"It's all about great microphones and preamps!" Or is it?

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Record-Producer.com.

Saturday November 9, 2019
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Recording magazine has some important information to impart. And they blast it through on their front cover in large, bold-faced type. Clearly there is something in here that you need to know...

I came across this interesting image by accident just today. It's the front cover of Recording Magazine dated May 2019.

"It's all about great microphones and preamps!" Or is it?

"It's all about great microphones and preamps!"

This, in a nutshell, helps me to explain what Audio Masterclass is all about. And it isn't all about great microphones and preamps.

So what is this mysterious 'it' all about then?

Simple... It's firstly about the music. Great music. Next, it's about the performers. Great performers. Third, great performances. Great performers might perform even greater on the right day. A great producer, will get the best from the music, the arrangement, and the performers, and bring the music together into the foundation material for a successful commercial release.

Next, it's the audio issues...

It helps to have a great studio acoustic, but actually a lot of great recordings have been made in situations where the acoustics were rather less than ideal. Deep Purple's classic Smoke On The Water was recorded in a hotel corridor after the Montreux Casino close to Lake Geneva in which they were meant to be recording burnt to the ground (hence the inspiration for the song).

Next, yes you do need microphones and preamplifiers of professional quality. And a really great microphone will give your work a little extra sheen. But so much more is down to microphone positioning. Even a change in position of a couple of inches can make more of a difference than swapping your $100 microphone for a $5000 one.

And yes, a really nice vacuum tube preamp with controls for gain and level is a lovely thing to have. But it won't make the difference between the success or failure of your commercial release. Your fans care more about what t-shirt you're wearing than what preamp you use.

Further down the line you need effective monitoring. I'm not going to say 'great' monitoring because no-one ever called the Yamaha NS10M great, yet lots of amazing recordings have been mixed using that model.

You know, I respect the opinion of the headline writers of Recording Magazine, and I realize they have advertisers to please. But however much I respect their opinion, I respectfully suggest that they are wrong.

What you need to make great recordings, in addition to equipment of basic professional quality, is knowledge, skills and experience.

That's what Audio Masterclass is all about.

You can get started here...

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