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Know your equipment and refine your ears!

December 11, 2011

I’ve recently become an intern over at The Ranch Production House in Southampton. This place is awesome and has mics and gear I could only dream of having (Coles 4038s, Neumann U89s, Orange Rockerverb, 80’s JCM 800). Since working there, it’s further been reinforced about knowing your equipment, I posted a blog a while ago called “Using The Cheaper Alternative” where I discuss that using a cheaper mic may yield a better sound than that of a more expensive mic and that knowing your equipment is an important skill to have.

When miking up an instrument, Neil, the owner, will often use one mic over another on a certain amp compared to the previous guitarist; or will change the placement of the mics on a certain amp; or use another mic on a snare instead of a 57; or 414s on toms instead 421s. It occured to me that he knows the sound of his equipment and knows what mic/amp/preamp/compressor will give the best sound when going in.

There’s no substitute for knowing your equipment and how it sounds to get good quality results, typically people will suggest that certain mics sound good on certain instruments, but what if you don’t have those mics? Sure your microphone might not sound good on say, a guitar, but it may sound really good on something else. It’s been said countless times on other blogs and forums, but it comes down to the style of the band and songs they write as well. We recently recorded an Indie/Folk band where the Coles 4038 was used extensively, as it provided a grittier, warm, rootsy feel to the band. This was contrasted with the band who were in the previous week where a more produced “hi-fi” sound was more appropriate.

The moral of the story is, use the crap out of your equipment and really get to know it. Know your mics, know your monitoring, know the room you’re recording in.

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