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Mics and Preamps Index of Articles
Microphones Introduction
Mics under $100
Set up a Vocal Session
How to Process Vocal Tracks
Recording Vocals
ShureSM81
M-audio Solaris
Cad E200
Mic Preamps
High Quality Mic Preamps
Great River ME1-NV
FMR's Really Nice Preamp
Voicemaster pro
Shure SM7b
Sennheiser MD421
Rode NT1a
ElectroVoice RE20
TLM 103 by Neumann
Shure SM57
Microphone Prices
Prices of Mic Preamps

 

 

Studio Condenser
Microphones

 

Do Mics really sound different?

Yes.  Every mic "colors" the sound in one way or another, much like the way speakers color the sound of your home stereo.  Some mics try to be "transparent" but this is not always desirable. With vocals and many instruments, for example, you want a mic with some presence boost for that pro-sounding "sheen".

What is this directional pattern nonsense? 

What are you? a Drummer? Then you above all need a uni-directional mic so when close miking they pick of what it is pointing at, not everything in the room, like an omni directional mic does. Cardioid mics are directional because they pick up everything in the heart-shaped pattern in front of the mic. A Bi-directional pattern is also called a "figure 8" pattern cause that is how it looks on a graph. You can record from the front and back but not the sides.

What is Phantom Power?

Condenser mics output a weak signal that must be boosted so the mixer's preamp can boost it further into a useable signal.  Some condenser mics use batteries to do this.  Other's rely on getting this power from the mixing board.  Boards that feature phantom power send a voltage down the mic cable to the mic which is used to amplify the signal there.  The signal then arrives at the preamp and is further amped. Dynamic mics do not need phantom power.  You can read more in the forums about it and in this article by Shure

What's a -10 pad?

A Pad refers to attenuation, or a lowering of volume, output or loudness.  A -10 pad reduces the sensitivity of the microphone by 10 decibels so it can withstand louder sounds like drums, cymbals, screaming vocalists and other awfully loud things.  Some mics may have -20 pads or -15 pads.  You normally cannot adjust this--its on or off.

What's Bass Roll-off?

Some mics have a switch that cuts the lower bass frequencies that the mic pics up.  Why? When you record with a quality microphone you will find there is more bass in your environment than you thought.  If you are recording close to an ventilation system vent you will find that even a normal rush of air coming out is enough to make a thundering wind boom.  Traffic, railroads, airplanes even if far away can be picked up.  Finally, a big problem in the mix is getting rid of unwanted bass.  it sometimes makes sense to get rid of it at the source.  Many mixers have bass rolloff switches on preamps, so if the mic does not have it it is usually no big deal.

 

 

Shure SM81LC Cardioid Condenser Microphone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Back to the page on choosing a Microphone

AKG C214 Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone
The new C214 is designed as a cost-effective alternative to the high-end, industry-leading C414 family. It captures sound combining one side of the legendary C414 dual-capsule system and AKG's patented Back-Plate Technology which results in an outstanding performance close to the famous C414 B-XLS.