are condensers, and personally I’m always a fan of using condenser mics on a kit where appropriate and capable of handling higher SPL.
Thankfully each mic has a built-in switchable pad of -15dB for the DM-1B and -10dB for the DM-1S / DM-1T and STC-10. This is obviously a welcomed feature and the SPL handling of each mic is very impressive, with DM-1B taking a whopping 155dB SPL and 135dB SPL for the DM-1S and DM-1T and the STC-10 handling a respectful 130dB SPL. All of this thankfully means a reduced need to gain down preamps or worry about damaging capsules.
I found the DM-series mics to be incredibly accurate and complimentary to their respective sound sources, with a wonderful flat response, due to their condenser design and innate frequency response, being a full range of 20Hz-20kHz for the DM-1B, and 30Hz – 20kHz for the DM-1S / DM-1T and STC-10.
The DM-1B is a particular highlight of the range, with its end fire design making placement in or out of a kick drum easy, or being equally comfortable placed in front of a bass cab. The mic captures low end with superb clarity and detail, without blowing out, becoming uncontrollable, but instead sitting beautifully in the mix, with minimal, if any processing required.
As for the DM-1S and DM-1T, both mics produce a very detailed response, again being very flat and honest, boasting classic condenser vibe and character.
Lastly, the STC-10s yield pleasing results as overheads, capturing a fast, nuanced detail of the cymbals, and having the 75Hz filter in place nicely controls some low end if required.
Given their relatively fresh history, Sontronics have undoubtedly earned their place in the highly competitive microphone market, bringing true innovation, British design and quality.
It’s no wonder they have the likes of big time producers such a Flood, Paul Epworth and several engineers over at Abbey Road Studios pitching in their expertise in the laborious beta testing process; not to mention countless other big time names using their microphones on sessions everyday.
Producing a truly professional sounding set of mics in the DM-series DrumPack Plus, I’d have absolutely no qualms in throwing up these mics on any session, knowing I’m going to get honest, full and fat tones. Thoughtfully designed, beautiful sounding, elegant and affordable, say no more!