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Microphone Month

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What is your most unconventional mic'ing experience?


According to legend, the Beatles put a ribbon microphone in a plastic bag and submerged it in a jar of water in order to get a particular vocal effect. We tell you this not to impress you with our Beatles trivia, but as an introduction to our Question of the Week.
What is your most unconventional mic'ing experience?
The Beatles story may be an extreme example, but it's not just weirdness for weirdness' sake: plenty of producers, engineers, and artists use unconventional mic'ing techniques to capture the sound they want. Some things you just can't leave to ordinary mic placement. So, we want to hear your story. What special sound required special methods of mic'ing to get it just right? Tell us all about it on the Sweetwater forums.
May 17, 2002 @08:42pm

I once placed a Pig Nose amp in my dryer. Mic'd the inside of the dryer with a AT-4050. A NT-1 just out side the lid(open) and a Crown PZM-Taped to the outside all of the dryer. Worked pretty well. Cool Sound.
May 18, 2002 @06:56am

This will doubtless be less exotic than some of the replies to this topic, but it sure worked well.
I put a piece of foam on top (toward the neck while standing) of the bridge of a string bass. I then duct taped an Earthworks TC30K omnidirectional mic on top of the foam with the tip of the mic pointing at about a thirty degree angle toward the f-hole. It sounded incredible!
May 20, 2002 @04:51pm

i once stereo miced a tv while it was producing nothing but static. that cheap sound just cannot be duplicated with a synthesis tool. :) i put a shure KSM32 up close and to the right of the speaker at 45 degrees about 3" away. used an apex 450 tube condensor back about 2ft to the left. this created a great sample. i have it on file and use it here and there where nessesary as an effect.
May 21, 2002 @02:52pm

I don't recall if it's my MOST unconventional mic'ing experience but it's sure funny and think that this may have happened to lots of people in the business.
I was preparing a brass recording session for a gold record awarded singer/songwriter here in uruguay named claudio taddei for EMI. It was a 3 piece brass section, trumpet, sax and trombone.
but as usual (at least in this country) horn blowers don't respect time schedules, so I begun recording with the first arrived musician the trumpet guy. he blew his instrument thru a beta 57 the old one in a standard fashion, finished the tune and said goodbye after two millions punch-ins.
with no musicians to record the artist asked me to record some backing vocals while we wait... almost at the time of hitting the red button, the sax player arrived (and in a hurry)
The guy was one of the most respected sax players in the country and is usually known for his take 1 performances.
I adjusted his mike again in a standart fashion, this was a Senheizer MD541 (you begin to see my predilection of dynamic mics for brass) and pulled over the other mics (the ones set-up for the other players) just to make him some place in the little room we were recording and feel more confortable during the take.
I asked him to blow, to adjust gain and evaluate the sound, and listened to a funny sound, some kind of moderately unpresent, but very silky sound, with some comb filtering in it, an unusual hi gain position in the gain knob, but as we were tired, in such a hurry, and with such an eminence in the studio after looking for not so long, I decided to de the take anyway...
After finishing recording his sax part (in 1 single take of course!) he left and I went to the studio in order to figure what happened, o surprise, the mic wasn't working, the sound I've just recorded was comming from the same beta 57 of the trumpet but at least 11 feet away and aiming toward the ceiling!!!!!
but here comes the best...
while mixing, I expected to have some trouble with this issue (2 month later) I though: I'll try some eq, and if it doesn't work just fine we'll record it again, but no, eq swithed off, the sax came into the mix beautifully, and I'm not proud while saying this, that was the best sounding brass section in the whole album.
So, in the end, no matter what mic, no matter wich technique, a good player, with a good instruments sounds well anywhere. this experience helped me to remember that no matter how good is the technical side of our job, the music and the performer are still the real thing, the ones who make it happen.
don't misunderstand me, as do some of my students, I love technology, I love getting the most of it, using it in a standart or in the crazyest way, but we must RESPECT that the sound has a source, the source is always the most important, and the source is the musician.
please do forgive my english as it's not my mother language, If you wish to publish this in insync you are free to correct my spelling.
keep recording
cesar lamschtein
May 21, 2002 @04:55pm

Hi, as the word "mic'ing" is quite awkward, might I suggest we simply use "miking" when using verb forms and "mic" for nouns? Works for me anyway...
I regularly use two mics of different patterns mixed for color, e.g. a small amount of omni mixed in with a cardioid, placed side by side (or nearly). I do minimal miking with condensor mics, so the exact color, pattern and placement is crucial. This allows for adjustability, like with a remote control pattern change.
May 21, 2002 @11:03pm

It's nice to see you here!
May 23, 2002 @04:09pm
Ed Belknap

Not sure which would be my *most* unconventional; pick one:
- gaff taped a Walkman earphone directly to the grill of a Shure SM57, fed the earphone with an aux send from the console. (used for guitars, drums & vocals)
- clipped an Audio-Technica omni lavalier condenser (AT805 maybe?) inside the end of a cardboard mailing tube. Had people sing into the other end. (been meaning to try this in front of a guitar amp too)
- eschewed a mic completely on a Marshall 4x12 cabinet; instead, parked a Framus 12-string electric guitar on a stand in front of the speaker cabinet, fed the output of the Framus into a bunch of stompboxes and then a DI, recorded *that* while the guitarist played thru the Marshall.
- recorded a Pignose inside a metal file cabinet drawer. This probably sounded similar to the person who wrote that they'd miked one inside a dryer. (I used a Shure SM81, for what it's worth.)
- used M/S decoding for two mics that were *not* set up as an M/S pair...or even remotely coincident.
- parked a walkie-talkie with the transmit button taped on in front of a guitar amp; miked the receiving walkie-talkie in another room.
May 24, 2002 @06:32pm
midi mark

how do you follow up that last post? We'll my post is very similar to the guy who mike'd the sax with the Sure mic pointed at the ceiling.
I got a very roomy ambience for a rappers vocal track to offset his various vocals.
I used a cheap Audio Technica Mic ( dont remember which model, a friend borrowed it and i never got it back, oh well). I put him in a issolated cement floored room with the doors closed. I had him speak loudly from about 7 feet away. The trick here is to use a Super High compression ration on the Alesis 3630 compressor to pick up all of the room too! works good.
March 25, 2003 @08:30am

Neither of these are particularly extreme, but one's a little obscene.
I've had problems miking a rehearsal piano for band practices--tried a lot of stuff, but never had it sound good. Finally I tried the ONE mic I hadn't tried yet--I put a D112 on it, and it sounded great. The mic took out the high clangy stuff, and got some lower warmth right where I wanted it. Can't wait to try AT's AE2500 on a piano, string bass, etc....
I'm starting to find that I like my snare sound more if I point the (Shure)57 OVER the drumhead and straight at the player's crotch. The sound (seems to me) more spacious and natural. Maybe there's something to not having the microphone pickup pointing directly at the point source? Any answers?
March 26, 2003 @04:03am

It's not my miking experience, but someone that helped KISS set up at the Coliseum told me they used to mike their flash pots! I guess the mikes lasted for one or two shows, then had to be replaced.
Soooo. . . that means some tech out there knows what the optimum mike for miking black powder explosions is. . .
March 26, 2003 @04:48am

Once, while recording my 12 strings...I was looking for a specific sound I was hearing in my head...I tried several placements with no luck...along with the placements I experimented with various types of processing--both pre and post...finally, I placed an EV PL20 next to my right ear pointed toward the floor, and tracked the guitar.
This track ended up being the "keeper", and it was the only time--throughout several years of recording--that I used this placement. The main thing is that it "worked" for the song.
May 3, 2003 @02:01pm

This isn't as crazy as some of those, but for my band we had him stand and sing into a Sennheiser condenser (about a foot back) and on eith side of him just in front of his ears we had two sm-57s. We recorded the condenser clean and the 57's with some distortion and it came out great. Multi miking vocals is great sometimes....
November 10, 2003 @06:37pm

I have three:
1. Miking (the verb is mike, the noun is mic) a dulcimer. I put the mic under the instrument, aimed at the sound hole down there.
2. Miking a harp. I kept having to reposition the mic until I found the right spot. The trick was finding a place which was not in the way of the harpist, where the harpist did not block the sound, and which sounded right.
3. Miking a live concert for ambience and audience. I built a surround mic for this.
May 16, 2005 @04:32pm