Many home studio owners are on a limited budget. You may have only a handful decent studio mics. Perhaps you realized that the best $100 you could spend was a solid large diaphragm condenser mic and that’s all you have.
You’re looking to get newer, better sounds in your recordings. What do you do? Do you slap down your credit card and pick up a new mic? Perhaps. Here’s another idea. How about instead we simply maximize the mic(s) we already own and get more out of them? That sounds better to me already!
Via Will Fisher Flickr
Get More Out Of Your Mic With Distance
Forgive me if this sounds simplistic, but how close or far away from the source you place your microphone is one of the biggest things that affects the recording you will get. The closer a mic is to the kick drum, the more click or attack of the beater you likely will get. Conversely, the further away that same mic is placed, your recording will have more bottom end and fatness. If you close mic an acoustic guitar, you may get a beefy (or tinny) sound that might be perfect for the song in question. Move the mic a foot or two back, and you get a more rounded out natural guitar sound that incorporates more of the room’s natural reverberation, good or bad.
You get the idea, even the slightest change forward or backward can radically alter the tone, charactersitics, and dynamics of a recording. How does this help you practically? When you set up to record anything, always leave time to experiment with mic placement, particularly in regards to distance from the source. Even in an untreated home studio, don’t assume that closer is better. The key here is to experiment and discover what sounds BEST for the song.
Get More Out Of Your Mic With Angle
Distance aside, one way to really alter the sound of what you are recording is to simply adjust the angle of the microphone relative to the source. A great example of this is when miking a guitar cabinet. A microphone facing the grill of the cabinet will have one sound (potentially bright and clear), while slightly angling the same mic to the left or right 45 degrees will give the guitar a distinctly different, more mellow and round tone. It’s truly remarkable.
This phenomenon is called being on or off axis. You really owe it to yourself to experiment with microphone angles in all areas of recording. Snare drum mics sound very different depending on the angle over the drum. Vocals can more or less sibilance depending on the axis of the mic. Acoustic guitar can sound fuller or brighter all with a simple twist of the mic. Beautiful.
Get More Out Of What You Already Have
With so many mics to choose from for your studio you can easily get a headache trying to decide. Maybe your budget won’t give you any options, which in that case your life is simple. Either way, you need to do yourself a favor and get the absolute most out of your current mics before you move on.
Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of these two techniques. This is audio engineering at it’s core: small adjustments and changes making the biggest of differences in the final result.