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Which Microphone Should I Use?

Which Microphone Should I Use?

I often get asked this question, especially when teaching or in the recording studio: “which microphone should I use to record X?”. The answer I always give? – “the one that gets you the sound you want”. It sounds kind of flippant I know but it really is that simple. You can save yourself a whole load of of time by simply putting a microphone up and having a listen to what you are capturing. Try moving the mic around while you are listening on headphones and see whether you and the musician/band are happy with the sound. Not what you want? Move the mic. Need it brighter? Try a capacitor/condenser mic or move more on-axis. Need it warmer? Try a Valve/Tube mic or Ribbon if you have one. Not the right kind of sound? See if you get nearer to the sound with EQ and if not, switch the mic out for something with a different character. I always try to get the best sound first without having to resort to EQ – just a personal preference. Now it gets interesting when you “mix as you go” – A very common practice nowadays due to dwindling budgets for recording studio time. I personally follow this approach and try to get the sound I want in the mixed track as I go along so you are not always listening for the best the sound can be as that might not be what the track needs! You may want to listen to the track as you go and you’ll soon hear a sweet spot where the instrument seems to sit...
Say Hi to the High Pass Filter!

Say Hi to the High Pass Filter!

I was hanging out with my brother-in-law the other weekend (hey I kind of have to – he made my website! ;0) and he was having trouble getting a guitar track to fit in the mix. There wasn’t a lot going on in the song – mainly drums, bass and guitars with a few vocals – but he was having some real trouble getting all the elements to be heard clearly in the mix, especially when it came to the chorus which sounded kind of wimpy. This is when I gave him some tips on using an HPF – High Pass Filter and this should be the first bit of EQ’ing that you master before you start cutting and boosting all over the place. The theory is that there will be an awful lot of bass information recorded on a track when you don’t need it. For example – if you record a high frequency part like a shaker, the mic will still have picked up a load of bass information that you don’t need – stuff like air conditioner hum, foot tapping etc etc. This is where you should use an HPF because although you might not hear the bass per track it will all add up to some serious mud when you get to 50+ tracks! The picture below illustrates what I mean by High Pass Filter. It’s an EQ that lets the higher frequencies through unchanged while cutting or removing the bass or lower frequencies. Here I am using the stock EQ plugin from Apple Logic Studio 9 but any EQ will do although some might...