We’ve been talking on the team about what microphone we would choose if we could only keep one?
Unlike my colleague James who has an epic collection of mics, I only have a humble few of which includes three AKG C414s, some common dynamics, three low cost offerings from SE Electronics and a Shure SM7B… with this being my desert island mic. Why? In my opinion the Shure SM7B is a great sounding multipurpose microphone, which is affordable and rugged.
For most of 2017, I was stuck in a situation that forced me to use one microphone model for pretty much every recording application. For most of that year I didn’t have the chance to experiment much with microphone choice as I was struggling just to get half decent sounding recordings because I was working in a room that was woefully unfit for studio work.
The Situation That Forced Me To Use One Microphone For 7 Months
Regular visitors to Pro Tools Expert will most likely know I completed my soundproof home recording studio build in 2017. While we were planning and building the studio I had no choice but to set up my studio temporarily in my conservatory just to keep my business afloat... not ideal.
The conservatory didn't have much going for it... Everything about this space was totally unsuitable for studio use, it was hell for 7 months.
Between my surrounding neighbours there was in the region of 8-10 dogs at any moment barking throughout the day around the perimeter of my garden. When dogs barked in our neighbour's gardens I didn’t usually notice but when I was in recording sessions using microphones in the temporary conservatory studio I found it almost impossible to get clean takes without a distant bark of a dog coming through the mic.
Over the years I have typically used AKG condenser microphones for pretty much all my vocal recordings. I thought I could continue using these mics when I started working in the temporary studio... how wrong was I? One of my first client attended sessions in the conservatory turned out to be an utter car crash. When I was recording my client's vocals using one of my AKG microphones we had to keep re-recording sections because of noise from outside world, such as dogs barking, lawn mowers, planes, etc. All this noise from the outside world was constantly coming down the microphone.
As I'm sure you could imagine, this was quite embarrassing so I decided to ditch the AKGs in favour of my trusted Shure SM7B dynamic microphone in the hope that the noise from the outside world would not be picked up quite so easily in my next lot of recording sessions.
Recording In A Room That Sounded Worse Than A Bathroom
Every single surface in the conservatory including the floors and ceilings had hard reflective surfaces, so you can imagine what the reverberation time was like. It was so bad I had to drape old curtains from the ceiling and use every single bass trap I could get my hands on just to try to get the room sounding half decent. Did it work? To a point, but there was no getting away from the tone of the room sounding honkey. This was another reason why I ditched my AKG condenser microphones and chose only to record with my Shure SM7B until we moved into the soundproof studio.
Knight In Shining Armour
The Shure SM7B is a large-diaphragm cardioid dynamic microphone commonly used by podcasters and broadcasters. I use the SM7B for all the video content I produce for Pro Tools Expert, including the recording of my voice for our Podcast. I use my SM7B in conjunction with a Cloudlifter CL-1 mic activator because the SM7B has a fairly low output. The CL-1 boosts the output of the SM7B into my microphone preamp which stops me having to drive the gain on the mic pre hard (which results in hissy sounding recordings).
My Voice Over Mic Of Choice
Over the last few years, I have produced a number of video reviews and tutorials for The Production Expert Community. The Production Expert team generally produce video content by means of screen capture - Capturing what we see on our computer display (such as Pro Tools) along with our live commentary voice overs being recorded.
Over the years, my screen capture voice over recording and mixing chains have not changed much. In this article, I list the studio gear and plug-ins I use to record and mix my voice overs for Pro Tools Expert videos which features the Shure SM7B microphone as my go to voice over mic.
The Shure SM7B is what us Brits would refer to as a Marmite microphone, people either love it or hate it. Personally, I love it. If you do as well, please share your reasons why in the comments below.