Choosing the Right Mic
Narrowing the Field
The following article is an excerpt from Shure Notes, Issue #28.
Let’s assume, for the moment, that you’re choosing a wired microphone for a live sound application. You’ve gone online. You’ve visited your favorite music store. Maybe you’ve even checked out great deals on auction sites. Where you purchase might be the easiest decision you have to make. What you purchase is a little bit harder.
One of the most common questions asked by our customers is “Which Shure mic is best for me?” Here’s the bad news: it’s not an easily answerable question by itself. It’s a partially subjective and partially objective decision, based on what you’re miking, where you’re miking it, the sound you’re after and how much money you have to spend.
Here’s the good news: this article will help you narrow the field by:
Matching mic characteristics to the most typical live sound applications, then,
Identifying the most appropriate choices.
Certain microphones are geared toward specific applications and we’ll cover those here.
More good news: Most microphones fall into two broad categories – vocal and instrument. Though some artists like to use instrument mics for vocals and vocal mics for instruments, you have a head start just by knowing what you’re trying to mike. Your guitar amp? Easy! Your voice? No problem!
That being said, we’ll share some conventional wisdom on how to mic:
- Drum Kits
- Guitar Amps
- Acoustic Guitars
But remember this: Only YOU can determine which mic is right or best for you. The most effective decision-making tools? Your own ears.
Now that we’ve helped you narrow the field of microphone choices by matching mic characteristics to the thing you’re trying to mic, there are just one or two additional considerations.
First – price. How much can you afford to spend? Assuming every mic you’re considering can give you the reliable performance and durability you require, do you really need that more precise pickup pattern or wider dynamic range? Is the extra cost justifiable?
Second – match the quality (and price) level of your microphone to the other gear you’re using. Unless you’re planning an upgrade in the near future, there’s no reason to use a state-of-the art vocal mic with a doesn’t-meet-minimum standards sound system.
Don’t forget that sound professionals stock a wide variety of microphones to suit many situations. They know there’s rarely one ”best” choice … which brings us back to where we started. Trust your ears.