Getting the right sounds during recording is half of the battle when it comes to creating something special. It can be an incredibly arduous task, but the work it takes will be rewarding if approached correctly.
When capturing great live sound, the secret lies within the recording space, the type of mic you’re using, and where it’s placed. Proper mic placement not only allows you to capture the essence and soul of whatever instrument you’re tracking, but also the magic of the space you’re in. Even an inch off target and the sound you’re listening for can vanish.
Spire Studio uses an omnidirectional condenser mic, meaning it can capture sound from all directions equally. These types of mics work best in places with great acoustics—concert halls or large churches—yet preferably low-noise environments. The beauty of omnidirectional condensers is that they catch everything, making their captures feel entirely natural and nuanced.
When it comes to recording with Spire Studio, plugging “direct in”—whether it’s an instrument or an external mic for vocals—is usually the simplest way to go, especially if you find yourself in a noisy environment. However, plugging an instrument direct in forgoes the room presence.
If you find yourself in a noise-controlled environment with your gear of choice, here are some tips on how to get the best sounds from the Spire mic.
Recording direct in
Before we dive into mic placement, let’s establish some context. The example below features five different guitar tracks that were recorded direct in. The three rhythm guitar tracks are using Spire Studio’s Verb ‘65 amp simulation, while the two lead guitars are plugged into the Capratone pedal simulation and the Verb ‘65.
Mic’ing an amp
There are some general rules of thumb to consider when mic’ing an amp. You’ll first want to find the speaker cone inside your amplifier. If the amp is covered with a grille cloth, use a flashlight to find the cone. Usually, the optimal placement for a mic on an amp is halfway between the center of the cone and the cone’s outer edge. When you find that sweet spot, place your Spire (mic grill forward) at the halfway point (you might need to prop up the Spire to reach the placement spot). You’ll want to place the mic close enough to the grille that you can slip your pinky in between them.
Test out whatever instrument you’re amplifying while listening back on your Spire. Is the sound a little too bright or shrill? Edge your Spire more towards the outer part of the cone. Is the sound to heavy on the low end? Move your Spire towards the center. The highs and mids live in the center of the cone, and the lows on the outer edge.
This process might take a little bit of experimenting, but just stay patient until you find the right placement. Also remember to keep your volume at a reasonable level on the amp; try not to crank it too high.
Mic’ing the rhythm guitar
The following example is the example you heard above, except the rhythm guitars were recorded using Spire’s mic. The lead guitars are still direct in.
Listen to both examples back to back. It might be difficult at first to notice the differences, but what should jump out at you is that they feel differently. Example A sounds impeccably clean and evenly balanced. Example B feels grounded and more settled into the rhythm section.
For tracking these rhythm guitars, the mid range was turned down and the low end up on the amp (Fender Blues Junior) while placing the mic towards the outer edge of the speaker cone.
Mic’ing the lead guitar
Keeping the previous rhythm guitar tracks, the example below is the lead guitar recorded with the Spire mic.
The difference between this example and Example A are much more apparent. The leads in Example A sound choked, digitized, and on the verge of distorting. In Example C the leads not only sound and feel more natural, but the tone is entirely different. The drive and EQ of the amp blends with the rhythm guitars while pushing the lead into a central position in the mix. Example C sounds alive and raw, while example A sounds and feels digitally processed.
For tracking the lead guitars, the gain was turned up slightly on the amp with a mid range pick up select on the guitar. The Spire mic was moved an inch towards the center of the speaker cone.
Spire Studio’s direct inputs make recording simple and secure, but the mic shouldn’t be overlooked as a viable means of recording. By simply finding the right placement on your amplifier, Spire Studio can transfer the acoustic magic of your space and instrument into your next project. Happy writing.