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condenser mic dropping out occasionally? Condenser Microphones
Old 24th December 2010
Gear Maniac
mister sunshine's Avatar

condenser mic dropping out occasionally?

I was testing/auditioning 3 mics on vocals today and had a surprise that I'm hoping to understand better.

1 mic was a AKG414, another was a Neumann TLM103 and the last was an inexpensive Chinese LDC.

I used the inexpensive mic last and noticed it seemed like it might be wind sensitive compared to the other two mics.

I'm not sure if that is true, so I'll explain what happens and hope someone can share some ideas.

The mic seemed to just drop out or go silent on one "P". I wasn't a pop... just a gentle "bump" and then silence.

I tapped on the grille a bit and switched phantom power on and off and it seemed to struggle to come back on and then it seemed serviceable for the rest of a short session.

What I am asking is... is it possible the diapragm is shorting on the back plate? I don't think there is anything wrong with the XLR connection... it seems like an internal issue.

I used all the mics with a John Hardy M1 preamp so I trust the phantom supply... and it worked great all day long on the other mics.

Do you think I may be putting the preamp at risk of damage? I don't want to do that.

Any ideas will be much appreciated.


best regards,
Old 24th December 2010
Lives for gear
Studerfreak's Avatar

Sounds to me that you have a problem with the microphone capsule.
Is it a new one ? Get another one.
Is it an old one ? Probably dirty, conterminated capsule. (Do not try to clean it yourself !)

I do not think your pre-amp will be hurt, but I would not switch the phantom power off and on too many times with the microphone level on your pre-amp turned up.
I assume the other mic's are OK ?
There will be nothing wrong with your XLR's. It is the microphone itself.
Old 24th December 2010
Gear Maniac
mister sunshine's Avatar

Thanks for the reply.

It's an older mic... it's not mine, but I think the mic has been treated as carefully as all my other mics.

Is there some testing protocol that I might try to isolate the problem within the mic?

I guess it might also be some small component going bad, the fact that it shut down on a plosive transient may also indicate that some part in the circuit was stressed at that moment.

I'm really just hoping to learn a few new things.

I am not depending on the mic so the education offers more value than he actual article... if that makes sense?

Thanks again.

I am eager to learn if anyone has some procedures to suggest for checking the mic in more detail.

best regards,
Old 24th December 2010
Lives for gear
Ron Vogel's Avatar

I have had a similar problem with my AT4050, but it ended up that certain mic cables I have don't seat tightly in phantom power would cut in/out randomly.
Old 24th December 2010
Gear Maniac
mister sunshine's Avatar

It certainly could be the connectors but once everything was working again I gave the connector a "torture" test and it seemed like a reliable connection.

Thanks Ron.

best regards,
Old 25th December 2010
Gear Maniac
mister sunshine's Avatar

I pulled the mic open today and everything looks solid connection wise.

I inspected the capsule and it looked clean. I didn't touch it or anything but I did blow a gentle warm breath across it. The capsule would "fog" a bit and I noted that you could see the pattern of the vent or tuning holes behind it by the way the "fog" cleared.

I don't know if that's normal or not.

Maybe it means something? Like maybe it was dumb to blow across it?

It seems like I may just have to wait for something to fail completely.

Any more tip?


best regards,
Old 25th December 2010
Registered User
Rick Sutton's Avatar

Not necessarily something I'd lose a lot of sleep over. Seen it quite a few times over the years. If the mic comes back to life and sounds fine in normal use it probably just sensitive to low frequency plosives or excessive low freq signal. If it is not crackling and spitting the capsule is probably OK. Could be bottoming out the capsule, maybe blocking the internal electronics, maybe sucking down the phantom.....just spitballing here. Others will have the technically correct terminology but I can tell you that I have seen this many times in mics that work fine in normal circumstances. My favorite "big gun" condenser is so sensitive that if someone closes a door in the live room too quickly it will act very much like your mic and cut out, but in normal daily use it is rock solid.

Can you say "windscreen"? I knew you could.
Old 26th December 2010
Gear Maniac
mister sunshine's Avatar

Thanks for sharing your insights.

best regards,
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