PodCamp Toronto played host to a number of interesting and relevant sessions for audio producers, including this presentation given by former CBC producer Victoria Fenner, owner of Sound Out Media based in Hamilton, Canada.
Join me now as we delve into Victoria Fenner’s Hi Fi for Wi Fi and discover what the differences are between dynamic, condenser and USB microphones.
Is there truly one mic to rule them all? Find out!
Getting Great Sound
What is Hi Fi? If you’re a fan of John Cusack, you’ve likely seen a little movie called High Fidelity. High Fidelity, or Hi Fi as it is sometimes called, means that the signal to noise ratio yields for a louder signal and a quieter noise level.
As an audio producer, creative integrator of music, voices and so on, Victoria has done more than one microphone shootout over her career and easily lectured on how to get great sound, highlighting the elements of sound production and three common microphones in use today.
Elements of Sound Production
à¹ Equipment (microphones, recorders)
à¹ Microphone technique (it’s not just the equipment, it’s how you use it)
à¹ Acoustic ambiance – what does the rest of the world around you sound like?
à¹ Production techniques
3 Basic Types of Microphones
à¹ Doesn’t operate using electricity; so long as you have a cable and you can hook it up, you don’t need any other power source
à¹ Operates through electromagnetic field
à¹ Robust, low cost, resistant to moisture
à¹ Doesn’t generate as strong as a signal
Condenser (also called electret)
à¹ Has an external power source
à¹ Powered by electricity or a battery
à¹ Higher output to your recording device ( i.e. louder sound)
à¹ More sensitive than dynamic mics
à¹ Powered by your computer
à¹ There are many different types with different pickup patterns and quality
Types of Microphones (Defined by Pickup Patterns)
à¹ Omni-directional: picks up in 3 directions (think Floodlight)
à¹ Uni-directional (also called cardioid): picks up in a heart shape directly in front of the microphone (like an accent lamp)
à¹ Hypercardioid (shotgun microphone), very narrow pickup pattern (like a flashlight beam)
Note that when you are interviewing someone, their chief resonators are located on the upper chest below the neck. Mics should be pointed there for live interviews, not directly at the interviewees’ mouth.
3 Interesting Facts:
1. There is no ultimate microphone that will suit everyone. Experiment and find your preference.
2. Former Canadian Prime Minister, Paul Martin, had a preferred microphone for press opportunities that came with him wherever he and his opinion were sought.
3. Don’t ever believe anyone who says there is such as thing as a zoom microphone! Although you can zoom in and out with cameras, sound doesn’t operate that way.
What’s Your Go-To Microphone?
Looking forward to hearing what you use for what and why!