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Does Clipping damage the mic?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by singeryadig, Feb 25, 2012.

  1. singeryadig

    singeryadig Active Member

    May 19, 2011
    Does clipping when recording actually damage the mic at all or just produce an unpleasant sound?

  2. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Moderator

    Feb 23, 2005
    Clipping usually won't hurt the mic, but I have seen cables damaged when they got in the path of clippers that were carelessly operated. In fact, they were sheared in half!
    Seriously, no. But you can damage the loudspeaker components in your playback monitors, driver elements in your headphones, and of course your eardrums, from clipped waveforms. Keep it clean.
  3. BobRogers

    BobRogers Distinguished Member

    Apr 4, 2006
    Blacksburg, VA
    The one "exception" to what moonbaby said is a ribbon mic. They can be damaged by wind and people blowing into the mics to "test" them. I have heard it is possible to damage them with simple sound waves that are too loud, but all of the cases of damage that I know were something other than simple sound. Maybe someone with more experience can chime in on that question.

    Just to amplify what moonbaby said - clipping is usually an electric phenominon, not a mechanical one. It usually comes when an electrical circuit maxes out - not when the mechanical part of a mic moves so far that it it damaged. In that case damage can occur "downstream" form the clipping, but not upstream.
  4. simman

    simman Active Member

    Feb 20, 2012
    New Jersey
    New to this forum and here's my 1st post :cool:

    If the source exceeds the SPL spec on mic then it possibly could damage the mic. The Royer 121 (ribbon) for example has a max spl >135dB @20Hz. The SM-57 is >150dB. Not sure of your environment but, having a source that loud in a studio is IMO, unlikely (that's louder then a jet at take off) and would not only be bad for your mic, it's bad for your ears .
  5. Flagg Audio

    Flagg Audio Active Member

    Apr 2, 2012
    Castro Valley, CA
    Home Page:
    I think when they started close mic'n drums people stopped babying mics... well all except for ribbon mics which people still seem to think can be broken by yelling at them lol.

    I had a friend mic a guitar cab from across the room once. I was like, "What are you doing?" "Protecting my ribbon mic"

    Clipping is fine, though if that clipping is being amplified that could be a problem at the output end. Won't hurt the mic. In fact, getting levels is all about making it clip and then backing down until in doesn't.
  6. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    Jan 23, 2010
    Boulder, Colorado
    The shape of the wave won't damage speakers or ears. Too much average power can overheat voice coils, too much peak voltage can cause mechanical damage and too much SPL for too long can damage a person's hearing. If clipped waveforms alone damaged speakers you couldn't have a distorted guitar sound from an amp.

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