Facebook social media iconTwitter social media iconYouTube social media iconSubmit to Reddit

An Introduction to Equalization - A free download from Audio Masterclass

An Introduction to Compression: Basic Compression - A free download from Audio Masterclass

Equipping Your Home Recording Studio - A free download from Audio Masterclass

The difference between minimum-phase and linear-phase EQ on transient signals such as snare drum

Recordings of acoustic guitar by Audio Masterclass students

This voice over studio looks like something out of Monty Python

What is production? Part 2: Arrangement

Your mix sounds good in your car. But does it sound good in ANY car?

The 10 rules of pan

Audio problems at the BBC - TV drama audiences can't understand what the actors are saying

The professional way to make sure your mics are connected correctly

How much mastering does a Pink Floyd soundalike band need?

How to double track easily and efficiently

Microphones do matter

In contrast to my recent article where I said that choice of microphone often doesn't matter, there are times where selecting the right microphone can make an enormous difference to your sound.

Learn audio online with the Audio Masterclass Studio Recording and Production Course - enrolling until Friday with 20% discount - use promo code SEPT2017 at the checkout >>

In this recent article, I argued that, for most purposes, it doesn't matter that much which microphone you use.

But there are times when choosing the right microphone really does make a difference.

Vocals, for instance, are very sensitive to microphone selection.

Of course, the first rule of getting good a good vocal recording is to get a good singer. Don't like the sound? Then get a better singer.

But there are occasions where it isn't feasible to replace the singer. One is when the singer (or band) is paying for your services. Another is when you want to record yourself!

While any microphone of a decent professional quality will be able to capture a vocal that is clean and clear, sometimes you want just a little more.

To get the type of vocal sound that is popular these days, it is necessary to place the microphone quite close to the mouth. Microphones tend to be less accurate when used very close to the sound source. The frequency response will be altered by the proximity effect. There may be some distortion. And since the sound field is strongly curved close-up, the microphone may react differently than it would if used at a typical listening distance.

So, as any experienced engineer knows, to get the best out of a singer it is an extremely useful exercise to try out a selection of mics and see which works best. And for any one singer, the best mic for their voice might even change from day to day.

Another occasion where selection of microphone is important is when you are trying to reproduce a particular sound.

Suppose for instance that the client liked the sound of a certain recording from the past, and you know that it was probably made using a ribbon microphone, then you really have to use a ribbon microphone to get the same sound. Nothing else sounds quite the same.

And if you want to achieve the characteristic sound of a vacuum tube microphone, then you need a vacuum tube microphone.

So in summary, although for most purposes the differences between microphones are much less significant than differences in microphone positioning, there are times when you need to find exactly the right mic for the job.

Please click here if there are broken links or missing images in this article

By David Mellor Tuesday May 18, 2010
Learn music production