Photo courtesy of The Recording Academy/WireImage.com, copyright 2008; photo by Steve Jennings
The San Francisco Chapter of The Recording Academy (NARAS) recently sought the expertise of Sennheiser/Neumann Senior Applications Engineer Mike Pappas to deliver a three-hour seminar on microphone technique at Skywalker Sound in Northern California. Seventy-five Academy members of the San Francisco Chapter attended the event.
"With professional recordings being created in an ever-greater diversity of situations—from project studios and live recordings to the more traditional venues—Academy members benefited from Mike's fresh recording perspectives," says Merl Saunders Jr., senior executive director of The Recording Academy's San Francisco Chapter.
The first half of Pappas' seminar was technical. The engineer reviewed the major classes of microphones, paying careful attention to the merits, drawbacks and traditional uses of each. He also reviewed concepts of directionality and the common functions found on professional microphones, such as roll-offs and pads. After intermission, Pappas introduced jazz vocalist Sony Holland, who provided a superb input with which to compare the qualities of a Neumann U 87, M 149, TLM 49 and TLM 103 D. Audience members wore headphones for the tests.
Pappas underscored the importance of personal taste and context in determining "proper" mic technique. "The single greatest mistake an engineer can make is to select a mic before simply listening to the instrument," Pappas said. "There is no correct mic to use. It all depends on your taste and what you want to get out of a recording."
Saunders, Jr. was grateful for Sennheiser/Neumann's participation in the seminar. "Sennheiser and Neumann have long been an industry standard, representing quality professional microphones on the market," he says. "It's great to know that they're happy to make such a direct investment in their end users."