PZM's as overheads?

Submitted by took-the-red-pill on Thu, 03/03/2005 - 21:39

G'day analoggers and numberjacks.

So I was reading that PZM's have no proximity effect. I understand they also have no directionality to them.

Therefore I was wondering if anyone had tried them in the role of drum overheads, and how they do in that capacity?

Seems like you'd get a situation where your overheads had the whole spectrum, with a lot of 'room' in them.



I've head of people getting good reults mounting them on a board etc. above drums. I believe, due to their design, phase problems are minimized or negated. Isn't the Beta 91 a PZM or does it just look like a PZM?? Anyway, that mic has been a touring staple for years in kick drums I believe. I've also heard of Neil Peart tapeing one to his chest as he plays for a "different" approach to recording. Also, I believe the are used with success on stages for plays, musicals and even musical purposes.

Get some! Use 'em, tell us how you like 'em, if you don't--sell em!

I've heard pzm's as overheads. it's a pretty cool sound if you use them on the ground on either side of the kit, and then spot mic everything (I generally try to use kick, snare, and two overheads on drums though?)

I would be interested in hearing pzm's in a really nice sounding room with traditional overheads (414's or the like) it could give a really wide natural sound? or atleast something cool.

I have used PZM's as overheads on drums, on piano, as room mics, and as church production mics. You can mount them on a clear piece of plexiglas approx. 1 ft. square attached to a standard Shure-type of mic clip (via epoxy), then screw that to a decent mic boom stand that can get it up in the air. You want to remember to keep the distance between the 2 mics at least 3 times the distance from the source. That is, if the mics are 3 feet above the drumset, there should be 9 feet between the mics. That isn't always practical, but get them as spaced-apart as possible. You can also put just 1 over the kit and 1 in the kick...my drummer refers to that as a "kick'n'kitty". Sounds pretty big when the skins are tuned right. PEACE.

In my old studio,there were two Crown PZM's.In the drum 'booth' there was the ability to use a piece of plexiglass under the kit(with appropriate cut-outs for the hardware spurs/pedal etc) and hung on chains above the drumset was a 10'x10' piece of plexiglass with a steel frame for rigidity.This piece could be angled,lowered,raised,eliminated,whatever.It was a great thing to place two PZM's on for drum sounds.Often in conjunction with a pair of SM81's or my favorite overhead mic,the U87....often in a stereo pair...I occasionally get out some of those old recordings and damn! There was a really good drum sound there....We were lucky to have ceiling heighth to work with.I also built clipon deadeners for this setup,so you could absolutely KILL any overhead reflections.I liked to take a Marshall stack in there,angle the 'ceiling down,deaden it and crank the crap out of the amp with three or four mics in proximity.It made a really good vocal 'area'....

These guys have pretty much summed it up. Except the Beta 91 is a boundary mic with a cardiod pattern. It is not hemispherical like the crowns. My experience with the beta 91 is that it gets good attack from an instrument, but not too good at getting the beef.

Yup, these guys are right on.

PZM's make a great overhead and kick mic. The tip about attaching them to plexiglas is great, and I'd recommend that to anyone.

One thing I'd like to add is that you can get some REALLY good PZM mics on Ebay if you know what kind to look for. The older Realistic (Radio Shack) PZM mics were made by Crown and they kick ass... and are very cheap. :wink: The only thing you have to do to them is change the cord (they use 1/4" instead of XLR) and rig them up for phantom power because they have batteries. There are a few websites out there that show you how to do this.

Anyone that is looking to get a couple PZM's should really check them out.

This is a bit of a loaded question, as I bought a realistic PZM in the old days for $50, and it has served me remarkably well.

A few years back I was monkeying around and I A-B'd my old PZM with a C-1000. Okay, not that the C-1000 is the end all, be all of the mic world. I couldn't tell the difference.

CAVEAT: the rest of the signal chain was definitely amateur, as were my listening ears. I headphoned it, thinking that would give me a clearer picture of what was going on.

But the point is that to get a $50 mic that can even remotely compare to a condenser of reasonable quality has certainly piqued my interest in these babies.

I've heard that the frequency response on a PZM is inherantly as flat as piss on a plate, so I was thinking I might score another one of the realistics and maybe try it out on OH's, or a few other applications, like room mics

Hey sproll, do you have the location of that site where you can change it into an XLR/phantom power situation? That sounds interesting.

Thanks guys

djrr3k, I just recommended a beta 91 to go in a drummers DW kick, you think he'll have a problem getting the "beef" in a live setting? He just had new heads put on his kit including a coated beater head and a solid DW logo head. It sounds great but now that their cd is finished the band is heading out to do a bunch of gigs. I told him the Beta 91 or May mic system with a shure, audix or D112 etc would work. He dosn't want a real punchy rock sound, more of a deep natural kick sound. The solid head playing live on the club scene isn't a good thing.

Sproll, know any model numbers on those old radio shack PZM's. What should I look for other than old realistic PZM's with 1/4" cables?


Yup, got a site right here for ya http://www.celestial.com.au/~rosswood/data/images/PZM%20Mod.PDF


I do know the model numbers yes... what you should be looking for is the 33-1090A model. There is also a 33-1090B, but I'm not sure what differences are between them. I would just go for the A version myself since I know for sure they are good. Here's a link to one on ebay, they are around all the time.

Honestly, these are great. Check em out!



well depending on the range of their EQ he could get a deep sound with a Beta 91 (personally I would use a Beta 52 or an E602). I would recommend a ported front head on a kick drum though, especially for live sound. Much easier to mic, and it lets the drum breathe. Since his drum doesn't have a ported head, are you guys laying the mic on the floor in front of the drum? or are you putting it in the kick and running the cable through the vent? These are just my opinions though, if it sounds good well then it sounds good.
Hope it helps.

Thanks for the info on that PZM mod, however another dumb question has surfaced:

The guy says to cut off the 1/4" connector and attach an XLR jack. Then attach red(hot) to pin 3, black(return) to pin 2, and the 'screen' to pin 1.

I'm good up til the "screen" part. What is that? The wire only has 2 leads, and there isn't a braided section surrounding it, so what's up?

Sorry dudes, I didn't think I was an idiot...until now...though my wife has known all along.


pzm's, or the ones we use anyway ( i forget the brand) are directional.. i just mixed a dvd for a percussion act ( 4 percussionists),
there was a pzm on stage in front of the performers, a bit of the pzm mixed in sounded super, added some 'realness' to all the close mics,
and added some nice brightness....
so i imagine the pzm being really nice for drum recording as a roomtype mic..
will for sure try it next drum recording..

ah, i checked ..we have crown pcc's.. thheyre directional, and i guess different from pzm's? pcc...hmmm pressure c-something c-something?