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  #1  
Old 05-16-2013, 01:47 PM
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Default DIY subkick microphone

Hello guys,

so, I decided to build another DIY subkick microphone and a few people requested me to document my work.

Principle:
Well, there's not much to say about the principle of a subkick microphone.
It's basically the same as a dynamic microphone which works with electromagnetic induction.
You've got a membran that starts to swing due to the pressure of the acoustic pressure of (in our case) a bassdrum hit. For those who are not familiar with electromagnetic induction, here's a nice wikipedia article.


My work

Why did I actually want to build a "subkick" microphone? Well, there are 2 reasons:
-1- I'm a tinkerer and love to figure out how things work and if it's possible to build them myself to see if it's either much less expensive and/or the result might be even better than the original (if there is one)
-2- I love a big, fat kick drum sound! I sometimes did a trick in my DAW that I will describe in the next chapter.


Digital alternative

Sometimes when I thought the bassdrum sounded too thin I created an aux-bus which had 2 plugins on it:
-1- an oscillator
-2- a gate

The oscillator generated a sine-wave at around 50 - 70 hz, which is really low. The gate was sidechained with the bassdrum channel (where the actual hit is).
So everytime a peak is on the real bassdrum channel, the gate is triggered.
I would start by setting the gate, so that it won't let the oscillators low sub sound through. When the bassdrum triggers the gate, it releases and adds the sine-wave to the original bassdrum.

The result was pretty ok for some kind of music but it lacks of dynamik. It always had the same volume of course and also it doesn't really fit with the "real bassdrum" in sustain etc.
It sounds "artificial". And that is something I don't like.

So, to add a low frequency to your bassdrum there are 2 commonly used methods:
-1- a filtered large diaphragm micrphone in front of the bassdrum. You've got to make sure you get the distance between the reso head and the microphone to get highest peak of the amplitude to get a full sound.
-2- a subkick microphone ....


A subkick microphone

There is a subkick microphone available on the market, the Yamaha Subkick microphone - which costs 399 in Germany.

This is a lot of money and I (and many other people before me) thought:
Why not building one myself?

So i did that, too :)


My subkick microphone

Components
I bought:
- an 8" bass-speaker on ebay: 8
- a 10"x6" millenium tom tom on ebay: 18 (it was so cheap, it doesn't even have a bearing edge)
- a neutrik xlr panel jack: 5

Makes: 31 in total.


Optics

People who know me might know that I really look for optics, I'm a little perfectionist.

So I thought that the shell looks kinda crappy with it's black wrap on it. Since I had some veneer (birdseye) left from my Sonor Force 2001 restauration I took a piece of it and wrapped it around the shell:





I also have some red stain left and I will try to get a little burst from red to natural on the shell. This should give a nice effect :)
Later I'm going to seal the shell with some clear-laquer.

To be continued....

I haven't got so far yet as I started yesterday evening veneering the shell but later today I'm going to colorize the shell so pics will follow :)

Hope you'll like my thread!

If you have any questions, feel free to message me.
I'm also willing to build you your custom subkick, haha ;)

All the best

David
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Old 05-16-2013, 02:37 PM
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Default Re: DIY subkick microphone

Hi David,

You're right, it isn't very difficult, I built one as well. I also did a short YouTube video about it, trying out 3 woofer sizes. Most of the work is making it look pretty ;-).

Good luck with your build and please post pictures!

Eric
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Old 05-16-2013, 03:17 PM
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Default Re: DIY subkick microphone

Hey David, that's a very cool DIY project, plus great info!
Just wanted to say that there's a couple more subkicks available on the market but the one by Yamaha seems to be by far the most popular. And while they're easy to make I never went for one. Your thread is inspiring!

That subkick would look awsome if stained in the same colour as your live kit. But then it wouldn't match your studio kit (a natural finish would be more 'neutral'). I think I'd go for the red version anyway.
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Old 05-16-2013, 06:34 PM
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Default Re: DIY subkick microphone

Thanks for the words!

I decided to go for the "natural" finish ...
I tried to create a burst on a sample piece but it seems pretty hard without a brush :)

Here's a pic from the first layer clear laquer:



As Arky said, in red it would fit my live kit but I guess the clear finish will fit any kit :)

Last edited by David Floegel; 05-17-2013 at 09:24 AM.
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Old 05-17-2013, 12:43 AM
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Default Re: DIY subkick microphone

Great effort there David :) I certainly heard & very much appreciated the results on your recent recording. Lovely clean bottom end - devoid of EQ mud = superb!

I use a Yamaha version (I got it for less than half price, but still more expensive than your build :( ) I use it for bigger live gigs, or gigs with a difficult room. Works perfectly with 4th order bandpass subs :) :) :)

I got to test it against a good home made version in our studio recordings late last year. The two versions were remarkably similar. I've also heard recordings made by a friend of mine who built a subkick mic using an 18" RCF driver with a 4" voice coil. The driver alone was $400!!! Totally impractical outside a studio environment, but man, did it work well!! A big step up from smaller units. I guess size really does deliver in those circumstances!!! He did remark that speaker quality made a difference too, irrespective of size. As he's the consummate audiophile, I trust his findings.

Looking forward to the finished item David :)
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Old 05-17-2013, 09:01 AM
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Default Re: DIY subkick microphone

Hi Andy,

thanks for the kind words :)

You own a yamaha subkick? Awesome - I'm looking for somebody who can borrow me his to compare it with my diy subkick when it's finished... Seems like nobody has one in my area, though..

Your friend as built an 18" subkick? Dude that's awesome :D I'd love to hear some soundsamples!
And yes, I'm certain the size makes a huge difference so I don't know why yamaha chose a 6.5" speaker?


BTW:
Here's a pic from the shell - laquering finished :)


Today I'm going to mount the XLR-jack and start building the mount for the speaker.. :)

Last edited by David Floegel; 05-17-2013 at 09:22 AM.
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Old 05-19-2013, 02:08 PM
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Default Re: DIY subkick microphone

Update

Hello friends,

in the meantime I managed to finish my subkick mic and here are the latest pictures!

Here's a little video with some sound files:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9NcFGgXr30

The chassis:

This is the chassis I mounted the speaker to. The chassis is glued to the shell.




Reso head

Ever painted a clear head black? I did! It works :)




Reso head

When I glued the chassis to the shell, I painted the edge from the shell black as well:




Mounting it together

The shell is mounted to the shell and already connected to the XLR jack



DONE :)





Looking forward for your comments :)

David
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Old 05-19-2013, 02:48 PM
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Default Re: DIY subkick microphone

Nice work there David. Really nice work.

It seems to make quite a difference to the mix. It works well with a D6 with its 'smile' curve and adds what the D6 misses in the low-end.
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Old 05-19-2013, 03:28 PM
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Default Re: DIY subkick microphone

David, that is really great work! The subkick looks super nice. Can't get much better as DIY - and what subkick available on the market has such a nice veneer?

As commented on YouTube, I think the sonic difference is subtle. But it does give more control over the bass drum sound. I suppose that some different positioning of the D6 might give a bit more low end.

Thanks for your efforts and for making that video!
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Old 05-19-2013, 06:55 PM
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Default Re: DIY subkick microphone

I love the video comparison David, & a great job on the build too. There's no doubt that the Yamaha unit is a product that's open to be equalled or bettered for a lot less money. I find the Yamaha unit can be a pain to use on budget mixing desks with little gain headroom, as it's output is quite "hot". As Arky pointed out too, the veneer job on your unit is most attractive too!

I've just uploaded this little clip especially for your thread :) It's taken from last night's gig, & recorded on a Zoom Q3. Not the best reference, as there's a distinct roll off around 60Hz on the Zoom. This clip straight from the camera with no processing. Bass drum batter mic'd externally with a D112, Yamaha subkick on the reso. Both run flat EQ through an Allen & Heath Mixwiz 3 - no compression - then FOH through a pair of QSC KW153's & a pair of Logic System 18" 4th order bandpass subs (total about 5Kw RMS). Camera gaffer taped to the bar - hence the chatter :(

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=giJu_...=youtu.be&hd=1



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Old 05-19-2013, 07:21 PM
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Default Re: DIY subkick microphone

David, thank you for all the work you put in for the creation of this thread. Great stuff. I'm looking forward to the rest of it. I have a 8" tom shell that will never see any set time, I don't do 8" toms. Do you think I could build a subkick with that, or IYO is a 10" shell the minimum size one should use for a subkick?

I'm liking your kick drum sound on that clip Andy. I'm really liking how your playing feels too.
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Old 05-19-2013, 07:54 PM
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Default Re: DIY subkick microphone

I don't want to derail your thread, but this was my attempt at a sub kick mic: www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPwHDZbUWpc&hd=1

The mix was a little less than subtle, I admit. Should have mixed it on my studio monitors instead of pc speakers...

Nonetheless, you can use a spare 8" tom, mount a decent speaker in it (I would recommend around 6"), solder an XLR cable to it and there you have your subfrequency mic.
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Old 05-19-2013, 08:11 PM
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Default Re: DIY subkick microphone

Quote:
Originally Posted by BacteriumFendYoke
Nice work there David. Really nice work.

It seems to make quite a difference to the mix. It works well with a D6 with its 'smile' curve and adds what the D6 misses in the low-end.
Thanks man! Glad you like it!
Yes, I always thought that the D6 makes a great punchy, attacky bassdrum sound but lacks a bit of low end.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Arky
David, that is really great work! The subkick looks super nice. Can't get much better as DIY - and what subkick available on the market has such a nice veneer?

As commented on YouTube, I think the sonic difference is subtle. But it does give more control over the bass drum sound. I suppose that some different positioning of the D6 might give a bit more low end.

Thanks for your efforts and for making that video!
Thank you - I like the veneer a lot and in real life it looks way better than on the picture!

I once pulled back the d6 a bit more towards the reso head. The difference was just a minor change on the low end side..


Quote:
Originally Posted by keep it simple
I love the video comparison David, & a great job on the build too. There's no doubt that the Yamaha unit is a product that's open to be equalled or bettered for a lot less money. I find the Yamaha unit can be a pain to use on budget mixing desks with little gain headroom, as it's output is quite "hot". As Arky pointed out too, the veneer job on your unit is most attractive too!

I've just uploaded this little clip especially for your thread :) It's taken from last night's gig, & recorded on a Zoom Q3. Not the best reference, as there's a distinct roll off around 60Hz on the Zoom. This clip straight from the camera with no processing. Bass drum batter mic'd externally with a D112, Yamaha subkick on the reso. Both run flat EQ through an Allen & Heath Mixwiz 3 - no compression - then FOH through a pair of QSC KW153's & a pair of Logic System 18" 4th order bandpass subs (total about 5Kw RMS). Camera gaffer taped to the bar - hence the chatter :(

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=giJu_...=youtu.be&hd=1
Andy, thank you for the kind words!
Actually, my subkick is pretty hot as well! Thankfully, my Mackie desk has a pretty high headroom (up to +10db) but if I would pull up the gain-knob just a bit it would clip.
I thought about building a -20db pad into the shell - maybe I'll add that one later :)

Thank you for uploading the clip! It sounds fantastic!! I would love to hear the subkick stand alone. Are you able to record a sample stand alone someday?


Quote:
Originally Posted by larryace
David, thank you for all the work you put in for the creation of this thread. Great stuff. I'm looking forward to the rest of it. I have a 8" tom shell that will never see any set time, I don't do 8" toms. Do you think I could build a subkick with that, or IYO is a 10" shell the minimum size one should use for a subkick?
Thanks larry!
I think the rule is: The bigger the speaker, the more low end you can get. I think it definitely depends on the sound you want to get and how much low end your bassdrum produces itself. I would definitely try it out - get a 6.5" speaker and check if you like the sound. If you do, mount it to the speaker.
In the video eric_B posted you can hear the differences between the sizes!


Quote:
Originally Posted by eric_B
I don't want to derail your thread, but this was my attempt at a sub kick mic: www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPwHDZbUWpc&hd=1
Thank you for the post - actually, this was exactly the video that made me choose an 8" speaker :)



Thanks all for the posts :)
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Old 05-19-2013, 08:37 PM
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Default Re: DIY subkick microphone

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Floegel View Post
Actually, my subkick is pretty hot as well! Thankfully, my Mackie desk has a pretty high headroom (up to +10db) but if I would pull up the gain-knob just a bit it would clip.
I thought about building a -20db pad into the shell - maybe I'll add that one later :)

Thank you for uploading the clip! It sounds fantastic!! I would love to hear the subkick stand alone. Are you able to record a sample stand alone someday?
hot = yes! A pad is a good idea for universal use. Luckily our A&H desk can take +16db, & if we line in rather than XLR (mic), then +26db, so plenty of headroom.

As for a stand alone recording, I'm sorry, I just don't have the gear. Maybe I can link the Q3 to the A&H, I'll look into that. I don't do home recording, I'm just not set up for it. I use the subkick to give me more control live. It's really useful for that. It also allows for really good live capture without porting the reso :)

That clip is with my Spaun bass drum. I had to pull it out of retirement to carry me over the next few gigs. Man, did I notice the difference in sub frequency production between the Spaun & the Guru. Night & day, & that really becomes apparent when engaging the subkick. With the Guru, I had to be really careful about how much subkick I let into the live mix. So much so, that I used the subkick far less with the Guru than I do with the Spaun.
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Old 05-20-2013, 10:16 AM
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Default Re: DIY subkick microphone

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Floegel View Post
Thank you for the post - actually, this was exactly the video that made me choose an 8" speaker :)
OK, glad I could be of help ;-).
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Old 05-20-2013, 09:23 PM
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Default Re: DIY subkick microphone

I've been waiting for someone like you to come along to show me how to do this properly!

Been going on at the guys at my studio to have a crack at building one.

And I agree with the others, your finish is far more attractive than Yamaha'sbso well done!

Your digital sine/sub idea was a bit wacky. how about just using two seperate bass drums, triggerd together?
send them to their own bus channels, EQ you main as normal then EQ the sub by pulling the top out of it. You could use a multipband comp to get a steady low end although I think it'd be more natural without.
Then, just automate the sub channel if you ever need more or less 'ooomph'.
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Old 05-21-2013, 08:58 AM
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Default Re: DIY subkick microphone

Quote:
Originally Posted by keep it simple View Post
hot = yes! A pad is a good idea for universal use. Luckily our A&H desk can take +16db, & if we line in rather than XLR (mic), then +26db, so plenty of headroom.

As for a stand alone recording, I'm sorry, I just don't have the gear. Maybe I can link the Q3 to the A&H, I'll look into that. I don't do home recording, I'm just not set up for it. I use the subkick to give me more control live. It's really useful for that. It also allows for really good live capture without porting the reso :)

That clip is with my Spaun bass drum. I had to pull it out of retirement to carry me over the next few gigs. Man, did I notice the difference in sub frequency production between the Spaun & the Guru. Night & day, & that really becomes apparent when engaging the subkick. With the Guru, I had to be really careful about how much subkick I let into the live mix. So much so, that I used the subkick far less with the Guru than I do with the Spaun.
I'll try and see if I can add something like a pad the next days/weeks.
Don't worry about the home-recording Andy, I'm sure I can find anyone in germany who owns a subkick someday!
If your Q3 has an input though, you can use a direct out from your A&H with an Adapter. I'm sure it has 2 outs for monitors or something. Since you would only use 1 output to the q3 it would be mono then - but who cares?

I noticed that the Guru drums have a lot of low end when I played them at LDS - and I love it!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Chunky - Hellraizer
I've been waiting for someone like you to come along to show me how to do this properly!
Been going on at the guys at my studio to have a crack at building one.
And I agree with the others, your finish is far more attractive than Yamaha'sbso well done!

Your digital sine/sub idea was a bit wacky. how about just using two seperate bass drums, triggerd together?
send them to their own bus channels, EQ you main as normal then EQ the sub by pulling the top out of it. You could use a multipband comp to get a steady low end although I think it'd be more natural without.
Then, just automate the sub channel if you ever need more or less 'ooomph'.
Is there a right or wrong? haha :) Thank you anyway!
I'm glad you like my work.

what do you mean with 2 seperate bass drums? Do you mean recording the same bassdrum twice and eq'ing it differently?
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Old 05-23-2013, 01:33 AM
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Default Re: DIY subkick microphone

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Floegel View Post
I'll try and see if I can add something like a pad the next days/weeks.
Don't worry about the home-recording Andy, I'm sure I can find anyone in germany who owns a subkick someday!
If your Q3 has an input though, you can use a direct out from your A&H with an Adapter. I'm sure it has 2 outs for monitors or something. Since you would only use 1 output to the q3 it would be mono then - but who cares?

I noticed that the Guru drums have a lot of low end when I played them at LDS - and I love it!




Is there a right or wrong? haha :) Thank you anyway!
I'm glad you like my work.

what do you mean with 2 seperate bass drums? Do you mean recording the same bassdrum twice and eq'ing it differently?
Oh I think you'd agree there was a wrong if you saw me try to make one of those!

What I meant was, if you're using Superior drummer 2 get your bass drum sound as usual then, load in an x-drum and pick a bigger bass drum, EQ it for that low end thump. You'll have to copy and paste the bass drum line off your performance (or sequencing) and place both bass drum psrts on each key so they go at the same time. Or you could map it so both kicks go off when you hit your kick tower.

Best they have theirbown channel for morw control. Mess with the velocity settings, maybe have them alot lower on the secons kick so you get thud but less kick or just EQ it out. and dial it in as you please. It's alot easier than I made it sound!

Personally I don't need to do this much. I just learned it out of boredom. With acoustic kits I'd throw an old bass drum infront of the main kick andbuse it as a sub and place an extra mic there.
Looks horrible but it works!
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Old 05-23-2013, 08:12 AM
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Default Re: DIY subkick microphone

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Floegel View Post
Don't worry about the home-recording Andy, I'm sure I can find anyone in germany who owns a subkick someday!
If your Q3 has an input though, you can use a direct out from your A&H with an Adapter. I'm sure it has 2 outs for monitors or something. Since you would only use 1 output to the q3 it would be mono then - but who cares?

I noticed that the Guru drums have a lot of low end when I played them at LDS - and I love it!
I'll experiment with that when (if) I get a bit of time david :)
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