Mic'ing a snare drum is always a challenge, because it's hard to avoid bleed from the hi-hat. I've developed a preference for not very sensitive, super or hypercardioid dynamics, because they seem to pick up the least hi-hat. Nonetheless, I was a bit surprised when my friends at Godel String studio in Brooklyn recommended the old Sennheiser MD 409 on a snare. It's a classic that people love on guitar cabinets, and I'd seen Pink Floyd sing through them on Live at Pompeii, and I even like it on banjo, but I never would have thought to try it on snare. As it fits my criteria for a snare mic, I gave it a try and was impressed. It turns out to be a cool snare mic that cuts through a mix and successfully avoids picking up excessive hi-hat bleed, but it does need a bit of EQ'ing to adjust for its odd frequency response. After a few sessions with it, I realized that the e 609 should have the same advantages but hopefully without the challenges of the MD 409. On my first try, I found that my suspicions were right; it got the full frequency response of the snare drum that the MD 409 had missed, and it too nicely avoids the hi-hat. I'd never been excited enough by the e 609 as a guitar cabinet mic to spend $110 (street), but for snare alone, it's turned out to be a great and affordable new option in my mic locker. I might find a use for it on a guitar cabinet someday too, but it certainly won't give the weird old-radio quality of the MD 409 on the banjo. ($154 MSRP; www.sennheiser.com)

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

Or Learn More