Do you ever revel in someone else’s mistakes? Ever learn something from them?
Yeah, me too.
Here’s a list of some of my “best” mistakes I’ve made when it comes to using mics.
‘Tis both enjoyable (and educational):
1. I almost blew up a $1,600 ribbon mic because I plugged it into a preamp with phantom power already on. (Turns out that’s a bit of a myth, but I freaked for a while.)
2. I stepped up to the mic in front of 400-plus people to sing, and…I had forgotten to turn on the wireless mic.
3. I sang an entire take of a vocal into the back of a condenser mic without realizing it.
4. I bought one of those headword condenser mics (a.k.a., the “Garth Brooks mic”) to do podcasts and webinars. Turns out it sounded like garbage, and I looked like a dork.
5. Recently tracked drums and didn’t realize I overloaded the overhead mics at the preamp. (Sounded cool in the end, but embarrassing that I didn’t realize it was happening at the time.)
6. Tracked lead vocals for an album through a (Shure) SM7B from roughly 1-foot away. It sounded okay, but had way too much sibilance. I was too far from the mic.
7. Spent a day tracking acoustic guitar (with two mics), only to realize afterwards that I had the mics too close and was recording a very boomy-sounding guitar.
8. After technical difficulties setting up a headphone mix, I tracked a female vocalist without really checking to see if I liked the vocal tone. Turns out I didn’t like it that much.
9. Close-miked a lead vocal once on a condenser with a hypercardioid pattern. Ended up sounding really weird due to the exaggerated proximity effect.
10. Recorded acoustic guitar for an EP right next to a window, while it was raining (during the great 2010 Nashville flood). The sound of rain is all over the EP.
While we’re on the topic of micropohones, be sure to check out Joe’s recent free webinar: No Frills Guide to Choosing and Using Microphones in Your Home Studio.
Joe Gilder is a Nashville-based engineer, musician, and producer who also provides training and advice at the Home Studio Corner. Note that Joe also offers highly effective training courses, including Understanding Compression and Understanding EQ.