Technique : Miking Techniques
Knowing the right microphone for the job, from the huge variety of types and models available, is an essential skill for anyone who records regularly, and can make the difference between sub-standard and spectacular results. Follow our essential guidelines to ensure you always make the optimum choice.
Here at Sound On Sound, we're constantly being asked which mic is the best in any given price range, but in reality it's very difficult to choose just one, especially when it comes to vocal recording, as different mics suit different singers. In addition, there are factors other than the mic being used, such as mic placement and room acoustics, that have a significant effect on the end result achieved — so we thought it was time for a good look at the whole subject of choosing and using the appropriate studio mics in the right way. But first, a little background...
The Human Ear & The Recording Environment
If microphone technology is so advanced, surely the perfect mic would pick up sounds in exactly the same way as the human ear and all properly designed microphones should sound pretty much the same? It's a fair question. However, in reality, the human hearing mechanism involves a lot of psychoacoustic filtering and processing: so, for example, when we hear a change in the frequency spectrum of a sound because of a change in its position relative to our ears, we only pick up on the change in position, not the change in tonality. Another consideration is that if you take a direct and a delayed version of a sound and mix it to mono, you'll hear comb filtering caused by the delay giving the sound a phasey or flangey quality. By contrast, the human hearing system uses the small delay between signals arriving at the two ears to determine direction. It also takes advantage of the aforementioned spectral changes due to angle and the masking effect of the head itself, which has a profound effect on how the left ear hears sound approaching from the right, and vice versa.
If you're lucky enough to have a great-sounding room at your disposal (this is the live room in New York's Power Station's Studio C), you can make the most of its character by capturing it, along with the source signal, via a mic that has an accurate off-axis response.
On a technical side note about music videos
When she makes music videos, she should use a high quality microphone, a decent camera and record them in a acoustically decent room with a neutral background and decent flattering lighting.
The more "professional" the videos look and sound, the better her chances of actually getting noticed. If she wants to be seen as professional, she needs to know how to use the technology to showcase herself.
I really hate all the videos with crappy sound and ugly staging that basically destroy whatever talent the musicians and singers have.
One of my friends started out just recording herself as she wrote some songs for fun, but soon asked for my help to make the recordings better, so I set her up with a decent microphone and open source recording software
Want to do some recording/production
I've only been playing for a few months now, but I've always been damn good with computers so my Acid Pro skill far outweighs my guitar skill. At one point was helping a friend record some of his solo stuff and pulled damn near studio quality out of a Rock Band microphone, unfortunately the artist disappeared so I have nothing to show for it. I'm good with basic cleanup and leveling but I can also do actual production if the project is worth it.
So what do I want here? Well I want to record some music for someone who wouldn't otherwise have the money to make it happen. I'm doing this completely free for the first person who contacts me (unless they play shitty music, then I'll try the next person)