Microphone Insecurity... Just get over it!
This weekend I had a great opportunity to do sound at my church for a large conference. (We call it Stake Conference). It's a series of two meetings, one on Saturday evening, and another on Sunday morning. Both of these meetings had special musical numbers, and needed sound reinforcement.
Saturday evening I needed to mic a piano, cello and violin. Not necessarily a hard job. A large diaphragm condenser microphone on the violin, one on the cello, and two small diaphragm mics inside the piano. I used a long stereo bar on one stand for quick setup inside the piano.
Sunday morning we mic'd a womens choir. A cable which had been strung across two walls above the choir, had two mic cables attached, and we dropped another set of small diaphragm microphones from this, and created small slings from gaffer's tape to position the mics properly. These mics were setup a week beforehand.
While I setup for all of these recording situations I fought against my greatest insecurity. I kept thinking... "These mics really aren't good enough. Other engineers are going to laugh when they find out what I used. I need to get better mics..." I was more worried about what others thought than being confident in the sound I knew I could get.
As I finished the sound check on Saturday night, I realized something. This setup took 6 different mics. It's true, I could have waited and saved up for that one really nice expensive mic. But then I would have been unable to do the sound for my church. Everything still ended up sounding fantastic.
If I had spent all of my money in one go on one really nice microphone, I wouldn't be able to mic up this gig. All of the mics have performed well in the past and they did great in this chapel over the weekend. I was so thankful to be so prepared for anything I might need.
But sometimes we still feel bad for having (what we believe is) less than awesome equipment. Is it possible that the real issue is that we believe that a nicer mic will actually make us sound substantially better?
It comes down to this. Every time I start dreaming about a new and expensive microphone, I think to myself, "Do I really need a new microphone, or do I need to write better music?" The answer invariably is that I need to write better music, or provide a better performance.
You see, to get started, you're gonna need some good starter mics. These will take you a long way. One good large diaphragm condenser (I suggest the MXL V67g or the CAD GXL 2200 under $100). A pair of small diaphragm condenser microphones (Monoprice has a pair for under $100 that look good). One good dynamic mic (I suggest starting with the GLS ES57 $30). With this setup you're ready to record vocals, a full drumset, and everything else in between.
I've been using these mics for years and years to make great recordings. I'm happy with them. I still want more mics, and I want to continue to modify the mics I already own to make them better. But I'm done thinking these mics aren't good enough. I'm ready to make better music... And I think you should too.
So don't be afraid of your mics. Use them, learn them, make great recordings with them.
Note: The monoprice small condenser microphones seem to be the same mic as some that I use, just repackaged.