Mic Check

I am a big fan of what computers can do in terms of creating virtual versions of instruments and effects. As a result of this I have been able to use sounds that I never would never have been able to get hold of in the real world, let along afford. Recently however, without even really realising it, I have found myself recording lots of real instruments and sounds again.

Over the past few weeks I have been recording harmoniums, melodica, shakers, tambourine, shruti box, my rainmaker, guitars and vocals. Lots and lots of vocals.

All this frenzied recording activity has also given me the chance the break out all my different microphones and really get to know what they’re good for. It sounds a bit weird, but I find that mics have very different characteristics from one another, even when they are essentially the same type of mic.

I guess that it is a little bit like guitars. In general they all have six strings and the same notes on the fretboard, but they can be categorised into the way that they amplify the sound of the strings, for example acoustic and electric guitars. You can then take this further and start to talk about the differences in sound between types, for example a Fender Strat and a Gibson Les Paul. Then you can really get geeky and start discussing why a USA Strat is different to a Japanese Strat. Something which I’m sure you can find many opinions about if you were ever foolish enough to Google it.

I think that microphones are very similar to this. Firstly you have the different varieties of transducers that are used in mics to convert the sound into an electric signal. There are many types by the main ones in music are condenser, dynamicribbon, and piezoelectric.

After this you can start to categorise by manufacturers such as Neumann, AKG, Shure and Sennheiser. After this you can look at variations in the way the mic works, for example large and small diaphragm, or different polar patterns. Then in case we hadn’t got there already, it’s into geek land once again with discussions of why a Shure SM57 will be better on a guitar amp than an SM58.

So what have I learnt from all this? Well pretty much the same thing that every review of a half decent microphone in any magazine always sums up with, whether it sounds good depends on what you’re recording. When it comes to vocal mics, the tone of your voice can mean that one mic sounds amazing with one person, but dull and lifeless on somebody else.

It has been great fun using all my microphones and finding out which ones are good for which jobs.

My main vocal mic is a Blue Bluebird:

Blue Bluebird

I use this mic for all of my lead vocals. It is a very high signal mic that can deal with a lot of different dynamics. I find that it gives my vocals a little bit of extra lift that helps them sit on top of the mix easier.

The next mic I have is a Rode NT2-A:

Rode NT2-A

This is a very smooth and warm sounding mic. It sounds really nice when recording acoustic guitar. I also record quite a lot of block harmonies with it as it help the different vocals blend together with one another. It also has a choice of three different polar patterns, high pass filters and pads, which makes it very versatile.

Next up is Behringer B2 Pro:

Behringer B2 Pro

This was the first ‘studio’ microphone that I bought. To be honest it’s a budget model so it was never going to sound amazing or anything. It has quite a stark sound that I don’t really like on vocals, however I have found that it works really nicely with my harmoniums.

Finally we have the classic Shure SM58:

Shure SM58

This mic is an industry legend. Partly because of it’s classic sound, but also because of it’s affordability. I use this mic on guitar amps and percussion. However I also use it as the vocal input for my vocoders.

Well there you go, that how I get sounds into the computer. Maybe next time I’ll tell you what I do with them next.

Testing, 1, 2, 3…


    • I mainly use an AKG C3000B as my main coendnser and I love it. I’ve recently, however, toyed with the idea of adding another coendnser just for a bit of variety. I have quite a nice range of dynamic mics to go to and find that they can often inspire a bit of creativty when trying different things etc and I’d quite like this flexibility with the coendnsers. I wouldn’t mind trying the MXL V67g that David advocates, however I don’t want to get anything that’s too close to the AKG. Does anyone have experience of both mics that could comment on the merits or minuses of having these two??? +8Was this answer helpful?

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