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Why Do the Red Hot Chili Peppers Only Use This Mic On Vocals?

During my interview with Andrew Scheps last weekend(audio will be up soon, I promise), we talked a bit about mic selection.

Especially when it comes to vocals.

You see, when you’re of different microphones until you find one that works for the singer’s voice.

But that’s not all. The voice also needs to work in context with the music. A vocalist might sound awesome through a $3,000 Neumann condenser in isolation, but when you add the other instrument tracks around the vocal it might not fit anymore.

It simply doesn’t fit with the music.

Pick the Right Mic for the Job

In the case of The Red Hot Chili Peppers, the vocal doesn’t sound like a Chili Peppers vocal until Andrew puts a Shure SM7B on Anthony Keidis. Sure, his voice might sound great on a bunch of other, more expensive mics, but the character of his voice only works with the character of the other instruments when he tracks with the SM7.

Which is kind of cool when you think about it. A ridiculously successful band tracks vocals with a $300 mic!

Not because they don’t have the money to spend on a C12 or any Neumann under the sun. No, they do it because it works with the music.

Their style of funky rock doesn’t need a warm, full-bodied condenser microphone. That sound would just get in the way of all the other instrument vying for a piece of the center-stage. Instead, a narrower frequency range and an edgier sound that cuts through a busy mix is a much better choice.

So next time you’re demoing mics for a vocal session, don’t try them all out in solo.

Test them in context with the rest of the mix.


Remember to check out the free eBook bundle about mixing rap vocals by Matthew Weiss. Even if you don’t mix a lot of rap, the tips in there are really useful to keep in mind for other sessions.

Image by: Matthew Strmiska

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About Audio Issues and Björgvin Benediktsson

At Audio Issues you’ll learn simple and practical audio production tips you can use right away to improve your music from your home recording studio.  Björgvin is the best-selling author of Step By Step Mixing and the founder of Audio Issues. He helps musicians and producers turn amateur demos into professionally produced records they can be proud to release.

We help home studio musicians and project studio producers make a greater musical impact in their lives by teaching them the skills needed to grow their hobbies and careers. We do this by offering simple and practical music production and success skills they can use right away to level themselves up – while rejecting negativity and gear-shaming from the industry. A rising tide floats all boats and the ocean is big enough for all of us to surf the sound waves.

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