Stage7, D88, and D89 Microphones
A complete seven-piece mic pack and two high-quality upgrades at prices that are hard to beat.
CAD (Conneaut Audio Devices) was formed in 1988 as a division of commercial audio products manufacturer Astatic, which was founded by amateur radio operators Creed M. Chorpening and F. H. Woodworth in 1933 in an effort to develop a static-free microphone. The company restructured in 2000, and eventually all assets were combined under the CAD Audio brand.
The CAD catalog boasts a wide range of products, including affordable but high-quality drum microphones. We were sent the all-in-one Stage7 seven-piece mic pack ($229), as well as the D88 supercardioid dynamic bass drum mic ($199) and the D89 super-cardioid dynamic snare mic ($89).
Stage7 Mic Pack
The Stage7 pack includes everything you need to mike a five-piece drumset for everyday live or project studio use. It comes with three D29 clip-on cardioid dynamic tom mics, a D19 clip-on super-cardioid dynamic snare mic, a D10 cardioid dynamic bass drum mic, and two small-diaphragm cardioid condensers with swivel mounts, for overheads. All of the mics are stored in a foam-lined case.
The D10 is a little smaller than typical bass drum mics; it’s only 2.4″ wide by 4.2″ long. This allows for great positioning flexibility, especially when you’re inserting the mic inside the bass drum via a small port. Its frequency response stops at 50 Hz, effectively removing the sub frequencies that can lead to feedback and rumble when miking a bass drum for live amplification. There’s a significant low-end bump that centers at 100 Hz, a wide cut in the muddy midrange around 500 Hz, and upper-end peaks between 3 kHz and 10 kHz. We found that the D10 sounded best when positioned well within the bass drum to draw out as much attack while attenuating low-mid woof. Even when it was placed as far inside the drum as our mic stand would allow, we still needed to clean up the sound a bit with some high-end EQ to accentuate the click of the beater, some low-end bump for meatiness, and some midrange cuts to remove boxiness. The D10 didn’t work very well when positioned a few inches outside the drum, but when used inside the shell to produce a punchy PA-friendly sound, it got the job done.
The D19 super-cardioid snare mic has an integrated clip that’s simply designed to lock the mic into place by squeezing the hoop with a vice-like clamp while also providing an efficient amount of control over the height, forward position, and angle of the mic. The tight polar pattern of this mic eliminated almost all bleed from other instruments, including the hi-hat. The best sound we found was with the mic placed as high as possible and aimed at the center of the drumhead. This setup captured a full, punchy sound with a nice balance of resonance, attack, and snare snap. The D19 has a frequency response that drops off at 90 Hz to again eliminate low-end frequencies that can lead to a muddy live mix.
The D29 tom mic looks identical to the D19, but it has a slightly wider cardioid polar pattern. The only noticeable sonic difference we could detect from the D19 was that the D29 had a more natural yet still controlled decay. (The D19 had a very quick drop-off after the initial note.) The D29 captured a very punchy tom sound with thick, clean attack. Neither required additional EQ, but some extra clarity, snap, and depth could be dialed in with minor adjustments to the high, mid, and low frequencies.
The C9 is a very small (.75″ x 4″) cardioid condenser designed primarily for overhead miking. Its frequency range is 70 Hz to 13 kHz, with a fairly flat response in the lows and mids and a slight bump in the highs. The small size of this mic made it very easy to place above the drumkit in various stereo configurations while being inconspicuous and out of the way. I’m usually very critical of low-cost small condensers; they usually have a thin, brittle sound that makes the entire mix sound cheap. The C9, however, captured a crisp, clean drum and cymbal sound that was detailed but not overhyped. It didn’t grab a lot of low end, so you’ll likely want to use C9s as cymbal mics in conjunction with the other drum mics to achieve a full, natural reproduction of your drumkit. But I was impressed nonetheless.
D88 Bass Drum Mic
While the Stage7 mic pack could serve you well for basic everyday drum miking, when it comes time to make an upgrade you’ll want to start with the D88 bass drum mic. This large super-cardioid dynamic mic is custom tailored to capture a punchy, articulate, and deep bass drum sound. Its frequency response extends down to 20 Hz, which is as low as the human ear can perceive, and the high end goes all the way up to 17 kHz. It’s also designed to withstand over 150 dB of sound pressure, so the diaphragm won’t blow out when miking up a hard-hit bass drum.
We noticed a significantly fuller, deeper, and more “mix-ready” sound from our bass drum when using the D88 in place of the D10. One thing to consider, though, is that the mic jack is located on the side of the body, right next to the stand mount. This setup prevented me from extending the mic fully inside the drum because the mic stand had to be kept at a slight angle. But I honestly didn’t feel the need to place the D88 any further within the shell. It had plenty of attack and focus when placed halfway inside the port.
D89 Snare Mic
The next logical place to upgrade the stock mics in the Stage7 pack is the snare. Although the D19 works well for capturing clean, punchy backbeats, it’s a little limited in terms of nuance and depth. The D89 is CAD’s answer to the industry-standard mic most engineers use on snares. It has a supercardioid polar pattern, so it has superior rejection, and its frequency response extends from 50 Hz to 17 kHz.
When compared with the sound of the D19, the D89 captured a fuller and more natural tone with additional depth, resonance, and sizzle. You’ll need a separate mic stand or clip to use the D89 on your kit, but it would be a worthwhile upgrade in order to achieve a bigger, fuller, and more nuanced snare sound. The fact that you could get all nine of these CAD mics for less than the price of a mid-level snare drum is mind-blowing.
For more visit: www.cadaudio.com.