mic placement and gain structure
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February 7, 2015

 Article by David5437 


Let's talk about mic placement


Gain structure

As the proud owner of www.MicrophoneRepair.com  ,  I receive many calls and Emails from all over
the world and I am very grateful for the people who contact me. I feel very
honored that people want and trust my opinion.

There is a
topic that comes up very often that I would like to share with you.
And it kind of goes like this "

"Hi  David,

I wonder if you could tell me how a
microphone starts to sound when it's time to be serviced ?
My Neumann large diaphragm condenser
seems distorted.

But If I step back a little bit it
seems to go away.  Do you think I might be overdriving it or if the capsule
may need to be replaced"?

Well, I am very fortunate to have a lot of experience as an
audio engineer and studio technician as well as repairing microphones.

I can tell you that a common problem that I have seen over and
over again is that the analog mic-pre is turned up too high and the output of
the pre is down too low.

Most  microphone  preamplifiers have a lot of gain and it is
very easy to overdrive the electronics or the tube on the input of the mic-pre
that comes right after the mic-pre gain pot.

I usually suggest  to
start by turn the mic-pre input as close to all the way down as possible and
then turn up the output of the mic-pre as close to all the way up as possible.
I try to get the microphone and mic-pre sounding great before I insert any
outboard gear or plug- ins. after I do all this is when I patch in some toys if
needed. like, I will come out of mic-pre into a limiter out of the limiter into
an EQ device and then back into the line input of the console. I personally
like to use this concept in most gain structure applications including when I
am working with an analog console and not in the box.  I usually turn all of the line inputs all the
way down and the stereo buss all of the way up and I adjust my gain to the
stereo buss by the output faders on each track. Doing things this way gives you
much better signal to noise ratio as well as cleaner sounding mixes.

Working like this is "Old School" and many of the up and coming
engineers do not seem to understand the concept and importance of gain

Now, let's talk a little about microphone placement when doing

Most large diaphragm condenser microphones are a lot more
durable then one might think. Most capsules will take a lot of SPL as long as
the placement is good. Where we get in trouble
is when we hit the microphone amplifier too hard, so don't be shy and make use
of the microphone pads that are in most high end microphones if needed.


Also always use a nylon or foam type pop filter. One trickI have learned is to take a metal type of filter like a Stedman and then put a pair of nylon stockings around it and cut to size.  

If you place a pop filter about 6 to 8 inches back from the
microphone it forces the talent to back up from the front of the microphone
about 10 inches. 

This application of mic placement will keep your microphone
capsule a lot cleaner and keep it from getting moisture sensitive. 

I wrote an article about this for Studio Auditions a while back
that can be found at:

I hope that some of you find this article helpful.

Happy recording and feel free to contact me through my web site
if you have any questions that you think I may be able to answer for you.

I always enjoy hearing from all of you.


Be good to each other

David O. Brown


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