The Hairway to #Heaven - Shaving you from your microphone troubles

So, it happened. The hair, it went. This may be a short-term furlough or something more permanent. This was partly due to the current global pandemic and therefore the closure of all barbers; truthfully, the idea had resonated for some time. The notion of cutting back and shedding the gristle to get back to bald basics.

At nearly 30 - it’s not just a statement, it’s necessity. I haven’t yet been known for setting a blistering new fashion trend! My wife often points out my receding and thinning hairline. If you can’t pull off a great hairstyle, consider shaving it off.

Also, I dislike barbers intensely. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the people: it’s the conversation. The conversations always become mundanely hairy. I have an undeniable desire to cut all barber-chats short although not as brutally as a close-shave!

This notion got me thinking. You know, shedding the gristle? The most communicative music and their recorded counterparts are created using some basic comb-ponents. Understanding this basic equipment can lead to a ‘Hairway to Heaven’.

I’ll stop. It’s just asking for stubble.

Any studio-based musician’s arsenal should include a condenser microphone, “capacitor microphone” or a pair of them. For the record, there are two basic types of microphone; dynamic and condenser. Dynamic microphones are (most often) used on stage, and condenser microphones (most often) adorn a studio. There are, of course, lots of exceptions. For instance, condenser microphones are (often) used on stage over a drum-kit or to amplify an orchestra.

I’ll brush out the physics and in-depth construction of each… but consider this. Essentially, condenser microphones have less mass to move internally. This allows condensers to respond to a wider frequency of sounds with better transient response. These are the faster sounds including the pick of a guitar, saliva in the mouth and the hammer of a piano. Condenser microphones produce much more detailed recordings than dynamic microphones.

This makes condenser microphones perfect for recording instruments and singers. There are different categories of condensers suited to different purposes.

Small diaphragm condensers

· Most detailed sounds

· They pick up sounds beyond human hearing

· Consistent throughout different frequencies

· Mainly used for instruments, choirs, ensembles, guitars etc.

A small diaphragm condensor microphone

Rode NT-5

I owned a pair of these microphones for years. They are incredible, reasonably budget friendly and extremely versatile for lots of different purposes.

AKG C451 B

Slightly more expensive although just as versatile as the Rode NT-5 and are often recommended by guitarists. The original AKG C451 is considered one of the great studio microphones.

Neumann KM 184

Successor to one of the greatest small diaphragm condensers, the KM 84. Mind-boggling sound detailing - particularly all the high stuff. One of the best microphones I have had the privilege to use.

Large diaphragm condensers

· Often considered as an

instrument as well as a microphone

· Generally, makes sound larger than life, richer, warmer. This makes them perfect for singers.

Rode NT-1

If you want to start working at a more professional level, the Rode NT-1 is a fantastic place to start. Budget friendly, rugged and a good all-rounder.

Rode K2

This is one of my favourites; one of the most characterful vocal microphones I have worked with. This beauty is a ‘valve condenser microphone’ producing a rich, warm sound with variable pick-up patterns.

Hair we are. I hope some of these suggestions will get you out of hairy recording situations, allow you to make wonderful music and not leave you reaching a split-end.

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