e 900: evolution reaches a peak

2004 saw the start of the first field tests of what was then the new ‘evolution 900’ family. This time, the developers at Sennheiser did not rely merely on measurement results and experience in electro­acoustics but also on “golden ears”: in numerous field tests, the series’ sound was adapted for professional stage use. With 3 vocal and 6 instrument microphones, the premium series covers a substantial proportion of common live applications.

The way in which the e 904 is arranged around toms and snares already makes a crucial contribution to the sound quality.

Getting to know the premium class of the evolution series has never been more affordable – because the e 904 is the microphone for the month of March. Here are three tips for the first set-up with toms and snares:

1. Where does the microphone go?

A good question. Using the handy clip, the microphone is attached directly to the rim of the drumshell. In purely acoustic terms there is hardly any position which would be more or less suitable. Many of the positions in the lower semicircle (from the perspective of the drummer) are ruled out because the mic would simply be in the way of the sticks. Precisely where you place the mic depends on the set-up of your drum kit. Ensure that you can take a relaxed position while playing and that the cymbals cannot bump against connectors. On the e 904, incidentally, the XLR connections can be turned 90 degrees – in this way the plug connections can be elegant and compact.

2. Don’t keep your head down!

The microphone head at the rim should not be oriented vertically at a 90 degree angle to the skin. In this position the mic doesn’t hear the impact but emphasizes the “singing” of the skin. In most applications, that is not the desired sound. To be able to record the “attack” sound well, align the microphone half way between the center and the edge (half of the radius). Here you will generally find a good compromise between “singing”, lingering sound and impact. If any doubt, of course, try it out and make a decision according to the style and the music.

3. Keep it nice and low

The natural enemy of the tom is the cymbal above it – and the natural enemy of the snare is the hi-hat. Only from the point of view of miking, of course. The issue is the phenomenon of bleeding, that is to say undesirable components from neighboring sound waves. For this reason, it is recommended to move the e 904 only as high as necessary on the holder device. In this way, the ratio shifts to the benefit of the tom and the snare.