Pigeon holing...

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by Cucco, Oct 25, 2007.

  1. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    Okay, so I've just had a couple thoughts that I thought I'd share. Some of you will say "DUH!"; others may find this very valuable.

    I find that, when I'm talking to young engineers and some times some older/experienced engineers that have gotten into a rut, that people begin to pigeon hole their gear. What I mean by this is that they tend to assign certain roles and responsibilities to certain pieces of gear and they never try anything else.

    For example...90% of the world says "Use an SM57 on snare." Have you tried anything else? Have you tried your prized large diaphragm condenser on it? Have you tried the radio shack ceramic element on it?

    What about voice? I find that in this area, most of the "home studios" or smaller project/commercial studios have a prized large diaphragm condenser (something like the Neumann TLM103) and they whip that out for every vocalist because it's:
    A - the best mic they have
    B - the only "quality" LDC they own
    C - What they saw in a magazine
    D - All of the above

    Yet, magically, they're sitting on a handful of great vocal mics that would probably sound better on 90% or more of their vocalists (mics such as the SM57 or RE20 or SM7, etc.)

    This doesn't just happen in the world of microphones. It happens in effects, mic preamps, everything!!!

    Have you ever tried:
    1 - Using a LDC to pick up your kick drum
    2 - Using an outboard compressor as a mic pre (I did this with a Manley Vari-Mu. It took some fiddling, but man, it made a 57 sound friggin awesome!)
    3 - Played with your sidechain (put white noise through while applying compression to a snare? Set a long attack on one channel and fed it to the other to get it to duck itself? Used an odd EQ setting)
    4 - Used your normal kick drum mic as a vocal mic
    5 - recorded the output of a guitar through your studio monitors
    6 - used your kick drum as an echo chamber for your guitar cab
    7 - micing the bottom of the snare and the front of the kick at the same time with a figure 8 mic
    8 - cascaded mic pres to get massive distortion
    9 - used a paper towel tube on the end of your microphone
    10 - Used a 57 to record anything other than guitar cab or snare drum?

    People come here asking questions all the time and while there are always tons of people giving answers, I think it's equally as important (if not far more important) to simply experience this stuff for yourself.

    However, it's not just the act of experiencing that's important, it's understanding as well. When one understands WHY something does what it does, then they can fully use that device to its fullest capability.

    Before you (yes you) ask "which of these mics should I use to record the farts of southern white-tailed wombats" or whatever else you're recording...try them out and see what works. Chances are, they'll all do the trick, but the only way to see what works for you is to shove the mic up the wombat's butt and see (or a little further out if you're looking for a little more ambience.)

    Cheers -

  2. therecordingart

    therecordingart Well-Known Member

    Jul 28, 2004
    I know what you mean. I've been working on an industrial/metal project and instead of using the entire closet of mics at the studio I'm using a Green Bullet for vox through a DIY tubescreamer.

    A troll on this board had the same mentality that you are talking about and completely dismissed the idea of using a "harmonica mic" on vox. Little does he know that the Green Bullet didn't start it's life as a harmonica mic, and only evolved into one because harmonica players were destroying communication mics to make their own.
  3. natural

    natural Active Member

    Jul 21, 2006
    well, kinda, but it depends.
    If this is a business, then MOST clients for some reason don't like shelling out a dollar or more per minute for you to TRY/EXPERIMENT with stuff on their time.
    Now, other clients with deep pockets, might understand the value of trying different things to get a fresh new sound. (just ask Cher)
    But mostly from a business perspective, you're getting paid to know how to get the best sound and you better be able to dial it up pretty quickly.
    That's why most people stick to things that have worked well in the past. Everybody needs it done yesterday, and Fedex is waiting.

    If this is a hobby, home studio or something of that ilk, then yes, if you have time to sit and write to a forum then you have time to put up the thing in question, hit record and report to us your findings.
    I'm much more interestend in reading posts from people who say, 'This is what I tried and here's what I got.. what do you think?''
    As opposed to the ones that whine, ' what should I use? what are the settings? where should I stand?, What should I do? '
    I rarely read those posts.
    God helps those that help themselves.
  4. dementedchord

    dementedchord Well-Known Member

    May 11, 2006
    well said jer...
  5. dementedchord

    dementedchord Well-Known Member

    May 11, 2006
    well said jer...
  6. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    ............"Well, duh"................................

    Hozzz zat?
  7. I think you go with what you know unless you have time and you want to get something different.

    If it works and sounds good why change it. Unless you are looking for something that's different.

    I agree that a person should know how to get some strange stuff and combos to work. That is if they have the time to experiment.

    When you're young you have the time and inclination as you get older you tend to go with tried and true methods. It doesn't mean you have a closed mind although some times it does. When your older most of the time you are trying to make a living and do not have the time.

    I have read of a lot of engineers using compressors as preamps. And I have read of a lot of instances of using those harp mics for vocals.
  8. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Finally! Jeremy is smoking what I've been smoking!....???? No wonder I'm low? I thought that baggie got really small really fast? How did you get into my bedroom??

    I've done all of that too! And it's precisely why I still do some freebies for friends. Trying out new equipment or practicing unconventional techniques is what it's all about. Plus, you can smoke and drink all you want.

    It's amazing what you can do with Radio Shaft $1.50 piezo buzzers. They make great acoustic guitar pickups and drum triggers, once you bust them out of their plastic enclosures.

    A bass drum sounds pretty cool with a U47FET on it. If you don't mind rupturing the diaphragm sometimes. But hey, it's only a microphone.

    Cardboard tube? What? You've never heard of the Cooper time cube? The first compact acoustic delay line in a box. But more expensive than Charmin.

    Jeremy! You forgot to mention using a Radio Shaft telephone pickup coil for $.99 to position around the back of a guitar amplifier speaker. If you move the pickup coil around the back, around the magnet structure, near the voice coil, you can get a cool sounding direct pickup off of the guitar amplifier. Don't like the way it sounds? Just move the coil around some more to change the EQ.

    Induction is inducing my producing.
    Ms. Remy Ann David.... Hey don't Bogart that joint.
  9. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Distinguished Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    One of the first things I tell a new intern is to learn to do things in a conventional way and then find ways to do the same thing in unconventional ways. I also keep preaching to "think outside the box" If you always go at something in the same way you will never ever try something new. We all get into a rut. We do things that have worked in the past and are comfortable for us. To break with the routine means that we have to really listen to what we are doing and can't put our ears on automatic pilot.

    I don't do much recording anymore except for on location but I have in the past done things like using a 12" speaker with a matching transformer to record the output of a guitar amp. I have used PZM microphones for picking up a drum kit by attaching them to a 2 foot by 2 foot piece of Plexiglas and putting them in front of the drum kit. I have taken an ECM-90 microphone, rolled it in foam rubber and stuck it in the hole of a stand up bass, I have recorded a Baroque ensemble sitting around in a circle with two omni microphones pointed strait down in the middle of the circle. I also did a standing blue grass ensemble the same way. I have recorded underwater using a SM-75 in a condom. I have recorded a Super 18 aircraft on the field using a pair of M-49 microphones for a piece that a new music ensemble was doing. (The gas bill was about $75.00 for just having the pilot sit in the plane and idle the engines and rev them up a couple of times). Someone once said that Necessity is the mother of invention and I guess we all have to come up with different ideas to meet changing requirements too bad we all don't think outside the box on a daily basis but old habits die hard.
  10. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    I haven't yet read all of the responses yet, but I'll reply here.

    If you do this for a living, you owe it to yourself AND your clients to try these things out.

    If you don't want to take the time or your client isn't willing to take the time (com'on...offer them 10 minutes of free session time!!), then run it in parallel!!!

    Then, when the client leaves, play around with the results and see what you can make. You might just tickle the client pink when they come back and hear the results that you got!!!
  11. natural

    natural Active Member

    Jul 21, 2006
    Yeah, I kinda knew that was coming.
    I was going to go down that path, but I just didn't feel up to typing that much and I thought that maybe that angle of it would have been obvious.
    I would think most engineers experiment with new things. We are, after all, grapplers and tinkerer's no?

    Thanks for the clarity.

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