Microphone Basics

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There is a microphone designed for every recording task–from tracking sounds underwater to capturing the complex tone of the harmonica. But unless you have an unlimited income, you probably have to carefully choose each mic you invest in. Knowing how each mic performs is an important step: the more you understand about its sonic signature, the more successful you will be at getting the sounds you want.

I have chosen three EM archive articles–an introductory piece and two roundups–that should be of interest to beginning and intermediate recordists. In the first article, Myles Boisen discusses the differences between the various types of microphones and offers tips on the best applications for each. Next, he compares seven mid-priced small-diaphragm condensers. In his article More Than the Sum, former EM Associate Editor Brian Knave examines the specialized category of stereo microphones, concluding with a roundup of six affordable mics for studio use.

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Mics in the Mix
A beginner's guide to navigating the microphone maze.
Aug 1, 2000, Electronic Musician, by Myles Boisen
Selecting the proper mic for a recording application is crucial. This article will help beginning recordists understand the three main classes of microphones–dynamic, ribbon, and condenser-and how they differ from one another. It will also cover why one type of mic may be preferable over another for different recording applications.
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Smokin' Condensers
Seven Small-diaphragm condenser mics go head to head.
Mar 1, 2004, Electronic Musician, By Myles Boisen
Small-diaphragm condensers are the bread-and-butter mics of the studio. In this article, Myles Boisen compares cardioid condensers priced from $480 to $1,100 each.
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More than the Sum
The science, magic, and majesty of stereo microphones.
Jun 1, 2003, Electronic Musician, By Brian Knave
It seems a lot of folks aren't aware of how useful, affordable, and downright wonderful stereo microphones can be. This article, which culminates in a comparison of six affordable stereo mics, is intended to help remedy that situation.
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