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An interesting article in Physics Today about vocal microphone technology

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  • 3 weeks later...
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you should always audtion microphones for a singer, some mics work better with certain voice types. I find a I favor good quality condensors like the Groove Tubes gt66 and the AKG D5 LX, it works better for me, one of my best buds, uses a Shure SM58 for his vocals. Interesting article, but I thought most of that was relatively common knowldege ?

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  • 4 weeks later...
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Spot on article.


I spent most of my time as a musician over the past 50 years using Dynamic, Condenser and PZM mics. Even though I was able to get decent results I never felt completely comfortable using them. Given the difficulty I had mixing my own vocals and the results I'd get I knew there had to be a better option that would allow me to sing without having to fight the mic to get a natural tone.


I had used Ribbon mics in the past but never actually owned one where I could spend a good deal of time experimenting with it. The high cost of even a bottom end mic was too high for my own personal indulgence.


In the past year I bought an MXL Ribbon mic hoping it might give me what I was looking for. I got it cheap and quickly found out why. The ribbon was droopy as all get out and I'd get a clunk when it was tilted. I suspected that might be the case so I was already predicting I'd need to replace the Ribbon. Luckily you can buy 6 and 8 micron ribbon foil cheaply and I bought enough to learn how to do it. I popped a few trying to get the 6 micron foil mounted but got it right on my third attempt. It may be a little tighter then I wanted but I can always give it another go.


After using the mic for about 6 months I can conclude its exactly what my voice has been needing for a long time. I have an extremely strong upper end presence to my voice which has always been an issue for me. Dynamic and Condensers often have a bum in that area which is fine for most people. For me its exactly what I don't need and wind up having way too much boost there. I wind up having to EQ that down and in the process I loose more then I gain. Every key wound up needing different EQ cuts because the pitch changes too so its always been like trying to hit a moving target.


The Ribbon mic has really made a difference there. Its the first time I've been able to record with a mic and not had to use equalizers to surgically remove frequencies to make my voice sound normal. My voice instead sounds normal without EQ and I can use the EQ to enhance instead of for damage control.


I cant tell you how much of a pleasure this is. My voice isn't the greatest to begin with. I spent so many years singing through bad PA gear which surely didn't help. Being able to hear myself as I know I should have sounded all along is truly fantastic, especially when you spent as many years as I have resided to the fact I just wasn't give a decent voice and had to struggle much harder then most to get decent results and settle for the best I could get.


Best advice for anyone who sings, if the vocals don't feel or sound right to you keep the door open for trying other options. Don't base your results on a mic just because its was expensive or popular. Finding the right mic may not be cheap, but we have so many options now you should let yourself get stuck using something that doesn't match your vocal tone.

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