Back    Table of Contents     Email    Forward

1.1     Inexpensive Dynamic Mics:

Every studio has a few inexpensive dynamic mics laying around... these are generally used as a "work horse" rather than a mic you'd use to lay a subtle violin track. Many of the mics I have listed below all retail for under $150. Although these cheaper dynamics are better suited for live stage use, they can be used in the home studio with fairly good results. They aren't quite as responsive, tend to be noisier, and aren't very transparent sounding.

1.2     Large Diapragm Condensers:

Here's a list of a few microphones in the mid-priced range (up to $1250 or so). These will tend to sound harsh or bright compared to better mics like a Neumann U47 or similar, but are a large improvement over the SM-57 and SM-58 styles of dynamic mics. All of these mics are condensers, and require phantom power to operate. Large diaphragm condensers are not useful for all purposes. They have some strange off-axis responses and a different sound to them. I suggest you experiment with one before you buy it. Try it on a variety of sound sources. There are some generalizations that can help in your mic selections. Larger diaphragm mics are not usually very transparent, they add their own color to the signal. The larger diaphragm often responds better to bass, as well as quieter sources.  Large diapragm mics are usually the first choice for vocals.

1.3    Small Diapragm Condensers:

Generally, I like small condensors for spot micing... on acoustic guitars, some guitar cabs, drum overheads, etc.  They have a lower output than a larger diapragm, but are sometimes less colored sounding.  These are often a great choice for a stereo pair.  These are also a good choice if you need the detail of a condenser mic, but you need a little less sensitivity than a large diapragm (to avoid ambient noise).

1.4        Ribbon Mics:

Ribbon mics are a great addition to any mic locker.  I currently don't own any, but would like to pick up a pair shortly.  By nature, most ribbon mics are a figure-8 polar pattern, meaning they pick up a signal directly in front and behind the microphone.  They pick up very little sound from the null on the sides, often having better rejection than a cardiod mic.  I'd like to note than ribbon mics are quite moisture sensitive, and often volume sensitive (won't handle high SPL's).  Also, phantom power may damage some ribbons (especially older models).  

Ribbons are useful as drum overheads, distant room mics, vocal mics, brass and even on a quiet(ish) guitar cabinet.  Generally they are a very colored sounding mic, and ofter a nice sound to make a specific track stand out a little. Popular models include:

1.5      Auditioning Microphones:

There are several techniques for auditioning a new mic for your studio.  One viable technique is to use a mixer, cd player, good monitors and closed ear headphones.  Basically you set up a mic on the speaker, and listen to it through the headphones.  Obviously, you're hearing the sound of the speakers with this technique... so you have to bear that in mind.   You'll need to move the mic around the room, and listen to it's response from different angles and distances.

It's also very important to listen to mics on real voices and instruments.  Check the mic on a singer (or your voice, if you'd like), a guitar, cymbals, etc.  When checking the mic, try close micing, as well as more distant micing.  This will give you an idea of what the incoming reflections sound like with the mic. I also like to experiment with the angle of the mic to hear the off-axis sound.  It's also wise to see how the mic responds to plosives (popped P's, etc) silibance (hisses) and handling noise/shock.  You should try hissing in it, saying plosive sounds (Puh, Puh) and thumping the mic stand a little.  These are problems that creep up during recording, and it's best to know what to expect from the mic before you buy it.

Back    Table of Contents     Email    Forward