Music Production Techniques

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  • Topic: Microphone, Drum kit, Sound
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  • Published : January 10, 2013
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1MP001 Music Production Techniques 1
Assessment 3 – Portfolio
Section A

Dynamic Microphone

So we are in the studio rearing to go, our musicians are well practiced and have a great track ready to lay down. As an engineer or a producer we need to decide what is the best possible way to capture the sound we want from the band. We are faced with a number of challenges at this point, such as where are we going to set the instruments up in the room? What order shall we record the artists in? What is the best process to take to make the recording go as smoothly as possible? However with all this aside, the 'big question' is what microphones shall we use? There are endless amounts of microphones available at our finger tips these days, so how can we really decide what kind of mic is best for certain parts of the recording? First of all we need to see what types of microphones are available to us. There are various types of mic's, with specific polar patterns and sensitivity and frequency ranges, making each microphone unique for different roles. Today we will concentrate on Dynamic Microphones. Dynamic mic is the standard general-purpose mic like the type you see people singing with at live gigs. The design of a dynamic microphone is very simple and they have few moving parts. This makes them quite rugged and able to withstand high volumes and abuse. Dynamic microphones work using the electromagnet principal. The diaphragm vibrates when sound waves hit its surface and this in turn moves a coil of wire back and forth past a magnet. This generates an electrical current that is sent down two wires and out of the mic. Now we know the basic design of a dynamic microphone, we can decide how we can take advantage of these features. So why would we use a dynamic mic in a studio, surely we would want a higher frequency range and response and clarity within our recordings? So why don’t we just use a different kind of microphone which is on paper better and less rugged? Well we must think of what instruments sound best close mic'd at a higher dB, also what instruments are going to pump out some volume which may require a higher SPL Threshold (Sound Pressure Level) to capture the full sound. They are good for miking drums, where the microphone is most likely to get hit with a stick, or miking very loud audio like the screaming lead singer of a hard rock band. There are all kinds’ tricks tips and techniques you can use with microphones but in a studio it is important to get the right mic in the right position. So when you are next thinking of what mic you can use for you band, think what instrument would need either a more durable mic to withstand higher volumes or a more sensitive mic to pick up the more delicate parts of the recording.

Miking up a drum kit

There isn’t much more of an art when it comes recording, than capturing the unique and diverse sounds of a drum kit. With different twists turns and techniques there are endless ways of recordings drums. With a dynamic range of drums, different tones, shapes and sizes all create their own sound. So how can you approach such a complexity? Firstly we must think of what kind of drum kit are we miking? As you can come across various different types and styles of drums, the most subtle of changes can make the biggest differences, so always make sure you have listened to the drum kit before you go making any big decisions on what mic's, placement or techniques you are using. Secondly make sure your kit is tuned! There is nothing worse than trying to compensate for out of tune instruments, like anyone will tell you, you can’t polish a turd. When we have a fully functional drum kit to work with we can start to set it up. Always making the drummer is happy and comfortable, remembering the drum kit can’t play itself (you need to treat the drummer as part of the kit) we need to position the drums into the live room, ideally in the oh so ever sweet spot in your beautiful acoustic treated...
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