Best Ways to Test Out Your New Mic

Welcome back to the blog, and to a slightly more special segment in today's installment! As June has an extra 5th Friday within it this year, I’ve taken the liberty to write a slightly more one off sort of blog post before we begin a new topic, and with the Summer Sale just ended, there’s no better time to discuss the best ways you can get to know your new microphone(s).

There’s a million and one things to try out with a new microphone, everything from how they sound on different preamps, through to how much SPL can it handle. But, in this instance, there’s always been one great way to truly feel out the character of a microphone and that’s simply by hearing it on a few different instruments - so I’m going to share with you what I think are some great recommendations. 

Let’s dive in! 

Mono Sources

If you bolstered your mic locker with a single new addition, I can guarantee that’s going to be enough to add much more to your recordings straight off the bat. But knowing how it can improve your recordings can be a little tricky, especially if you’re totally new to our brand, or it’s perhaps your first that you’ve invested in from us; and if that’s the case then this blog is most definitely for you today. Let’s start off with probably the best place to start when trying out a new microphone - Vocals. 

Vocals are a solid way of getting to know a microphone, preamps, compression and more, as our ears have evolved to be much more sensitive to vocals, the types of vocals, pitch, distance, context, etc. so it’s logical to start there. However, this is a good time to point out the only caveat to listening for changes or differences in microphones, with that being our ears almost ‘forget’ a sound we’ve just heard within about a second, so make sure to record the vocal takes, and A/B between the takes on either good headphones or monitors to get the best out of your testing. 

If you've just added either the Vintage or Black Hole Series to your mic locker, trust me you have a lot to be excited about in your next session!

Another great place to start if you’re not comfortable with singing, or can’t get a vocalist in to help you test the mic out, would be acoustic guitar. Oftentimes I prefer this test as well because it allows me to hear the transient response of the microphone a little clearer than what vocals can do by themselves; but it will also give you a wider area to mic up too so you can test a little deeper here with how the mic sounds in front of the body, aimed at the bridge of the neck, and distance from the guitar as well. The same applies to electric guitar cabinets as well, and the position over the speaker from the center most point, through to the edge of the cone.

Lastly, if you have access to it and can record drums in your studio without the neighbors complaining, I’d highly recommend hearing how your new microphone sounds on a drum kit. Because there’s so many pieces of the kit that have to be accounted for when recording them, and because a mono room mic and a mono overhead (along with a standard stereo pairing) is such commonplace now with how many people like to record, it seems worth trying to hear if you can. I know that when I’m testing my mics out, I’m trying to listen for if I can hear a good, overall capture of the entire kit at various distances and positions in the room or above the kit. I do this for two reasons;

  1. I want to hear what the microphone is naturally going to gather more of, such as low end frequencies, or clarity and detail. The more I know, the more I can use proximity effect in the future
  2. Which brings me to my next point, distance. If I can hear in a room where to my ears is a sweet spot for the mic to sit, I’ll write that in my notes for when my next session happens to refer back to thus saving me a lot of time. 

Stereo Sources

Perhaps you were lucky enough to snag one of the last pairs of our brand new BT-202 small diaphragm condensers? Or maybe add a second mic to finally make that pair you’ve been saving to get? Well, if either are the case then don’t worry, I’ve got some ideas for you guys as well. 

If you’ve read the most recent focus for the blog this month and last, then you may already be aware of the sound samples we have, kindly done by Alexandros from Voodoo Project Studio in Athens. Amongst the samples he made, there’s some great examples of where to start in testing your new pair, most notably on Piano recordings. There’s a bunch of different ways to mic up a piano, and depending on the size or type, then that can vary even further; however in the case of these samples, they were made using a beautiful upright piano in a variety of stereo recording techniques and distances - that’s the best place to start without a doubt! If you want to check out those samples before you get started, there’s both mono and stereo examples here.

The next logical place if you don’t have a piano, and the more likely reason you have your new pair is because you need them for drums - well, again, I’ve got a few ideas for you on that as well! Just to revisit stereo recording techniques again, yes of course they are a great way to test out your new mics, without a doubt; but you could go even further if you add either another pair in a different arrangement (such as a pair in A/B spaced, and another in X/Y between them) or a simple mono mic to fill in the center. This is a wonderful way to start to hear how your other mics may compliment each other in a full arrangement of mics and I’d highly recommend it even if just as a control variable when testing. Make sure to test various distances as well for both overheads and room mics, it’s incredible what a difference it can make by even just a few inches. 

Before I wrap up as well, I wanted to quickly remind anyone that may be new to our mics to go and join our community on facebook so you’re always up-to-date with news and exclusive offers, early access and further discounts. And lastly, I want to share this new video from Justin over at Sonic Scoop as well for you all to hear, especially if you got a pair of the BT-202’s. It’s a very in depth look and comparison between our new mics and some others that many consider to be good SDC mics:  


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