How to measure transformer ratio

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017 | by matthew mcglynn

Audio transformersHere’s one for the DIY crowd, or anybody looking to get their nerd on: how to easily measure a transformer’s turns ratio. (If DIY is not your thing, scroll down the homepage to see a 2-hour “Mic Madness” video I made last week with Warren Huart of Produce Like a Pro — classic RecordingHacks content, in Q&A format.)

If you’ve done DIY audio for any amount of time, you’ll have collected a bin of leftover parts. Mine includes a bunch of unlabeled microphone output transformers that were pulled from a variety of cheap microphones. Chances are I’d never want to actually use one of them, but sometimes in the thick of R&D there’s a need for some oddball ratio that maybe I have on hand, if only I knew what the #$%&@! was hiding in that parts bin.

So, tonight’s project is to measure all those unknown transformers. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Signal generator
  • Audio interface
  • Multimeter
  • Jumper cables
  • 1/4-inch TS cable to sacrifice

The basic plan is to output a 1kHz audio signal from your computer, into the transformer primaries. Then measure the AC voltage coming out the secondaries. Divide the input voltage by the output voltage. That’s it. Read on for the details.

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Mic Madness with Warren Huart

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017 | by matthew mcglynn

Warren of Produce Like A Pro invited me to do a Q&A session on Youtube Live, which he dubbed “Mic Madness with Matt McGlynn.” We went on for over 2 hours!

It was good fun, and we got into some detail about a number of things (but of course mostly about microphones!).

Here’s the recording:

Because several people have already asked: I used my go-to podcasting mic, the beyerdynamic M 99beyerdynamic M 99. That was my personal favorite from the Ultimate Podcasting Mic Shootout.

My studio isn’t really set up for video, so rather than drag my usual preamp, interface, and and outboard gear across the room I went super-simple on the audio chain: mic, Mackie USB interface, laptop.

Roswell Mini K47By the way, this video contains the first public announcement of the new and upgraded Roswell Mini K47 condenser microphone, which is now available through discriminating dealers around the country (and soon, world). More info here.

Warren talked about doing another Mic Madness session. If you’d like us to, leave a request (or even a specific question) here or on the Youtube video.

Headphone hangar review: the Elevation Lab Anchor

Thursday, August 10th, 2017 | by matthew mcglynn

Anchor headphone hangarI stumbled across this headphone hanger on Amazon in June, and bought it on a whim. Now it’s my new favorite audio accessory.

Here’s the thing: my HD 650’s had been cluttering up my desk, or sitting on the floor nearby, for months. Best case, they’re getting dusty. Worse, they’re getting kicked and stepped on. My headphones deserve better, but my titanic mess in my office did not lend itself to proper headphone care.

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Cathedral Guitars Fat Head Ribbon Review

Sunday, February 28th, 2016 | by Dren McDonald

Cathedral Guitars CG Fathead BE

I recently had an opportunity to try a new ribbon microphone from Cathedral Guitars. The mic is basically a mod on the Cascade Fat Head platform; the Chinese transformer in the standard Fat Head is replaced by an AMI TR42.

I already have a Fat Head with Lundahl transformer in my mic shoe box, so I’m familiar with how these guys sound. The Cathedral Guitars Fat Head is another desirable flavor you’ll want to hear if you record a lot of electric guitar cabs, or horns, or even acoustic guitar.
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The MXL 2001 / V67G Capsule Swap Mod

Sunday, July 5th, 2015 | by matthew mcglynn

It is not news to anyone reading this that there is a ton of decent, affordable pro audio gear on the market.

And it is probably not news that a lot of that gear can be made better through DIY — Do It Yourself — modification.

In this article, we’ll take a look at a simple and very effective modification for one of the most popular microphones on the market: the MXL V67GMXL V67G.

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Shootout At Guitar-Cab Corral

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 SM57Shure 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.
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New Microphones at AES 2014

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.

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iOxboom iPad Mounting System Review

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 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…
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Six Ribbons, Two Voices

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.
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Female Vocals Ribbon Mic Shootout

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.

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