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difference SM 57/Beta 52A vs PG 56/PG52 - Djembefola - Djembe Forum

Discuss gear and techniques for recording and stage performance
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  • 10 posts
User avatar
By Djembe-nerd
I was thinking of buying mics for performances and recording. Although, the SM57 is a work horse and a gem and Beta 52A comes with the package I was looking at, I came across these PG series, which is marketed as a economical option.

Here is a comparison in the frequency responses

SM 57 - 40 to 15,000 Hz
PG 56 - 50 to 15,000 Hz

Beta 52A (sold with SM 57 pack) - 20 to 10,000 Hz
PG 52 - 30 to 13,000 Hz

Is this difference in frequency major or minor ?
User avatar
By Carl

I'm afraid it's a bit more complicated than that, while frequency response is a good indicator of the quality of a mic, in our world (the djembe world) amplitude capture is also a concern. Some mics record better at various amplitudes (volume).

Personally I would go with Sure for performance, there is also rode which is a reasonable competitor. I would look into amplitude specs for the various mics and compare that with price.

As far as recording goes, it would depend on how you want to use the recording. If you are thinking of CD quality, then I would poke around at local small recording studios, and see if anyone would want to help you out. they might be able to advise you on which mic to purchase, or they may have a used one they they would be willing to part with. Usually you do not want to use a studio quality mic "on the road".

If you are thinking about "scratch demos" or recordings for your own use, then the performance level mics will probably be fine.

Finally, personal taste comes into play, so whatever sounds good to you is what you should go for. The best situation would be to work with the seller, and see if you can field test the mics and make a decision from there. (the amplification system that you are using can also influence the sound quality, so different mics through different pa's will be different...)

I would try to reproduce the real performance situation if at all possible, bring the mics to gigs and test them, or set up a space to test them in. It all depends on how much work you want to do.

Well I think I successfully answered your question without actually answering your question... hope this helps... ;-)

[From my limited studio experience, I though the sm81 sounded best, but still didn't quite capture what I was looking for. I would NOT take a sm81 on the road unless it was a pretty controlled performance space.]

User avatar
By Nodrog
Hello there,

I think a lot of it depends on what the aim of using a mic with the djembe is in the first place. If the idea is to stick a mic close to the djembe for amplification as in a live concert situation, there is a mic best suited for that. As Carl mentioned, there's a lot of sudden air movement involved when a drum is being hit and so a mic designed for that might be worth bearing in mind.

However, if the aim is to record the sound of the djembe, I have found it best to have the mic some distance away to capture the natural sound of the drum in a space. Let's face it, we don't hear the sound of a drum by sticking our ears either directly under the drum or about 4 " from the drum. In fact most folks who hear the drum are usually quite some distance away and it is this sound that I find more natural for recordings. In this case a decent pair of stereo mics might work well. As you say, a lot of it comes down to personal tastes I guess.

All the best, Gordon.
I have tried to look up on various blogs. SM 57 is being used for all the above situations, live concert (close to the head) as well as recordings. Mostly being used by drummers for close mounting. Beta 52A for the kicj drum.

I want to use SM 57 near the head and Beta 52A on the base (I don't know how to mount it but maybe just placed on the floor) for performances while playing seated and recordings.

Both the mics are from Shure, but one is cheaper. The difference looks to be in the specs, but I didn;t know how much this difference actually affects us as djembe players.
User avatar
By Nodrog
Hi there,

I'm not sure if resting the mic directly on the floor would be a good idea. It would pick up a lot of bass from that position with the added problem of possible vibrations from the floor itself. That's why I would think having the mic some distance away would give a more natural sound for recording purposes. Course, then we have the problem of how directional the mic is and what else would it be picking up. I think sometimes in a live recording a litlle bleed from other sounds is fine and helps toward the natural sound that we hear anyway in a live situation.

User avatar
By Carl
Playing seated simplifies things immensely.

For the bass, I would recommend getting one of those floor stands for the mic, basically it is a small base with just enough pole to hold the mic, when put together the mic is about 6" from the floor, I would experiment with pointing the mic down at the floor just under the opening of the drum, rather than trying to get it up in the cone... just a thought.

Mixing will become important for your final sound, knowing that the 52A is a "kick" mic tells me that it will be all "low end" and could easily muddy up your sound. Again, if you are able to take some time in "near performance" situations to test things, I think you could get the sound you are looking for.

I've experimented with a similar setup with vastly different mics (basically just the ones I had 'on hand'; not particularly high quality) and I had the floor (bass) mic at about 1/4 or less of the volume of the top mic, just enough to give some presence to the bass, but not muddy up the total sound.

I hope this helps, and I would be very interested to hear what your setup ends up being (including PA settings if you think to write it down!) :-)

OK, Iam a mechanical engineer, and electrical/electronics has always been the "hated" side. But we have to love them now since no one can survive without them :-)

I will try to get as much details I can. I only have a SM 57 right now, and there will be some more dynamic mics available at the event.
Maybe a bit late here... but here are my thoughts.

Dynamics are durable and great for isolating instruments from other noises/insturments/bad sounding room. I have a bad sounding room, so I use them when I record.

Condenser mics sound great if you have a nice large, live sounding room and no other sounds... fine a sweet spot in the room and put the mic there.

Right now I've got 3 SM57s and a Beta 52a (didn't buy the kit... got most of them used off Craig's List for 50-60 bucks). Great mics for the price. I use the 57s about 8" off the dununs pointing just off center (helps the attack not be so much, but leaves it in there). The 52a works good about 8-12" off the doundounba... the diaphram is larger and picks up more of the rich bass... the fact that it goes down to 20hz is great....adds a bit more warmth. I always do some eq work to get the sounds I want... I have to cause I'm recording in my bedroom with a horrible acoustics.

I also have started putting the 52a under the djembe (get a kick drum mic stand). I record the 57 up top and the 52 under to separate tracks. I tweak the 57 to pick up the highs and the 52 to pick up the lows. It sounds funny now listening to just the 57 track or very muddy just listening to the 52 track.. but when they combine it's rich/crisp/full sound... its nice. The 52 on the bottom really helps fill out the bass and give a nice rich/powerful tone. The 57 up top gets a lot of the attack and and crisp slaps. With a nice live room with good acoustics... one large diaphragm condenser will pick up everything nice.... but again.. I don't have a nice room. If you are playing dununs ballet style, setting up 2 57's in a xy will let you get some stereo action going on... which is great when recording. Makes a big difference in the sound and where our minds place in the instruments me are listening to. I usually record one drum at a time, each on different tracks and then adjust the pan however I'm feeling it should be.

I'm not pro recorder, nor do I master music... I just play around with what I've got and what I can afford. Sure makes good mics, and those 57s and the beta 52a will last. If you hit one with your stick, no biggie, condenser and ribbon mics wouldn't like that.

I've recently been doing a lot of studying up on recording, mics, and sound. I've always been interested but never did anything about it. Just finished up this book... really good. Home Recording for Musicians Dummies. I'm now starting into a book on logic pro so I can understand all the tools I've got a little better.

I'll try and get a recording soon of the top and bottom mics on separate tracks, and then on with them combined so you can hear the difference it makes. If you want a good sound from the djembe, and you're using dynamic mics.. you gotta mic both ends (and if you want to do overkill and the room sounds good... use two dynamics to get the attack and room condenser to add some ambient life. 3 mics for 1 drum. It's good.

OH... phase issues... if you mic above and below the djembe you might get some phasing problems. That's where the sound enters the mics at different times and the digital signal from the mics is a bit off of each other. It will cancel out some low/mid frequencies and make the recording just not sound so hot... some mics have a phase switch, sometimes it's on the preamp or in the software.. But flipping the sound wave can help if phasing is causing problems.... or adjusting the distance of the mics from the drum.
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