Do some microphones respond to EQ better than others? [PODCAST]

Do some microphones respond to EQ better than others? [PODCAST]


Do some microphones respond to EQ better than
others? Conventional recording wisdom says that you
should choose the mic that sounds right in itself, rather than expecting EQ to solve
any problems. But do some mics work better with EQ than others? If you have one microphone of professional
quality, then you can make recordings of a professional standard. I’ve heard the evidence
of this so many times I couldn’t count. But since microphones do all have their own individual
sound characters – even identical models as they age differently – it is always good to
have a selection of mics to choose from, to get the absolute best out of the sound source. It has long been an accepted piece of recording
wisdom that you should choose the right mic for the job, by experience and experiment,
and find the best position in which to place it (always by experiment). To choose a mic
at random and position it approximately, and then try to fix up the resulting sound with
EQ just wouldn’t be the right thing to do. It would be like overcooking the celebration
turkey and expecting to correct the inevitable dry texture with extra gravy. It is a fact however that EQ is often necessary,
no matter how correct the microphone choice or optimum the placement. Perhaps the instrument
itself needs a little work. Maybe the acoustic isn’t perfect. Maybe you want a sound that
is different to the natural sound. All are good reasons for using EQ. But with some mics, it seems that the function
of EQ is mainly to correct the problems that you hear. The difficulty with this is that
it can put you into a ‘problem-solving’ mindset. And once you have solved the problems, you
leave it there. If the microphone is more neutral however
and doesn’t raise any problems, you can – right from the start – use EQ to improve the sound
that you hear. The problem-solving mindset can be the nemesis of the creative mindset
that is needed to get the best end result in the recording studio. Opinions are subjective and differ vastly,
but I would cite the Neumann U87 Ai as one example of a microphone that I find quite
plain. Put it in front of a singer or instrumentalist and the sound that comes out is pretty much
the same as what went in, plus a touch of the large-diaphragm sheen you would expect
from such a mic. But I find this sound very easy to work with
and get exactly the results I want. With some other mics my first thoughts are the problem
areas. These mics may be of professional quality and capable of professional results, but I’m
thinking in a technical, problem-solving manner, and I’m not using whatever creative abilities
I might possess to their maximum. So if you have a selection of mics available
to experiment with, don’t just compare their sounds flat and unaltered. Experiment with
the way they work with EQ too. There are so many dimensions in the technique and artistry
of microphones that it is possible to learn more and more throughout one’s career without
ever exhausting what they can do. I’m David Mellor, Course Director of Audio
Masterclass. Thank you for listening.

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