Show 206 – Microphone basics, interview with Matt McGlynn and more!

This week Ryan presents a segment on microphone basics. We chat with Matt McGlynn of RecordingHacks.com and Microphone-Parts.com about microphone design, and new mod kit for the Apex 460.

!!! Details on how to win a $200 mic mod kit with capsule from Microphone-Parts are in this show !!!

Download Show #206

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14 thoughts on “Show 206 – Microphone basics, interview with Matt McGlynn and more!

  1. GSPU (great show per usual). Best line of the show 37:57 (Matt) “I stareted to understand that mic X was the same as mic Y; they’re made in the same factory then branded differently… I wanted to protect everybody from spending $600 on a mic that they could get for $200.” Matt McGlynn: my hero.

    So I heard a quote from a well-known recording engineer regarding small-budget gear: eg basic mics. I’d like to get your opinion on the quote. He said “I’d take a $400 Dynamic mic over a $400 condenser any day of the week. What do you think about that? Overstated? Dead on? How does that make you feel?

    Thanks for all your great work.

    -James

  2. BASAU (Bad Ass Show As Usual)! I didn’t know much about the Apex 460 until a friend of mine (Grammy-award winning engineer here in New York) told me about these crazy modded microphones his studio tech was making. Apparently he modded the Apex 460 so well that everyone at Electric Lady Studios were shocked at how close it sounds to their U47! So my friend told me to spend the few hundred bucks he was charging and get this mic. I did so and it’s nothing short of amazing! Apparently, the tech told me cheaper Chinese mics like the Apex boost the high frequencies above 12k and one of the things his mod does is flatten out the frequency curve. There’s a whole bunch more he did to it that he WON’T tell me of course but hey, I’ll take it! I think I’m going to save up and get a few more from him before he passes away, which hopefully won’t be for many years.

    Quick sidenote/question: I’m saving up to upgrade my digital audio converter/interface and am wondering which options are best in the $1500 price range. I don’t record full drum kits or large bands but I would like that flexibility. I have a stock Digi002 and it’s time I put it to sleep, especially since I’ve moved away from ProTools and towards Reaper. I was looking at the Apogee Quartet but am thinking I should save up a little longer and go with a UAD Apollo or even Apogee Symphony. Thoughts/suggestions?

  3. Wow guys…once again, I love this show! Its great and informative! I actually built one of Brian Fox’s tube mic kits. Turned out pretty good! I need to venture off into microphone world. For my soul sucking desk job Employer- I know you just blocked HRS on my server at work and I can no longer listen to my favorite podcast while sitting at my desk with headphones on for 8 hours a day anymore. I hate the way you block the best websites…Facebook, Myspace, and now HRS are all blocked on my computer… Fu&% You soul sucking job… I will now continue to listen while at home in my free time. Thanks for ruining my day… My ipod will continue to play awesome music and great podcasts!
    Jon and Ryan…employers that are not into audio suck!!

  4. Hi guys,

    I finally finished listening all the shows and I really felt the need of writing to congratulate you and to say thanks for all the information you offered. I will apologize in advance for my crappy English since I am not a native speaker, and I will try my best not to sound like a written version of Borat in this comment.

    You have achieved a great balance between entertainment and education, and even if there are things that escape my knowledge, specially when you discuss electronics or hardware mods, it is still really interesting to listen to you.

    I´m not such a social media fan, and even at the risk of sounding like a grandpa, I still prefer to meet people in person a share that aspect, but the amount of information, resources, artists and engineers that I have found through the online audio community is just overwhelming!

    Just to name a few, I discovered through you great people such as Ethan Winner, Sean Costello, Peterson Woodwyn, Matt McGlynn, Arthur Fisher. I have also made my first DYI reamping kit, found an old and bizarre pair of dynamic Oktava mics and made my first mic mod on a Sure 57 after listening to your show… isn´t that just great???

    I have a bachelors degree in audio engineering oriented to audiovisuals. I started working in television when I was 18 and I was never able to work in a major studio or post production facility. After years of different roles in production and location sound for film and TV, I have decided to invest again my time and effort in learning new skills related to mixing. It is not easy, since now I work 8 hours a day as an Ingest and QC engineer and in counted occasions I am able to apply what I know about post-production, mixing or editing.

    As part of this new approach, I have decided to mix some local bands and enroll in the dueling mixes project Gilder/Cochrane. I think it is about time for me to stop reading 23185 articles about compression tips and start doing it more often. I wanted to ask you for advice in two aspects related to this:

    a) Do you know of any website/forum/platform where you can contact bands to work with their material? I want to start forcing myself to do it in a regular basis. The problem that I encountered before while working with local bands, is that most of them don´t achieve decent results while recording. I would not expect people with class A raw material to come to me for mixing, but it is also hard for me to practice and to see the level of results that I can achieve if 94% of the time spent on a track goes to restoring and editing the audio and tempo mistakes and 6% goes actually to mixing and to bring some kind of artistic/aesthetic approach to the table.

    b) I think that my biggest weakness at the moment is related to spacialization and the correct use of reverb and delays on a mix. I improved a lot referencing good mixes while working on a track and through pieces of information offered online, but I still found it difficult to use reverbs and short delays in most of my mixes, or at least while trying to to take them to the level I want. I will send you two mixes I was working on, and if you have some time, please send me your feedback, or recommend during the show, good reference material linked to this subject.

    My epic novel comes to an end. I always support you when I buy through Amazon. I am from Argentina but I am currently living in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and I usually go though your link first, and then re-direct to the UK or German versions of their website. I wanted to know if you still benefit from this or if I have to proceed in a different way to make my contribution.

    Thanks again for all the effort you put into the show, after almost 7 years I am again interested in mixing and recording music and this is in great part thanks to you and your show.

    Cheers,

    Sebastian,

  5. James – the core truth of the “$400 dynamic before a $400 condenser” line is that a $400 dynamic is a really nice mic — at that price point you’re choosing from some of the best dynamic mics on the market. A $400 condenser, in contrast, is barely out of the consumer/commodity market; depending on the brand and model, you might be buying a $30 mic in a $60 case (and paying too much for it).

    I do love a good dynamic. The RE20, SM7B, MD421, MD441, and (beyerdynamic) M88 are all industry standard mics that work well on lots of sources. A couple such mics would serve most engineers very well, and arguably more so than a closet full of cheap condensers.

    While I’m here I want to thank Jon and Ryan again for letting me back on the show last week. For those who haven’t heard show #206, we are giving away a very nice mic mod kit (worth $200) on April 10; listen to show #206 for details.

    • A couple quick question for you, Matt (and Ryan, Jon, John & Johhn if they’d also like to answer):

      How do you feel about the Heil PR-40?

      The press material talks about it like it’s a pretty fantastic mic (so does other mic manufacturers’ press materials). Sound on Sound says of the PR-40 “…you might be forgiven for thinking it was a ribbon or a condenser.”

      Does it get close to living up to the picture of itself promotion items would like you to see? How does it compare to the SM7b and RE-20? Anything you find it particularly useful on? Anything it’s especially bad on?

      Lots of questions. Damn, I’m bad at brevity. “Thanks” if you reply. No worries if you can’t.

      …and thanks for the RecordingHacks site. It’s a tremendous resource.

      Over,

      Wutz

      • I think the comparison of the PR40 to a ribbon microphone is misleading. The PR40 has an 8dB boost from 5-10kHz! I have never seen a ribbon with such an exaggerated high-frequency response.

        I tested it against many great broadcast dynamics, and found it to be too bright on my voice. Do a Google search for the “ultimate podcast mic shootout” to hear audio samples.

        This is a personal preference, though. Many podcasters love the mic. Whether it works for you depends on your own voice and your own ears — and I would strongly encourage anyone considering the PR40 to also try a more neutrally voiced mic.

        For half the price of the PR40, the Electro-Voice N/D468 is really versatile. It’s great on male voice, guitar cab and as a close mic on drums.

  6. Hey there guys,
    I was writing a question regarding the SSL Alphalink but I figured it out while I was wording it…
    On another topic, I just did 4 days of drum tracking at a studio equipped with – deep breath – neve, focusrite, pultech, tubetech, urei, EMI, and gates vintage gear, plus a bunch of modern gems and DAD converters.
    The kit ran through most of this stuff and was miked by a U47 and FET 47, an AWA badged RCA 44, a Coles 4038, an SM7, some 421s, a 414, an SM57, and who could forget the D112. This was all tracked to a Studer A80, then bounced to digital after.
    Pretty sweet right? Well it was the worst studio experience ever! I was so prepared with scratch tracks and clicks built and named for each song, and I’d been practicing hard for a month before – but once I was in there the engineer just didn’t have it together.
    There were a constant stream of visitors, I’d turn up on time and then not be let in for 30 minutes, only to wait for another 30 for him to emerge. Miking up went for 7 hours due to time-wasting, and more visitors and whatever else turned getting sounds into 4 hours. Needless to say I was exhausted by the time I even started tracking, and I was cramping up and felt so stressed and not in the zone.

    Add to that, certain things I pointed out – massive compression and pumping in my monitor mix, the giant RCA44 hanging in the way of my cymbals, the SM7 dierectly under my hihat that looked like it would hit, a 57 on the 1st tom when the rest were 421s, and my floor tom and china sitting over the edge of the rug onto the wooden floor when the kit could have been moved easily while I was setting up – were all passed over and as a result I was constantly clipping the 44, my hats were hitting the SM7 (although I didn’t notice at the time), and my china has a massive modulation thing happening.
    Also, the A/D converters were clipping occasionally on the way in, and everything else was left pretty much without headroom.

    Anyway, it wasn’t until I had the raw tracks at home that I noticed all of this stuff, and can’t be bothered going through any more crap with this guy so I’m making do. The close-mics sound great but the rest can only be used as ‘effect’, and parts of my performance are either sloppy or just weak because of compensating for microphones in the way, or not adequately hearing the playback while I was in the studio. If I knew a section was bad I would have just redone it!
    *massive sigh* There are so many more things I could ramble about but that’s the main bit.
    Gear is not everything. Engineers need to know how to use what they have, and must make performers comfortable and create a work-orientated environment. I think I tracked for maybe 6 of 36 hours of studio time over 4 days. And I was tired and worn out the whole time. Lesson learned!
    Look into your engineer, not just their gear!
    Love the show
    Ash

  7. Do you have a preference for a size of computer monitor that is big enough to make it super easy to see all necessary information in a DAW, but not so big that you get eye strain from shifting your eyes across a huge screen?
    (Wow, look at that, a one sentence question, holy freakin nirvana. And no chicken reference, amazing.)

  8. GSAA,

    Great info! and great guest. I cant explain it, but for some reason i now have an incredible desire to build a liquid mic.

    RTC

  9. Oh dear. This episode made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. One of the best HRS episodes YET!

    Special thanks to Matt to being a guest on the show. I love his professional take on everything microphones. Respectfully honest and has a good sense of humor.

    Great Shit As Always. Did I just re-invent GSAA?

    -Jordan

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