Electro-Voice N/D868
Cardiod Dynamic Bass
Drum Microphone
(Photo Below)

By Mark Farmer
With so many newly designed microphones every year it might take a little research to learn which mic works best in certain applications. EV has simplified those choices by releasing a microphone dedicated to kick drums. Although, kick drum mics are not plentiful in the pro audio industry. I know of less than a dozen that are widely placed on contract riders or used in the field. EV has jumped into the ring as a new contender in kick drum microphones with their new N/D868.
FEATURES
The 868 has been designed with maximum rear sound rejection and peak input of 140dB plus. The mic measures 5.22 inches tall, 2.31 inches wide and weighs 10.4 ounces with a frequency response of 20Hz to 10kHz. A polar pattern termed “Cardioid Variant” by EV, meaning the mic has multiple pattern responses depending upon placement. A large suspended diaphram is housed inside a tightly woven black metal screen. Also, a foam windscreen is affixed inside to reduce pops and wind noise. The body of the mic is covered with a black rubberized coating similar to the EV N/D handheld microphones(N/D 357-757). A gold plated 3-pin male XLR connector is mounted within the mic clip(supplied) mounting shaft area. One nice touch by EV is a card with the actual measured frequency response of each N/D868 microphone shipped. I have seen these cards in more expensive mics like the AKG 414, versus the street price of $260.00 for the N/D868
The measured plot shows a high end roll off beginning around 5kHz, a wide midrange dip(“smile”) about 500Hz. A rise begins at 200Hz from 0dB(flat) and extends out to 50Hz with a maximum increase of 7dB. This graph response emulates at the source what is normally done to kick drum channel equalization. By doing so, EV has established correct reproduction at the source in lieu of formulating one via the mixing console.
The “Cardioid Variant” pattern in the mic element features diverse tonality and sound depending on the distance to the drum head and beater. According to EV optimum performance, with the 868, is achieved by placing the mic centered inside the kick drum about 3” from the beater head. As with any new microphone, it should not take any time to find correct placements(sweet spots) with extended use.
IN USE
One of my first tests with any microphone is to see how my own voice is reproduced through the shortest console path possible. Using a good pair of headphones and no channel EQ I can accurately listen to my screams and spoken words. In this case, the EV N/D868 developed my voice into a rich, full, and charismatic sound, similar to a DJ voice on a Top 40 radio station. Typically there are many variables in live sound so it was a pleasure not working like a madman on channel equalization to achieve the desired result. After placing the mic just inside the hole of a jazz kick drum, it took a few moves to find the best sounding spot inside different size kick drums. After each use, it became effortless with channel EQ to achieve the preferred sound.
Two moves within the hole of a rock kick drum gave me the hard hitting boom and click I was looking for. The sound was more quickly achieved by placing the entire mic inside the kick. As a comparison, I put the N/D868 up against a few of my favorite kick microphones, the Beyer M88, a Sennheiser 421, and the Shure Beta 52. The 868 had smooth sounding midrange similar to the M88, and the large fat low end of the Beta 52. Although, in my use, I felt the 868 was missing a bit of the gentle high-end snap of the 421. Although, more comprehensive use of the 868 might prove the snap is attainable.
Through the monitor board, no major feedback problems occurred in drum wedges as I was able to achieve high volume and a nice natural sound. Reductions in the 31 band EQ at 100Hz and around 125kHz, allowed more volume with the mic completely inside the kick drum itself. High drum wedge volume levels can sometimes be difficult with a mic deep inside a kick drum but because the 868 has such a tight pattern no problems occurred.
As an experiment, I made a board mix of a band using the N/D 868 as their kick mic. A very distinct and natural kick tone stood out in the board tape even with the 868 channel EQ flat.
SUMMARY
With the N/D868 EV has produced a great addition to the kick drum market placing itself in the top 5 over a dozen others in the trade. There is an admirable quality in the low end of this mic I am partial to and its ability to naturally manufacture the correct kick drum tone at the mic and not at the console.

Mark Farmer is the head sound engineer with Live Technologies Columbus, Ohio and a regular contributer to Pro Audio Review. He can be reached via the internet: mixthat@columbus.rr.com

PRODUCT POINTS
EV N/D868 Cardiod Dynamic Bass Drum Microphone

PLUS
+
Low end reproduction
+Dynamic Range
+Low Cost
+Versatile sound
+2 Year Warranty
MINUS
-
None
AT-A-GLANCE
Application: sound reinforcement and studios
Key Features: sound quality, high SPL input, natural reproduction
Price: $370.00 List
$260.00 Street