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Microphone Design & Choices for the 21st century

Although I clearly understand the importance of trends, hype and myths in the audio industry I never quite understood the obsession of microphone designers with certain approaches, but let me explain myself… I was lucky enough to experience both analog and digital recording technologies in full. I am an analog enthusiast but also a great fan of digital evolution and to be honest I never thought that these two are in a conflict. However there are certain aspects of audio technology that are heavily dependent on the medium and most important the actual recording medium and format. So, it seems pretty natural and logical to design bright microphones with overhyped presence when you’re about to record a vocal track on analog tape, probably already worn out, then mix it on another analog 2rk tape and finally release it on vinyl…this is a signal chain that actually degrades audio quality (regardless if we’re fond of the effect) especially its frequency response in the upper part of the spectrum. So this is actually a simple equation… my chain introduces a HF loss to the signal so I need a microphone that will compensate this fact.

But wait….most of us are now recording in digital format that assures a transparent and non interfering signal chain and definitely an even frequency response. So why are we still see so many 47 or 251 clones in the market today?

Ok, I can understand the hype and trend…but do we actually listen to the sound? Do we really need another bright and overhyped vocal microphone? Why there is such an obsession with the specific microphones? I mean even between these great classics there are microphones much more suited to today’s needs like a 67 or the original 414s, however they don’t seem to get cloned or even gaining the respect they deserve. I do believe that most of the times music and audio technology tends to perfectly serve our needs through creative evolution…and learning from the past is part of this procedure. A perfect example is what happened with ribbon microphones…one of the oldest microphone designs that had become obsolete for years returned to life simply because it perfectly fits modern recording techniques…actually it is the exact opposite with most LDC’s: a dark sounding mic that although it was flattering lots of different sources, it couldn’t match the recording medium of the time….with the digital evolution up and coming and thanks to a bunch of innovative and perspective designers ribbon microphones became the new industry standard… well this is actually the normal way of things. But with all these 47 clones I can’t really understand the obsession….don’t get me wrong, I do love certain microphones of this kind and I still use them and produce extremely nice sounding tracks. But there are already a lot out there….we need new and innovative approaches, not only to this specific vibe but also to lots of different directions. I was recently looking at Scope Labs Periscope mic….what a great idea! That’s exactly what I am talking about, new innovative designs fitting perfectly with modern recording techniques and signal chains. Dual capsule mics combining different diameters and technologies, included dynamic processing, variable tube bias, included active filtering etc etc just to name a few of the things that coming to my mind.

So come on all you fantastic boutique designers…enough with the 47s…give us some new toys to expand our universe and lift our creativity!

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