Dorset Sound & Communications

Sound system design for the 21st Century

Sound Tips
Studio and Large Diaphragm Microphones

Studio engineers and broadcasters have for years used large studio microphones.  Condenser versions may be transistorized, transformerless or employing a vaccuum tube preamp. There are only a couple of dynamic studio mics to consider, the EV RE20 (a broadcast standard) and Sennheiser 421 and 441. Ribbon mics are another variety. Ribbons have been very expensive, but inexpensive models have become available. Many studio mics have multiple selectable pick-up patterns, filters and sensitivity pads. The most valued quality of many studio mics is the warm, rich sound typical of a large diaphragm. These often have .75"-1.25" diameter gold foil or gold sputtered diaphragms. A prized, vintage Neumann, RCA, Telefunken or AKG can cost up to $10,000 and more, far beyond a small users budget. Neumann, AKG, Sennheiser, AudioTechnica, Blue, beyerdynamic and Microtech Gefell make modern studio mics. Every year seems to bring new craft manufacturers. The price is still fairly high. In recent years, we have seen a number of economy imports (Japanese, Korean, Chinese) that sound quite good. Audio Technica, and Superlux both market great sounding studio mics that cost less than $200. We have found we can trust their offerings to sound great. There are others. Some cheap mics are showy, but don't sound so hot. It is a good idea to try before you buy. It's fun to mic a pianist or a vocalist on stage with a big mic. I can tell you that studio mic on the stand will make them sound and feel like a million bucks. It's classy in a genteel throw-back way.

Several manufacturers, including AudioTechnica, Neumann and Blue have introduced studio style USB interface microphones. These have created lots of interest for home recordists and podcasters. Have your own Golden "XXX" Microphone. What a great way to make a quantum leap in podcast sound quality with a mic that plugs directly into your computer and from there directly to your recording and editing program.

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