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how to know if a condenser mic is damaged??

Discussion in 'Microphones' started by ocdstudios, Nov 11, 2009.

  1. ocdstudios

    ocdstudios Active Member

    Hey all,

    I have no idea what I'm talking about with mics so...

    How would I know if my large diaphram (1") condener mic was damaged while recording "rockstar" the guitarist. I only realized after that it may have been too loud for my mic.

    I'll spare myself the insults and just say that is was a lower end mic by a company with 3 letters for a name. Cheap, yes, worked fairly decent so far, yes.

    Anyway. I went to do some vocals and the mic has seemed to have lost :
    a) brightness
    b) clarity

    am I crazy? hearing things?

    what actually happens when you exceed the Db or Spl rating of a condenser mic??

    Thanks for the input... I wanted a new mic anyway!

    Matt
     
  2. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    You may have a damaged mic, you may not.

    Couple of things to try:

    Do you have another mic of the same brand/model number/year of manufacture to A/B it against? (or anything close).

    Have you done all the usual swapping-out of possible problem areas? Mic cable, preamp, cable from preamp to digital interface, etc.

    Is it a single capsule mic or a dual element? if the latter you can try the OTHER side of the mic in omni or figure 8 mode. (if that's the case, you could also try flipping the capsule around, but this probably exceeds your own skills and/or the worth of the mic anyway).

    If it was a ribbon, it COULD've been blown out from too high SPL right in front of it; kick drum, trumpet blast, p'popping, etc. You say it's a condenser, so it MIGHT be a torn diaphragm. Either scenario is pretty rare from just a human vocal, unless the singer was right up against the grill, spitting and pushing air directly into the mic and against the element.

    Sometimes "Smothering" a mic - cupping it and blocking the rear vents to prevent the normal flow of air in and around the Cardioid pattern - can cause serious blown-out parts, but normal SPL from a human voice shouldn't hurt even the lamest of mics. Rappers do this with hand-held cardioid dynamic mics like the SM58's (Which can take the abuse) to get the fullest (loudest) sound possible, along with the heavier bass (proximity effect) and so on.

    In the end, you may want to take it apart and inspect it visually as well. From what you're saying, though, it may be best to just replace the mic and keep it around for parts and A/B testing in the future.

    Unless those three letters are AKG or RCA, of course. :twisted:
     

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