Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Getting More From Your Mics

It seems that in the recording world, we often use the same mic for one certain application, over and over again, year after year. For instance, the Shure SM57 has been the standard mic for a snare drum for decades. Go to any studio anywhere in the world, and you will see these mics being used on a snare drum at some point. Of course, there is a reason that certain mics are used for certain applications; they sound really good! You can, however, teach and old mic new tricks, so to speak.
Ever tried using that SM57 for a studio vocal mic? It works for live sound, why not for studio? How about using a kick drum mic such as the AKG D112 on a bass cabinet. Ever used a cheap Radio Shack mic on a guitar? It may not be the cleanest, best sound, but it could be just what you're looking for to give your tracks a bit of dirt.
New mics can still be used the same way as the old ones. Many new mics are based on earlier designs and even attempt to model the circuitry of the vintage mics. This leads to many newer models of mics still being used in the same way as the originals were 30, 40, or even 50 or more years ago.
However, the newer mics have often been upgraded with modern circuitry and solid state transformers as opposed to tube circuitry. This allows them to be used in the same way as old mics, but with better results and less noise.
If you have the chance to use any of the truly vintage mics, not remakes, listen for the sonic quality differences compared to newer mics. Mics are built to accommodate the recording equipment of the time. Depending on what your are recording to, an old mic can sound fairly new when paired with modern equipment. Conversely, a new mic can have a retro, vintage sound when paired with  old preamps and recording equipment.
Congratulations to Mark Bennett, winner of last month's contest.
When you order drum tracks and upload songs to your account between now and March 20, you will be automatically entered to win two FREE drum tracks. You can also enter by leaving a comment below.
Next month we will talk about mastering, what it is and what it isn't.