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Audio Gear: Shopping Tips

Auditioning Gear

The following article is an excerpt from Shure Notes, Issue #28.

Here are some helpful shopping tips to consider when purchasing new audio gear, courtesy of the Applications Engineering Group at Shure:

1. Visit a Reputable Music Store or Dealer
This is the easiest way to try a wide variety of microphones in a somewhat controlled environment. Choose a dealer with a knowledgeable sales staff that can help you narrow your choices and provide you with a decent test set up. Make sure that all the mics are set to the same volume, otherwise the loudest one tends to be the winner. Don’t use EQ. Listen through familiar speakers or headphones. Talk or sing as you do in a performance setting. If possible, record it for playback and evaluation.

2. Buying online or mail order? Check the return policy.
Buying online or through a catalog is convenient, but it doesn’t allow you to check out the actual mic ahead of time. Sometimes mics can’t be returned due to a retailer’s or e-tailer’s “health” concerns. Make sure you know ahead of time if this is the case. If the dealer does not have such return restrictions, you will have a great opportunity to test the microphone in a real performance application.

3. Beg and borrow from friends.
Find out if any of your friends in other bands or in your network have opinions, recommendations – and a mic to lend.

4. Take a friend with you when you shop.
You’ll be making the ultimate decisions, but sometimes, four ears are better than two, especially if they belong to someone on your audio team. You’re less likely to succumb to a hard sell from the rare predatory salesperson and you’ll have the benefit of a second opinion.

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