Review: Remic D5400 Upright Bass Condenser Mic

A truly unique, Danish handcrafted condenser microphone for double bass.
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I regularly gig with NC-based bassist David George, a multi-instrumentalist (of various stringed acoustic instruments) who focuses primarily on bass guitar. Often performing on upright/double bass (or “bass fiddle,” in bluegrass circles), he was intrigued when I showed him this truly unique, Danish, handcrafted condenser microphone for double bass, the D5400 ($900 direct), by relatively unknown manufacturer Remic Microphones. Designated as Remic’s “Studio” model, the D5400 also has a “Live” sibling, the D5400LB, with few differences except for “high suppression of feedback” listed as a primary design feature.

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The D5400 is delivered in a handy plastic storage box and inside, a gig bag-ready padded pouch holding the 48V phantom-powered microphone with its largely foam, uniquely shaped body featuring Remic’s trademarked SAM (Soundboard Area Microphone) technology, allowing placement underneath the very bottom of an upright’s fingerboard. It features an omnidirectional, pre-polarized condenser element, a broad frequency range of 6Hz-23kHz, 164 dB SPL maximum SPL before clipping, notable feedback suppression characteristics, high isolation of other sound sources, a built-in fabric-wrapped 6.5-foot cable with XLR connector, and more.

George took the D5400 and his Engelhardt M3 Maestro 3/4 upright out for several bluegrass/gospel gigs and discovered a lot to like about Remic’s mic design philosophy. “The D5400 performed as expected—the sound was clean and natural,” he explained. “There was no noticeable ‘boom.’ It responded quickly and consistently, even during an arco passage. My bandmates commented on how good my bass sounded, with one even saying, ‘That’s a good mic!’ For this performance, our band used an in-ear monitoring system; the sound coming through the monitor mix sounded just like I’d placed my ear to the back of my bass: clean and natural.”

The D5400’s noted feedback suppression is more than a noted feature, it’s a fact, offered George. “The complete lack of feedback surprised me,” he said. “When I switched over to an electric bass guitar for a few songs, our soundman neglected to mute the D5400. This would not usually be a problem; however, to avoid bleed into our vocal mics, I aimed the front of my Gallien-Krueger MB110 at a right angle to the stage. When I sat my upright bass down, the speaker was aimed about a foot or so away, center-line, at the back of my upright bass. It was several songs later before I realized I had done this, but the D5400 did not feedback once during the remainder of the performance! That’s amazing. Had it been my clip-on condenser or a pickup, I’m sure I would have generated a low-end feedback loop that would have sent this bluegrass audience into a panic!”

George’s only noted negative was the D5400’s high price, and its “overly long” cable with XLR connector. “I had to be conscious that I and my bandmates wouldn’t step on the feed cable, either dislodging the pickup from the bass or damaging connections inside the plug. I would like to see a shorter cable and some way to attach the plug to either the tailpiece or the end-pin. The Velcro strap included with the cable simply didn’t provide enough support for the plug. In orchestral music applications, I’m sure it’s not a concern. However, folks who switch bass instruments mid-set—'active' performers—and bassists who must frequently change their position on stage could potentially damage the cable and plug. In our bluegrass/country/folk community, access to this mic will be limited to touring professionals and studio musicians as a result of its rather hefty price tag—the price of a used Engelhardt bass is $900, the same price as the mic direct.”

That said, overall George was “blown away with the performance” of the D5400. “It allows your bass to sound like your bass, only louder. It doesn’t alter the appearance of your instrument or force you to change your playing style. There are no messy preamps or cables to worry with. If you want your bass to sound like your bass and avoid all the problems caused by other types of microphones, you cannot go wrong with the D5400. This one is staying in my gig bag until they make me send it back!”

Contact: Remic | remic.dk