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Whether one is producing music, podcasts, game sounds, or film sound effects, Digital Audio Principles provides the tips and techniques that will make the project a success. Author Dave Schroeder explains the basics of digital audio production techniques and covers the essential hardware and software. He also discusses sound theory, frequency response, the range of human hearing, and dynamic range.
Okay, so in this segment, we're going to take a look at a bunch of different microphone body styles and kind of, design styles. There's no rule that just because a microphone is shaped a certain way that it may, or may not, be a certain type of element, or have a certain pickup pattern. But there's a few common body shapes that you can usually make a generalization that, okay, that's a condenser, okay, that's a dynamic mic. So, we'll look at a few different shapes in this segment. So, the first microphone we want to look at is the Large Diaphragm Condenser, which is this baby right here. The condenser actually is right in about here.
It's a big diaphragm, so you want to point it this way, but this is a switchable-pattern microphone, which will do-- I'll show you these buttons in a minute. This is a good microphone to use for vocals and acoustic instruments. It has high sensitivity to vocals and high transients. It's got some switchable switches on the back with a pad, and a bass roll-off feature. The microphone plug, plugs in down here. This is a great mic to have if you're just starting off. Looking into a large diaphragm condenser microphone is a good thing to do.
You can get fairly inexpensive ones or really expensive ones, but a nice one will go a long way in your studio. The next microphone we'll look at is the small diaphragm condenser. The diaphragm actually is out here, like this, so you can kind of point it this way towards your sound source. You can actually change the pickup pattern on these by using different capsules. By capsule, I mean, you can unscrew the end. So, this capsule actually happens to be an omni-directional capsule, but you can get it in a cardioid pattern, maybe a hypercardioid pattern, I believe.
Small diaphragm condensers are good for using on acoustic instruments like acoustic guitars, overhead, and drum cymbals. They are also pretty good on things like violins and cellos. Both the small condenser and the large condenser microphones require phantom power, unless they come with a battery supply, which usually you won't find in a large diaphragm condenser. Some smaller, kind of, pencil-- this is kind of we call it kind of a pencil-shaped microphone. There will be a section where you can put like a AA battery in there in some of them.
But most of them will require 48-volt phantom power. So, the next microphone we'll look at is the handheld, kind of, body style, which is--this is the classic Shure SM57, I'm going to bring in the SM58 as well. These are dynamic microphones, cardioid pickup pattern. They actually sound the same. They have the same element. The only difference is you have a different kind of a grill on these two. That's actually on purpose. This is designed kind of more for singing and is kind of just more convenient for vocalists to have that, whereas, this is used more on instruments, which is nice.
Using this on drums, you don't want this, kind of, big metal thing for the drummer to hit, you want, kind of, a smaller, more narrow profile. So, this works out good for that. Dynamic mics get used on all kinds of things, in live music settings, and all the time in studios as well. They handle things at really high pressure levels. So you can use these on guitar amps, drums, toms, snares, bass cabinets, lots of different uses. So, the next one is a shotgun microphone. This is typically a condenser microphone.
The pattern, the pickup pattern on the shotgun microphone, as the name implies is really direct. It shoots out, and it's aiming very specifically out. So, what's in front of it? These, kind of, ports on the side generally are there to reject things that are the sounds coming from the side. These are really good to use if you're doing recording for film, or acting, a video, something like that. You can put it on a boom and kind of hold it over the actor's head and keep it out of the frame of the film, and point it, kind of, at their head. You'll also see these used at sporting events, kind of, pointed on the field, the athletes or the referees, to get some impact sounds or some chatter.
But you won't really see a shotgun microphone used that often in music production. In the studio, there are other microphones that serve the purpose, mainly because you're going to always get pretty close to your sound source in studio productions. Okay, next we'll look at a lavalier microphone, which can be a condenser or a dynamic element. So, this is the microphone, this is a wireless version, this is a battery pack. You can clip this onto a tie or lapel or the collar or whatever you're using it on.
These are great for interviews, for onstage performances or lectures, not used in music production very often, or in the studio, again just because we can use different mics and get them closer. This is when you, kind of, want an inconspicuous microphone, something where you're more interested in, you want to hear what the person is saying, but you're really filming them. For instance, right now, I'm wearing one, and when you see the wide shots of me, even though I'm distracting. You won't notice that I have the microphone on, but you can still hear me. You might want to look for it. Let's move on to the boundary microphone.
This is the microphone that has that hemispherical pickup, where actually when you put it down on a table, it starts to pick up in a pattern like this, maybe like that. This can be a condenser microphone, some are dynamic. This one has an inline power supply with a AA battery. These are good for picking up room sounds. If you're doing a meeting, you can actually put it down on the table, and it'll, kind of, pick up every one around that table very well. If you're doing theater productions, you can put this on the stage, and you'll get to hear, kind of, the actors as they move around, and kind of the ambient sounds, the footsteps.
It'll pick up their voices a little bit, not like a directional mic would, but enough so that you can, kind of, broadcast and pick up of the overall stage out into the audience. These will be used in music occasionally. To pick up rooms, they'll be placed on walls and drum rooms or if you have a string on soundboards or even large orchestras, you can use these hanging on walls, kind of, like this, to pick up the whole room. They work pretty well like that. So, that's the PZM, not a real common microphone, definitely not one to start out with. But if you want to, kind of, load up your gear down the line, a PZM is a nice microphone to have.
The other microphone worth pointing out just because I'm going to talk about it quite a bit in this whole title is the dynamic omni-directional microphone. Again, it's handheld. This is the Electro-Voice 635A, which is a great microphone for field interviewing and recording. It picks up in an omni-directional pattern, so all the way around it. It doesn't reject sound in any way. Even though it looks like it would, it doesn't. I just wanted to point this out. This one is probably from the late 1960s, and it still works great.
But you also buy brand-new versions of this. So, that's what a kind of a dynamic interview mic will look like. So, a few other things I want to talk about are a few accessories. These are called Windscreens. They are, kind of, a foam that goes over a microphone. You can use them if you're going to be out in a windy area outside. If you're in the studio, I don't really recommend using them. They actually reduce the frequency response a little bit of the microphones. A better solution, if you're in the studio and doing voice is a device called the pop filter, which more or less, looks like a piece of fabric or nylon stretched over a hoop, that's on a gooseneck microphone mount that you can hook up to a microphone and put in front of your microphone.
If you're using a large diaphragm condenser, on vocals, it's very common to use a pop filter in front of it. That pop filter stops things which are called plosives, which are when you say a P or a B, we kind of create a burst of air that comes out of our mouth, a big push, which I can probably make this do, but I shouldn't. So that pop filter will cut down on the plosives, the impact. So it, kind of, reduces those big gusts of air that get to the microphone. One more thing I want to talk about is microphone storage.
It's good to keep your microphones in a cool dry place. So, in professional studios they'll have a mic cabinet that's kind of conditioned and dried. In the home studio, usually it ends up like a drawer or, kind of, a cabinet. Maybe you put some foam down there and put the mics in. One thing I like to do is when you buy a new audio gear you always get a little silica packet in there, that little white packet. If you take that and just drop it in that drawer, it'll kind of keep it dry in there. So, instead of throwing those out when you buy new stuff, new electronics that come with those in there, keep them, and throw them in your microphone cabinet to keep it dry in there.
In the next movie, we'll look at microphone placement. We'll talk about putting mics on different instruments and some places to start with placement.
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