Learning to make full use of the characteristics of microphones is not necessarily difficult or expensive. Here I share my advice on microphone technology and how to avoid some of the most common mistakes.
Microphone errors and how to avoid them
People are often seen standing in front of microphones on social media today. Nowadays, the microphone is no longer the exclusive use of recording studios or live performances. The microphone has now become a part of everyone's life, but you will see many common microphone misuses every day.
Even if you have not used a microphone, microphone-related technology is not difficult. In fact, most of the content is common sense, it does not cost anything, and it can significantly improve your recording effect. Whether you are an anchor, a musician who writes his own recordings, or a live audio engineer, these techniques can help you make better use of the microphone.
1. Record on the wrong end
This is the mistake I have seen the most among all microphone users. In fact, this kind of error also appears in many TV shows! But how do you know which end of the microphone is correct for recording? It depends on two things: the polarity of the microphone; whether your microphone is a side-address or an end-address. Not sure yet? There are many ways to help you tell which microphone it is.
Usually side-address microphones tend to use a large diaphragm like Newman U87. This means you need to place it upright and put the sound on their side (hence the name side-address) instead of the end. Let's look at another classic microphone. This is an end-address microphone, the prototype of most dynamic microphones. You need to pass the sound into the end of this microphone.
How do you know which end of the microphone is recording? A microphone like SM58 is obvious, but it is not so obvious if it is a large-diaphragm condenser microphone. But a valid experience is that the labeled side of the large-diaphragm condenser microphone should be facing the sound.
If you get these basic steps wrong, your voice will be thin and quiet, and you will need to gain loudness far beyond your expectations.
Another wrong way to use the microphone is to record at the back of a large-diaphragm condenser microphone, "Wait, are the microphones divided into front and rear sides?" Of course, in order to understand this, we need to understand the polarity of the microphone.
2. Microphone Polarity
So what is the microphone polarity? In short, polarity tells you in which direction the microphone is most sensitive. It is very important to understand the polarity of the microphone. Knowing the polarity of the microphone and applying it in practice will have a huge impact on your recording. This article focuses on the three most common polarities: cardioid, omnidirectional, and figure eight.
If you carefully observe the pattern pointed by the heart, you will find that it is roughly the shape of a heart. Sometimes the heart-shaped pointing is also called a single pointing, which gives you a way to use it. The cardioid pointing microphone is directional, which means it receives more signals on the axis and shields signals outside the axis. Or to put it simply, the front sound is received, but the rear sound is not received.
Most vocal microphones and live microphones are cardioid microphones because they help reduce feedback in noisy environments.
Cardioid pointing microphone
The omnidirectional microphone can receive sound from all directions. This means that it is not suitable for on-site use, but there is still a lot of application space for recording studios that want to capture the sound of the room itself. The omnidirectional microphone is also suitable for round table recording. You may have many people using one microphone at the same time during a conference call.
Like his name, the figure-eight microphone is a special recording device, but it can be very useful in some situations, such as "Blumlein pair" stereo recording, and of course it is also very suitable for recording interviews. The BBC has been using Coles 4038 as an interview microphone for Radio4 and the World Service for decades. Putting a figure-eight microphone between two people is equivalent to doing the work of two microphones at the same time. Isn't this smart?
Figure 8 microphone
3. Use the correct microphone
In this era when anyone can afford large-diaphragm condenser microphones, it is easy for everyone to think that using condenser microphones to record all signals is the best choice. In fact, regardless of the budget, sometimes cheap dynamic microphones do better. In addition, in some applications, a dedicated instrument microphone is the only way to pick up this type of sound source. So how do you know which microphone should be used for which purpose? Here are some common experiences:
Condenser microphones are the most sensitive, with the brightest and crispest sound;
Dynamic microphones are not so sensitive, but stable. Very suitable for loud sound and rough post-processing;
Small-diaphragm microphones have better transient response, while large-diaphragm microphones have a more "sleek" sound.
In practical applications, the best-sounding microphone is the most suitable microphone, and this is something you need to sum up from experience. Why not borrow a few more microphones on weekends and try to use different microphones to record many different audio sources? You will soon understand the effects of various instruments in your ears.
4. Amp microphone suspension problem
How many times have you seen someone hanging SM58 or SM57 straight in front of the box head? Every time I see this practice, my scalp numbs, and this phenomenon is very common! The consequence of this is that your sound source completely deviates from the axis, your microphone will pick up the reflection of the floor, your guitar sound will be very muddy, lack of low frequency, and lose focus.
Hold the microphone
Don't hold the microphone like a ball, just grab the stem of the microphone. You may not realize that when you hold the back of the microphone, you dramatically affect the performance of the microphone, the sound, and the ability to block sound.