DIY ‘Subkick’.

June 6, 2009

WOW I do not update this very regularly, but I plan to start. Today I’ve been working on a rather simple endeavor, but there is not a lot of information on the web about it so it took some time to figure out. As the pictures below show (sorry for the cell phone quality), I bought a Yamaha NS10 woofer, and proceeded to reverse wire it into a very large microphone. This involved some very basic soldering skills, and a little bit of reading prior to beginning. The gist of this whole idea is that many (most) dynamic microphones lack the sheer size in diaphragm to accurately translate the lowest of low end tones. The 6.5″ woofer that is usually installed in a Yamaha NS10 monitor is big enough to be a perfect candidate for the job, but not too big so as to be a big pile of mush and ill concentrated low end. Balance is key here.

One need simply cut off the female end of a microphone cable, (strip the wire) and solder pin 3 to negative and pin 2 to positive on the speaker terminal. The ground is only connected at the XLR side. Simple as that.

Now, many will know that Yamaha makes a commercial version of just such a thing. The Yamaha “Subkick” retails for around $370. The best part about this project is that it cost me $55 for the woofer, and about 10 minutes of my time to solder together.

Here is a sample of the kick drum (Premier maple), first with the microphone (Sennheiser e902 placed slightly inside), then with the woofer, and finally with both. Please don’t try to evaluate this with your laptop speakers or iPod headphones. You will need something with a subwoofer or basically anything that can produce some bit of low end. From there, the difference should be obvious.

Signal chain (very simple): mics>828mkIII>CPU. In Logic: extremely light subtractive EQ and compression, and phase inversion on the woofer.

Was it worth it? I think so..

Wade

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4 Responses to “DIY ‘Subkick’.”

  1. Wade,
    Thanks so much for the subkick info. The sound samples inspired me to make my own and I am loving the results! Check it out at
    http://jakesumner.com/2009/11/diy-subkick-mic.html

  2. wadesweatt said

    Heck yeah dude! Glad it worked out well for you!

  3. TJ Wuth said

    Nice post Wade! Have you given any thought to designing an enclosure to load the driver acoustically? With some trial and error, you might be able to developed a tuned version and then add a good quality transformer to match the impedance to make it more preamp friendly. Yamaha made their version for mass production, but if you’re going to use it on the same drum, then you might be able to optimize the design for the tone of your particular kick. Alright, I think I’ve convinced myself give your design a try. It’s just too tempting. Thanks again!

    • wadesweatt said

      TJ-

      To be honest, that sounds like a lot of work! The sound I get from this simple design seem to be all I’ll ever need. I don’t use enough of it in the mix to really get too picky about the tone. All we’re looking for here is an extended low thud.. and this one isn’t flabby at all. So, while I’m sure a designed enclosure (such as Yamaha’s) would sound ‘better’, I’m not sure if the time and effort to design, build, and test would prove to be worth the effort. In other words, this works great and I’m too lazy to try and make it better!

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