AES Section Meeting Reports

University of Massachusetts-Lowell - November 12, 2009

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The world of microphones is large, with a history stretching back to Western Electric's development of capacitor and dynamic microphones in the early 1920s. For the beginning engineer, learning which microphones work best in any given situation is a daunting challenge, but it's also one of the most important skills for anyone working in audio.

Today's meeting was intended to introduce new students to the microphones they'll start using this year - focusing on those workhorse microphones so often used on guitars. The UML AES officers put together a list of mics they've found work well in a number of situations, and put them in front of a bass cab, a guitar amp, and an acoustic guitar. On each instrument, the mics were placed as close together as possible, to avoid differences in sound quality due to differences in placement. Tracks were recorded to Pro Tools through a Delta 1010. The resulting session file, with all the tracks fully labeled, is available to any interested student for critical evaluation.

Among the microphones used were the ubiquitous Shure SM57, the gorgeous Neumann U87 (in cardioid), AKG's D112 (which, we were pleased to learn, works almost as well on guitar and bass amps as it does on kick drums), and Sennheiser's always impressive MD409 and MD421. A number of other microphones that even the AES officers were less familiar with were also used, with varying results.

UML AES hopes that this shootout spreads the officers' love of microphones to the rest of the school's students, and that it will inspire them to experiment with mic choice in their own sessions. Have a listen to these recordings before you select the microphones for your next session.

More About University of Massachusetts-Lowell Section

AES - Audio Engineering Society