February 2010 Issue
Road Tests

Heil HDK-8 Drum Mic Kit

Heil HDK-8 Drum Mic Kit
OMG!!!!!! Heil drum mics are my new BFF!!!!!
Now that I've made myself sound like a Valley Girl, I'll try to compose myself and act like the audio professional that I am. (Hah!)
On a more serious note, the test piece, or pieces, for this month is the Heil HDK-8 drum mic package. Now, you and I both know that one can easily get carried away and spend a small fortune on microphones, especially drum mics. All those expensive condensers, the micro tom mics, the dynamic tom mics, and the list goes on. Now this package has eight mics in it, hence the 8 in HDK-8. The kit consists of two PR22s, three PR28s, two PR30Bs, one PR48, three tom mounts and one wicked-cool case.


Kick Drum


Let's start with the kick drum mic. At the church I use an Audix D6 and Shure 91 in my kick. This should be a combo most of us have heard, so we'll call that the control. In goes the PR48. To start, I flatten the EQ to give it a fighting chance. The drummer that morning has been dubbed the worst drummer that I've ever loved. Good time but a very light foot. Needless to say, he needs all the help he can get. As I brought up the channel fader with the EQ flat, I was pleasantly surprised. The drum had a nice even tone, good body and just enough attack to keep it present in the mix.


Kinda sounds like I'm at a wine tasting, right? Bottom line: I was able to achieve with one PR48 what it took me two mics to do before. And also the EQ was essentially flat, which supports good gain structure. In the evening service, I had a drummer that plays with baseball bats and has a foot like an anvil. I wasn't as impressed with the mic with the second drummer as I was with the first. It seemed that the harder he kicked the drum, that less low end the mic produced. I found myself having to compensate on the low end with the second guy. Even so, there was still enough attack to keep me satisfied without having to use a second mic. Overall, I give the PR48 an 8 out of 10.


Snare Drum


Next, the snare drum. Control in this case is a pair of SM57s, top and bottom. Pretty standard. I know that Heil put two PR22s in the package intending on one being snare drum and one for high hat. I opted to use them both on the snare drum. All I can say is..... wait, I can't say that in writing. Let's just put it this way, OMG!!!! My new BFF!!!!!! After hearing a pair of PR22s on my snare, I'm devastated to have to give them back. Don't be surprised if the demo case accidentally has a pair of SM57s in it instead. (Just kidding.)


All joking aside, this may be one of the best snare combinations I've ever heard. Really smooth attack on the high end to make it nice and bright. It cut through the mix with ease. Had really present low end from the drum, and outside of a little high pass, absolutely no EQ. The mic also has 40dB of rear rejection so you don't hear a lot of high hat or kick drum coming through. The PR22s are easily the highlight of the whole package. I honestly can't say enough about the PR22s, in short, amazing. Overall I give the PR22s a 43 out of 10.




On to the toms. I use Sennheiser 604s, so this will be our comparison. First off, the HH1 tom clip looks really big and awkward. Although it was weird-looking, it was functional. It held the mic well and provides tons of placement options. Onto the HH1 goes a PR28. It's shock mounted in the housing, which helps cut out unwanted noise. Bottom line is that it hangs right in there with the rest of the package - with essentially no EQ outside of high pass. It has 35dB of rear rejection which helps to cut out the cymbals, especially the low-hanging ride cymbal. It's a nice complement to the rest of the package. The one criticism I have is that it is a little large and seems to get in the way of the drummer ever so slightly. Overall the PR28 gets a 7 of 10.




The last two mics in the package are the PR30Bs. Our control is an SM81. (With all this talk of "control" I feel like I'm on an episode of Mythbusters.) The PR30B is a cool piece. Although it looks like a large diaphragm condenser, it is a dynamic mic. It has an "end fire" capsule, so you point it at the cymbal accordingly. I'm trying to come up with a good adjective for this one so as to not sound redundant.


Again, kudos to Heil - no EQ save for the high pass. Due to the fact that it is dynamic and not condenser, it isn't picking up the entire drum kit as much as it's picking up the cymbal it's pointing at. And along those same lines, it doesn't have the excessive high end that is present in most condensers. The tone is very full, with nearly the perfect amount of presence to where you can really push the brass in the mix and not have to cotton swab your ears or have a whole drum kit coming with it. Overall, the PR30B gets a 9 of 10.


In closing, I believe that Heil has done a spot-on job with this drum mic package. But I've left the best part for last. The package costs a mere $1,495. The combination of mics I usually use cost well north of double that. When I consider this package for the price that they are selling it for, it simply can't be beat. I would gladly give a portion of my manhood to keep this demo package and not give it back. If you're in the hunt for drum mics, look no further. Go buy an HDK-8. If your boss, soundco owner, pastor, wife, brother, uncle, grandpa, neighbor, friend, enemy, or postman ask why you should buy the HDK-8, tell them that I said so. Happy trails.




Heil HDK-8 Drum Mic Kit




Pros: Excellent sound on kick and cymbals. Maybe the best snare mic ever. Needs almost no EQ.


Cons: Tom mounts are a bit unwieldy and the mics themselves got in the way a bit.


How Much: $1,495




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