Microphones


Duration: 35 minutes

Featuring: Alan Parsons with Jackie Greene (Audio-Technica), John McBride, David Thoener, & John Fields.

Microphones are involved in almost all aspects and avenues of recording; even a sampled drum loop has had to have been miked and initially recorded by somebody! A microphone is an electrical ‘ear’ that listens to sound and, just as with ears, different mics placed in different positions hear different balances of the sound around them.

Obvious, maybe, but it’s helpful, in these marketing and spec-heavy times, to go back to basics and consider exactly what you’re doing when using or selecting a microphone.

In this major section Alan investigates microphones from the ground up: What is a mic? How do the various types of microphones work? What are polar patterns? What are the characteristics applications of certain mics? Miking techniques.

One sub-scene deals with dynamic range – the difference between the softest and loudest signal detected - and mic sensitivity. Alan looks at the differences between condenser and dynamic mics, analyzing why certain types of microphone are best for certain recording tasks.

Following on, Alan looks at different mic characteristics displayed when varying the distance between mic and sound source. As he point out, distance not only changes volume or output level, but also tone. Phase is also an important issue and Alan shows how and why you might want have adjacent mics in or out of phase, a topic that naturally leads onto a look at mic placement – why and when to close mic, the value of room miking, and much more.

Most mic manufacturers would prefer we all try to copy Blackbird studios owner John McBride (who is also interviewed in this section) and keep 1001 mics in our mic cabinets. But in a very revealing and honest interview with Audio-Technica designer Jackie Greene, Jackie talks about the benefits of knowledge (“A more experienced engineer can do a lot more with few mics”) and the value of careful selection.

Finally Alan looks at some classic mics and tries to assess what makes a ‘good’ mic. Jackie Greene puts it well when she says that a good mic “lets you get the sound you’re expecting to hear.” But it takes experience to know just what that is, too!

This section concludes with a quick guide to different instruments and applications and the generally accepted, ‘classic’ mic choices you can use as starting off points. This section contains a lot of valuable material and is well worth seeing a few times.

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