Category Archives: Gear

Microphone Shootout – Snare Drum Edition

Over the Christmas/New Years break, my friend Brandon and I got together on two separate days and put a whole bunch of microphones to a test. Previously, I posted the guitar amp version of this test. Today, I present The Snare Drum Microphone Shootout.

Before I present the results, I must talk about the process. We tested ten different microphones during the course of this day. In order to eliminate as many variables as we could, the microphones were set up in as close to the same spot as we could get and I played every test the same way: Center hit, off-center hit, flam, nine-stroke roll. Also, I used the same drum (Mapex Pro M series) and the same pair of sticks (Vic Firth 5A, wood tip) throughout the whole process.

We had two of almost all of these microphones, so the snare drum is double-miked for all but a few tests (which I’ll disclose when we get to them) – one microphone on the top head, the other on the bottom placed right around the snares themselves. No EQ is placed on any microphone, but the phase is flipped on every microphone on the bottom head and some levels are adjusted for a more balanced sound. I also edited some takes to ensure that they don’t overlap.

Without further ado: Here are the results! Ten microphones, presented two at a time. The first microphone listed is panned hard left and the second is hard right.

Our first matchup is the ol’ standby facing one of its many challengers – Shure SM57 – vs. Blue EnCore 100i.

Snare Mic Shootout 1

Next is probably the least fair matchup – Audio Technica Brand X XM3 (discontinued) vs. Electro-Voice N/D 478.

Next we have the Audio Technica battle – ATM29 (discontinued) vs. ATM63 (also discontinued).

Snare Mic Shootout 3

Next is the oddball matchup – Samson Q3 (discontinued) vs. Groove Tubes Convertible.

Snare Mic Shootout 4

Lastly, we have the single-microphone matchup – Audio Technica ATM650 vs. Electro-Voice N/D168 (discontinued).

Snare Mic Shootout 5

The interesting thing to me is the frequency responses of these microphones – clearly, some microphones picked up the shell of the drum better than others.

So, there you go. What do you think? Personally, I think I found my new snare drum microphone within my own collection thanks to this.

Microphone Shootout – Guitar Edition

IMG_0650At this point in my life, it’s fair to say that I’m a gear head. As a musician, I like having gear around – it’s good to have options. When you have other gear head friends, things like the results of this post happen!

During our holiday break, my friend Brandon and I convened on two separate days to test some microphones. One day was for snare drums (I’ll post that later) and the other was for guitar amps (We had also done this a few years ago for kick drums, but I have to find those files again before I can post them.). In order to eliminate as many variables as possible, I played the same riff through the same guitar amp (pictured above) with the same settings and we placed each microphone as close to the same spot and distance as possible. In addition, the only EQ placed on the guitar tracks after recording is a high pass filter at 80 Hz and no mastering effects were used. I compressed and EQ’d the bass track… well… because. Besides, the guitars are the important part here.

I now present our results – eight microphones, two at a time. The first microphone listed is panned hard left and the second is hard right. And before you ask: Yes, it’s the same riff as the Guitar Amp Test, just slowed down a bit.

Our first matchup is the ol’ standby facing one of its many challengers – Shure SM57 – vs. Blue EnCore 100i.

SM57 vs 100i

Next is probably the least fair matchup – Audio Technica Brand X XM3 (discontinued) vs. Electro-Voice N/D478.

X3 vs. 478

Next we have the Audio Technica Battle – ATM63 (discontinued) vs. ATM650.

ATM63 vs ATM650

Lastly is the matchup of the microphones that need phantom power – Blue Ball (discontinued) vs. Groove Tubes Convertible.

Ball vs Convertible

The interesting thing to me was the difference in microphone input levels. We set the input level on my interface at the same spot for each microphone, but some mics were much quieter than others. Not surprisingly, the Ball and Convertible were by far the loudest – we were so close to clipping on the Convertible track…

So there you go. What do you think? Personally, I’m pretty sure this is the last time I record guitar amps with just a 57.

Roland Guitar Amp Test


The old (original?) Micro Cube. Looks kinda goofy with a microphone in front of it…

I don’t know why, but I’ve been fascinated by the Roland Cube amp series ever since I first heard about them. That fascination manifested around Thanksgiving 2006 when I purchased a Micro Cube. It’s popped up on occasional recordings – like, say, all of the Distinct Kicking Motion tracks and one batch of Christmas songs – and its ability to record in silence has proven handy. I’m a fan. So much so that when it came time to pick an amp for a more low-volume gig, I settled on one of its relatives – the Cube 40 GX.


The Cube 40GX. Lightweight and loud – perfect for low volume gigs. My dad almost threw it the first time he picked it up…

Allright, so now I have two guitar amplifiers from the same line. How about an amp showdown? I came up with a simple rock riff and recorded it a total of four times – each amp first through a Shure SM57 microphone, then through its “rec. out/phones” jack. I used the “R-fier Stack” setting and left the EQ/tone knobs as flat as I could. The results were pretty interesting – the direct line in particular shows just how far they’ve come in amp modeling sounds over the past eight years.

First up is the sound of the speakers as picked up by a Shure SM57. Micro Cube on the left, Cube 40GX on the right. Microphone was placed slightly off-center.

Amp Test Microphone

Next is the “rec. out/phones” jack. Again, Micro Cube on the left, Cube 40GX on the right.

Amp Test Direct

There. That was fun, wasn’t it? Thanks for listening and I’ll see you next time.

P.S.: Here are the amp settings, for posterity’s sake or something. I set them up on a chair because it’s easier for microphone placement.

Cube 40GX

Cube 40GX


Micro Cube