Friday, December 12th, 2014 | by Phil Lewis
Shootout At Guitar-Cab Corral:
A posse of dynamics takes on the formidable SM57.
Behold the humble dynamic mic, the coalminer of the microphone world: simple, rugged, hardworking, unpretentious; toiling away in the dark spaces while the rest of the neighborhood gets its party on. Long a favorite for miking unruly electric guitar amps on stage and in the studio, dynamics are known to eat high SPLs for breakfast and for producing a focused, even tone that adds impact to recordings. Simply put, they just work.
And none has worked harder than the Shure SM57. For almost 50 years the SM57 has held sway as the Swiss Army knife of dynamics. Introduced in 1965, its then-revolutionary end-address profile allowed it to get up close and personal with vocals, drums, and, of course, guitar amps. Many top producers and engineers still swear by it for taming the blare and/or muddle of electric guitar amplifiers. Can any other dynamic hold a candle to its rock solid guitar amp performance, day in, day out?
Over the course of five decades many other end-address dynamics have been rolled out, some designed to improve on the SM57’s “shortcomings.” And yet, the praises of the SM57-on-guitar-amp continue to be sung in professional and project studios worldwide. (more…)
Sunday, October 19th, 2014 | by matthew mcglynn
Manufacturers at the recent AES convention in Los Angeles presented a wonderfully wide array of new microphones.
Neumann’s announcement of the reissued Fet 47 stole the show, which is a pity because many worthy new microphones didn’t get the attention they deserved.
Let’s rectify that now.
Monday, September 8th, 2014 | by matthew mcglynn
A couple of years ago, I bought an iPad harness so I could mount the tablet near my drums. I spent no more than 90 seconds researching the purchase — only as long as it took to identify the best-selling compatible item from Amazon.com. But the product turned out to be so poorly designed that I literally never used it. The iPad is an elegant device, very much unlike the depressingly mundane harness that, upon receipt, I immediately regretted purchasing.
Ever since then, I’ve had my eyes open for a better iPad mount. And I think I’ve just found one… (more…)
Saturday, August 2nd, 2014 | by matthew mcglynn
For this session of our “$1k Ribbon Mic Shootout“, we present two different male voices reading a narration. You’ll hear one voice through every mic at fixed distances (9 and in some cases also 4 inches), and a second voice at a distance selected for (subjectively) optimum results. Hear MP3s in a blind listening test below, or download the full-bandwidth audio session. (more…)
Friday, July 25th, 2014 | by matthew mcglynn
The third session of our “$1k Ribbon Mic Shootout” features a sensational vocalist named Molly Reed. She sang a song that I believe is by Celia Cruz, called Te Busco. The downloadable session file contains audio samples at 4-inch and 8-inch working distances, and a “control” track from a Neumann U87. Read on for MP3 audio samples that you can audition blind.
Wednesday, July 16th, 2014 | by matthew mcglynn
The sax session of our “$1k Ribbon Mic Shootout” was made possible by John Patrick Douglas, a wonderful musician who has played with dozens of jazz, classical and world music acts from the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. John brought his alto sax, a 1959 Selmer Mk VI (Jody Jazz HR 6 mouthpiece, 3.5 strength Légère Signature synthetic reed), and the melody from My One And Only Love, and nailed every take.
Tuesday, July 1st, 2014 | by matthew mcglynn
In this second installment of the “$1k Ribbon Shootout,” we’ll measure and compare frequency responses across all the mics, and listen to how each one responds to proximity. Finally, we’ll do a self-noise test.
By way of quick review, here are the six ribbon microphones included in this evaluation: (more…)
Friday, June 13th, 2014 | by matthew mcglynn
A handful of exciting new ribbon microphones have come out in the past year, so naturally, I got a pair of each and staged some sessions. We pulled in a few familiar models for comparison purposes; because the new mics all fall into the midpriced ($600-$1000) tier, we limited the selection to microphones under $1000.
We’ll hear all these microphones on multiple sources over the next few weeks: drum overheads, voice, and acoustic guitar for sure, with other possibilities in the works.
Monday, May 26th, 2014 | by matthew mcglynn
Three years ago I put together the most ambitious microphone test I have ever done (before or since). It was called the $60,000 Ribbon Mic Shootout, because the total value of the 30 mics we tested was over $60,000. We had four engineers and five performers; we recorded saxophone, drum overheads, two guitar cabs, two acoustic guitars, and three character voices.
I spent weeks writing up the seven-part series. But I never wrote the conclusion. Until now.
Monday, May 12th, 2014 | by matthew mcglynn
ADK introduced five new high-end multipattern FET condensers last year. All five microphones use similar circuitry: a single stage JFET with an Oxford (OEP) output transformer. All five microphones offer a switchable 3-way pad and 3-way filter.
But wait — if the mics all use similar circuitry, why are there 5 of them? (more…)