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Choosing the Right Microphone for Digitally Recording Live Music

written by: DoctorMohogway•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 1/19/2010

There are many things to consider if you are considering recording live music digitally. One of the decisions you have to make has to do with what type of microphone you will use. There are all different types of microphones and each one is made for a specific purpose.

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    Things to Consider

    There are many things to consider if you are considering recording live music digitally. One of the decisions you have to make has to do with what type of microphone you will use. There are all different types of microphones and each one is made for a specific purpose. Here I will give you an overview of what you need to know when choosing yours.

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    Condenser or Dynamic

    There are two main types of microphones to choose from, condenser mics or dynamic mics.

    A condenser microphone typically has a thinner plastic diaphragm which is placed closely to the back plate. The diaphragm and the back plate create a small pocket of air creating a condenser or capacitor. This electrically charged capacitor is affected by sound waves and the diaphragm vibrates, changing the voltage. The changes in voltage are a representation of the sound based on the disturbance caused by the frequencies passing through.

    A dynamic or moving coil microphone can considered a reverse loud speaker of sorts. The idea behind a dynamic microphone is there is a wired coil that is placed in the pocket of air between the diaphragm and backing. When sound passes through the coil itself vibrates and creates a magnetic electrical impulse which is then recorded.

    When taping a live show you will use a condenser microphone. Condenser microphones can be miniaturized and record a much broader frequency of sound. If you can afford to add the second mic for stereo always use the exact same duplicate.

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    Polar Pattern

    Microphones have what is called a polar pattern. It dictates the area in which the microphone will focus upon when recording.

    A cardiod polar pattern is a heart shaped recording range which will focus upon frequencies coming from the front and some side sounds, but tapering around the back. Picture the top of the heart as shooting out from the microphone and a little behind, and the bottom of the heart going toward the stage or source of input. This limits the amount of background noise that is heard when recording at large venues.

    A hypercardiod polar pattern is similar to the cardioid pattern but allows a little more sound from behind the mic’s point of reference to filter through. The hypercardiod is more so used for vocal recordings, and are usually noisier than cardiod mics for live music recording.

    Omnidirectional microphones are not recommended for recording live music at all. These mics will record in all directions equally, thus reproducing a lot of unwanted crowd noise.

    When choosing a microphones frequency range, you are deciding on what frequency will be accepted by the microphone. The human hearing range is from 20hz to 20khz, and so this is the recommended range for a recording mic for live music.

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    Conclusion

    When you are choosing a microphone for recording live music, remember to do a lot of research, and determine the style that will fit best for your recording campaigns. There are many out there, and some are very expensive. If you are patient however, you should be able to find the perfect microphone for all your live music recording endeavors.






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