November 6th, 2011 | by Wes Maebe

Mics and Money

“How much do you need to spend on your mic?” -asks Wes Maebe

I hope you all enjoyed the last installment on selecting a microphone.

So, let’s delve a bit deeper into the microphone business: do you really need to spend thousands of dollars/pounds or can you get away with less than 100.00?

Still a little jet lagged, I’ve just returned from the 131st Audio Engineering Society Convention in New York.

On the exhibition floor were 30 microphone manufacturers. Amongst the golden oldies we all know and may have used, every single manufacturer had at least one brand new design on display.

For me, the main question this brings up is, “Are any of these better?” and the simple answer is :” Not necessarily.”

We work in an extremely subjective industry.

Music you think is amazing, may not tickle your best buddy’s fancy at all. And the same goes for all this new equipment the market’s trying to force upon us.

Fastfood vs. Gourmet Cooking?

We started out with this question and it’ll make at least one more appearance.

There simply isn’t one answer.

Browse through a recording equipment catalogue and you’ll find microphones starting from as low as £30.00 up to £4,000.00 and more.

A cheapo mic will most likely give you a cheapo sound.

Occasionally you’ll find one that does something magical–and likewise for the top of the range mics.

I’ve come across ridiculously expensive mics that sounded like you were singing through a sock.

It brings us right back to my last post on selecting a microphone for your voice.

Every voice works in a different way with each different microphone.

Budget may not be the only factor dictating your final choice; if the recordings you’re going to make with your new mic will end up on final masters, you should be prepared to invest a little more.

However, if the entire exercise is just to get used to a microphone, put down a few ideas and sound quality is not paramount, you can keep the price down.

It is also worth keeping in mind that the studios, producers and engineers you’ll be working with, will have a great selection of microphones to suit your voice.

How Much?!

Do you need to spend a thousand dollars or more on a microphone?

My personal answer to that would be:” No.”

This is where the manufacturers will probably shoot me.

Obviously you’ll be carrying your own live performance mic. Studio-wise I would rely on the selection, care and expertise of your producers and engineers. After all, different mics will provide different characters, different colours and sounds.

If you’re a geek and gearslut like me, of course, you should strive to own every single mic ever made!

I’d suggest you get a decent enough microphone to lay down ideas, guide vocals and practice.

Spend the rest on a great vocal coach who will make you comfortable with your voice, teach you how not to destroy it and more than anything how to sing in tune.

Focus on the performance, create those goose bump moments for your fans and crew, that’s what it’s all about.

We rely on you, the singer, to give the performance of your life, time after time, full of passion and without tuning software.

If you depend on the software to fix it, it’s not real and it doesn’t matter how good or bad the microphone is…it’ll never sound real to the audience.

Sing your hearts out and hopefully I’ll see you on the other side of the glass.

-Wes

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