Guess who wrote the big jumbo featured article in January’s issue of MusicTech magazine?
The one about advanced microphone techniques?
You can check it out here: http://www.musictechmag.co.uk/mtm/magazine
I cover everything about microphone techniques: the importance of the room and your mic selection, the difference between mono and stereo and how to record any instrument.
Here are just some of the idea I talk about in the article.
If you know the rules you can easily break them to invent something new. The greatest inventions in history have been made by expanding on someone’s understanding of an already tried and tested idea. Sometimes the new ideas destroyed the old, like the Sun revolving around the Earth nonsense.
Striving to make things sound better by expanding on already proven microphone techniques is a great way to enhance your skills. But you need to have those skills before you can expand one them. Understanding the techniques is the easiest way to know when you need something better.
Microphone Techniques Start In Your Room
Before you even pick up a microphone, much of the sound has already been decided for you.
Usually, your job as an engineer is to reproduce the sound you hear in the room. That’s what the microphone was designed for as well. So if the instrument sounds bad in the room, chances are the recording won’t sound so hot either.
However, if you deaden your room or at least reduce reflections coming into the microphone then your final recording will sound better.
I like using microphone stands draped with heavy blankets or thick padding. They soak up the reflections coming back from the walls, making your microphone focus on the good stuff. It does less than you’d think with the lower frequencies, but it’s certainly better than nothing.
When in Doubt, Make it Simple
Stereo techniques give great results. They also take more work and can give you disastrous results if you accidentally create phase problems.
So start with mono, single microphone techniques that work. Find the sweet spot, move the mic around and get a good sound using just one microphone. It’s easier that way and it teaches you a lot about working with the different sounds of the instrument.
If you do decide to go stereo, there are some techniques I recommend in the article. Your best bet would be a coincident pair like the X/Y pattern. Since the mics are so close together you don’t ever have to worry about phase problems.
Don’t get me wrong, stereo sounds great. I have a few stereo techniques that I like using again and again. But for a simple but great sound, stick to mono.
The proximity effect can be the bane of a good recording. However, it can also add that extra thickness that you need. The closer you put your microphone to the source, the louder the lower frequencies become.
That’s why radio voices sound so deep and bassy on the radio. Their mouths are right up to the microphone and the proximity effect gives their voices that juicy radio voice.
Don’t EnginEye, EnginEar
I love that saying(and that spelling) because it’s so true. It all comes down to what you hear when you play your recordings through your monitors. It doesn’t matter if your mics look so perfectly placed. It all comes down to how they sound.
Grab this month’s MusicTech magazine at the top if you’d like. Alternatively you can get even more extensive information in Recording Strategies:
Image by: recordinghacks