The AEA N22 is a near-field microphone, meaning that it was designed to be used from one to 16 inches (30 cm) from the source. This is the position where the N22’s treble-to-bass ratio is most balanced.
The N22 has a low-frequency roll-off that allows users to put the mic right up against an instrument without an overwhelming amount of proximity effect. This allows balanced sound from any instrument or guitar cab. To those who are used to using traditional ribbons, when pulled back further, the N22 can sound thin. But there are those who swear by the N22’s distant miking abilities.
You did what your mama told you
For the past 30 years, condenser microphones have been the standard for recording drum overheads. Many drummers have switched to using traditional far-field ribbon mics, like the R44, which have a great treble-to-bass ratio from a distance. These mics capture a stunning amount of bass, sometimes even alleviating the need to have a separate kick drum or tom mic.
For those who have used traditional far-field ribbon mics on overheads, the first time putting up the N22 can be quite the shock because of the lack of low end. However, if you’re used to using condensers or looking for a brighter overhead sound, the N22 can be just the ticket.
Most condensers do not have much bass from far away yet they have a sharp transient response and a hyped top end. Though a near-field design, the N22 at a distance picks up a similar low-frequency range to many typical condensers.
The N22’s bump at 3k can be perfect for capturing the top end of a snare and toms, and still retains that signature and 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.
Though many drummers like using condensers for overheads, they find the N22 as a nice replacement. 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.