Microphones

Let's look at microphones in this post. We'll get into the specific kinds used to record, and the differences between them. Choosing the microphone to record with can make a significant difference in the quality of the audio.

There are different pick up patterns and different kinds of mics. There are three main kinds of mics you'll come across in audio production. They are dynamics, ribbons, and condensers. Dynamic mics are very durable and have a nice frequency response. Condenser mics are fragile, but they have a higher quality frequency response and better transient response than dynamics. They also require phantom power, a 48 volt power supply, to work. Ribbon mics are more sensitive than dynamics, not quite as responsive as condensers, and are transparent and don't require a power source to operate.

Polar patterns are the area around the mic that is going to be picked up. First, is the cardioid pick up pattern, or uni-directional. This pattern picks up mostly the signal in front of the mic, while almost nothing behind the mic is heard. These are commonly used on things like snare drums, live vocals, and guitar amps. So, there is a lot more of the target instrument and not that much bleed from other instruments. There are tighter cardioid patterns, known as super-cardioid and hyper-cardioid. These two options have a narrower front pattern, but they do pick up some audio from behind the microphone's diaphragm. The omni-directional polar pattern picks up audio equally from all sides. The other pattern is the bi-directional. These ones have a great response from the front and rear of the diaphragm but very little from the sides.

Some other options you will come across are pad switches and roll off switches. The roll off functions affect equalization. Maybe, you want to cut some of the low end below 75hz, this could be done with a mic that has one of these switches. You could also do this after the signal from the mic is brought into the multi-track, but there's some difference in audio if the signal recorded already is missing that low end part. The pad feature is a dB reduction that allows you to use a sensitive mic on something very loud that would normally overload the signal. With this, you could use something like a condenser mic with a 10dB pad turned on to get your mic closer to a guitar amp.

After going through this, you can go get a microphone that's better suited for the audio that you're trying to record. Picking the right mic, using the right polar pattern, and placing the mic in the best spot is what leads to great audio tracks that don't need to be altered that much during mixing. They can instead be enhanced to make them sound even better and blend more into the final mix.

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