Practical Recording 1: Microphones

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A supercardioid pattern offers the most rejection averaged over the entire space behind the mic, while the cardioid pattern has the most rejection of sounds that are directly behind the mic. Often, a single boundary mic can be deployed to capture the entire stage. Phase interference between multiple mics might cause tonal changes. Note that it can be quite adequate, however, if the house loudspeakers are far enough away. Is our show file, created after weeks or months or years of rehearsals and shows — and with all of our intellectual knowledge and How, as professional crew, can we enjoy the best that life on the road has to offer and still have a life off the Think of compression being like an invisible finger on a volume control fader and you're already halfway there Approaches for this era of shrinking spectrum, where empty space is at a premium and demand for wireless keeps climbing.

Another installment in a new oral history series presenting the history and heritage of professional audio. Celebrating over 50 years of audio excellence worldwide, Audio-Technica is a leading innovator in transducer technology, renowned for the design and manufacture of microphones, wireless microphones, headphones, mixers, and electronics for the audio industry. Study Hall. Supported By. March 17, Bruce Bartlett. Interesting and effective approaches for successfully capturing voices on live stages. Figure 1: A mic in a desk stand is subject to phase interference. Figure 2: A conventional mic on a stage floor can be impacted by phase interference at higher frequencies.

Figure 3: A small mic capsule on a stage floor helps prevent phase interference. The capsule is placed at the end of an interference tube, which eliminates sound from the sides via phase cancellation. This design results in a tighter polar pattern up front with longer pickup range. Although Shotgun mics are more commonly used for film and theatre, they also make great overhead mics for capturing things like singing groups, chorals, drum cymbals.

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These are microphones that can change between different polar patterns, allowing for versatile placement. Many of today's USB condenser microphones have this feature, letting you switch between multiple patterns by simply flicking a switch. Others provide the same flexibility through changing the mic head.

The advantage that these mics offer is obvious, more positioning possibilities and more usage. Just remember to be careful when handling these mics, you don't want to accidentally damage the extra moving parts and circuitry that give them their versatility. Microphones pick up sounds through their diaphragm, a thin material that vibrates when it comes into contact with sound.

Practical Recording Techniques

This vibration converts sonic energy into electrical energy. While there is no actual standard unit of measurement, there are currently three main classifications for mic diaphragms, all of which are referring to the diaphragm's mass. The size of the diaphragm affects the microphone's sound pressure level handling, sensitivity, dynamic range and internal noise level. Mics with small diaphragms are commonly called pencil mics because of their thin cylindrical shapes. Their compact design makes them lighter and easier to position, and interestingly, they are designed to be stiffer, to handle higher sound pressure levels and have wider dynamic range.


You can use them on acoustic guitars, hi-hats, cymbals, and other instruments. Known limitations of this particular diaphragm type are increased internal noise, and low sensitivity. The bigger the diaphragm, the more it can sense air vibrations, and the more vibrations are captured, more of the sonic details are faithfully reproduced.

Unlike small diaphragms that are stiff, large diaphragms move easily, allowing them to detect even faint differences in sound pressure levels which result in a more transparent and natural sound. This affinity to fidelity has made large diaphragm mics a staple in recording studios, and they are now the most common configuration used on modern USB mics. You can use them to record just about anything, from vocals to guitars and other instruments, just make sure that you keep the volume in check because they can distort when the sound pressure level is increased.

Medium Diaphragm mics are sometimes called hybrid because they combine the characteristics of small and large diaphragms. They tend to have a slightly fuller and warm sound similar to large diaphragms while retaining some of the high frequency content that small diaphragms could. These are modern microphones that are gaining reputation in both live and recording situations, but essentially, you can skip on these mics if you're setting up a small home studio or a small venue, especially if you already have large and small diaphragm mics to work with.

Note that USB powered versions don't require phantom power. If you're looking for something reliable and versatile, then you ought to start with dynamic mics. Thanks to their moving coil magnetic diaphragm, these mics reliably capture sound and can do so even at high sound pressure levels. As such, you can use them for miking loud sound sources like bass and guitar amplifiers, and even drum kits without worrying about unwanted distortion or damage. Finally, they are not just for high SPL Sound Pressure Level applications because they work quite well in quieter settings. Condenser mics have a thin conductive diaphragm that sits close to a metal backplate.

This configuration works like a capacitor wherein sound pressure vibrates the diaphragm which in turn changes the capacitance to produce the audio signal. Since they use capacitance instead of actual moving coils, fidelity and sound quality is improved, making these mics ideal for precision recording in the studio. Note that this method of sound capture requires power, so you'll need a mixer or direct box with phantom power except in cases where batteries are used. Whatever instrument you are trying to record, condenser mics will get the job done so long as the sound pressure levels aren't too high.

Just remember to handle them with care as they are not as sturdy as dynamic mics. While these mics are no longer as popular, Ribbon mics were once very successful particularly in the radio industry. The light metal ribbon used in these mics allows it to pickup the velocity of the air and not just air displacement. This allows for improved sensitive to higher frequencies, capturing higher notes without the harshness while retaining a warm vintage voicing. These days, interest for Ribbon mics have returned, especially since modern production ribbon mics are now sturdier and more reliable than their old counterparts, making them viable for live multi-instrument recording on venues where noise level is manageable.

You can also use them for recording if you're looking for vintage vibe, or you can set it up in combination with dynamic or condenser mics for a more open sounding track. Here we look at the main purpose each kind of microphone is typically used for. This is a good guide to get you started and once you gain experience with each mic type you'll find additional applications that work for you.

For live vocal performances where stage volume can get loud and feedback suppression is important, the best choice is to use cardioid mics - see our guide to the best microphones for singing live. Recording vocals on the other hand is a different undertaking that requires more attention to the singer's nuances, as such large diaphragm condensers work best. If you are going for a more vintage sounding vocal recording, use ribbon mics or go for good old dynamic mics instead. In addition, small diaphragm omnidirectional mics and shotgun mics can be used for capturing choirs and singing groups, and are especially useful when choirs perform in venues with great acoustics, like churches.

Because acoustic drum kits are naturally loud and punchy, you'll want to go with dynamic cardioid mics for the snare, bass and toms. Small diaphragm microphones can then be used to capture the nuances of the hi-hat, ride and cymbals. For best results, there are specialized mics that are fine tuned to handle the different frequencies and SPLs of each part of a drum kit, you can either get them one by one or go for convenient drum kit mic bundles. In the studio, you can setup an Omnidirection or ribbon mic to blend in some ambience into your drum tracks.

Close mic'd guitar amplifiers are as loud, sometimes louder than drum kits, and as such they require mics that can handle high SPL. Your best bet is a cardioid or hyper cardioid dynamic mic that is well positioned in front of the amp speaker. Again a second condenser mic or ribbon mic, set back at a distance, can be used in case you are using multiple amps or if you want a warmer more classic sounding output, or in combination with a close mic to capture some of the room ambience.

Acoustic guitars when not amplified have a softer sound with immersive nuances. These type of instruments require the fidelity and quality of large diaphragm condenser mics. You can also go for a well placed Cardioid condenser mic or Figure-8 pattern ribbons depending on the situation and noise level. Finally, setting up an extra small diaphragm mic will work wonders in capturing the higher frequencies that sometimes get lost when acoustics are plugged in or miked directly up front.

We've talked about the main types of microphones you'll use in various situations, however as you gain experience you'll also learn how to break with convention.

Before You Start Recording

If there's anything more you would like to know about microphones then please feel free to ask in the comments below. For recording podcasts indoors then a Condenser Mic is the best way to go.

You can get a USB one so that you don't need an audio interface - just plug it directly into your computer or tablet. If you're recording outside, such as interviewing people in public places, then it's generally best to go with a Dynamic Mic which can take the punishment of being carried around in bags and knocked a few times - you can find these in our Live Vocal Mic Guide.

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  8. A good choice for podcasting - we have more information about it here on Gearank. I do a lot of narrating for official functions and events and I am looking to purchase my own personal mic. What type of mic is the best for public speaking?

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    Would a dynamic or condenser mic be best for me? Also, if you do recommend a condenser, what can I use to provide phantom power if the sound system they are using does not inherently have the capability to produce it? I am looking for professional quality mic that I can take from event to event with me.

    I would be grateful for any recommendations or suggestions. A dynamic mic is definitely a better option for public speaking because they are more robust, simpler to operate and generally less expensive than condenser mics. But there ARE rare exceptions. Could that be because the originals were damn near perfect?

    And they can be easily switched out, even with the mic still on! So anyways, that concludes this insanely long post. Hope you enjoyed it guys. Ready to get started? Here we go… 1. First up… 3. Well neither would any studio.

    Practical Recording 1: Microphones Practical Recording 1: Microphones
    Practical Recording 1: Microphones Practical Recording 1: Microphones
    Practical Recording 1: Microphones Practical Recording 1: Microphones
    Practical Recording 1: Microphones Practical Recording 1: Microphones
    Practical Recording 1: Microphones Practical Recording 1: Microphones

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