With last year bringing an incredible surge in new users, I’ve seen A LOT of people loving their new microphones - whether the Vintage Series or Black Hole Series, you’ve all been keeping very busy during the pandemic period it would seem!
With that in mind, I wanted to offer my expertise in a general sense so you can get the most out of your microphone (whether you’re a new or veteran user).
Let’s dive in!
Be Creative with your Preamp Match-ups
Depending on the available options, I love to know my microphone specifications and then accentuate their beauties even further. Preamps are the best way to do this without ‘processing’ as it were and allow you to get to know your microphone on a much closer level.
It’s a time consuming process, but one of the best things I like to do to find a preamp that plays nicely with a new microphone is to re-amp a guitar signal through a cabinet, and play the signal over 5-6 times, each time swapping the XLR output to a new Preamp input (making sure to level match, of course) and deciding upon listening back to A/B between the options.
A great technique to fully boost the ‘curves’ of your microphone is to play with the input and output of the preamp if you have a transformer based unit. This will increase harmonic content in different ways depending on the transformer with the most ‘stress’ (higher voltage output) and can really bring a totally different sound to what you first thought possible from the instrument and the microphone.
This is especially true with preamps such as the ISA One from Focusrite, Neve 1073 and 1081 designs, and a personal favourite of mine in my studio is the Iron transformer input from the Joe Meek Twin Q2.
Get Behind the Curve
Knowing how your microphone is designed to sound, will help you choose the right mic for the source.
You can find out the specifications of your microphones very easily by visiting the product pages on all JZ Microphones, and we advise you take a look, so you can better familiarise yourself with where it will best sit in your mixes. Take a look at the spectrums below:
Black Hole BH1S
Each one of these has a curve designed to work on most sources, but there's certain sources they fit better on than others.
The BB29 is the brightest of the bunch and specifically designed to stand out from the crowd with its sound. Vocals are specifically great with this mic, and the transformer coupled output means you have access to a totally different tonality compared to any other mics within the JZ range.
The Black Hole series is focused towards the upper mid range on the other hand, but still a bright sounding microphone. Its presence allows it to perform superbly on detailed instruments or sources such as a acoustic instruments (violins, cello, less brittle brass sections, 12th fret of Acoustic Guitar), however its well known for its capability on vocals as well.
The Vintage 67 is a much more natural sounding mic with a subtle upper mid-range boost compared to the aforementioned mics in this list. This mic excels as a drum overhead, outside of kick, drum room microphone - just drums in general! In fact, this is a microphone that countless Grammy winning producers have been using as of late and shouting from the rooftops about on social media.
Take Your Time
This is key. Becoming familiar with a microphone takes time, practice and experience and it’s not an overnight process. The mics mentioned above perform great on all sources, and knowing you like the sound of a mic from listening to videos, demos, sound samples, or simply using in someone else's studio first is always good; but when you’re setting up your mics to capture the source, whether a drum kit, or a simple guitar tone, it’s so important that you take your time to get your placement correct for the track.
Even a few millimetres difference between positions can have a profound impact on your sound, especially when it comes to a loud or dynamic source like a guitar amp for example where moving towards and away from the centre can have a profound influence on the darkness or clarity of your tone.
The same goes for phasing issues and the slightest change in position can cause a magnitude of problems on multi mic’d instruments such as drums. Vocals can change drastically in sound depending on positioning too thanks to proximity effect, and the further away the take is, the less low end is found naturally.
So make sure you take your time next time you set up your new microphone, and take the time to get to know what preamps are the best fit depending on your source.
Matched with educating yourself on the built-in design and frequency graph from the product pages, you’ll be able to truly get the best out of whatever mic you choose!