Thursday, September 27, 2012

Digital Reference DRDK4 Drum Microphone Set Review

Buenos dias, amigos!

There comes a time in every sound man’s life when someone says, “Hey! Can you mic these drums?” And it turns out that there are a lot of things to think about when miking the drums, first and foremost would be: what sort of microphones am I supposed to use. Second would probably be how to mount the microphones so they pick up the drums properly.

You can handle both of these problems in one fell swoop by purchasing a pre-made drum microphone kit. My favorite would have to the Shure DMK57-52, which comes with three SM57s, a Beta 52A and three really trick mounts. But, unfortunately these cost around $400 bucks on the street, which is a screaming deal for what you get in the package, but that is too much cash for many folks.

A super-cheap (but still viable) alternative is the Digital Reference DRDK4 4 piece drum microphone set. This kit includes three DR-ST100 snare/tom microphones and one DR-K100 kick drum microphone. It also comes with clips for each microphone, three universal tom mounting clips, and a nice form-fitting carry case that looks like it should have a gun in it.

The microphones are made of metal (not plastic), have a nice heft to them and are visually pleasing. They are compact and the clips adjust so that you can minimize their profile and hopefully not get them whacked by an errant drum stick. The supplied cips are cheap, but do a reasonable job of holding the microphones in place. They are made of plastic and can get buzzy if you are not careful about where you put them on the rim.

The DR-ST-100 super cardioid tom mics have a 50Hz - 15kHz frequency response and a 600Ω output impedance, and the DR-K100 cardioid kick drum mic has a 50Hz - 10kHz frequency response and a 300Ω output impedance. With some EQ work and compression, the tom mics sound good enough for gig use, with plenty of punch for the drums, and they pick up cymbals pretty well too. The kick drum microphone left me wanting, as it did not really translate the power of the drum very well. It works pretty well as an extra tom mic, though.

For recording, these microphones do not cut the mustard. They are not clear enough, nor do they translate sounds as accurately as is needed in the studio. But they are cheap. How cheap? How about a street price of $99.99 for the whole kit and caboodle? That is pretty cheap…

And surprisingly, these microphones come with a 10 year warranty, which is amazing at this price point. And from my research, it appears that Digital Reference is an off brand of Audio Technica, so they might actually be around in ten years. But then again, who is going to save a receipt for 10 years?

Anyway, I guess I am saying that these are a heck of a deal if you are just doing the occasional live show. And if you add a decent kick drum microphone you might get away with this set for a long time as long as you aren’t heading into the studio.



  1. How do these compare to the CAD, Nady, or Samson ones? Does anyone have a clue?

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