The AEA N22 is a near-field microphone, meaning it was designed to be used between 1 and 16 inches (30 cm) from the source. From that distance, the N22 produces a balanced treble-to-bass ratio.
The N22 features low-frequency roll-off that allows users to put the mic right up against an instrument without an overwhelming amount of proximity effect. This feature can be highly effective when capturing from a distance. To those accustomed to using traditional ribbons, the N22 can sound thin when capturing sound from afar, but there are some who swear by the N22’s distant miking abilities.
You did what your mama told you
In the recent past, condenser microphones were a common standard for recording drum overheads. However, many drummers and engineers have traded in their condensers in favor of traditional far-field ribbon mics, like the R44, which deliver a great treble-to-bass ratio from a distance. These traditional ribbons capture a stunning amount of bass, often alleviating the need to have a separate kick drum or tom mic.
If you prefer the brighter overhead sound of a condenser to the lower end sound of a traditional ribbon, N22’s on drums will likely strike the happy medium between the two.
Most condensers have little bass response from far away, with a sharp transient response and a hyped top end. Though it’s a near-field design, the N22 at a distance captures a low-frequency range similar to many typical condensers.
The N22’s bump at 3k can be perfect for capturing the top end of a snare and toms, while still retaining that smooth big ribbon roll-off that can help tame the harsh transients and ‘tizz’ of cymbals.
For a stark comparison, watch the AEA’s N8 Drum Overhead Listening Library video.
The N22 has all of the positive elements of condensers, but without the sibilance and harshness that drummers try to avoid.
A Different Take
For engineers who like the detail that condensers give in the top-end, but want that open ribbon sound, the N22 can be the perfect fix.