Analyzing Microphone Placement #MusicMonday

As it turns out, microphone placement makes such a difference you can hear it in recordings. Space, direction, and sound. Here’s more from the Ethan Hein Blog:

In a recording, microphones are a stand-in for your ears, receiving pressure waves and converting them into electrical fluctuations. If the mic is close to the sound source, it will mostly pick up direct sound. If the mic is far away from the sound source, it will mostly pick up indirect sound.

Before multitrack recording was invented in the 1950s, all recordings had to be live. You could use multiple microphones, but they all went to a single tape. The main way you could control the sound of the recording was by placing the mics relative to the performers. If it was a big ensemble like the Duke Ellington Orchestra, you wouldn’t be able to mic every instrument individually, so that meant mostly recording indirect sound. Ellington worked creatively around this restriction in “The Mooche”. The best version I have ever heard is on Duke Ellington & His World Famous Orchestra (1946-1947), a set of live performances from the radio during a period when the band was killing. Sadly, that one isn’t online anywhere, but fortunately there is a filmed version.

Hear and see more!


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