Monday, October 29, 2012

What is a Microphone Shootout?

This week in audio class #180 with instructor Rich Ott at F.I.R.S.T. Institute, we dive into the wonderful world of microphones! We examine the different types (condenser, dynamic, tube and ribbon), mic live instruments, practice safety and placement procedures, and have our very own microphone shootout.What is a microphone shootout, you ask? 

It’s a hands-on method of comparing a wide variety of microphones. Each microphone is placed side by side; we record audio into the D.A.W (Pro Tools, Logic, etc.), then listen back to compare sound quality. This is an effective practice not only for vocals but instruments as well. Some shootouts are even performed blindfolded because it is best approached with an unbiased opinion based on how expensive a mic is or how it looks. This way the engineer can solely rely on their most important tool, the ears!Nevertheless, there are microphones with the total package. Student, Maria Luzuriaga, describes her favorite - the Cv12 - as “Red, heavy, and sexy, with an amazing sound!” Other students like Brian Lundahl prefer the dynamic Shure microphones “… even though they require a lot of gain from the preamp, they have a great tone.”As any experienced audio engineer will tell you, it’s not only about how talented you are or how many compressors or EQ’s you have access to... If you don’t have a quality microphone, your recording may very well be doomed before it even begins! 

However multi-useful most mics are, it is important to know the types, polar patterns, and when and how they are used.  Every characteristic from make, model and price is considered, but the most important question will always be, “How does it sound?”   
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written by James Glenn