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Microphones as EQ's and further... Condenser Microphones
Old 16th December 2002
Lives for gear
e-cue's Avatar

Thread Starter
Microphones as EQ's and further...

Fletcher, EveAnna, and whoever can chime in,

A long time ago when Enterprise studios in Burbank bought out Evergreen Studios to construct "E2" (formerly Ground Control, and Barbara Streisand's Evergreen studio before that) I got to do a session there while the place was literally still being reconstructed. There was concrete dust on the hallway floors and the whole nine. Anyway, the mic locker still hadn't been sent off to Audio Affect: the enterprise's sister rental company yet. I was tracking a live indie band, specifically drums, and had a plethora of mic's at my disposal. My assistant, technically a runner, wanted experience, so WE (yes, I helped) set up every mic I could find on the drum kit (over 50 mic's total, oh the phase, THE PHASE!!!). Keep in mind, they had just installed a 101 channel SSL 9000J so I had plenty of room to work. Anyway, while getting sounds, I looked at every Mic Freq response sheet that I had available (many company's do not provide these which is lame as hell IMO, Manley for example). This is a very valuable lesson no matter how matter times over the years you get a chance to do it.
Not only do mics act like different "eqs" but they have different responses. For example, I loved not only the eq sound, but the dynamic response of 414 EBs on toms, something I hadn't really tried. More recently I discovered the Royer 122's on horns, where I use NO eq or compression.
What comments do you have as far as mic to use that minimize the use of other gear in the chain? I like the EQ on the SM57 on snare, but an Earthworks or Sony 800g has a better response top to bottom on it. Does that make sense to say? If I'm doing a "Little Drummer Boy" snare drum solo, these mic's come in handy, but for drum kits, the 57 goes on my snare first. Comments?
Old 16th December 2002
member no 666
Fletcher's Avatar
Yeah... microphone selection and placement are pretty much the only equalizers I use when tracking... often changing a mic, moving a mic, etc. will make a far greater difference to the specific tone, and the overall presentation than any amount of knob twisting...

At the same time, signal chain composition is of equal importance... this pre with that mic which is in "X" spot for "Y" instrument with ______ compressor going to (blank) converter is a great way to get a very full, very clear recording where you can appropriately tailor the audio to the song/artist's presentation of that song.

EQ's are all well and good for the occassional 'touchup' during the recording process [in my world]... but more often than not, I try to avoid them...

But most folks mileage differs on these sort of things... especially the 'microphone selection and placement' part of the program.

Best of luck.
Old 17th December 2002
Gear addict
CrazyBeast's Avatar

Nice thread.

For me, the combo of mic/pre/and (sometimes) compressor has a spatial and tonal stamp that I try very hard to remember, so that I can apply that combination where I want it.

I also find that I like to have many oddball mics rather than multiple "standard" ones. One favorite is the AKG D224 - unique, midrangy, spacially small, but very clear.

Between making these selections and mic placement I find that the use of eq and whatnot is pretty rare.

I'd love to hear some more responses on this topic...
Old 18th December 2002
Lives for gear

Re: Microphones as EQ's and further...

The "signature" of mics is what makes mics useful...and there are lots of variables involved. Not only do we have the 0 degree on axis reponse, there is off axis response, at all the various positions other than 0. This a big contributor to a mic's sonic character, especially in live situations such as on stage or in a tracking room. There's also dynamic reponse, that you mention above. This is something David Bock and I talk about, for it is the key to building a 47 that sounds like a 47, reponse that changes with level. There are so many variables, its frightening.

This is why many mic manufacturers hate freq response "charts", and the value judgements people make based on just one piece of a really big puzzle. Soundelux and Brauner both don't supply charts for this very reason. What good is a reponse chart if the dynamic reponse is totally different at all the different levels? What good is a reponse chart if the off axis response is huge contributor to the overall tone of the mic? The end user cannot compare apples to apples: the technology is not yet there to provide a complete written "picture" of the sound. While there are conditions where an on axis reponse chart is valuable, such as acoustic measurement mics, its rare in music recording.
Old 19th December 2002
EveAnna Manley's Avatar

Excellent post, Brad. We don't supply charts for our mics either for the same reasons.

I'm in agreement as well with CrazyBeast and Fletcher on this topic.
Old 19th December 2002
Gear addict
CrazyBeast's Avatar

So in the spirit of what we're talking about here - what are some other peoples favorite mics that have a particular stamp to them? ie: not for everything, but doesn't suck at what it does?

Some personal nominees are: AKG D224, Lomo 19a18, ev 635, Beyer 260, Oktava 219. I'm interested in the Altec mics, and some of the more obscure Neumann's. What are some other good character pieces??
Old 19th December 2002
One with big hooves
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
You can't say that you never touch an EQ while tracking. I've tried that and find that I need to add lots of top in either mixing or mastering. Right now I'm EQ'ing the overheads, room mics (adding top), snare and kick to tape. Everything else is flat and it sounds decent, maybe a little dull but decent.
Old 19th December 2002
Moderator emeritus

You'd be amazed at what you can do, Jay - when tracking, I'll typically EQ kick and snare. That's it. Admittedly, I'll use EQ all over the place when I mix - not a lot, but some.

For instance, if I know that I'm going to want bright acoustics in the mix (or if the guitar is fairly dark), I'll use a pair of KM184's, the Great River MP2 and Manley Elops. If I'm completely satisfied with the tone of the guitar, I'll likely use KSM44's, and perhaps the GR NV pre and the ELOP. If the acoustic in the room is thin, then I'll likely place the KSM44's so that I'm getting more of a proximity effect, or pull in a darker mic.

I've also found that with a high passed, phase reversed AKG480 under the snare, I'm using less EQ on the over the snare SM57.

It's doable, at least.
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