microphones : the hows and whats of microphones

Download Microphones : the Hows and Whats of Microphones

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A brief overview of the two major types of microphones (dynamic and condenser), their pros & cons & best usage, pickup patterns, as well as other issues that affect sound recording quality : pre-amps, mic placement, room modes... Presented as part of Paris Audio Production Meetup - http://www.meetup.com/Production-Musicale-Paris/

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  • 1. Microphone PrimerThe Hows and Whats of Microphones

2. The world of microphones What kind of mic do I need? What kind of mics are there? What's the best mic to get?Of course, it all depends 3. Types of microphones Dynamic microphone Ribbon microphone Condenser (capacitor) microphone Electret Liquid Laser Crystal Plastic cups & string 4. Types of microphones Dynamic microphone Ribbon microphone Condenser (capacitor) microphone ElectretLets drop the rest. 5. Caveat These are all generalizations Note use of tends to, generally, mostly Microphones can vary greatly within same type Optimal microphone use can depend on large numberof factors 6. Dynamic microphones Mechanical does not use power, uses volume(signal) to drive recording Tolerates higher signal level without clipping Tends to pick up more low-end (bass) 7. Dynamic microphonesDynamics are good for Guitar amps Percussion / drums Warmer sounds on vocals (louder vocals) Live recordings (they don't pick up soft backgroundsounds) 8. Ribbon microphones Its a type of dynamic microphone Generally higher-end (more expensive) Different mechanics Thicker, warm sound, not muddy 9. Condenser microphones Also called capacitor microphones Main difference needs power to record Need to activate power AFTER everything is plugged Make sure gain (volume) is down High end condensers - have dedicated power source Orpheus (8k) Condensers can offer different pickup patterns Well talk about this in a minute 10. Condenser microphonesCondensers are good for Studios (where its quiet) Soft sounds, soft vocals Picking up more high-frequency sound 11. Electret microphones A type of condenser microphone Typically lower-quality small microphones Nearly all cell-phone, computer, PDA and headsetmicrophones are electret types. 12. Other things to considerThings that will affect the recorded sound other than themicrophone itself Frequency response Pre-amps Pickup patterns Recording techniques / mic placement Room modes / room treatment 13. Frequency response Different mics will be more sensitive at differentfrequency ranges Some mics may respond better / capture more at highfrequencies, others at low frequencies This varies from mic to mic, even within the same typeof mic For example, for two different condenser microphones,one may sound better on male voices (lower frequency),another sounds better on female voices (higherfrequency) The only real way to know is to test differentmicrophones with the same source and compare 14. Pre-amps The sound signal strength coming from a mic istypically very low A pre-amp increases the gain (volume) for the soundsignal from your mic to your recording desk / DAW Pre-amps do not all increase the gain in the same way,over the same spectrum so different pre-amps havedifferent impacts on the sound 15. Pickup patternsThese apply to condenser microphones (not dynamic) Cardioid Omnidirectional Hyper-cardioid Figure-of-eight 16. Cardioid Typical pickup pattern found on basic mics includingdynamic microphonesMic upright, parallel to screen 17. OmnidirectionalMic upright, parallel to screen 18. Hyper-cardioidMic upright, parallel to screen 19. Figure-of-eight Used for recording front and backMic upright, parallel to screen 20. Recording techniques / mic placement Mic placement Super close can unnaturally boost low-end sound Dont point a mic directly at a guitar amp Using one or more mics Placement for stereo effect or for different sounds Top / bottom of guitar neck Cymbals vs snare on drums Phase problems (same sound recorded millisecondsapart can cause phase problems) Different types of mics in one recording 21. Room modes / room treatment If you want a recorded live (as opposed to digital instrument)sound, you typically want some sort of echo Rooms naturally echo all good so far Square rooms / perfect rectangle / right angle rooms echo worse Echoes can cancel each other out missing sound Echoes can add to each other loud sounds What happens is based on modes (sizes of wavelengths ofsounds) Bad echoes cause uneven sounds If you record in a bad room, you try to remove echo withtreatment (sound panels on walls, in corners, etc). 22. OK great, butWhats the best mic for ME? Single mic / multiple mics? Studio or live? Loud or soft? 23. All right, the shortcutWhats the best mic for ME? A lot of people swear by Shure SM 57 / SM 58 Dynamic cardioid You should know what that means by now. SM 57 is flat-ended, for instrument recording SM 58 had a ball end for vocal recording But it doesnt really matter Another good recommendation is the Rode NT 1 Condenser mic 24. Thank you! And thanks to Rajen for helping sort out all theconfusing information about microphones! 25. ResourcesMicrophones https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microphone http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/apr98/articles/mic_types.html This online store lets you compare identical sound samples for different mics!- http://www.thomann.de/gb/microphones.htmlPre-amps http://recordingbootcamp.com/2010/04/what-is-a-mic-pre-microphone-preamplifiers-and-preamps-explained/Room treatment http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/dec07/articles/acoustics.htm

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