Video: Sabian Sound Kit 4-Piece Drum Mic & Mixer

It’s a perennial problem for drummers: how do you practice effectively and protect your hearing at the same time? While guitarists can simply turn down when jamming along to a tune or a click track, the sonic nature of percussive instruments means the volume of your accompaniment often needs to reach dangerous levels just to break through the noise of your playing. Pop on some heavily attenuated headphones and you can protect your ears, but then it’s next to impossible to hear yourself—and doesn’t that defeat the purpose of practicing?

Enter the world’s first drum-specific mixer and microphone set, the Sabian Sound Kit. This wonderful little tool solves the problem of self-monitoring by allowing you to dial in a crisp stereo image of your kit in your headphones alongside whatever accompaniment you choose. What’s more, the recorded audio can be used later for further analysis, all on a budget that’s friendly to the hobbyist or working drummer.

For around $300, you get two overhead condenser mics, a large-diaphragm dynamic kick drum mic, and a tough little mixer with three pre-sweetened channels, each optimized for one of the three mics. Though they lack a bit of studio “sparkle,” the mics themselves are serviceable and provide surprising quality for the price. The mixer features an ⅛” aux input, as well as stereo ¼” inputs for tying into a larger system. In addition to ¼” and ⅛” headphone outs, you also get a stereo XLR output, which allows the Sound Kit to be tied into a PA or recording interface.

Micing your kit is accomplished through a modified Glyn Johns method, which uses a primary overhead condenser centered on the snare drum to capture the essence of the drum sound, augmented with a right-side condenser to fill in the stereo image. It can be difficult to nail this technique, but Sabian includes a diagram and measuring tool to ensure all the mics are in phase, making the process effortless.


By keeping things simple, it’s easy to get full mic coverage on nearly any drumset. Getting a great sound out of my seven-piece double bass Sonor Phonic Plus was just as easy as micing up the 4 piece C&C house kit at Reverb HQ. The pre-EQ’d channels provided crystal-clear stick attack and body from the cymbals, snare and toms, and a meaty thump from the kick. A little adjustment on the high and low EQ on each channel strip allowed me to dial in the right sound depending on the room or the drums I was playing, ensuring a nice full sound even in my tiny 14x10’ practice studio.

Because it was much easier to gauge timing and dynamics without straining to hear through a pair of earplugs, solo practice with the Sound Kit made my routine more rewarding. In a full-band situation, it was easier to hold back and conserve energy since I didn’t have to strain to hear myself over the wall of guitar noise. The stereo aux inputs also came in handy during rehearsals with a group that had an existing in-ear monitor rig. I was able to send them a great drum sound from the Sound Kit’s stereo master out, and had them send me guitar, bass, vocals and keys back through the stereo aux inputs—a quick solution for something that could have been a major headache.

Most importantly, the onboard MP3 recorder encouraged objective analysis and made it easy for me to track my progress as I worked on new parts, rudiments, or other exercises, taking the guesswork out of my routine and allowing me to focus on aspects of my playing that needed improvement. Though the fidelity isn’t audiophile-grade, small file sizes meant I didn’t need to think twice about archiving every practice session, and I never got close to filling up my 2GB SD card.


Aside from practice applications, the Sound Kit can be a lifesaver at small live venues, church scenarios, or basement shows where oftentimes the drums go un-mic’d due to lack of equipment. Instead of attempting to play over the cacophony, use the XLR outs to tie into the PA and save yourself (and your gear!) the abuse.

It’s refreshing to see a little electronic catering to a crowd as analog as drummers, and the Sabian Sound Kit comes through in spades. Solo or band practice, DIY shows or modest venues, playing for even an hour with this tailor-made kit will make you wonder how you got by for so long without it. Take a look above to see the Sound Kit in action and to scoop one up of your own.

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