MXL A-55 Kicker Bass Drum Mic Review


The MXL A-55 Kicker is a dynamic instrument mic that’s specially designed for use on kick drums and other low frequency instruments such as bass guitar amps. The mic has a tailored frequency response that gives you plenty of low-end punch and beater snap–what you typically want and need in a kick drum mic. I wasn’t necessarily in need of another kick mic, but I picked up an A-55 when I saw a deal on one that was just too good to pass up.

Here are the specs from the MXL website:

  • Microphone type: dynamic
  • Applications: kick drum, floor tom, bass cabinets, congas, and other low frequency instruments
  • Frequency response: 30Hz – 15kHz
  • Polar pattern: cardioid
  • Sensitivity: -76 dB (+/-3 dB @ 1kHz)
  • Output impedance: 300 Ohms
  • Size: 60 x 130mm
  • Weight: 540g
  • Finish: black metal
  • Included accessories: vinyl carrying pouch

First, let’s talk about the physical characteristics of the mic. It’s got a sleek design and nice black metallic finish. The grille is fairly tightly woven and looks like it could easil survive most common drops or licks with a stick (e.g. if you were using it on a floor tom). It’s a fairly large and heavy mic, but not uncommonly so for a kick drum mic. In any case, you’ll need a stable stand to mount it on. Otherwise, the stand may tip over and/or the boom adjustment could slip. My favorite stand for this and any bass drum mic is a short one made by Atlas that has a full-sized 10″ round base. It’s a little more expensive than many short mic stands that you might use for a kick mic, but it’s worth it in my opinion. On Stage Stands makes a similar stand, which is priced more affordably and (unlike the Atlas) includes a boom arm and removable counterweight.


The integrated threaded stand mount on the A-55 means the mic is screwed directly onto the threaded end of a mic boom or stand. The XLR socket is also part of the stand mount, which means the XLR plug for your mic cable is parallel to the boom–there’s no plug or cable sticking directly out the rear of the mic like what is common on many other kick drum mics. I tend to like this feature, since it allows you more freedom to position the mic inside a kick drum without worrying about the XLR plug or cable contacting the front/resonant head. This design also neccessitates a short piece of wire that connects between the mic’s body and the integrated stand mount/XLR socket, since they aren’t once piece and connect at the swivel joint. The angle adjustment is set by tightening down a plastic wingnut (more about that in a moment).

Now for the sound. Thanks to its tailored frequency response, the A-55 provides plenty of the low-end “oomph” as well as the beater snap that you normally want for most popular music (rock, pop, metal, or country). There are +6dB bumps centered at around 80 Hz and 2.5 kHz, along with +8dB bumps at 4.5 kHz and 7 kHz. The response is mostly flat in the midrange between 200 Hz and 1.5 kHz. The low end doesn’t begin to fall off below 0 dB until down around 45 Hz. I’ll grant that if you’re more of an acoustic drum purist miking a jazz kit, you can make the mic work, but it may not become your first-choice, go-to kick mic. But for the genres I work in, I’ve used the A-55 both in the studio and live on kick drum and bass guitar amps, and I’ve been very pleased with the results.

About my only complaint about the A-55 is that the plastic wingnut that is used to adjust the angle of the mic is somewhat undersized. And with the weight of this mic, you need to apply a fair amount of pressure to tighten it enough to keep the mic positioned where you want it. So a larger nut would be welcomed here. But if it creates any issues for me in the future, I suspect I could replace it with a larger wingnut from my box of spare drum parts.

I’ve owned several kick drum mics over the years, and this one is by far my favorite among the more budget-conscious fare. In fact, I like it more than several others that cost significantly more money. My (now-discontinued) Audio Technica ATM25 is still my overall favorite, but this one gives it a run for its money. The A-55 also proved popular in a massive kick mic shootout over on the Recording Hacks website. Take a look and listen to some of the clips for yourself and you’ll see why. When you’re ready to buy, be sure to pick one up from They have the best price on this mic that I can currently find online, selling it brand new for little more than I’ve seen some used ones sell for!

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