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Real World Gear: The Secret Life Of Instrument Mics
Plug in one of each, and you’re good to go
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AKG C 414 B/ULS

Description: Large-diaphragm with selectable cardioid, hypercardioid, omnidirectional or figure-eight polar patterns. Intended for a wide range of applications. Also includes switchable 10-dB and 20-dB pre-attenuation pads. Supplied with H100 spider-type suspension mount and windscreen. Frequency response is 20 Hz to 20 kHz.

G.G. Take: Several models of this mic are available. This is the version I prefer for 6-foot to 9-foot micing on grand piano. Also handy for big vocal choirs (variable pattern) or stage wash where no mics can go (marching drum and bugle troops, singing dancers).

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AKG C 451 B

Description: Condenser type with cardioid pattern C 451 B is ideal for percussion instruments and overhead micing, hi-hat, snare drum, and acoustic guitar. Includes switchable bass cut filter at 75 Hz or 150 Hz and switchable 10 dB and 20 dB pre-attenuation pad. Supplied with SA 60 stand adapter and windscreen. Frequency response is 20 Hz to 20 kHz.

G.G. Take: The classic hi-hat mic now available in a re-issued version for those of you who don’t have the time or bucks to ferret out an original. I always used a pair when I was mixing Leo Kottke on 6- and 12-string guitars. I’d put one on the sound hole and one below the bridge to get the deep bass off the top of his guitars. Each one was patched through a White 31 band EQ (the one with the knobs; faders were for sissies).

AKG D112

Description: Large-diaphragm dynamic type with cardioid pattern intended for kick drum as well bass cabinets and instruments like trombone. A narrow band presence rise at 4 kHz is intended to add extra “punch” in dense mixes. Comes with SA 60 stand adapter and windscreen. Frequency response is 20 Hz to 17 kHz.

G.G. Take: Everyone’s favorite reggae or British kick drum sound. Low down and deep. Great on the port (not speaker) of a bass amp speaker cabinet. Check the polarity with your bass DI for most bottom end. Cool ‘30s retro “Flash Gordon” look.

beyerdynamic M88 TG

Description: Dynamic type with hypercardioid pattern noted for its application versatility. When micing bass or kick drums, the company recommends that the optional PS 88 pop screen or WS 59 windscreen be used. Includes integral -20 dB humbucking filter. Supplied with 3/8-inch threaded mic clamp. Frequency response is 30 Hz to 20 kHz.

G.G. Take: Hypercardioid dynamic two words I love together, like surf n’ turf. I’ll use this one on anything and everything, including vocals. The front of the grill is already flat so they never appear “old” no matter how much use (abuse!) they take.

Shure SM81

Description: Unidirectional condenser type with cardioid pattern primarily recommended for acoustic instruments such as guitar, piano and cymbals. Operates on phantom power and includes three-position, low-end roll-off switch and 10 dB attenuator. Supplied with swivel adapter, switch lock, foam windscreen, and carrying case. Frequency response is 20 Hz to 20 kHz.

G.G. Take: Best on high-hat, overhead, and percussion “toys.” Good for anything with a lot of metal that needs to be translated without harshness. Many use the SM81 under a snare for snap (reverse polarity with gate to avoid rattling between tunes).

Shure Beta 98D/S

Description: Mini-condenser type with supercardioid pattern primarily recommended for tom-tom, snare and percussion instruments. An optional cardioid cartridge allows easy adaptation for other applications. Supplied with the A98D drum mount with flexible gooseneck. (Also available without mount.) Frequency response is 20 Hz to 20 kHz.

G.G. Take: Clamps to the rim of toms on a tiny gooseneck. As the toms move, the mic moves with them, so your EQ doesn’t change as the drummer’s adrenaline increases. Can be squeezed between cymbals and rack toms without usual low cymbal ring associated with conventional mics.

Shure Beta 52A

Description: Dynamic type with supercardioid pattern, intended primarily for kick drums, bass amps and acoustic bass. Includes built-in locking stand adapter with integral XLR connector. Hardened steel mesh grille offers added protection from abuse. New wider base to accommodate larger range of stands. Frequency response is 20 Hz to 10 kHz.

G.G. Take: A big fat kick sound, with plenty of snap. Permanent sidewise mount makes mic stable on the end of boom stand. Great on bass amps with 10-inch speakers for some raw edge with your DI. Check phase for most mid range.


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