MIMO - When Music is Your Fix

Journal Of an Audio Student: Lesson 4 – Microphones

Here’s the next installment of my video diary as a student apprentice of the Recording Connection. In Lesson 4, we discussed microphones in detail. Enjoy!



Continuing my lessons as an apprentice of the Recording Connection…in this lesson I was introduced the various kinds of microphones used in a recording studio (and other settings, as well). I learned about dynamic/moving coil mics, dynamic ribbon and condenser mics (the kinds most frequently used in the studio), as well as a few others I might run into. I learned how these different mic types are used for different purposes.

Just as importantly, I learned about the different directional patterns of these microphones–the area of sensitivity around the microphone where sounds are best picked up. Different mics have different sensitivity patterns, and some are able to change the pickup pattern with the flip of a switch. Omnidirectional microphones can pick up sound from all directions, while bi-directional (or figure 8) mics receive from both front and back, generally ignoring the sides. The most common pattern seems to be cardioid (a heart-shaped pattern extending out from the microphone to the front and somewhat on the sides, but ignoring the rear. Cardioid patterns can also vary in shape, taking a more narrow pattern (super-cardioid, hyper-cardioid and ultra-cardioid). All these tools can be used for different purposes, to capture all the sound in a room, or to isolate different sounds from one another. One thing that continues to be repeated in these sessions, and again here, is that there are no rules, only guidelines. It seems that for most audio engineers, the rule is to do what works.

Obviously, the use of mics in live audio will be different than in studio tracking, and the curriculum spends some time talking about different ways to capture and/or record audio in a live performance setting.

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About the Author


Jeff McQ is a songwriter/composer/musician with a diverse resume that includes everything from directing music in church to scoring short films. In addition to his role as chief editor for Music Is My Oxygen (and writing our DIY Musician Channel), Jeff also covers the local music scene for Examiner.com in his hometown of Denver, Colorado, and maintains The Developing Artist [http://artistdevelopmentblog.com], a blog dedicated to offering advice and encouragement to indie musicians.

When he's not tinkering in his home studio or blogging for hours on his laptop at the local coffee shop (to the annoyance of the baristas), Jeff McQ enjoys taking in local shows, going on road trips, wandering aimlessly, and talking to himself.

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