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Mic Maintenance: How to Keep Them in Top Shape – Score Music Tech

Mic Maintenance: How to Keep Them in Top Shape

Condenser microphones

  • Put a plastic bag over the mic when you are not working, and always bag the mic before storing it in its case.
  • Always use a stocking screen pop filter when recording vocals. It will stop the saliva from the singer’s mouth from entering the diaphragm and turning it into a sticky fly paper for particles floating in the air. 
  • Ensure that the mic is at least six inches away from the mouth. This stops the capsule from suffering damage.
  • Always connect the cable from the power supply to the tube condenser mic before turning the power supply on. Hot plugging can cause severe damage to a tube or even destroy it completely.
  • Never put your condenser mic where you would not put your ears. Condensers are very sensitive instruments that respond to minute sound pressure changes. Excessive sound pressure level (SPL) can go on to degrade the capsule’s diaphragm. It’s quite similar to how prolonged exposure to high sound pressure levels will damage your ears as well.

Ribbon microphones

  • Handle your ribbon mics with extra care.
  • Never put your microphone down without covering it first, especially not on the floor. Ribbon mics have very strong magnets which attract a lot of minute metallic particles which can damage recordings. 
  • Don’t let novices handle your ribbon mics. Many people don’t understand the proper methods for the care and handling of a ribbon mic. If a ribbon mic is treated in the same way as a dynamic microphone, it will most likely be damaged. If a person just blows into the mic and says “check”, it will probably have to go for repair.
  • Always position your microphone slightly off-axis when close-miking high-energy sources, which will protect it from excessively loud sources. Ribbon microphones have a fairly even pickup pattern, so moving it slightly off-axis won’t have an adverse effect on your recording.
  • When using a ribbon on a kick drum or any other instrument with a strong directional blast of air, angle the length of the ribbon at 45 degrees to the source, not parallel to the drumhead. This reduces the stress endured by the ribbon. This allows the ribbon to pick up the sound without the entire acoustic pulse hitting the ribbon all at the same time.

Dynamic microphones

  • This is definitely the mic for rough and tough usage. If your mic has some kind of odour, you can eliminate them by removing the grill and washing it. If it’s really gummed up, try a toothbrush with soft bristles. You can leave the foam windscreen attached to the grille while you clean it.
  • Don’t put the wet grill on the mic. Slow air drying is the way to go but if you are in a rush, go ahead and use a hair dryer on a low heat setting. Remember to detach the internal foam windscreen though.
  • If your microphone doesn’t have a removable grille, hold the mic upside down and gently scrub it with a damp toothbrush. This position will stop moisture from reaching the cartridge. You can clean the foam over diaphragms in the same manner.
  • If your microphone smells bad, gently scrub it with a toothbrush soaked in a diluted solution of mouthwash and water. You must hold the mic upside down while doing it. Disinfectants should never be used on the head of the mic. These chemicals can get inside the grille and cause extensive damage to the mic.
  • If someone with lipstick was using your mic, you may find lipstick smeared all over the grille. Luckily, you can use makeup wipes to get rid of the lipstick stains from the grille. 
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