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Which Microphone Should I Use?

by | Dec 12, 2012 | Sound Advice | 0 comments

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 in the mix rather than being obscured by other parts.

Just remember – don’t worry if the track sounds crap in solo – you’re never going to hear it that way unless it is in an exposed part of the track and in this case you could always overdub.

I once ended up with an acoustic guitar microphone in a very odd place indeed as you looked at it, but the sound was exactly what was needed in the track. Use your ears not your eyes!!

There could be a problem if someone else is mixing the tracks – I once had a mix engineer get me to re-record guitars as he was balancing the tracks in a different way to me so each case is different.

Now the amount of experimentation you have time for always depends upon the client – it’s their money after all! I tend to use the longer sessions to hone technique and try new things and on shorter sessions – the kind when a band has a day and wants to record as much as possible – these are the sessions when you can fall back on accepted practice. Let’s face it: a Shure SM57 is always going to work on an electric guitar amp!

Threecircles Mic Collection

A selection of the mics I use at Threecircles Recording Studio in Essex, UK.

Threecircles Recording Studio
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Kieren Jones
Kieren Jones
2018-04-28T14:45:45+0000
Excellent recording facility and Adrian is a top professional guy! Thoroughly enjoyed it, will definitely be using your services again thanks for a great productive day.
Richard Simmonds
Richard Simmonds
2018-02-25T10:39:15+0000
Adrian, thank you for a great day and a half of recording finishing last Wednesday. Having been together as a group back in the 60s and now getting together 50 years on to record was a bit nerve racking but you made the thing so much easier with your professional advice and guidance. You've got a great set up and since we had Rog playing flute and drums [for some reason not at the same time!] the layering down of the instruments went really well. We had a great time and ended up with a CD and lots of happy memories. Martin living in France doesn't make it easy but we have all vowed to be back with something completely different for you to cut to disc. Thanks again and see you soon. Sam, Andy, Roger and Martin of Old Lemons fame.
Richard Ellis
Richard Ellis
2016-12-19T05:50:37+0000
This is a relaxed studio in a lovely location near the beautiful town of Saffron Walden. Adrian is a great sound guy, he listens and responds and adds enthusiasm to the day. Top recordings with the best equipment for a great price ... highly recommended ��
Ashley 'mAsh' Garbett
Ashley 'mAsh' Garbett
2016-12-17T12:19:23+0000
Having recorded at Threecircles several times, there's good reason why I keep going back... with such high end equipment, Ade's expertise and competitive pricing there's no need to go anywhere else!!
Andy Webster
Andy Webster
2016-12-14T22:55:28+0000
I first met Ade when a charity band event needed a sound technician and PA rig at short notice, he provided top notch sound for the event and also offered a very well priced live recording, which he would go away and mix at Threecircles Studio. The results were brilliant, I have never heard myself recorded live so well and the mixing was fantastic too. As a result, one of my bands then used Threecircles services again, this time at the studio to record a track for promotional purposes. We had a great time and were really happy with the results! Would highly recommend for both studio work and live sound.
Dan Mailer
Dan Mailer
2016-12-14T20:26:42+0000
Three Circles is excellent. Great studio that I have recorded at various times over the year. Ade is a hard working producer who gets great results.
Victoria Mills
Victoria Mills
2016-12-14T20:25:21+0000
I've both recorded and rehearsed at Threecircles and I can't recommend them enough! Nothing was too much trouble, the facilities are excellent and our demo sounds amazing! Thank-you!
Steve Watts
Steve Watts
2016-12-14T18:46:27+0000
Loved working with the chaps at Three Cirlces, they have all the gear and every idea! Super talented guys who get the very best out of you! 5/5
Rob Clark
Rob Clark
2016-12-14T18:20:10+0000
Very professional sound, genuinely listens to what you want and the sound you wish to create, and makes it better in every way! Highly recommend!
Stephen Ellis
Stephen Ellis
2016-12-14T18:19:54+0000
Recorded the last Kaine single at this studio; very professional set up, Ade is a great guy and the coffee is also good.
Gemma Marner
Gemma Marner
2016-12-14T18:04:48+0000
I've always loved recording at Three Circles - lovely, comfortable space and surroundings and Adrian is so easy to work with. Would recommend it in a heartbeat!
Joel Priest
Joel Priest
2016-12-14T16:57:59+0000
Great location as so close to London by road or rail. More mics than you can imagine and Ade has always done a highly professional job whenever I have used his services.
Kennedy Clark Herring
Kennedy Clark Herring
2016-12-14T16:42:36+0000
Truly professional attitude and highly capable. Recommending these guys for studio work as well as live sound... Cheers guys, appreciate the extra effort you put in,making us sound truly amazing. 5 stars : )
Chris MacKinnon
Chris MacKinnon
2016-12-14T16:41:46+0000
Ade at 3C is a true hero. Aside from having professional equipment, incredible understanding and knowledge of music production and a brilliant studio - he is a real genuine man. If I could I'd give this studio 6*, Ade recently recorded a single for my band completely for free because he knew we were doing it for charity.
Saxon Davids
Saxon Davids
2016-12-14T16:39:40+0000
Great recording facility! I've recorded at Threecircles twice now and enjoyed both sessions a lot, Ade is great to work with and has an set up of equipment and can produce excellent sound, and charges at a reasonable rate also! And the coffee is also a huge plus! 😉
Matt Milligan
Matt Milligan
2016-12-14T16:01:56+0000
Excellent recording studio, highly recommended!