Users Guide

Handling the Microphone:

While the clamp assembly is quite rugged, it’s best to avoid ever touching the microphone chassis, especially the tip containing the microphone capsule, but rather to ALWAYS HANDLE THE MICROPHONE BY THE RUBBER O-RING AS SHOWN ABOVE.  Because this microphone was designed to be as light as possible, there is no heavy cage or grille assembly protecting the capsule.  The foam windscreen actually does a better job of of protecting the capsule since it’s shock absorptive nature will protect the microphone if it is ever dropped (in addition to keeping wind and foreign objects from getting into the capsupe).  For this reason, KEEP THE WINDSCREEN ON AT ALL TIMES - especially during storage and transport.

Do not attempt to open the capsule, it is permanently bonded together in fabrication.  Doing so will tear the delicately soldered leads out of the back of the mic capsule - The cylindrical microphone chassis is the least repairable part of the microphone system.

 


It is best never to adjust the angle of the copper base of the shockmount, or rather to only adjust it once and leave it alone (making sure that the screw is as tight as possible to avoid it coming loose during playing).  There is a compressed steel lockwasher between the copper and aluminum whose teeth ‘bite’ into both metals, thereby holding the angle at maximum strength.  For a pandeiro, it is best to have the microphone pointed across the center of the drum at the opposite bearing edge (where the skin meets the shell).  This will give you the most ‘natural’ balance between drum tones and the platinelas.  You don’t need to worry about this too much, just be aware that pointing the microphone too close to the skin will cause excessive low frequency rumble, even on non-bass tones due to the proximity effect.

Likewise, the screw holding the plastic shockloop is firmly embedded into the plastic of the loop and is best left alone.  If you must change or adjust this for any reason, it’s best to replace the shockloop completely so that the screw will embed into virgin plastic.  A simple zip-tie will work for a replacement shockloop.

During transport, the O-ring can get re-positioned inside the loop and therefore it’s always a good idea to lightly pinch the base of the shockloop (between the copper terminal and the rubber O-ring) before performing to be sure  that the rubber O-ring is touching the loop around the outsite of it’s circumference.  

The microphone cable and its connectors, as in any audio system, should be handled with great care.  Take the time to coil the cable when not in use and don’t let it get kinked or tied in knots.  I use the highest quality cable and connectors available (responsible for over a quarter of the materials cost, yet something I’m unwilling to skimp on), however they are still relatively fragile and should never be yanked or pulled.  The mini-XLR that connection between the microphone chassis and the cable is particularly delicate.  Cable length should be kept to 10’ or less.  That said, a few players have 12’ cables and have reported no problems.  If you do not need extra footage, it’s best not to have it since it will only be more cable to tangle and make your microphone more susceptible to RFI.  I personally prefer a more manageable 8’.  If you play lapstyle or seated, you may prefer an even shorter length to avoid tangles.  You can purchase replacement cables from me for $40.00.  The cable is wired as all typical microphone cables (pin1=gnd, pin2=hot) and can be repaired by anyone with basic soldering skills (just note that the orientation of the pin numbers differs on the mini XLR and standard XLR connectors).

Because the XLR output is balanced and low impedance, length of the XLR feeding the sound system does not matter and can run for hundreds of feet without interference or signal degradation.

The switchable 1/4” output is ‘instrument level’ (like the output of an electric guitar or bass) and runs should be kept as short as possible.  This output is ideal for feeding electronic effects and/or the input of a bass guitar amplifier.  (Yes, guitar amps will work too, only their sound tends to be too nasal and mid-rangy for my taste.  I find Bass or Keyboard amps sound best due to the broad [very low to very high] frequency spectrum they’re designed to reproduce)

All that said, this microphone is incredibly durable and has withstood considerable abuses during prototyping, testing, and gigging.  Treat it with the same care as your instrument and it will last forever.

Fitting The Clamp:

This is the very first thing that you should do once you have received your microphone.  In order to properly fit your microphone to your drum, you will need a 5/16” wrench to fit the adjustable locknut. A narrow adjustable wrench will also work, but DO NOT USE PLIERS as they will strip the outside of the locknut. Once you’ve fitted your clamp, the locknut will hold its place and you will be able to move you microphone on and off the drum freely, without the need to re-fit.

The idea here is to sandwich the shell of your drum in between the aluminum planks of the clamp so that the planks are perfectly parallel.  Begin with the wingunt loose and pinch to the clamp to sandwich the drum shell between your thumb and index fingers:  

Use your wrench to move the locknut so that it touches the outside of the clamp, keeping the aluminum planks parallel:
When done properly, you will be able to tighten the wingnut and the two aluminum planks should firmly sandwich your drum’s shell between them.  The rubber pad on the inside of the clamp will slightly compress to fit snugly to any uneven or curvy surface on the drum’s shell:
 Not like this:                          Nor like This:
The sandwich clamp is at maximum tensional integrity (clamping force) when the planks are parallel and tightening the wingnut beyond that point will NOT result in a more secure grip.  In fact if overtightened, the clamp’s integrity will be forever compromised.  Just take the time to fit the clamp properly, with the proper tools and in good lighting, and you will get the perfect fit with a moderately firm clamping.  

Attaching the Cable:


Once the clamp has been fitted optimally, the second step in installing your new microphone is the attachment of the cable to the mic assembly’s strain-relief.  This strain-relief is one of the MOST CRITICAL parts of the
system as it keeps the back-and-forth oscillations of a pandeiro from stressing the cable’s connector directly.  Furthermore, should the cable get stepped on, caught. or otherwise pulled or yanked, the strain-relief will keep the connector and it’s soldered joints protected from being stressed. 

Always treat your cable as if it were sacred.  Never step on it, roll anything over it, pull it, or otherwise apply any unnecessary stress or strain to it.  The cable is the most vulnerable part of the  Frame Drum Microphone System.  Even though it can be easily swapped, repaired, or replaced, it shouldn’t have to be.  It will last forever if you simply take good care of it.  Coil it neatly and store it when it’s not in use.

I have photographed this document so far without the cable attached for the purposes of clarity, but unless you have to change or repair a cable, it’s best to LEAVE IT ALWAYS ATTACHED.  Likewise, the mini-XLR connector is delicate and it’s best to ONLY unplug this connection when you must remove the cable for repair.

(A simple Lark’s Head knot is used on both ends of the band.  Make the first around the thread of the adjustment screw.  Then make another and feed the cable through the loop, and pull it tight around the cable for a firm, non-slipping grip.)
In addition to protecting the the solder joints in the cable’s connector, the strain relief also protects the edge of your drum shell from the threads of the screw.
…and while on the subject of protection, the entire clamp assembly and shock-mount positions and protects the microphone when the drum is set down on a flat surface:
With the clamp properly fitted to your drum, you are now ready to kick out the jams.  The cable should form a small loop and naturally fall to the floor in front of you, its weight supported by the strain-relief:
Notice that the as the cable hangs from the strain-relief, there is no pull directly on the microphone’s cable connector.  This is how your microphone should look once installed, with no kinks or twists in the cable.  Be sure that the loop is on the low side of the drum so that the cable does not slap the clamp or itself as it swings from the strain relief during playing.

*** These photos were all taken with the windscreen off for the sake of photographic clarity. It is strongly recommended that you keep it on at all times (especially when storing and traveling) to protect the tip of the microphone capsule from foreign objects.  It is designed to snugly fit the microphone and swells to fit the microphone’s slanted air vents for a secure grip.  Avoid excessive twisting or handling of the windscreen as this will compromise this grip.  Should you need a replacement, they are available here.

Do not stuff you microphone into a tight or unprotected bag or pocket where it can be damaged.  Likewise, do not store it into a trap case with other loose objects - this will certainly shorten the life of your microphone.  When you transport it, make sure that it is protected on all sides and will not bounce around or otherwise be hit or jarred.  Remember, the microphone assembly is lightweight and therefore somewhat fragile. This molded CD/DVD wallet makes an excellent carrying case that can safely fit inside of your pandeiro’s frame when it is stored or transported, protecting both your drum and the microphone.  (Thanks to Claudio Santana for sharing this discovery.)

The Power Module:

Affectionately known as the ‘twinkie’, it is designed to sit on the floor.  It’s purpose is to regulate the power supplied to the microphone capsule and to optimize the audio from the capsule for output to a sound system.  For standard operation, it requires +48V phantom power and will put out a conventional balanced microphone-level signal on a standard XLR microphone cable.
When using your microphone in Phantom Powered mode, there is now a mute switch which will mute the XLR output when depressed in the direction AWAY from the XLR jack.  In other words, THE XLR OUTPUT IS ACTIVE WHEN THE SWITCH IS DEPRESSED TOWARD THE XLR JACK AND IT IS MUTED WHEN DEPRESSED AWAY FROM THE XLR JACK.


The Frame Drum Microphone can operate in only one of two modes at a time.  It ships in Balanced XLR output mode and this requires phantom power to operate.  By opening the box and switching to the 1/4” instrument output mode, the XLR output will be disabled and power to bias the capsule will be drawn from the 9V battery (not included) inside the twinkie instead of the Phantom power supply.

The 9V battery should be attached to the battery snap inside the box and should lay lengthwise on it’s side atop the foam-rubber pad inside the box.  When the bottom is screwed back on, be sure that it stays in place (do this flat on a table) and once it’s tightened, it will be held firmly in place.

When the twinkie is set to 1/4” output mode, THE BATTERY IS IN USE AS LONG AS THE MICROPHONE IS PLUGGED IN.  To save the charge on your battery, unplug the microphone from the twinkie when it is not in use.

The twinkie does not require any special handling during transport- it’s as rugged and durable as it looks and will also fit inside the shell of your drum during transport/storage.  

You will, however, want to exercise caution when the box is open (switching output modes and changing batteries) so you do not damage the solder joints on the wires that connect the circuitry to the jacks.  The PCB mounted switch is small and delicate and does not need to be moved with much force, doing so will break it.

NOTE: Regardless of whether you’re using the microphone in HiZ or LoZ mode you will ALWAYS have to use the twinkie.  There is no way for the microphone to get it’s required operating voltage without it in the line.