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HOME STUDIO
Eight Ways To Take Care Of - Including Use -
Your Voice-Over Condenser Microphone
May 8, 2019

By Dan Lenard
The Home Studio Master

Your microphone is a vital part of your audio chain. It needs to perform consistently, day after day.

It should be obvious that taking proper care of this investment is important. Here are simple general rules and some specifics as it relates to the vast models of studio condenser microphones available. 

Eight common sense things:

1. Don't drop it. 

Simple enough.

Always make sure the shock mount is attached properly to the mic stand before installing the mic. In other words, install the shock mount first, without the mic.

When getting ready to mount the mic or put it away for storage, handle it like a newborn. Be deliberate and careful.

2. Do not expose it to moisture.

If you're using the mic outside, we need to talk.

3. Use proper mic technique. 

Talking directly into the diaphragm from up-close is not proper mic technique for VOICE-OVER. It may be for singers and such, but voice-over generally requires 7" to 10" distance from your lips.

The mic should be mounted upside down with the top of the mic at eye level.

This proper technique prevents plosives and breathing directly on the mic with your hot breath. It should also allow you to not need a pop screen. You can use one if it makes you feel and look like a voice actor. But unless your voice is only good at a whisper, the pop screen is a constant reminder that you're on mic and not being that friend next door you'd like to have a beer with.

4. Don't expose it to loud noises up close.

5. Protect it from smoke and dust. 

Don't smoke around your mic, or anywhere, if you want the honest truth.

Some regions of the world are dustier than others. California is a dust magnet. More humid climates, not so much. If your mic is mounted properly (see above), dust shouldn't be a factor. But dust off any surfaces facing up, with a cloth.

6. Turn off the 48v phantom power before connecting and disconnecting.

Does it matter? I think plenty of people have gotten away with "whatever." But 48 volts is a lot of energy you're throwing onto a sensitive instrument. Common sense would dictate being careful. I think it's especially important to do this with older condenser mics. Make it a habit when disconnecting and re-connecting.

7. Unless you use a full locker of studio condenser mics, I have found that you can leave them mounted in one place, literally for years and they just keep ticking.

One could surmise that constant plugging and unplugging leads to wear and tear on the plugs, both male and female. Constant changing of mics adds potential handling accidents. 

8. When switching up mics, always return your mic to its "coffin."

It's designed to keep your cherished mic safe. 

BONUS ADVICE ...
  • Most studio condenser mics we use for VO are quite hardy. If you handle them properly, they should virtually last forever.
  • Clearly, the cheaper the mic, the less quality control by the manufacturer in as far as the materials used and how it's assembled. The more expensive the mic, the better its longevity. The real good ones are made by hand, for the most part. That's also why they're more expensive. That, and the selected components inside.  
  • Do they fail? (see number 1 above) Sure! (not Shure) Nothing is perfect. But unless the mic was bad out of the box, except for wear and tear, they rarely fail.
  • Some complain that a mic has become noisy over time. While some mics have very low self-noise compared to others, when a mic gets noisy, more often than not, it's the phantom power supply that has become faulty. That will cause hissing and clicking. Try a different interface.
So to sum up, be kind to your mics and they will be kind to you.

It's not a living thing, and it doesn't get jealous if you put it away in favor of a new flashy model. Just remember that it's a sensitive instrument and needs to be treated as such.
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ABOUT DAN
Dan Lenard - AKA the voice-over industry's "Home Studio Master" - is a professional voice-over artist specializing in commercial E-learning, and also a freelance producer and a leading industry expert and consultant in voice-over home studio set-up and problem solving. By online video conferencing, email and phone, he helps both experienced and new voice actors who have little or no self-recording experience. Based in Sherman Oaks, CA, he is co-host with George Whittam of the popular Monday night Voice Over Body Shop webcast, featuring home VO studio tech, industry news and live interviews with top professionals. And he is a founding board member and Vice President of Technical Standards for the World-Voices Organization (WoVO).

Voice-Over Web: www.DanLenard.com

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Comments (1)
Dan Hurst
5/9/2019 at 8:32 PM
THIS! This is GREAT information for all VO dogs!

Thanks, Dan!
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