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Which Mics Should You Start With for Your Recordings?

     Putting together your first home recording studio? The possible array of brands and types of microphones can be daunting. There are a few things to take into account when making a choice. Fundamentally there are 2 types - dynamic and condenser. One of the big mistakes that one makes is in thinking that the condenser mics are superior to the dynamic ones or that condenser microphones are used only for vocalists and dynamics for instruments. Someone who dispenses such advice doesn't really know what they're talking about; you should stop right there and send them to the dunce house. :=)

Here's a look at vocal mics for instance. People say that you need a condenser for doing vocals. Wrong! Here's a sampling of the many recording artists that don't follow that rule: Red Hot Chili Peppers, U2, Bonnie Raitt, Metallica, Incubus, Bjork and many others. Obviously they can use whichever they want, but they've chosen a dynamic mic for their vocals.

In terms of power and quality there are some wonderful dynamic mics and some highly disappointing dynamic ones. In the same way there are really good condenser mics and terrible ones. It's quite important to judge each mic on its own merits.

In so much as recommendations on a dynamic microphone, there's one that stands alone from the crowd. That's the Shure SM57. In my humble opinion, it's one of the most worthy pieces of gear ever designed and built. If have listened to the radio there's a good chance that you've heard an SM57 on the recordings. You could almost put money on it. It's one of the most popular microphones and can be used for snare drums, electric guitars, violins, percussion etc, but it's also often used for vocals. (I've often said that I'd bet on making an entire recording using only this mic and the listener would be none the wiser). Brand new they're very affordable. If you're still recording in 20 years, you'll probably still be reaching for this mic.

If you're going toward getting a condenser mic, one of the reasons for doing so is that they pick up more detail on the low end and a bit more of the finer elements on the highs. That being said, there are still great sounding condensers and dreadful sounding ones.

If you are going to buy a condenser, I advise you to get one that will do a reasonably good job rather than the first inexpensive one that you come across. The majority of these cheap microphones are that they sound terrible; reason being that they often have a harsh and biting sound. It might sound really good at first as listeners are drawn to seemingly more brilliant sounds, but If you're recording several tracks and you try to compress them, that harshness will come out and zap you in a less than pleasant way. Conversely, many tracks recorded with one of the better condenser mics are easily going to sound nice and very easy on the ears.

Here's one more I would recommend. A good and relatively inexpensive condenser mic is the MXL-V67. With a decent microphone preamp, this microphone will prevail over many condensers that are much more costly.

To wrap this article up, if you don't have a lot of money to spend, these two mics are good investments for a first time buyer however, the most important thing is to do more investigating; converse with experienced engineers and see what they might teach you.

Article Source:

Howard Fine has achieved a career of producing and engineering at his recording studio, Excello, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He is also a mic expert with an extensive knowledge of vocal, instrument, wireless, USB microphones and more.

Posted on 2011-05-29, By: *

* Click on the author's name to view their profile and articles!!!

Note: The content of this article solely conveys the opinion of its author,

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