It’s no secret an engineer’s knowledge of his tools is a source of great power.
Any time I’m preparing for a recording session or live sound gig, the first thing I set upon once I determine the makeup of the ensemble and the equipment at my disposal is to determine how best to utilize the available microphones.
One of the best tools any engineer has in this task are manufacturer specifications.
However, many microphone manufacturer websites are laden with Flash applets that are difficult to navigate and which can make it tough to find the correct information.
Thankfully, websites exist that provide an interface far more convenient than most manufacturer websites, and provide data for almost every modern microphone in and out of production.
From Rycote, the makers of wonderful windshields, comes Microphone Data (free login required). They’ve compiled an extremely comprehensive database of microphone data which can be easily compared across manufactures and microphone styles.
When it comes to planning for a gig, this is always my first stop.
“The Microphone Data website is the successor to the original Microphone Data Book - the truly comprehensive free online database & guide to microphones in professional use today. The Microphone Data site deals in facts, not opinions, with pictures, response curves and technical data from the manufacturers themselves for every currently listed microphone (and even a few that aren’t).” - from microphone-data.com
Recording Hacks, the online magazine about recording gear and techniques, also maintains a wonderful database of current and out of production microphones.
As well, they maintain the official TapeOp Microphone Review Archive which is a fantastic source of microphone information.
Personally, I tend to “re-discover” these microphone data resources about once every six months, typically after becoming horribly frustrated that I can’t find the specifications I’m looking for, or after a futile attempt to compare specifications from different manufacturers.
Whether you share my frustrations or you have reasons of your own, I hope that you’ll find value in these resources.
What’s your take on the currently available microphone resources? Do you swear by the Rycote database? Would never dream of using data that didn’t come right off the manufacturer’s server?
Whatever your thoughts of experiences, let me know in the comments below!
The Technologist, a.k.a. Kyle P. Snyder, is an audio engineer with innumerable credits in the public and private sector, writing about audio engineering, recording technology, and a multitude of other tropics for ProSoundWeb. Find out more about Kyle at his website.
More posts by The Technologist:
Don’t Come Unglued; Bake A Tape!
Spotlight Versus Pro Tools - The Devil Is In The Details