“The use of Earthworks drum mics allows you to capture a very lovely, high-resolution representation of your drum set. I hear a lot more detail using the Earthworks mics versus using other brands of mics. ”
-Omar Hakim on his Earthworks mics
Omar Hakim, a highly successful drummer and session player, has worked with dozens of prominent artists including George Benson, Lionel Richie, Chaka Khan, Anita Baker, Bobby McFerrin, John Scofield, Urban Knights, Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, Jewel, Jennifer Lopez, D’Angelo, Mariah Carey, and Madonna to name a few, and has left his imprint on hundreds of recordings, including several under his own name.
Hakim first experienced Earthworks microphones at an AES Convention about a decade ago, when Earthworks first debuted its 3-microphone DrumKit™ System. “A friend of mine, Fountain Jones (an Emmy Award winning technical director at CBS television), told me that I had to go to the Earthworks booth and hear their microphones, and that I would not believe my ears. There was a 3-mic drum set at the Earthworks booth. I played the drums and listened to the Earthworks DK25 DrumKit™ microphones on headphones, and Fountain was right, they were absolutely amazing.”
Several years later, Hakim got the DK50 Premium 3-microphone DrumKit™ to try out in his home studio, as well as the DP30/C tom and snare microphones. “When I first started using Earthworks drum mics, I noticed that they are able to capture an incredible amount of detail, even with just a three-mic system on drums. Using other conventional microphones, you typically use a couple of condenser mics on top and something on the kick drum, but it always feels like something is missing and you end up supplementing your drum kit with other mics to fill it out. In contrast, when you put the Earthworks 3-mic DrumKit™ on a set of drums and bring up those three mics on the console faders, you are hearing an incredibly balanced representation of your instrument, and that is amazing.”
“For certain sessions I still supplement the 3-mic system with the DP30/Cs when I want to get some extra oomph from the toms and snare,” explains Hakim. “But most of the time, the natural tonality and balance of the drum set is already captured with the Earthworks 3-mic DrumKit™ microphones. When I am doing pop, rock or funky R&B session, then I need the extra presence from the close miking on toms and snare and use the DP30/Cs. But when I am doing acoustic jazz I lean toward just using the 3-mic system.”
“By having these Earthworks drum mics available, you have the versatility to accomplish whatever you need stylistically. Drums are interesting instruments to record, because if you get a great drum sound, on a pop or R&B record, or any record, it makes the whole record sound good. It brings up the level of the entire recording. In contrast, if you have a badly recorded drum set, even though the other instruments are recorded well, there is something missing.”
“The use of Earthworks drum mics allows you to capture a very lovely, high-resolution representation of your drum set. I hear a lot more detail using the Earthworks mics versus using other brands of mics. In addition, I don’t have to worry about getting cymbal splash or splatter when the mics are close to the cymbals. When you move the mics closer to the cymbals, you just get more presence, with no worry of splash or splatter. All of this is pretty remarkable.”
On his latest solo album, We are One by the Omar Hakim Experience, Hakim brought out his Earthworks microphones for two tracks: ‘Forever Friend’ and ‘We are One,’ the title song of the album. “The clarity of the drums on these two tracks is amazing. Even listening to the record, on these two tracks you hear the clarity and pristine detail of my drums. On the title song ‘We are One,’ which is a ballad, I used some special brush sticks and the Earthworks mics really brought out that detail.”
In 2014, Hakim was asked to join British pop superstar Kate Bush for a 22-night residency called Before the Dawn at the Hammersmith Apollo in London after a 35-year hiatus from touring. “Her return to the stage and these shows were highly anticipated by her fans all over the world. The shows were sold out in less than an hour, nine months before we went on stage. Instead of doing a tour, she staged a really elaborate show production at the Hammersmith Apollo Theater in London. People flew from all over the world to see this. The good thing about this residency is that we were able to set up the equipment, the recording gear, the microphones and everything to a level of perfection normally only possible in fine recording studios! The very elaborate surround sound house system was tuned perfectly. The whole thing was amazing. For this event, we realized that we needed to have a “no compromise” drum sound. Everyone agreed, for this we needed to use Earthworks drum mics. We used SR25s as overheads and on hi-hat, DP30/Cs on toms, SR25 on snare and SR30 on kick drum with KickPad™.”
“I enthusiastically recommend the Earthworks DK50 Premium DrumKit™ and the DP30/C tom and snare mics,” says Hakim. “These are the ones that I use for a wide variety of projects. For live performance, I also recommend the SR25s for overhead mics.”
Hakim concludes: “The Earthworks people are great to work with, and they pay attention to the artists. Earthworks as a company is dedicated to building products that allow artists work to be represented in the best way possible. Earthworks has the respect of some of the top performers in the world because of the incredible gear that they manufacture. In addition, I continually find the Earthworks people responsive to my needs.”
Photo Credit: Aliyah Hakim-Groovesmith Ltd.