General Tips on Microphones

By: Bruce Hathaway | Posted: 03rd March 2011

Did you realize that you don't have to go all the way to a fancy studio to do some recording of your material? Strides in audio technology have made it easy for any eager musician to access some of what's necessary for building a recording studio in your own home, be it bedroom, basement or garage.

If you are setting up a music production system, it goes without saying that you want to pull together a set of great equipment that's necessary in a working recording studio. Before you part with your hard-earned cash, you'll need to shop around and research the best gear.

One of the most important pieces for your sound production endeavor is the microphone. When it comes to this piece of gear, don't concede for less than reasonable quality because mics are first in line, capturing the sound-waves from a vocalist or instrumentalist to the recording medium. There are essentially two types of microphone, the condenser and the less expensive dynamic. Each one is right for certain uses. With some exceptions the condenser mic is superior for vocals. Dynamic mics are usually the best for high SPL sounds like a snare drum or guitar amplifier. You will need to get the highest quality that is within your means to progress in your musical career. Don't buy inexpensive mics, your recording will suffer the consequences.

Another important thing about setting up your project is the position of your microphones. For singers, placement should be as close to the microphone as possible. At this point what you need to know is that even the best condenser mics are not prone to rejecting ambient noise. Condenser mics can pick up any sounds from the surroundings because they are so sensitive. Condensers are generally better and have "hotter" output so they should be used only in the quietest places. (An isolated live room or vocal booth)

The best thing to do to improve sound input quality for the microphone is to make sure that the microphone is properly placed. The best advice for placement is to experiment and use your ears on a test playback recording. Your own tastes will confirm exactly what you want as opposed to doing it the "usual way " and hoping for the best.

There's a great variety of microphones that you might be deliberating on for a music studio. One of the best and cost effective of the condensers is the Rode NT-1. This one works like the popular NT2 and comes with a set of high quality components and functionalities.

Among the great features of this model is the trans-formerless FET circuitry. This particular microphone is a high performance professional microphone at a more or less affordable price. If your wallet permits you to, you can buy a Rode NT1 for capturing the vocals. A newcomer of this type is the NT1a. Reviewers have recommended this model for its capability to pick up lower register sounds, which makes it excellent for putting some rich low-end into your vocal recording. If you want fewer low frequencies in using the NT1a, you can easily dial them out with a high-pass filter on board the software or mixing desk.

If you're just starting out you might consider getting the versatile stage hammer such as the all-time quality classic Shure SM 57, a dynamic. If you just can't afford to purchase specific microphones for particular applications, you can make use of this as a foundation for all your efforts, though not the most advantageous.

You will get higher output and XLR connections if you also get a descent preamp, often included in the D/A converters and always on a recording console.

If you're creating a sound recording system you have to attend to the quality of all other pieces of equipment and utilities that you'll need besides the microphone. You will need to get some of the latest computer programs for the recording, sound processing and making beats, if need be. This may be the least expensive part of your studio, but very important nevertheless. (The actual computer may be the most expensive, though.) Much of the reverb, EQ, compression and many other effects these days can now be achieved with the PC programs. When it comes to offering very high quality "outboard" processing, Logic Studio and Protools are among the many choices.

Bear in mind that what's most expensive doesn't indicate what the best is. Consider your options. If you take some time looking into all of these, there's no reason why you should not benefit greatly, at least in the recording part of this difficult music business.


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Looking for a great microphone? Visit Bruce's online shop, Mics and More Online for a variety of Microphones, expert advice and special offers.
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Tags: endeavor, condenser, sound waves, audio technology, microphones, microphone, singers, strides, vocalist, music production, musical career, condensers