The subkick microphone phenomenon has been with us for a while now and it seems like you won’t find a tracking session without one anymore. It all started due to the burning desire to get more bottom end from the kick drum without having to crank up the low-end EQ. That being said, the trend is not a new idea by any means, as engineer Geoff Emerick first tried this on Beatles records (“Rain” and “Paperback Writer”) in the ’60s using a speaker cabinet instead of the raw speaker that we see today.
While you can certainly buy a pre-made subkick microphone (Yamaha makes the SKRM-100 – which is actually a speaker mounted inside a drum shell, the DW Moon Mic, or Solomon Mics LofReQ), you can build one a lot cheaper.
The speaker is really a big deal, but not for the reason why you might think. Hugh Robjohns covered this nicely in a Sound On Sound article a while back, but the idea is that the size of the speaker doesn’t matter nearly as much as its free-air resonance. That’s what’s actually generating a good deal of the subkick sound you hear, and it’s also why some speakers sound way better than others.
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