Recording vocals in a room with less than ideal acoustics can be tricky. If any undesirable sounding room reflections make it back into your microphone, the finished result will sound amateur and unpolished.
One solution is to hang duvets behind and to the sides of the vocalist, which will help to prevent unwanted reflections from reaching the mic. For a more permanent and aesthetically pleasing solution, companies such as Primacoustic make specially tailored room kits to suit a variety of spaces. There are, however; some applications where these solutions are just not practical or affordable. Fear not! It is still possible to get great results in a lively space; you just might need to consider dropping the condenser mic from your arsenal.
What’s the Benefit of a Dynamic Mic in Less than Ideal Acoustic Conditions?
Recording vocals with a dynamic mic is less unusual than you might think. In fact, plenty of big names regularly turn to the humble SM58 or SM57 to get great studio results (a topic we’ve covered in our ” Sometimes all you need is an SM58” post). The simple reason for this is that sometimes it’s the best choice for certain vocal styles. The added benefit in a lively room is that their less sensitive pickup makes it easier to work the microphone very close up, therefore; you increase the ratio of desired vocal signal over undesired room sound. If you can squeeze in the duvet trick on top, you will notice even greater improvement in signal to room ratio.
Another popular choice of dynamic microphone for this application is the SM7b. With an extended frequency response and the added benefit of selectable low-cut and presence peak filtering, the SM7b allows for greater control and is often the preferred studio mic for a whole host of big names. Check out our previous post for some history on how the SM7b came to be the mic of choice for Michael Jackson’s album, Thriller.
The Bottom Line
So, should you drop the condenser mic for a dynamic mic next time? The simple answer is: maybe.
Improving your room acoustics will introduce a wider choice of microphones that can work for you and improve results. Nevertheless, choosing the right microphone for your needs requires careful consideration around what and where you’re recording. Inputs are far more important than outputs and making the right choice at this stage will allow you to get the most from your recording. No matter how small or large your budget, the most expensive microphone is not necessarily the right microphone. It’s important to put price aside; use your ears, trust your judgment, and who knows, a humble dynamic microphone might just surprise you.