CAD Audio CADLive D88 Kick Drum Microphone

by George Petersen
in Road Tests
CADLive D88
CADLive D88

Once mainly focused on the contracting/installation business (through its Astatic Commercial Audio Products division), CAD Professional Microphones was launched in 1988 as the pro audio division of Astatic to design and manufacture microphones for recording studio and live sound users.

Some History

The company’s audio roots run deep. The parent company, Astatic was founded in 1931 by two ham radio operators — C.M. Chorpening and F.H. Woodworth — who needing a static-free microphone for their transmitters, began the business to develop a crystal radio mic — the model D-104. Eventually, Astatic expanded beyond crystal mics, to offer phonograph pickups and recording heads, and during World War II, created an underwater sound detection hydrophone and static-discharger for Army and Navy aircraft.

In 2014, CAD Professional Microphones began CADLive, a specialized company division dedicated to tools for sound reinforcement applications, including instrument and vocal microphones, wireless mics and the new (and now shipping) StageSelect IEM stereo wireless in-ear monitor system.

CADLive D88

Enter the D88

At Winter NAMM 2016, as part of its 85th anniversary celebration, CADLive launched a number of innovative products, including the D88 kick drum microphone.

As with all CADLive mics, the D88 benefits from the company’s Equitek technology heritage and experience, and is designed to provide high-end performance and a dynamic response in all kinds of live sound situations.

Essentially, the CADLive D88 is an end-address design, and is equipped with one of the largest dynamic capsules offered in a percussion mic, with a diaphragm that’s a touch more than one-inch in diameter. Like the popular CADLive D89 and D90 handhelds, the D88 features a Trueflex™ diaphragm and PowerGap high-gauss neodymium magnet. The latter provides a hot output that will be appreciated by anyone who deals with long cable runs.

The D88 has a fairly tight supercardioid polar pickup pattern and the 120-degree null points help contribute a punchy, more forward sound when used inside the kick, while assisting in keeping stage bleed to a minimum when positioned outside a bass drum.

Stated specifications include a frequency response of 20 Hz to 17k Hz and a maximum sound pressure level handling that exceeds 150 dB SPL. Impedance is 80 ohms and the
 sensitivity of -65 dBV (0.56 mV) @ 1 Pascal.

Getting Physical

Physically, the D88 is no lightweight. It’s hefty, weighing in at over a pound. The rugged, molded all-metal body is about the size (and feel) of a hand grenade, with a tough steel grill with two layers. A coarse outer layer provides protection from possible (and invariable!) encounters with nasty road hazards, while a finer inner mesh to help keep out dirt, dust, smoke machine fog, etc. Clearly, this one was built to rock.

Overall, the mic has a quality fit and finish and has a tough, black matte paint for a non-reflective, stealth appearance under stage lighting. An adjustable swivel mount with a USA-standard 5/8-inch by 27 thread on a brass insert is attached. No Euro-style 3/8-inch threaded adapter (the ones I always remove and throw into a drawer with hundreds more) is included, but if you need one, you probably have one laying around in your shop somewhere.

On the Road

Based on the D88’s build, I have a feeling this one will stand up to road abuse. One thing I appreciated was that the D88’s XLR output jack exits the rear of the microphone, behind the swivel mount and at a 45-degree angle, which makes hookups a breeze. The range of the mount’s swiveling action is only about 55-degrees, which is ample for most setups and the clearance between the locking thumbscrew knob and the mic body is somewhat tight, but hardly a deal breaker.

The D88’s strong suit is that offers plenty of flexibility in terms of kick miking options. There are some mics that are great for beater “click” but light on body and other that are round and full but lack snap and the usual remedy is to add a second mic or resort to a lot of deep, intensive equalization.

The D88 falls into the middle ground, with a blend consisting of plenty of low-frequency “boom” and a nicely balanced high-end that captures the beater snap — for a single-mic, no-EQ required solution. It’s pretty much set-and-go without a lot of fuss. In fact, the best way to tweak the sound here is simply vary how far the mic goes into the drum and it’s distance from the beater head.

Depending on the kick itself, I sometimes got a balanced sound from the D88 with the mic placed on a short desk stand — no boom arm — placed just outside the sound hole, but for bands requiring a more aggressive sound, going inside, about eight inches from the beater generally produced optimal results. And I like the idea of a one-mic solution. Definitely.

The CADLive D88 carries a price of $259 list ($199/street).

At a Glance

A Single-Mic Kick Solution

The CADLive D88 offers a rugged and affordable solution to kick drum miking, with a solid mic that captures the thump and punch from a single mic.

CADLive D88



  • Rock solid construction
  • Tailored response for capturing kick drums
  • No EQ required in most applications
  • Convenient 45-degree exit on XLR jack
  • High SPL handling



  • Clearance on lock knob is somewhat tight


  • Mic Principle: Dynamic
  • Polar Response: Supercardioid
  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 17k Hz
  • Sensitivity: -65 dBV (0.56 mV) @ 1 Pa
  • Impedance: 80 ohms
  • SPL Handling: <150 dB
  • Street Price: $199
  • Manufacturer: CAD Audio
  • More Info: