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MICROPHONE MYTHS EXPOSED

For the more technical minded person.

This blog goes out to all the technical minded people out there. You are all aware of some urban myths going around, well no surprise that microphones have them too. We at Hometown believe it’s time to set the record straight on them by smashing the fiction from the truth. Let’s start:

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A LOUDER MICROPHONE IS BETTER.

FALSE: Microphone sensitivity is not inherently related to that of quality although some microphones are more sensitive than others. Whether the microphone is overly sensitive, that would just mean that you have to dial in more attenuation on the mixer channel so that it does not overload the mixer. Now when you have a microphone on a snare drum that’s 10 dB more sensitive to the other microphone on the snare, just turn down the one that is more sensitive.

The sound quality is not related to any extra sensitivity. When neodymium magnet microphones were first introduce in the old days, it was common demonstration technique to line several microphones up, connect them to the mixer and then set each channel level the same. Each mic was tested and when it came up to the neodymium magnet mic, it was noticeably louder over the alnico magnet types.

A common sales tech used over the years selling stereo speakers, is that listeners always tend to equate louder with better. Whether the one pair in the store is turned up a touch louder than the others, customers tends to always think they sound better. Some even believe they are better. Now that’s the same with microphones. It is a loudness difference and not a quality difference.

SOME MICROPHONES HAVE MORE REACH THAN OTHERS

FALSE. Remember that reach is NOT a specification of a microphone. Reality is that microphones don’t just reach out and grab the sound from a distance. Pressure variations right at the diaphragm itself is measured. The microphone use, does not know anything from what is happening at any distance from itself. Since that is said, pay close attention to the following words: “Trying to characterise a microphones reach it’s almost completely dependent on the ambient acoustic conditions around the microphone.”

THERE ARE WIRELESS MICROPHONE FREQUENCIES THAT ARE COMPLETELY FREE FROM INTERFERENCE.

FALSE. There are no frequencies that are reserved for only wireless microphones, so fact is that there are no frequencies completely free from interference. This myth is propagated by some pro-audio manufactures out there. Safe frequencies do not exist. The radio spectrum is allocated for different uses by different types of equipment. Wireless microphones operate in frequency range that contains other devices. No exclusivity in the radio spectrum for the wireless microphones is out there.

The best advice that we can offer you on this, is to use wireless equipment that is as broadly tuneable as possible.

USB MICS HAVE INFERIOR SOUND QUALITY VS THEIR ANALOG (XLR) COUNTERPARTS.

NOT NECESSARILY TRUE. Looking at most of the USB mics feature the precise same condenser microphone elements as XLR version normally used in studio recordings. They provide the exact same high quality sound signature and the number one difference in the model is the interface to the next device. What also affect the quality of the recording are the analog-to-digital converters in the USB.

Now that we have solved some myths regarding microphones use today, share yours with us and we will help solved them. Looking forward to hearing from you out in the field.
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