Mics – Go Beyond the Manufacturer Name

To capture the true essence of the original sound at the source, find the perfect mic and the perfect preamp, and keep it simple –says Bill Gibson

There’s much more to mic choice than finding a trusted manufacturer that you can stick with.

There’s much more to mic placement than simply setting the mic close to the sound source.

The difference between mediocre audio quality and exemplary audio quality is quite often defined by eh choice and placement of the microphone.

The True Value of a Good Mic

The Microphone is our most fundamental tool. You can have $100,000 worth of esoteric, vintage, high-tech gear in your signal path, but if the microphone doesn’t capture the desired sonic essence, it’s all a waste.

Each microphone offers a sonic personality and offers the potential to be more than just an archival tool.

For instance, if you and a buddy test 10 mics on Joe to see how they’ll work for his new song, nine of the microphones might evoke agreement that, yeah, that sounds like Joe.

However, chances are that one of the 10 mics might get the response, “Wow! Joe sounds great on this mic!”

Does Processing Matter?

Once you find a microphone that sounds great for whatever the sound source, it’s time to compare other options in the signal path, such as preamplifiers, compressors, or equalizers – the fewer additions to the signal path between the mic and the speakers, the better.

Musically, you need to do what you need to do.

As long as it feeds the passion and emotion of the music, it’s all right to include a hundred processors in the signal path; however, if you want to capture the true essence of the original sound at the source, find the perfect mic and the perfect preamp, and keep it simple.

If you need to use compression, make it a conscious choice, and be sure the compressor is enhancing the musical impact.

-Bill Gibson