Microphones 1: Introduction

Microphones do 1 essential task: take in sound and turn it into an electrical signal. In and of itself, a microphone does not make anything louder. To make a sound louder you connect the mic to an amplifier, which makes the electrical signal stronger, and then to a speaker, which changes that electrical signal back into sound. Turn up the amp and voila, whatever goes into the mic is louder.

In a recording studio, mics are sent to a pre-amp and then to a recording device (tape or computer disc). Compressors, Equalizers (eq’s), Reverbs, Delays, and other effects can be applied to the signal to alter it to taste.

Microphone selection and placement is critical to cut down on post-production time and achieve pro results efficiently. No matter the the mic, though, it only hears what you feed it. So focus first on working to get the best sound and performance from your sources.

To gain skill selecting mics we need a working knowledge of microphone types, polar patterns, and how positioning the mic relative to the sound source changes the sound we capture. Add in a heavy dose of experimentation and experience and you’ll be a pro.

The next articles in our microphone blog series cover microphone types, recommended mics, polar patterns, placement, and tips and tricks.