You are here

Earthworks DM6

Capacitor Microphone By Sam Inglis
Published June 2024

Earthworks DM6

Can Earthworks’ new kick mic provide a secure foundation for your drum sound?

This may be heresy, but I don’t always feel that mic choice is a make‑or‑break decision. What mic you use is often less important than where you put it. However, if there’s one exception to this, it’s the big round thing that we inexplicably call a kick drum. Despite endless variety in terms of tuning, drum size, type of heads and so on, mic choice always seems to make a big difference — and if you get it wrong, no amount of EQ ever seems to make it right.

Over the years, I’ve tried most of the usual suspects, and I’ve never quite achieved bass drum nirvana. Mics not specifically designed for the role tend to sound boxy or flabby, whilst dedicated kick‑drum models either scoop the sound too much, or make every bass drum sound the same. So I was intrigued to see whether Earthworks’ new DM6 could bring a smile to my face.

Lining Up

Like all Earthworks mics, the DM6 is a small‑diaphragm capacitor mic, but it eschews the conventional ‘pencil’ shape for a short, stubby form factor that somehow looks more appropriate to its intended role. The construction is ironclad, with a heavy‑duty black grille and a housing made from Earthworks’ trademark polished steel. It comes with the superb Triad‑Orbit M2‑R ball‑and‑socket mount, which allows the mic to be rotated on any axis and clamped securely in place.

The DM6 is officially a supercardioid mic, and has a deliberately low sensitivity of 1mV/Pa that befits its likely use in high‑SPL contexts. The published polar plot suggests a supremely well‑behaved directional response at frequencies from 125Hz up, while the frequency response chart shows a shelving rise below 100Hz that is about 9dB up at 30Hz, a broad dip in the midrange which is about 8dB down at 300Hz, and a wide, flat presence boost extending from about 2kHz to 10kHz or more. Earthworks say that the curve “represents typical frequency response, as experienced with DM6 positioned just inside bass drum port, diaphragm aligned with resonant head”. This doesn’t mean it was measured inside a drum, just that the measurement was taken at less than the standard 1m, reflecting the fact that this mic will typically be used close up. Self‑noise is listed as 20dB (A‑weighted), which is very much a non‑issue inside a bass drum, and standard 48V phantom power is required. Unlike some Earthworks models, the DM6 doesn’t max out the available phantom current, demanding only a reasonable 6.5mA.

Slide Into My DMs

Earthworks suggest placing the DM6 in a port hole, with the diaphragm roughly parallel with the resonant head, and that was mainly where I used it during the review period. If you want to go further in, the mic itself is compact enough, but having the mount sticking out at right angles can make threading it through a small port awkward. In practice, it’s quite forgiving of exact placement, and its well‑behaved supercardioid pattern means there’s rarely any need to shove the DM6 right into the drum in search of better isolation. I also tried it as an ‘outside kick’ mic, in which role it worked nicely.

The DM6 seemed to capture an extra octave at the low end that was simply missing on the dynamic mic.

The review DM6 arrived in time for a weekend session with a band, so I threw it straight into action in the recommended spot. In the interests of science, I then swapped it out for my much‑loved beyerdynamic M88 in the same position (which would be my usual choice). The difference was not subtle. Most notably, the DM6 seemed to capture an extra octave at the low end that was simply missing on the dynamic mic, yet unlike other ‘sculpted’ mics I’ve tried, it remained punchy and fast, with no overhang or ringing. It hollowed out the midrange to pretty much exactly the right extent, and made the click of the beater audible without over‑emphasising it.

In short, then, the DM6 pulls off the neat trick of delivering a ‘mix‑ready’ sound whilst simultaneously sounding natural, inasmuch as that term is appropriate for sound captured somewhere you’d never want to put your ears. Sonically, Earthworks have steered the narrow path between box and basketball, and I think the DM6 will be especially valuable for live‑sound engineers. It’s a bulletproof, universally applicable bass‑drum mic you can put up in the knowledge that it’ll sound good on any kit with minimal intervention at the desk. If this isn’t kick‑drum nirvana, it’s certainly a new plane of enlightenment.

Summary

A classy kick‑drum mic that offers a mix‑ready yet versatile sound with minimal fuss.

Information

£399 including VAT.

Studiocare +44 (0)151 236 7800.

www.studiocare.com

www.earthworksaudio.com

Sweetwater Affiliate logo 14px