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So, how do I know when my mic's shot?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Solfatio, Aug 24, 2001.

  1. Solfatio

    Solfatio Guest

    I realise this is a pretty broad question--I suppose it's specifically referring to my NT-1 and dynamics, but how do you know when it's time to get something repaired in your mic?


    (For a more specific problem, see the essay below. <grin&gt ;)

    What makes me specifically worry about it, is I'm getting an overloaded sound from my NT-1 and nothing is peaking. I've been using the mic as a room mix for drums, as well as accoustic guitar and vocals and hadn't had a problem until about midway through my second drum session with a group. Since it's a new mic, I've been using it for a new thing each time (ie, I've had 1 vocal session, 2 drum sessions, 1 guitar session, and 1 backing vocal session since I've gotten it) I haven't had any post-baseline sessions to compare how it acts. Could it be my signal path?--NT-1 to stand-alone phantom power unit to XLR->1/4 adaptor to a 4-track input (4 track has been used as a submixer), and from there it goes to the recorder.
  2. Ang1970

    Ang1970 Well-Known Member

    Sep 5, 2000
    It could be the phantom unit either not giving enuf constant juice or just plain gettin fried.

    Each time a sound is picked up by the diaphragm, an electric current is discharged, and the 48v is what re-charges it. So, if the phantom unit can't supply the charge faster than the mic is discharging, the resulting output will be at a lower level and possibly distorted. Loud drum transients will suck up the charge faster than a soft acoustic guitar. So if you find that your nylon guitar track is 10 times as loud as the drums, this could be the reason.

    (Dead Link Removed)

    Or it could just be the meters on your 4track are not telling you how severe the transients are. Does it still distort when you turn down the input?
  3. Solfatio

    Solfatio Guest

    Thanks for the pointers. I'm pretty confident it's not transients that move faster than the meters detect; I even tried tha thing through a compressor (as a pre-amp) and I got the same results.

    Interesting notes about phantom power; the one thing I might add is my mic is definitely not running quiet.

    Mebbe I *ought* to take this to one of the other forums, eh?

    Thanks for the pointers!
  4. Ang1970

    Ang1970 Well-Known Member

    Sep 5, 2000
    I forgot to say this: Would it be possible to borrow somebody's makee or sumn'? Or just bring it to their house/studio/practice/etc. and plug it in? Testing it out on a different pre will narrow things down considerably.

    If you find it is definitely the mic side of the equation, give a detailed description of the sound, when you noticed the problem happening, and any factors that might have affected it at some time (like being dunked into a pint of stout).
  5. hargerst

    hargerst Active Member

    Jan 28, 2001

    You can also try removing the grille that covers the capsule and looking at the capsule for signs of dirt and crud on the diaphragm. Distortion can be caused by a defective electronic component too, like one of the JFETs in the preamp, located in the body of the mic.

    The answer about trying it on another mixer or mic pre is a good idea.
  6. Solfatio

    Solfatio Guest

    Hmm, actually the guys I'm helping record have a small sort of stage mixer. I'll give that a go this week and let you know what happens.

    Also, would trying a different power supply (ie, phantom power unit) or power *source* (ie, plugging it into the wall rather than a mess of adaptors and extensions) help? I guess the easiest way to find out is to try it....

  7. RandomGuest

    RandomGuest Guest

    Feb 10, 2001
    Dunno if this helps but I had a clicking and distorting sound coming off a KM84, it turned out that there was a bad capacitor in the mic's electronics. I doubt that your mic is "shot"
  8. Solfatio

    Solfatio Guest

    So, in case there's any residual curiosity...

    My mic's working fine, my paranoia of having broken it eased. Recorded some more drums, some more screaming vocals, and it held out just fine with no distortion, even after boosting the levels a few dB higher than before.

    Steps I took: I plugged the stand-alone phantom power unit into a different power socket (a surge protector plugged directly into the wall, rather than an extension cord plugged into said surge protector). Checked for dirt or grime on the inside of the mic (all those incense sticks and scented candles I burn!) and it was clean as new. I used both (at separate times) a small stage mixer with XLR inputs and my usual 4-track-as-mixer-via-transformers and got the same results each time (well, not quite, the Fender stage mixer I used sounded like ****). Also, I refused to use my mic during some of the disgustingly humid weather we've been having here. <grin> It stayed safely in its pouch with a nice little packet of moisture absorbant.

    Thanks for the help! Considering I tried all the answers out at once, I don't know what exactly did the trick, but I think it's all good mic care, so...whatever.

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