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

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

An Introduction to Equalization - A free download from Audio Masterclass

An investigation of the pre-delay parameter of the Lexicon 480L reverb plug-in

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What is production? Part 1: A&R

The importance of monitoring in the recording studio

What is production? Part 2: Arrangement

Is it time to reinvent the physical mixing console?

The new Apple HomePod smart speaker - what difference will it make to your mixing and mastering?

The professional way to make sure your mics are connected correctly

A great-sounding live vocal mic that you might never have heard of [with video]

The importance of managing configurations and preferences in professional work

Seven PRO microphones compared - with audio!

Can you tell the difference between a $100 dollar microphone and a $3500 microphone, all recorded in exactly the same way, with the same sound source. If you can't, you might save yourself $3400 dollars!

The recent microphone preamplifier tests were illuminating. The conclusions were these...

  • Many people were bold enough to have a go at the test. Well done if you did!
  • Although people could in general tell the difference between the preamps, very few correctly identified which was the most expensive and which was the least expensive.
  • It wasn't a good idea to ask people to comment on the microphones as well as the preamps. Within its own terms of reference the preamp test was solid. However the microphone test introduced two variables where there should only have been one.

So... what we need is a proper microphone test. And here it is!

Here are audio examples of seven different microphones in common professional use ranging in price from around $100 to around $3500. The parameters of the test are these...

  • The mics are all either nominally cardioid, or switched to the cardioid setting.
  • The mouth-to-mic distance is consistent in all examples at 22 centimeters.
  • The microphone is placed 10 cm above the mouth and angled down at the mouth.
  • No pop shield was used.
  • All recordings were made in a large proprietary vocal booth in the same session.
  • The recordings were made on a Pro Tools HD system to 24-bit resolution using a Focusrite Octopre preamplifier. The recordings were normalized and bounced to 16-bit .WAV files with dither.

I have four questions...

  1. Which microphone do you prefer? Why is it better than the others?
  2. Which microphone do you least prefer? Why is it worse than the others?
  3. Which microphone is your next to least preference? Why is it worse than your preferred mic?
  4. Any constructive comments on the test procedure. Given that this is a speech test, please limit your comments to speech.

Please read the questions carefully before you answer, particularly Question 3.

When you comment, please try to make your remarks useful to the many sincere and committed recording professionals and enthusiasts who use this site.

Now, the mics... (right click, save target as...)

Thank you very much. I look forward to reading your replies.

Update - you can now see the results here...

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

By David Mellor Monday January 30, 2006
Online courses from Audio Masterclass