Care and Feeding of Your Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones…

Care and Feeding of Your Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones…

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It has been over 40 years since I started working on these large diaphragm condenser microphones and over the years I have learned a few things that I would like to pass on to you.

You should always use a Nylon type pop filter when using these large diaphragm condenser microphones on vocals and they should always be stored inside a plastic baggie BUT DO NOT SEAL THE BAGGIE SO THE MICROPHONE CAN BREATH AND DRY. This will keep unwanted particles from getting into the microphone when not in use.

Always use a Nylon type pop filter when doing vocals which will disperse the moisture from your breath. The metal and plastic ones do a pretty good job on keeping the “P’s” from popping and the “W’s” from woofing, but they do not disperse the moisture as well as the nylon ones do. I personally use a metal Stedman and put a nylon stocking over that and it seems to work very well.

The diaphragm holds a static charge much like a balloon and it will attract dust. You know how you can fog a window with your breath on a cold day, well, this happens to the diaphragms also. Your breath has a small amount of sugar content to it and after a while it will leave behind a little sticky residue. Then the dust particles that are in the air will come into the microphone head assembly and adhere themselves to the sticky residue on the capsule, so when you go to sing or speak into the microphone the small dust particles will get moist and short out against the back plate of the capsule and the diaphragm will stop working until it dries a little and then it will once again work and then it will cut out again once these small dust particles get moist again,

The good thing is, I can repair this, and as long as you follow the above information the fix should last a long time. You should also always be 10 to 12 inches away from the front of the microphone and if you use a nylon type of pop filter about 6 inches away from the front then that will force the talent to stand back around 10 to 12 inches. Always make sure that the headphones on the vocal track are turned up good and loud so that the person singing does not have to come right up on the microphone in order to hear themselves.    

David Brown : 818-874-9895



Gain Structure and Other Stuff…

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So Let’s talk about Microphone placement and Gain structure.

As the proud owner of,  I receive many calls and Emails from all over the world and I am very grateful for the people who contact me. I feel very honored that people want and trust my opinion.

 There is a topic that comes up very often that I would like to share with you, and it kind of goes like this:

“Hi  David,

I wonder if you could tell me how a microphone starts to sound when it’s time to be serviced

My Neumann large diaphragm condenser seems distorted.

But If I step back a little bit it seems to go away.  Do you think I might be overdriving it or if the capsule may need to be replaced”?

Well, I am very fortunate to have a lot of experience as an audio engineer and studio technician as well as repairing microphones.

I can tell you that a common problem that I have seen over and over again is that the analog mic-pre is turned up too high and the output of the pre is down too low.

Most  microphone  preamplifiers have a lot of gain and it is very easy to overdrive the electronics or the tube on the input of the mic-pre that comes right after the mic-pre gain pot.

I usually suggest  to start by turning the mic-pre input as close to all the way down as possible and then turn up the output of the mic-pre as close to all the way up as possible.

I try to get the microphone and mic-pre sounding great before I insert any outboard gear or plug- ins.  After I do all this is when I patch in some toys if needed.  Often I will come out of mic-pre into a limiter out of the limiter into an EQ device and then back into the line input of the console. I personally like to use this concept in most gain structure applications including when I am working with an analog console and not in the box.  I usually turn all of the line inputs all the way down and the stereo buss all of the way up and I adjust my gain to the stereo buss by the output faders on each track. Doing things this way gives you much better signal to noise ratio as well as cleaner sounding mixes.

Working like this is “Old School” and many of the up-and-coming engineers do not seem to understand the concept and importance of gain structure.


Now, let’s talk a little about microphone placement when doing vocals.

Most large diaphragm condenser microphones are a lot more durable then one might think. Most capsules will take a lot of SPL as long as the placement is good.

Where we get in trouble is when we hit the microphone amplifier too hard, so don’t be shy and make use of the microphone pads that are in most high end microphones if needed.

Also always use a nylon or foam type pop filter. One trick that I have learned is to take a metal type of filter like a Stedman and then put a pair of nylon stockings around it and cut to size.  

If you place a pop filter about 6 to 8 inches back from the microphone it forces the talent to back up from the front of the microphone about 10 inches. 

This application of mic placement will keep your microphone capsule a lot cleaner and keep it from getting moisture sensitive.

I hope that some of you find this article helpful.

Happy recording and feel free to contact me through my web site if you have any questions that you think I may be able to answer for you.

I always enjoy hearing from all of you, you can click this link to find out how to contact me.

David Brown : 818-874-9895