Questions From The Community #1 - Kick Drum Mics, Interfaces and more

As many of you are aware, we recently debuted the community for JZ Mics via Facebook which all JZ Microphone owners are invited to participate within and post, communicate and engage with our community as well as benefit from many perks we’re finalizing the final details of.


In the meantime, I’ve had a flurry of questions from all of you regarding all our mics and how to use them, as well as some general ones about things like interfaces, and preamps in general.


So without further ado, let's dive in!


What JZ Mic is best as an Outside Kick Drum Microphone?


This has been asked a few times by several members of the community and in all honesty, it's a pretty subjective answer based around a couple of things, although there are some broad strokes that pertain to one or two specific mics.


Let's look at the few variables you have to consider:

  • The size of the kick drum and its depth
  • The type of player
  • The room can sometimes have an effect depending on...
  • How close you are to the kick drum and..
  • The vibe you’re going for

Depending on what you’re after as well in terms of the overall song as well, that can also greatly determine the mic you’re after, for example; Adam Greenspan loves the V11 on Toms, but I find it harder to tame the low end personally so I reach for the Amethyst. The Amethyst and the V67 are overall what I’d say would be the ‘Best’ mic to try on outside kick if you’re unsure what sort of sound you’re typically looking for, or if you need versatility in the mix. But the V11 is a great choice too for those who want the clarity but more ‘depth’ in the low end of the kick as it captures the sub low content phenomenally well. I actually love the Black Hole series as well but it’s specific to using a larger kick drum so I compensate for the extra low-end aggression typically found in a larger shell size.

If you’d like to see a comparison on this like I’ve done with the vocal shootout, and guitar cab comparison, then please let me know in the Facebook community group!


What are the best Interface Preamps?

Again, like most questions pertaining to audio engineering, this is pretty subjective but there are a few companies that standout of the crowd, but first we need to address what ‘the best’ means.


If you saw the recent Interface Preamp Comparison video I’ve done, I stated that the main thing I am looking for in a interface preamp is for it to be a linear as possible - a large dynamic range, extremely low self noise, and as little colouration as possible making it as clean as it can be within reason. In the sub £1000 range, it’s going to be difficult to find something that's exactly what I’m after, but I have 3 interfaces I like for several different reasons or situations I find myself in, all of which perform in a pleasing way and allow me to utilize my outboard preamps that have a very specific sound I’m chasing without colouring the sound drastically once the signal hits the interface.


If, however, you are looking for something a little more ‘prosumer’ then I would always recommend Antelope or Universal Audio depending on what you’re after. Antelope are definitely the interface you’d likely find in most commercial studios across the globe currently due to the ultra-linear preamps, the intuitive design and D-SUB connections, as well as the ability to track using their software plugins directly from the interface itself. The Universal Apollo is second simply due to the price and slightly less linearity in their preamp sound, but they still outclass the competition with their DSP software which you can again track with while using the interface and in the higher ranges also have D-SUB connectivity - so if forced to choose the ‘best’ I would say one of them, but again I have my Focusrite which I love and likely won’t change for a number of years due to the features it offers, the already very linear preamps, and similar features in the controller software to the top competitors on the market.

Why don’t Interfaces have say Neve or API designed Preamps Directly in the interface design? Wouldn’t that be simpler?


It definitely would be simpler, but right now the limits of technology mean it’s not possible currently and for one very simple reason - space.


The 1073 is a staple of many studios all over the world, it’s given countless bands ‘their’ sound, and it’s helped many engineers achieve the sound in their heads with very little stress. However, the design of this preamp, although not overly complex, means it needs some pretty bulky components within the design, and that makes it rather difficult to compact down into a single channel within an interface. The same could be said about API who use Op-Amp preamps designs to achieve their sound, but also use transformers like the Neve which make it unable to compact down to more than say a 500 Series lunchbox style size.


If these preamps were integrated into an interface it’d likely make the interface the same depth as a fairchild 660/670 compressor (which if you weren’t aware, are massive for a single piece of audio equipment). However, one company has kind of solved this problem which is Cranborne who’ve designed an interface as part of a 500 Series lunchbox housing which allows for 8 slots of 500 series components. I’d argue this is a much better way to go about the problem too as you can simply swap out the 500 Series slots depending on the sound you’re after (if you have several manufactures and preamp designs), whereas if these designs were built directly into an interface, you’d have to use a totally different interface if you wanted to use any other sort of preamp design.


As always, if you have more questions, please feel free to fire them my way to my email (harri@jzmic.com) or post them within the community, where either I, or a member of the community is bound to have the answers and guidance you’re looking for!