This surprising video illustrates a tiny piece of The Fat Man’s Laws of Studio Setup:
1. Knowledge trumps ignorance.
2. Experience trumps knowledge.
3. What you hear that day in the control room trumps experience.
4. How it fits in the arrangement trumps what you hear that day.
5. What the whole thing makes you feel in your heart trumps all.
I guess what I’m saying is this: You can learn an infinite amount about microphone placement, but it only gets you so far. Then you use your ears, as everybody tells you to, and you learn your bag of tricks. But that only gets you so far, because the thing sounds totally different today, and on this instrument. And it goes on and on…
This is the best illustration of my point:
Note that the beat-up SM-5a sounds as good (on this instrument, in this room, played in this style, and placed as it is placed) as any of the fancier mics. The FatHead Ribbon Condenser would blow them all away if the source were a brass instrument. It might even blow them away if Joe had come down the hall and borrowed my Fat Heads with the optional fancy transformer.
The microphones are:
Audio Technica AT-4041 small-diaphragm condensor:
Oktava MC-12, with interchangeable capsules, using large-diaphragm condensor capsule:
Shure SM-58 dynamic cardioid workhorse, beat up from years of use at LA’s Studio Instrument Rentals. And that was before it inadvertently fell into my ownership in 1982. If you guys at SIR want it back, let me know. Shipping’s on me!
Cascade “Fat Head” ribbon mic (without the optional fancy transformers.):
Conclusion: Listen With Your Heart!