We use microphones (or mic) to amply sound. If you are a musician, you might already have some experience in handling this instrument. Microphones make us sound better, and louder without any stress. However, a musician must know the differences between the various types of microphones. This is because not all microphones are suitable for all instruments. In other words, the microphone that your favorite drummer uses for his kick drum may sound bad if you use it for vocals. Also, it’s important to know some basics about the fundamental frequency range before recording instruments. You might also need to know more about certain other elements like the types and polar patterns of different microphones. So, let’s find out which mic is good for some of the popular musical instruments.
A kick drum is the bass drum of a drum kit. The drummer usually uses his feet to play this part of the instrument. Now, the kick drum has a fundamental frequency range of around 30Hz – 145Hz. So, as the name suggests, the kick drum or the bass drum produces low-frequency sounds.
The frequency range of human ears is 20Hz – 20KHz.
As a result, you must select a microphone that can pick these low-frequency sounds for recording a kick drum. A lot of things has to be taken into consideration before recording an instrument. Now, in this case, for a kick drum, you need a microphone that is made for bass instruments. Besides, you need to check on the position of the instrument that you’re trying to record. Usually, a bass drum sits on the ground within the immediate reach of the drummer’s right leg. As a drum kit is an ensemble of drums and cymbals, all placed close to each other, you might require a microphone with a tight polar pattern. The microphone that you use for recording a kick drum must also have a high SPL.
The polar pattern of a microphone is its sensitivity to sound relative to the direction and angle from which the sound arrives.
Some good microphones for recording a kick drum are Shure Beta 52A, Audix D6, Sennheiser e602 ii, and Sennheiser e902.
A snare drum produces strong staccato notes and has a fundamental frequency range of around 100Hz – 200Hz. Now, if you have experience in this field, you might already know how loud a snare drum sounds even without a microphone. In other words, the snare drum has a high SPL (Sound Pressure level). So, while recording a snare drum, you must use a microphone with a good amount of headroom.
In simple words, headroom is the measure of the mic’s ability to pick up sounds with high SPLs without distortion.
For recording a snare drum, you’ll also have to take the size of the microphone into consideration. This is because the snare mic will have to be placed somewhere between the toms and the hi-hat. Also, it’s better to use a directional microphone with a tight polar pattern while recording a snare drum, so as to avoid leakage from the hi-hat, toms, and cymbals. A good microphone for recording snare drum is Shure SM-57.
There are lots of microphones available for recording an acoustic guitar. In fact, miking and recording an acoustic guitar can sometimes get a little challenging. You need to know and try out different miking techniques to find out which one works according to your requirement. For example, while recording an acoustic guitar you can place the microphone close to the instrument to minimize the effects of studio acoustics. On the other hand, you can keep a large diaphragm mic a few inches apart from the instrument to get a deep and spacious sound. This mainly depends on the guitarist’s needs and requirements. Some good microphones for recording an acoustic guitar are Shure SM81-LC, AKG C451B, and Neumann TLM 103.
It’s advisable to use a condenser or ribbon microphone while recording a piano. Also, it’s important to buy a good quality microphone for recording a piano as it may give the desired results. The piano is a very complex instrument and thus needs good microphones and miking techniques to make the most out of it. Some examples of microphones for recording a piano are MXL770 and MXL 603 Pair Instrument.
Choosing a microphone for recording vocals depends on the type of voice and how you want yourselves to sound. But, there are some microphones that are universally accepted for recording vocals. Also, choosing the right microphone can make you sound better. Remember that a low-quality microphone might make even a professional singer sound terrible.
So, to sum up, before recording instruments, you must learn about the microphone and the instrument. Also, there are different types of miking techniques for recording instruments. But, if you find the right microphone recording instruments and vocals will get much easier.
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Source credits: www.samplecraze.com, musiccritic.com, www.shure.com, audixusa.com, www.songsimian.com, www.zytrax.com, www.themusickitchen.com, pianostarter.com, www.dawsons.co.uk, www.wirerealm.com, Wikipedia