I often come across people looking to get their home recording setup sorted out in one foul swoop. It would be nice to think that we could simply go out and buy a few pieces of equipment and never need anything else, but truthfully, that’s rarely the case. As you delve further into the world of home recording, you soon realise that there is always a little something extra that could be added to your setup, your process or your technique. This means that you’re rarely ever happy with the existing gear that you are using and generally look to expand your range of equipment. What we soon learn is that with every piece of recording hardware we add to our setup, there’s usually two or three extra items we find we need to add to work with this one. This not only applies to hardware and peripherals, but to microphones too.
So many people seem to think the most important thing when choosing a microphone for home recording is the price tag. It’s a driving force in bringing people to their ultimate decision, and prompts plenty of people to think they need one certain microphone over another.
The common thought seems to be that spending more money will result in a better overall mix. This can be true in many cases, in that a microphone that costs a thousand dollars is sure to deliver better results than one that costs fifty dollars. Still, there’s a vast grey area in between, and it can become even more unclear when you consider the application of the microphone and how you, the user, intend to work with it.
So, should you put all your eggs in one basket and simply invest in the best microphone you can afford? The answer is generally no. By all means, getting an amazing microphone can deliver an amazing result, but it can become fairly limiting too.
Expand Your Horizons
What you need to consider is that the better the microphone is, the better the room in which you use it needs to be. If your microphone is too sensitive and has too great a frequency response, it will pick up more than you might want it to. If your room is not treated properly, if there is unwanted environmental noise in your recording space, you might find that the microphone may just reveal too much of this unwanted noise in your recording.
So, why spend all you money on one microphone that only serves to highlight the faults in your recording space? Doing so simply limits what you can capture when spreading your money across a range of microphones is a more sensible idea. Having one great microphone will get you one great sound, but no variety. Investing in a range of lower priced microphones that all have a different character is a smarter idea. This means that you can use several capsules to record individual sources and then pick and choose between the sounds when it comes to mixdown.
Sure, you will find that some microphones don’t suit the job at hand, but that’s the beauty of investing in a range of microphones. You’ll always have something that is well suited for the task at hand and will result in a greater range of sounds in your recording. Remember, if you record all of your sources with one microphone, no matter how good it may be, your mix will end up sounding somewhat flat and lifeless.
This is the other danger you risk in placing all of your recording abilities to just one microphone. Having several to choose from allows you to create some difference between your sound sources and allow certain elements of your mix to stand out from others. The temptation to put all your eggs in one basket is one you should really try to suppress. You need to consider how this one microphone is going to need to perform for all your needs and understand how other microphones, most likely all at a lower price, could probably achieve a better result given their intended purposes.
So don’t go all in when it comes to choosing your studio-recording microphone. Spend some time and think about what you want it to do, and then consider whether a range of microphones would be better suited to tackle the range of applications you have.