Oct 022012

What do you use on your sound source, when you want clarity and “sparkle” in your recordings? Just what do you turn to, bro? If that’s a condenser microphone in your hands, I have good news for ya: you made the right choice. They are the kind of animals to go to when your desired sound qualities can be described the above way. Even if it’s a bit stereotypical to describe every single condenser mic as clear and sparkly sounding, generally it seems to be pretty much the case, so my advice is, don’t fight it; use it to your advantage.
Let’s check out two versatile condenser microphones, so you can get out of that nasty nervous breakdown, that you were not be able to find a condenser mic article on this blog yet.

Neumann KM84: The “kleine microphone” looks like a… ok, away with the freakin’ dildo metaphors. Neumann KM84It actually looks like a thicker marker pen, so pull your anemic body out of the gutter. This small diaphragm condenser with a cardioid pickup pattern is very versatile (in the right hands), so much so that according to Bob Olhsson, they used them almost exclusively at Motown, from the mid 60s on (the mic came out in 1966). The frequency response is extremely, completely flat, except for a very gentle roll-off that starts around 100Hz. What more do you need for a truly natural reproduction of the audio source? (The new version, the KM184 actually has a little bump at around 9kHz and a little bit steeper bass roll-off.) Alan Parsons also said that this mic is good on anything… except vocals. So what does Mr. Parsons prefer to use on vocals?

Audio-Technica AT4033: Yep, Alan Parsons likes the AT4033 on vocals, and when it comes to Mr. Parsons, you know that choosing Audio-Technica AT4033a certain kind of equipment is not just some kind of elitist perversion, but rather the noble results of some great pair of ears and what I would call a musical mastermind. This microphone is a small diaphragm cardioid condenser as well, but in a more traditional side-address housing. The microphone actually uses an electret capsule (just like the little brother, the AT2020), and it has a high-pass switch, that engages at around 80Hz. Otherwise, the response is pretty flat, with minor hills and valleys, and a nice presence boost just above 6kHz, that makes it well suited for vocals, to make them cut through without having to EQ the living scarab shite out of it. Again, you are not limited to just vocals, you can use this mic on just about everything, including the rather precious and delicate sounds of politely pooping mice.

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