By Phil O'Keefe |
Whether live or in the studio, for vocals or instruments, the right accessories can help you get the most out of your microphones
by Phil O'Keefe
I can hear it now. "Microphone accessories??? I can understand an article on guitar accessories, bass accessories, or even one on amp accessories, but how many accessories can there be for a microphone? Isn't this going a little far?" Well possibly. There are certainly not nearly as many accessories available for microphones as for guitars, but there are a few - maybe even a few you haven't considered previously - and some of them can be very useful. So let's take a look at what you need to have to get the most from your microphones….
Acoustic Screens and Shields - These mini-gobos reduce acoustical reflections and improve the acoustical environment directly around your microphone. They became popular for use with vocal microphones first, but models are now available for use with instruments and amplifiers, such as the sE Electronics guitaRF.
Covers - I'm of the opinion that when a studio microphone is not in use, it should either be covered up, or put away. This is particularly important for condenser microphones since their electrically charged diaphragms tend to attract dust, but it's also good insurance for ribbon microphones and even dynamic microphones too. While large, inexpensive plastic food storage bags with a desiccant bag taped inside will work fine, there are also classier-looking, commercially available custom cloth bags.
Preamps - Just as an electric guitar without an amplifier is only part of an instrument, a microphone also needs a good preamp as a partner. The right pairing can make a big difference in how your microphone sounds.
Pop Filters and Wind Screens - There's a huge variety of designs out there that help keep environmental wind noise, breath wind blasts, and vocal plosives from causing unwanted problems on your recordings. Fur-covered zeppelins are often used for recording outdoors to protect the mic in high wind conditions, while roam windscreens have been commonly used on stages and even in studios for decades. There's also the "disk type" pop screens that use either metal screens (like the Stedman ProScreen 101) or nylon fabric to divert and prevent wind blasts from ruining your recording. If you record vocals, consider this a must-have accessory.
Stereo Bar - Nothing makes stereo setups easier than a good stereo bar. DPA makes the nicest one I've ever used, but there are others on the market that cost considerably less.
You can purchase microphone accessories from:
Phil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician and Guitar Player magazines.