October 9th, 2011 | by Wes Maebe

Buying A Recording Mic

There’s lots of ways to be sure about your choice before you commit –says Wes Maebe

Where on earth do you start when you’re about to spend close to or over a £1,000 on a microphone for recording your voice?

I’d say “Be damn sure of your choice before you commit”.

If you have plenty of studio recording experience you’ll have come across a wide range of mics and an even wider range of opinions from fellow vocalists, engineers, producers and know-it-alls.

The truth is that there isn’t one golden microphone. If it did all the other manufacturers would be out of business and all the records in the world would sound the same.

Get Your Hands on Them

So simply try out as many mics as you can. Bundle all those comments and that advice together and make a short list based on the feedback and on budget of course.

And, please, do not forget that more expensive does not necessarily mean better.
The point of all this is to find a microphone that best suits your voice.

OK, we want to try out some mics. Where are we going to get our hands on some to test drive?

First port of call would be a fellow artist.

Your buddies may have some killer gear already and are willing to let you get a feel for it to see if you and the mic vibe well together (if they won’t allow you to do that, they’re not really buddies really!).

I also suggest you get in touch with a few distributors and ask them if you could have a couple of mics on a trial basis. Most of them will happily accommodate you if we’re talking about the upper range of microphone.

You’ve done your research, have acquired a selection of demo units and you’re busting to get singing.

Testing

Set up all the microphones and make sure there’s as little equipment in the chain as possible.

If you have equalisers and compressors, effects units etc. take them all out of the chain so you get the cleanest signal path from the microphone to your console or audio interface.

Record a few lines and have a good close listen and make your decision. Keep an eye and ear out for dullness, over pronounced S-sounds, too middly, too honky…

You really want a microphone that’s going to give you a nice open and fairly even sound with some extra characteristics that compliment your voice.

The Acquisition

Congratulations! You are now the proud owner of your own studio microphone.

Time to get singing and recording.

Spend some time with your mic before going for the real take. Figure out how the various patterns pick up sound and vary the tonal characteristics.

More Stuff

One of my mentors once said that the audio industry was invented by bank managers.

Oh my, is that true. You have bought a microphone, now you need the cables, the stand, the pop shield, the microphone pre-amp, the list goes on.

Needless to say the selection process for our microphone works for all these other components as well.

And if it’s all a bit too overwhelming, leave a comment below, watch this column, check out the forum on this site – you’re a part of the VoiceCouncil community now.

We’re all in it for the same reasons; the music, the passion, the sound and the fun.

-Wes

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  • Al Andrew Music

    A very practical apprach ! Good advice !
    Buying a mic can be a nightmare !
    Take your time don’t rush !
    Know your voice and understand what you are wanting to do with the kind of mic you are buying :)

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