An admirer of the Mk1, how does Andy Coules feel about this updated version of what was once his go-to kick drum mic? Let’s find out…
Back when I first started sound engineering there was only really one choice for your kick drum microphone – the original D112 from AKG. Its familiar ovoid shape was a common sight in recording studios and on the live stage. Over time rival offerings from various other manufacturers have gradually gained popularity and dented the ubiquity of the D112, but now there’s a MKII version, so how does it stack up?
A quick comparison of the specs of the original and the MKII suggest that the only real difference is the stand mount. This is quite a significant improvement because the biggest problem with the original D112 was the stand mount. Basically, the shaft of the microphone was only slightly wider than the male XLR connector it housed, which made it much narrower than most common microphones. This meant you had to use the narrow AKG microphone clip that came with it to mount it correctly. Inevitably this specialist piece of gear would either go missing, wear out or break, meaning you had to try to find a microphone clip that would suitably hold the microphone or resort to wrapping the shaft of the microphone in tape until it became thick enough to fit into a standard microphone clip (something which I’ve done many times). This resulted in the original D112 often being tricky to mount precisely.
As with all microphones, accurate placement is key to getting the sound you want, but with kick drum microphones it’s even more crucial as many of them exploit the proximity effect to enhance the bottom end of the signal, which means even a variance of a few centimetres can change the sound.
So the MKII is similar to the original insofar as the stand mount projects down from the centre of the microphone, however it now houses a standard screw thread enabling it to be connected directly to the microphone stand, obviating the need for a clip. The XLR connector projects from the side and front of this shaft, and the stand mount locks solid in the vertical position and can allow the microphone to swivel backwards up to 90º to accommodate the positioning of the microphone stand at various angles. The joint is reassuringly stiff, suggesting that once positioned it is unlikely to wander.
AKG has clearly decided when it comes to the key performance characteristics of the microphone that if it ain’t broken then there’s no need to fix it. The specs of the MKII are almost identical to the original – the bandwidth is 20 to 17,000Hz, the sensitivity is 1.8mV/Pa, the recommended load impedance is 2k Ohms and the electrical impedance is 210 Ohms (the only figure that differs from the original, which was 200 Ohms). Like its predecessor it can handle levels in excess of 160dB SPL before distortion occurs, it has a cardioid polar pattern and the frequency response trace and polar plots are identical to the original.
The microphone was easy to mount on a short boom stand and straightforward to position. I tried it out at two very different gigs – one was in a small London venue and the other was a large outdoor festival.
In the small venue it sounded pretty good as soon as I brought the fader up; it just needed a little boost at 50Hz to bring out the bottom end (due to the less than stellar bottom end of the PA system). That was all the EQ I required to get a solid kick drum sound that worked well with pop, rock and indie bands.
At the large outdoor festival I had a small issue with positioning the microphone as the kit was sitting very close to the front of the rolling riser, which prevented me from placing the microphone stand on the riser. I always prefer to place the microphone stand on the riser because it ensures the microphone stays in position when it’s wheeled out, but in this instance the microphone stand had to be placed on the floor in front of the riser.
When I brought the fader up it sounded good on the large system (an Adamson E12 line array with T12 subs), presenting a solid bottom end, a smooth middle and a well defined top end; the only EQ I applied was a cut in the lower mid region (i.e. 200 to 400Hz) to make it a bit punchier. In this instance I used it in conjunction with a boundary microphone placed inside the kick drum, which I typically use to add a little more of the ‘click’ of the beater sound, but for this show I found myself relying more on just the signal from the D112, which gave me most of what I needed.
So there are no real surprises here; regular users of the D112 will be unlikely to notice any difference in the sound of the MKII, while the new stand mount is a big improvement on the original design and should ensure the solid and consistent sound that has made the D112 an industry standard.
- Improved stand mount
- Bass resonance volume chamber
- Large diaphragm for delivering accurate low frequencies
- Integrated hum-compensation coil
- Also suitable for miking bass cabs and trombones
Andy Coules is a sound engineer and audio educator who has toured the world with a diverse array of acts in a wide range of genres.