There are big saving to be had pick ’n’ mixing your own drum mic combination. Henry Brister creates his own magnum Opus.
I jumped at the chance to check out this ‘Drumset kit’ from Beyer when AT’s editor rang out of the blue. After collecting the case from Camperdown (Sydney) I tootled into town to immediately begin setting up for a gig – I had a headline to do in a city club, and was more than happy to be carrying clip mics of my own to supplement the usually meagre supply of mics and stands I knew I would find.
Before soundcheck could be started, a fair amount of work had to be done to the PA, so by showtime I was mainly concerned with the basics. And anyway, the front of house desk was side of stage, so I won’t mention it any further (go Sydney!). Suffice it to say that the microphones ‘worked’ that night!
The Opus Drumset pack supplied for this review came with an Opus99 dynamic kick drum mic, an M201 (all-purpose dynamic), two each of Opus87 and Opus88 drum condensers, and three MC930 pencil-style condensers. There are various permutations of this kit available so it’s up to you to decide how you’ll mix and match your own. (Go to either of the websites listed at the end of this article to find out more on this.)
I took the Opus Drumset to several other gigs and a few studios over the following days to check them out, and the initial reaction of most engineers was ‘respect’ for the 201 (a genuine classic) – and interest in the tom mics. Everyone always wants to see the latest development in drum clip technology. Admit it. It’s like the space race – no matter how many different attachment methods are dreamt up, there are always new designs involving everything from home-machined jobs to funky designs of all sorts. There are seemingly innumerable ways to attach a microphone to a drum (or other instrument), and we’re going to try every one of them, by god!
Beyer has waded into the fray with a sturdy-looking, heavily-sprung moulded plastic clip that neatly houses the integral XLR plug – no extra fragile wires trailing around the kit for me to step on and destroy! A great design I reckon. I’d been keen to check out these clips since a recent chat with an in-house tech in the UK (while I was on tour there recently), and both the Opus87 and 88 were worth the wait. Did I say ‘heavily sprung’? Well, believe me, I mean it! I don’t expect these to come off on the middle of a gig… ever. They will clamp onto anything from about 13 to 32mm wide, and pipe up to about 25mm. They grip so well, that just a bit of tape on a vertical mic stand is enough to allow secure and substantial connection – impressive.
The Opus87 has a gooseneck and the 88 a right-angle attachment that swings through about 270° – the capsule itself does not rotate (use the gooseneck if you want to rotate the capsule). Otherwise the capsules seem identical. Except for the fact that one of the review models was missing its foam – it had a cracked blue retainer (presumably from a stick hit), so some spare foams and retainers would be worth investing in as well – the caps are available as a spare for around four bucks.
I’ve got to admit to a bit of condenser weariness these days – there are so many makes and models on the market, and even though these Beyers are a good quality product from a very reputable brand, their attractiveness (to me) lay mainly in their rugged construction and compact package. I’m a sucker for sintered caps, and the ones on these mics look tough and unobtrusive. The mics themselves sound smooth and classy, and I was able to get a good, rocking, full kit sound using a pair of the MC930s as overheads – which incidentally have two small switches in the body for –15dB pad and bass roll off.
Lastly, we come to the kick drum mic, the Opus99, which comes supplied with a compact stand made out of two screw-together pieces (a T-bar and a pole) that, I must say, is not the most versatile stand I’ve ever encountered. The Opus99 looks pretty cool; almost like a truncated EV RE20 dressed in black with chrome mesh. The cradle is of the tubular rubber type. I have to say I was not overly impressed with the performance of the kick drum mic, mainly because it assumes that all bass drums come with a ready-made hole for a mic. It didn’t respond well to ‘no hole’ bass drums – it was difficult to find the sweet spot and this problem was compounded by the ST99 stand. For outside kick drum miking duties the stand really needs to be set aside and replaced by a regular one – no big drama really. But for mine the Opus99 is not quite the mic I had anticipated it being. It did not respond well to EQ and I’m sorry to say I would rather the old ’88 any day…
The standout mic (for its sound and mechanical functionality) was definitely the Opus87 – I would love to have a few of those in my kit, that’s for sure… and an M201 is really very desirable as well – even a couple of the M930’s wouldn’t go astray. Oh, I can’t decide! I feel a bit like a kid in a lolly shop; there’s just so much to choose from! Given that the Drumset comes in a customisable set determined by you, chances are you’ll be able to mix and match just the right collection if you play your cards right. Beyer mics are quality products and apart from my preference for my trusty Beyer M88 on kick drum, all of these mics sounded pretty good to me.
• Audio Telex
Phone: (02) 9647 1411
• There are four basic sets available:
S: $1199; M: $1999; L: $2699
and XXL: $4599