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  #1  
Old 04-22-2013, 11:50 AM
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Default Your favorite boundary microphone?

Hi

I'm not going to lie, I'm not a drummer, but people on guitar forums don't even know what a boundary mic is, so please, from a drummer's perspective, share with me your experiences on boundary mics.
I've seen a few videos and on at least one occasion I was impressed with the deep and big sound of a BM (also depends on the kit, I know).
The videos I've seen were all about kick drums, so for you, as a kicking drummer, what's the best boundary mic?
I'm looking at the Sennheiser e901 and the Shure Beta 91a. Anything between those two?
Or do you like any other models?

Because BMs are condensors, are there any issues with acoustics? I'm very finicky about bad reverb coming into condensors. Not to mention bleed...
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Last edited by Guitarski; 04-22-2013 at 12:24 PM.
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Old 04-22-2013, 12:05 PM
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Default Re: Your favorite boundary microphone?

Hi and welcome to the forum!

It's *boundary* - just sayin'... I've corrected it in the thread title.
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  #3  
Old 04-22-2013, 12:27 PM
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Default Re: Your favorite boundary microphone?

Thanks. When it comes to spelling, I'm a boundary case.
This thread is kicking off just fine.
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Last edited by Guitarski; 04-22-2013 at 12:41 PM.
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Old 04-22-2013, 01:32 PM
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Default Re: Your favorite boundary microphone?

Boundary or Boundery, I know what you're talking about. Some people just have too much time on their hands, lol. I usually don't use Boundary microphones inside bass drums, but find them useful as desktop discussion microphones. Being close to the table top lessens phase problems that might erupt using standard microphones on short stands.

Between the two microphones that you mention, the Shure Beta 91A has a much higher SPL rating than the Sennheiser. So if I would need a microphone inside the bass drum, that would be my choice. Under extreme pressure inside the bass drum, I'll always go for less distortion over tonal differences. The stated maximum sound pressure for the Sennheiser is only 124 decibels which is easily obtainable in most bass drum applications. In my opinion the e901 just needs a bit more headroom in that type of application. Otherwise I love Sennheiser microphones, 421s, 441s on and on.

BTW, there are a few other Boundary type microphones, but my money would go with the Shure.

Dennis
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Old 04-23-2013, 02:09 AM
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Default Re: Your favorite boundary microphone?

Hi

Thanks to Arky for the correction.

@Dennis:
You're quite right in that 124dB seems a lot, but in confined spaces things can get out of hand pretty bad. I intend to put it in a guitar cabinet with 2x12" 50W speakers.

One purpose of the Shure appears to be the concert piano, so it should also be able to handle the rather more subtle approach as well.

I gravitate towards the Shure as well, allthough it's hard to make a comparison, because there's very little on Youtube on this.

Just for the sake of spelling, in this video, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxTS8...e_gdata_player it's called a boundry microphone. I like it.
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Old 04-23-2013, 05:39 AM
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Default Re: Your favorite boundary microphone?

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Originally Posted by Guitarski View Post
Hi

Thanks to Arky for the correction.

@Dennis:
You're quite right in that 124dB seems a lot, but in confined spaces things can get out of hand pretty bad. I intend to put it in a guitar cabinet with 2x12" 50W speakers.

One purpose of the Shure appears to be the concert piano, so it should also be able to handle the rather more subtle approach as well.

I gravitate towards the Shure as well, allthough it's hard to make a comparison, because there's very little on Youtube on this.

Just for the sake of spelling, in this video, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxTS8...e_gdata_player it's called a boundry microphone. I like it.
I think that you might be confused or maybe I'm confused by your response. 124db in my opinion is not high enough to totally alleviate distortion inside a bass drum or guitar cabinet. The higher the SPL rating of the microphone the louder the sound source can be to that particular microphone Before the microphone starts to go into distortion. Most microphone elements will bottom out if they are not designed to be used within close proximity to a very loud source. On the other hand, microphones with built in pre-amps, such as condenser units, will usually have their pre-amps as the weak link when it comes to their maximum SPL. A lot of the time these microphones will have a gain attenuation switch to "pad" their internal level down before distortion can occur on the microphones output.

I re-read your post and I believe that we're on the same page.

Dennis
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Old 04-23-2013, 06:33 AM
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Default Re: Your favorite boundary microphone?

Are these different from PZM mics? If not, Crown makes a nice one we use all the time here in the Magic Kingdom. I've even stuck it inside a bass drum once to experiment and it sounded great.

Years ago I tried the Radio Shack PZM and it was surprisingly good for the $50 investment if you wanted to try something cheap ;)
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Old 04-24-2013, 01:14 AM
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Default Re: Your favorite boundary microphone?

@Dennis
My Neumann Tlm 102 condensor has 144dB SPL, but that doesn't mean it likes such high levels. I find myself adjusting the amp output to what the mics seem to like best, with bass drum that isn't possible, clearly.

So I think we're on the same page, but for me SPL isn't really a factor. I use my mics at a recording level, not at a gigging level.
It appears that I can rent the Shure. That's going to be interesting! I'll let know how it pans out.

@Bo
Exactly! PZM = boundary mic.
If I'm correct the Crowns are conference microphones, but many mics get used for things they weren't designed for, so that's allright. I'd rather have the Shure for $50, though.

How come you are in the Magic Kingdom? You look like an alien from heaven.
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Old 04-24-2013, 01:50 AM
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Default Re: Your favorite boundary microphone?

I own both a Shure Beta 91a and a Sennheiser e901, and have been using both for at least six years as a bass drum mic.

There is no problem whatsoever using an e901 inside a bass drum, that's what it was designed to do. It doesn't come anywhere near 'bottoming out' the diaphragm. Yes, the Shure has a higher rating, but its either a peak SPL reading and the Sennheiser is an average SPL reading or something. Or one of them is lying about the specs, or exaggerating them ( wouldn't be the first time )These two mics are practically identical in sound....

They both sound good in bass drums but a good 'ol Beta 52 has a lot more bottom end punch. The Beta91 has a contour switch between flat and what sounds like a mid scoop with both a low end and high end boost. I prefer it flat.

In my experience, both the e901 and Beta 91 require more gain than their counterpart 'normal' or more common bass drum mics...421, Beta 52, D112, etc.

Both mics are half-cardiod condensers with integrated preamps. The older Beta 91 (no 'A') has the preamp in the barrel of a separate XLR connector with the other end being a TA3 connector -> cable > TA3 connector on the mic. That old design was a real pain in the ass. You only want the 91A.

I am a huge Sennheiser fan and have many, many of their mics. But lately I only use the Shure 91a or the Beta52. Why? The Sennheiser is shaped weird -see how the front flares out like a clam shell ? That will not fit if you have a 4" Holz in your bass drum reso...you need a 5" or bigger for it to fit in the drum.

TBH, the Beta 52 inside the drum just sitting on a small piece of foam sounds better than any boundary mic I've tried. It does sound better again on a stand but as I've ranted before - ANY bass drum mic stand is not an option on most stages I play. They get knocked out of place within seconds. Close quarters.

If not for stand and space limitations, I would use my hands down, all time, every time , favourite bass drum mic : a Sennheiser MD421.
It also happens to have the worst mic clip ever invented, guaranteed to fail at the most inappropriate moment :) hint: use an elastic band.
Unlike the Beta52, a 421 doesn't sound good lying on its side inside the drum.

Sorry for the book, good luck.

Neal

Last edited by evilg99; 04-24-2013 at 02:03 AM. Reason: Grammar
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  #10  
Old 04-24-2013, 07:33 AM
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Default Re: Your favorite boundary microphone?

A sound engineer friend of mine who owns and rents PA systems is miking his bass drum on stage with AKG C 547 BL. He says that he tried everything and this one is by far the best on stage. Nice punch, no overtone boom, just clear bass drum sound. I think he's even mounting it on a Kelly Shu.
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Old 04-24-2013, 08:49 AM
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Default Re: Your favorite boundary microphone?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guitarski View Post
How come you are in the Magic Kingdom? You look like an alien from heaven.
Sorry to disappoint. That's not me. She is from heaven, though.
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  #12  
Old 04-24-2013, 09:39 AM
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Default Re: Your favorite boundary microphone?

To be honest, the owl isn't me either.

@Neal
Thanks for the book, you sound like you know what you're talking about. I find the D112 a terribly amusing microphone. To me it epitomizes the "dynamic" sound.

For me the question about boundary mics is, can they capture the acoustics of a small space in a clean way, without the reverb issues you'd get with a normal condensor.

I heard some samples on Youtube and the Shure sounded a lot better in a big kit (I think it was Tama). On a more tight kit I wouldn't expect any benifit from a BM. But now I'm getting waayy into your territory. The knowledge I have (or don't, rather) of drums is from Superior Drummer.....
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Old 04-24-2013, 02:42 PM
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Default Re: Your favorite boundary microphone?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guitarski View Post
@Neal
Thanks for the book, you sound like you know what you're talking about. I find the D112 a terribly amusing microphone. To me it epitomizes the "dynamic" sound.
Haha....so true. There are very few microphones that I truly can't stand...but the D112 is one of them. Never had any luck whatsoever with them. Dead, dull, lifeless and rubbery.
Paddles...clear! Zap! Flat line _________________________

No amount of EQ and dynamic processing could save it for me.

I'm not holding my breath for a miracle but I just saw that AKG have re-introduced the 'orignal' D12. Might be interesting.

I really should point out though...I think maybe you are making more of the "reverb problem" with condensers than is due. Many many thousands of recordings have been made with said microphones with great results.

If the acoustics of your room are terrible, try to tame that a bit. You can get great results with cheap stuff like packing blankets, adding area carpet, or adding large objects with mass. Don't overdo the room deadening though - some reflections are good too.

If your room is reasonable - the small amount of leakage/ spill from the room into a kick drum mic is not a problem and is a very small proportion of the sound. Try not to get carried away with listening to mics in isolation either...remember, the 'big picture' is all that really matters....everything up. There are several 'old fashioned' engineers who believe the worst invention on a mixing desk was the 'solo' button.

Maybe I'm not understanding your use/needs tough...

Neal
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  #14  
Old 04-25-2013, 02:44 AM
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Default Re: Your favorite boundary microphone?

If it's any consolation to you, Neal, I use the D112 backwards...literally. With the turqoise band facing the speaker it does the same thing as my Neumann, but in a much scrappier way. The other way around it rejects much of the low, resulting in a much cleaner, though heavily colored (which I like) mids and highs oriented picture. Maybe it's all nonsense, but right now it's working for me. It's certainly the only mic I have that can operate backwards.
It seems to me that even if the acoustics are fine, natural reverb introduces a dirty sound element. Faced with horrible acoustics I've become a puritan with regard to a clean, that is, reverbless sound. The way I work now the "dead" acoustics produce the cleanest sound, which is a good starting point to muck around with from there on.
With drums I can see it's different. Not every kit is a hip hop kit, I'm probably talking outside of a drummer's jargon.
I don't know if you can make a kit sound big in a dead room with digital reverb in the DAW.
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Old 04-25-2013, 03:03 AM
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Default Re: Your favorite boundary microphone?

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Originally Posted by Guitarski View Post
If it's any consolation to you, Neal, I use the D112 backwards...literally. With the turqoise band facing the speaker it does the same thing as my Neumann, but in a much scrappier way. The other way around it rejects much of the low, resulting in a much cleaner, though heavily colored (which I like) mids and highs oriented picture. Maybe it's all nonsense, but right now it's working for me. It's certainly the only mic I have that can operate backwards.
It seems to me that even if the acoustics are fine, natural reverb introduces a dirty sound element. Faced with horrible acoustics I've become a puritan with regard to a clean, that is, reverbless sound. The way I work now the "dead" acoustics produce the cleanest sound, which is a good starting point to muck around with from there on.
With drums I can see it's different. Not every kit is a hip hop kit, I'm probably talking outside of a drummer's jargon.
I don't know if you can make a kit sound big in a dead room with digital reverb in the DAW.
Interesting use of the D112 , I have no doubt that would yield a useable result. I love coming up with stuff like that...using things in unintended ways...experimentation.
Dead acoustics is definitely a viable and valid production choice...depending on the music of course.
You can make a dead kit sound bigger/very different with the use of digital reverbs...although modern techniques are more about overheads and room mics....but that requires a good room.
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