How to pick a microphone for recording sessions

microphone for recording

Top music producer Tony Platt explains how to select the right microphone for recording.

Tony Platt knows a thing or two about getting the best out of studio sessions. He’s worked as a producer and engineer for more than four decades and helped ACDC, Iron Maiden, Bob Marley and Motorhead make some of their most iconic records.

Here he reveals how he works with a singer to identify the right kit – such as a microphone and condenser – for the job.

Getting the mic right

“When we start recording, I put at least half a day aside when I’m not expecting to get great takes on vocals.

“We set up three or four microphones and get the vocalist to sing into each of them. Then I get them to come into the control room and we compare the sound; I find out which one they feel is representative of their voice. Sometimes it turns out not to be the one I prefer so we will discuss that, or we decide there are two mics that are appropriate for different songs.

“Then we choose one or two of those microphones and we try different compressors, to see which one gives them the control over how their voice sounds. Slowly but surely – and without any pressure – we get the technology bit out of the way.

“It’s important that the singer feels that they’ve made some choices over how they want to sound and how they want the vocal experience to be in terms of mic, condenser and headphones.

“The other thing I get the singer to do is to walk around the studio and sing in different places until they find the space where they feel the most comfortable and where they feel the acoustics are right.”

General studio tip

He says working well in the studio is about communication. “If there’s something the producer isn’t getting, then tell them.

“It’s very frustrating if you’re doing vocals with a singer and they come in after five or six takes they say: ‘I can’t hear my voice’. You think: ‘why didn’t you come in and tell me earlier?’. If you have something important to say share it.”

For more of Tony’s studio tips, CLICK HERE to read a full length interview.

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