Sweet Notes Animation TECH NOTES

By Jim Miller

First of all, I want to thank all those wonderful Sweetwater customers who cared enough to send me get well messages after I mentioned in the last issue of Sweet Notes that I had a kidney stone. The mail pretty much split down the middle between people who were just sorry to hear I wasn't feeling well, and the other half who had actually suffered with a kidney stone themselves and fully sympathized with what I was going through. Many thanks to each and every one of you and I'm happy to report that I'm doing just fine now and am trying my best to make sure I never get another one of those nasty things in the future.

But on to other more interesting topics...

Not too long ago, I was asked by Electronic Musician magazine to do a review of the Earthworks OM1 and TC30K Microphones (and yes, for those of you who have asked many times, I am indeed the same Jim Miller who writes all those EM articles). Since I was in the middle of working on several sample CD ROM collections (including Sweetwater's new Ultimate Guitars Collection), as well as a separate album project, I felt I could really give these things a thorough workout.

Earthworks Mics Now I should mention here and now that I don't happen to be one of those people who claims to be able to hear the difference between different brands of mics, or even between two of the same model mics (heck, there are people who claim to be able to hear the difference between different types of speaker wire, and who am I to argue with them?). I'm also not in awe of certain high-end mics (I don't pass out just being in the same room with Neumanns or B&Ks). I feel I own all the great mics I need to do various recording projects and sampling sessions.

Having said all that, I have to admit that I was rather overwhelmed by the Earthworks mics once I really got a handle on how to set them up to do what they do best. First of all, these are omnidirectional mics, and I can honestly say I rarely use the omnidirectional feature on my high end, large diaphragm AKGs, so it took me a little while to figure out just where to position these sleek-looking mics for the best results, and that's typically very close in - in one instance, I was sampling a Taylor acoustic 12-string with an OM1 only about an inch away from the soundhole, a place where your average cardioid mic tends to produce a hideous tubby sound due to the proximity effect. Not so with either the OM1s and TC30Ks; they remained crisp and clean no matter where I pointed them on the guitar.

I also did some sampling with these mics in front of an amp pumping out high volume guitar riffs as well as popped bass tones and later, even right inside a kick drum. I won't go into all the details here since most of you are EM readers already (if not, you'll just have to run out a buy a copy of the November issue), but my experiences with these mics prompted me to call Chuck at Sweetwater and tell him how great they sounded. As usual, he was way ahead of me, and I'm proud to be the one who gets to tell you that Sweetwater Sound is already an authorized Earthworks microphone dealer.

For those of you who might be in the market for new mics, let me just say this: omni-directionals, even ones as good as these (and they compare quite favorably head-to-head with ultra-expensive, top-of-the-line B&Ks) are not for everyone. But if you're in a situation where you can use omnis, well, you'll be as blown away by these killer mics as I was, particularly when you realize that the OM1s retail at just $450 each, while the TC30Ks list at $500 (the difference between the two mics is simple: OM1s are designed to work with preamps that have electronically balanced inputs like those found on Mackie, TASCAM and Soundcraft boards, while TC30Ks work with the transformer-coupled inputs found on many high end consoles like Neve, Summit and Focusrite, though it will also work with electronically balanced ins, a plus if you're not sure where you'll be using them). This is a tiny fraction of what other mics with similar performance usually cost.

Space restrictions imposed by a harsh editor prevent me from going into more detail about these mics, so I suggest (as I usually do) that you contact your Sweetwater sales engineer for all the pertinent information.

Hopefully, next issue I'll get all my usual space back because I want to tell you about . . .well, it'll have to wait.