#13: Understanding The Controls On Your Recording Gear

Confused by all the switches, buttons and knobs on your recording gear?

"What does this knob on my recording gear actually do and how does this all work? When do I need to push which button? What are "pad" and "48V" actually?"

Find out why, when and how to use all the controls on your interfaces and microphones!


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Automatic Episode Transcript — Please excuse any errors, not reviewed for accuracy (click for full transcript)

TSRB Podcast 013 - Understanding The Controls On Your Recording Gear

[00:00:00] Benedikt: [00:00:00] What does the damn thing actually do and how does this all work? On the one hand, gear is fun. Of course we all love gear, but on the other hand, it kind of gets in the way of the creative process sometimes, and if you're constantly thinking or worrying about all the switches, and if you might've made a mistake, it's a distraction.

This is the self recording band podcast, the show where we help you make exciting records on your own wherever you are, DIY stuff. Let's go.

Hello and welcome to the self recording band podcast. I am your host Ben at the time, and I am here with my amazing Canadian cohost, Matt Kumo and flat. How are you? I'm 

Malcom: [00:00:40] good. I'm really good, man. How are you? 

Benedikt: [00:00:43] I'm, I'm fine. Uh, we've been talking about for this episode, that was kind of a rough week, but, uh, it's getting better and nothing too crazy.

And, uh, I think this whole. Um, situation causes a little more stress than usual. And like [00:01:00] put has some, some challenges for all of us, I guess. But we've gotta get through this. So 

Malcom: [00:01:05] yeah. Ben is referring to the Corona situation. If you're listening to this far in the future and have no idea what we're talking about.

Benedikt: [00:01:12] Oh yeah. So it's so normal to talk about this and it's just, this is such a part of daily life that. Yeah. Yeah. But it could be that it's already over it and you don't know what I mean exactly. When you're listening to this, hopefully it will be, it will be over. So this topic today is a little different than most of the other hot topics because mostly in a podcast to try to find topics that are not only helpful, but also kind of exciting or have to do with the art a lot.

And that is what it's all about. But today we are doing something that is very valuable and important. But it's on the purely technical side of things, which you don't do very often. But I think it's important because a lot of you reached out and asked for, um, like basically [00:02:00] explanations for all the switches and buttons and functions off your audio gear.

And I totally get that because I remember when I was starting out, I, it took me a while to really understand all of this and to wrap my head around this. And it took a while until I knew how to. When to reach for which button and it was a lot of trial and error. And there are, there are just a lot of things that are.

Probably not too easy to understand if, if that's not what you're doing everyday, all day. Right? So yeah, we're going to talk about how your gear, actually, what you get actually does, what the buttons do, how to set it up properly. So you will never have to be confused again and be wondering again if you should push a certain button or not when you're recording.

Right. So, um. Let's start with thinking about an actual, like typical home recording setup. So you'll probably have an audio interface that has all sorts of inputs, [00:03:00] outputs, controls on it, and you probably have a microphone. And if you have a condenser microphone, chances are that this microphone also has, and even some dynamics do, but condensers more often.

Chances are that there are even switch switches and buttons on that microphone as well. And. Yeah, we are going to go through all these functions, all these things, and tell you when to use what and what those are for basically. And I think we should we keep it at like microphone and interface because yes, there are compressors and accuse and all that stuff, but in a typical home recording scenario, most of you will probably have.

This combination of Mike and interface. So maximum, if you look at your interface, what, what do you see there and what do you use right now and why? 

Malcom: [00:03:52] Alright, so there's kind of two sections to my interface. The one I've got going on right now is an Apollo twin. [00:04:00] Um, so there's kind of like a. A monitoring section, and then a preamp section.

Um, so the preamp section obviously would control all the incoming noise where the monitoring section controls everything I'm hearing. Um, so the ones I'm using every day. Because I'm mostly on like the mastering and mixing side is the monitoring section. Um, so there's a big volume knob that everybody's going to have.

I'm sure that's the one that everybody's figured out, the one that controls the, the volume of your speakers, but right now, and I think where we should start to kind of keep things logical is probably on the input side. Um, so we can kind of work coming into, uh, like kind of do a flow coming into the interface and kind of moving through it and touching each other controls along the way that you might kind of encounter.

So. I think the first thing to start with would probably be inputs and on my particular invoice or interface, sorry, [00:05:00] there is the mic and line inputs on the back as well as like a Hi-C input on the front. So that seemed like a good spot to start. 

Benedikt: [00:05:08] Absolutely. That's where the signal goes in and I think we should absolutely start with the interface and go through all this and this order and whatever is left.

For the microphone. We'll be talking about that later because some controls on your microphone will actually be redundant or be the same. Do the same things as on your interface. So we get through the interface and then, and then see what we, what, what, what else there is. So let's start with the input, right?

Um, you have plugged the mic into the interface. You probably plugged that into the mic input, and then you used, um, a knob to set the. Input level, the gain. So probably one of your, like your interface will have some sort of a knob there, either a physical knob or some interfaces are controlled digitally, so you might have a digital game [00:06:00] control software or whatever, but you have some way of adjusting the level that's going into your converters.

So you have a microphone preamp that amplifies. The weak microphone signal. That's like coming out of the microphone. It amplifies that and then sends it to your converters and those converted to digital and then then sent that signal to your computer. And the level those converters receive is determined by this gain knob.

This input, yeah, knob. And it's important to note here that. In some high end microphone preamps uh, there are transformers in there or tubes or components that react differently to different input levels. And so you can achieve different sounds by pushing the gain there. Similar to like when you, when you crank the gain on a guitar, but it's distorting right.

And yeah, a [00:07:00] subtle version of that. You can also do that with a mic preamp and with some preamps not, not even that subtle. So you can have some preempts you can really drive and distort and that is not really the case with most. Like, um, typical interfaces that you would use in a, in a home recording situation probably.

And like most built in preempts don't do that. They are, they don't have transformers or tubes. They are just clean gain basically. So the sound doesn't really change from low to high and the converters are good as well. And we are working with 24 bit, which means without going into the technical details, that there is no decrease in quality if you record quietly.

So I would always say. When in doubt, record a little quieter so that you don't risk digital clipping and like unwanted distortion because it don't have to max out the gain. You don't gain anything by doing that. The preempt won't sound better. You don't have to be careful with the noise floor because like converters and 24 bit, it's all [00:08:00] good.

Um. So yeah, just turn it up to a reasonable amount until you get signal in your doll leaf. Enough headroom so you don't clip it, and then just record. That's all this knob is for. Just don't, don't clip it and don't be too risky with it. 

Malcom: [00:08:15] Yeah. I want to drive that home as well. The. Like a expensive kind of outboard preempt tends to sound good when you push it.

Um, let's see. Let's kind of normally a sweet spot where things start getting better and a little hairier but it's the opposite with, with consumer preamps where if you push them, it's properly, it should stay the same, but it's probably just going to get a little more brittle sounding, if anything. And so just don't push record on the extra quiet side with, with consumer preamps and you'll be safe.

Benedikt: [00:08:46] Yeah. That's great advice. Did you actually find that they sound worse when pushed? Because I've never noticed that really. I always thought it just, you don't gain anything by pushing them, but yeah, so, but that's interesting to hear. 

Malcom: [00:08:58] I found it with, [00:09:00] uh, it was the focus, right? Scarlet. I don't know if I should throw them under the bus like that, but like, I actually, I love those boxes there.

So like, that's probably my most recommended budget. Preamp would be like, or a budget interface. Go grab a focus. Right. Scarlet, they're so affordable and, and they, they rock. Um, but I did find. That if I recorded quieter, I got better results. Just seemed to be that way to my ears anyways, but maybe, maybe I'm crazy.

Benedikt: [00:09:25] Yeah, that's interesting. Could very well be, but yeah, important messages, you know, you don't, there's no, no, no benefit to recording high level. So just be on the safe side. You will, will be less nervous because you won't clip and yeah. 

Malcom: [00:09:42] The other input on your interface would be the high Z, uh, input, I think, like pretty well.

Every interface has one now a days. Um, and that is an interface that is designed to take, uh, like a guitar line, um, right, right into it kind of thing. So you can grab your guitar and [00:10:00] plug your guitar cable right into the interface and it's going to be. Ready for that level and, and take it much better than if you were to try and convert your guitar to an XLR cable or something like that without a DEI.

Um, so, uh, on my interface by high Z input is marked from like a little picture of a guitar. So it's pretty obvious that I play a guitar in there. Um, but it might just say high Z and that's what it's talking about. 

Benedikt: [00:10:28] Sure. It might say something like instrument in or inst in or something like that. It's all the same thing and basically the, the important thing to know here is that you are dealing with.

Three different kinds of signals. Basically you have Mike signals, line signals and instruments, signals, and those are differently. So not every check input is automatically also an instrument input because most of them are line ins and align signal is already amplified. So there has been some sort of pre amplifier that brought it up to line level [00:11:00] because both microphones and instruments put out really, really quiet signals, low levels, and.

There's a difference in impedance. That's why Mike and instrument is not the same and line is a totally different thing altogether because there's an impedance difference and it's also like a stronger signal usually. So just just know that because that's something that many people confuse. They, I heard people refer to line inputs as like instruments, inputs very often, and that's not the case.

Don't confuse that. A line in is not for instrument align in is for if you plug in. Maybe the output from a synth or keyboard or something, or the output of a, of an outboard gear, like a compressor or a, or like those things have line. They work with line signals and you can plug outputs of those types of gear into a line input.

And, um, but it's different to a microphone and an instrument. And high C [00:12:00] means that it's a high impedance. Input. So yeah, it's just able to handle what comes out of an of an instrument of a what? Like the signal that a pickup puts out basically on a guitar. And the important thing is here that. If you don't do that, it might still work.

So you can plug a guitar into the line and put, but it will sound differently. So you might not notice that it's the wrong input because it works, but it just sounds completely different. And I've seen people do that in live situations a lot when they plug an acoustic guitar or something directly into the desk and it works.

But it sounds awful in some some cases and almost all. Yeah. Oh, it's always, and it's like, so if you don't have a high C on your interface, definitely use a DIY books and don't use the lions. And it's always worth a being a I box to that high C and put as well, because a good, the iBox might be much better than the built in high C.

Malcom: [00:12:57] Yeah. That's a great point. 

Benedikt: [00:12:58] Yeah, so that, that's always [00:13:00] worth it. It's like you have to have a really high impedance and really good. The iBox has have transformers in them or like. Have a higher impedance than, than what the interfaces offer and the differences are drastic. Like I had a comparison with my Academy beta students.

We talked about this on a coaching call and they got somebody I boxes and compared it to their interfaces with like very, very different results. One of them had some DIY DIY boxes that he thought were, okay. And he compared it to this interface, and the Diabex has completely like lost that comparison.

They completely suck compared to the, to the interface one another. And he never, he never knew that. And another one bought the iBox and compared it to his interface, and it made a big difference in the other direction. The, the da box was much, much better than the interface. So, yeah, that's, 

Malcom: [00:13:51] I mean, in front of me, I've got my Apollo twin interface.

I've got, uh. Vintech kind of NAEP style, external preamp [00:14:00] with an instrument in as well. Um, and then I also have a couple DEI boxes around and I've got a camper like kind of profiling amplifier. And if I use them all, like, they all have their own kind of DEI feature, you know, like I can go into the camper but still capture DIY out of it.

Uh, they all sound really different. Um, and like to the point where like, sometimes I might choose one because of the tonal difference. Like it's like a, not necessarily like. I always use this one. It's better. It's like it's different kind of thing, so until you test it, you don't really know. 

Benedikt: [00:14:31] Sure, absolutely.

Sometimes those are switchable on an interface, so it could be that you have a check input and you can switch it between line and instrument, or it could be that it's a combination. Input with like combo input of XLR and a check in the middle. Um, and sometimes there is an additional switch there where you switched between Mike and instruments so that the interface knows what's actually in there.

Some switch automatically, [00:15:00] some you have to switch. So just be careful and know that Hi-C always stands for my, a high impedance and that means instrument in. 

Malcom: [00:15:08] Yep. Yep. And, uh, just because. They, for example, line levels often in a quarter inch. So if you put think your guitar plugged into that and you're getting high Z, that's not necessarily the case.

Um, just because the Jack fits doesn't mean it's meant to go there. Just exactly give you some jokes made about that. Okay. Get your head out of the gutter. Here we go. 

Benedikt: [00:15:31] Exactly. All right, so that's the input. That's the high CEB. Um, again, if there's a, if there's a button that says line. Um, that just means if you push that the interface expect to higher signal, something that comes out from a preempt or some Upwork year or whatever.

So, uh, this also, that can also be switchable. So it's, it's basically something like a pad, but it also changes like the, the impedance. It just makes the interface, uh, [00:16:00] um, expect a different kind of signal. And, um, yeah, so Mike Lyon instrument. Alright, then, um, this is why we're still at like talking about the preempt.

There are some controls that change. The w the signal on the, on the way in like they are, they influence the signal like right at the preamp and those are controls that you find on external preamps as well as on your interface. So with, I don't know what the Apollo has, if I look at my little Steinberg, you are 22 interface.

I have, I don't actually don't have a polarity button, so I have to do that in my, in my software, my recording software. All I have is what do I actually have? I have a high CS, which I don't have a pad. All I have actually is a Phantom power 48 volts switch, and that's all there is. So it's pretty [00:17:00] minimalistic.

Malcom: [00:17:00] Yep. Probably most. 

Benedikt: [00:17:02] That's probably most interfaces to think, 

Malcom: [00:17:04] Oh, well, maybe not. I'm trying to think back to my focus with Scarlet. It had a polarity, but I think it had a pad. 

Benedikt: [00:17:12] Okay. So I only have the 48 volts thing, and that is something that probably every interface has. And what that does is it sends, um, 48 volts, like a voltage to power your microphone.

So you, if you have a condenser microphone that requires external power, that's called Phantom power. Uh, the interface is able to supply that microphone with that power. So. A dynamic microphone doesn't need that, but a condenser does. And yeah, if you have a condenser plugged in and you're wondering why you're not getting any signal, press that Phantom power switch or 48 waltz switch and that will power your interface.

There is something to be said about when to not use this, so we should talk about that probably because most interfaces [00:18:00] have a switch there and will not have it switched on permanently and you should. I think switch it off if you're not using a condenser. Right. Or you should have that as your default setting.

Malcom: [00:18:10] Yeah. I mean, it is, it's pretty unlikely that you'll have a piece of gear that won't be able to handle getting sent Phantom power. So, okay. Remember that whenever found power is turned on, it's sending electricity. Um, so if the device on the other end, those being sent electricity is not meant to receive that electricity.

In theory, there could be problems. Um, most notably in the audio world, we're talking about ribbon microphones, which are a type of microphone that cannot take electricity and it will destroy the microphone if, if it gets too much of it. Um. I have a friend down the road from me that has a beautiful set of Coles and one of them bit the dust, and we're pretty sure it was because of this.

So it's like, it can be really tragic, really expensive. Beautiful microphone was not surviving. You got to repair it, but so it's all good. [00:19:00] But it was just kind of sad. He was pretty upset. 

Benedikt: [00:19:02] Oh yeah. That's tragic. And I think, I don't know, are there dynamic microphones that can get damaged? I don't think so.

Right. Dynamics either. Um, 

Malcom: [00:19:12] I remember like my camper again, this amplifier I have beside me, it, it can handle it. Um, but I always like just kind of err on the side of caution and look up like what, what the specs are and the gear and the rule of thumb when you're like visiting studios and stuff like that is to leave fountain power turned off if you're not using it.

You know, so like at the end of the day, if you're done, you know, like if you still have drum set up or whatever, leave your stuff set up. But once you're just striking stuff, kind of throw everything to a default position and that has Phantom power turned off. It's just in case somebody plugs in something into that channel, you don't want to blow it up kind of thing.

Benedikt: [00:19:47] Yeah, absolutely. So Phantom power always off unless you're using a condenser mic. So that's, as I said, the only control on my interface really. But you on your Apollo probably have a [00:20:00] polarity and the Pat switch. So what is that. 

Malcom: [00:20:02] I've got quite a few on here. Actually. I love this little box. Um, so polarity we have covered in a couple a couple episodes so far, and that's just like a switching the polarity of the signal from positive to negative, which you can, uh, make sure your don't have signals that are canceling each other out in the phase world.

Um, so really that's only really necessary to click when you have like two channels going at once. Um, but as Benny taught us all, you can actually flick that just to see if it does inherently sound better. Like, uh, like he said, I think a kick drum will push air if it's positive as opposed to negative. So, you know, always click that just to see what happens.

Um, but generally it's used when you're using more than one channel at the same time. And then, uh, pad drops the gain level a certain amount of DB. Um, I actually don't know what gain, [00:21:00] drop the pad on my Apollo does. I feel like normally it's like negative 12 or something like that. Um, ah, it doesn't really matter.

All that you need to know is that it'll drop the game of the input so that you have more headroom on your preamp. Um, so if you have like a guitar with active pickups plugged in to your pre-amp and it's just clipping it with all the, like, even with all the game turned down, you can click click the pad button and it'll lower, it'll kind of insert a pad that'll lower the gain of that signal that's coming into the preamp before it hits the pre-amp, and then you have more room to play with him.

You can kind of turn up the pre-amp to the ideal game you were looking for. Um, otherwise it's just too hot. You're going to be clipping kind of stuff. Some microphones will be like this as well. It's not just accurate pickups and stuff. Um, it really depends on what you're feeding into it. 

Benedikt: [00:21:55] I have an API style preempt, a cloak of warm.

Audio like [00:22:00] three 12 style preamp and you cannot record this net run with that without the Pat. It's just like the original three 12 doesn't even have a pad. And so it's always, if you use that on a scenario, it sounds great. And it also, the distortion sounds great, but it's, you can not do that without clipping, basically, because they had rooms, not enough.

But the, the clone that I have has a pad and it's the only option to record a clean, like Snyder on sound. W because without the pad, it's just automatically clipping, even if you're, if you're all the way to the left. So, but I think, I don't know. What about the Apollo? I'm curious, does the Pat change the tone a lot?

Because with those APIs, I, I feel like sometimes I use them, but sometimes I don't. And I, I just accept the clipping because the pad affects the tone and at sometimes don't like that. 

Malcom: [00:22:46] So this is, yeah, this is kind of advanced level pad research by the patent told the does affect the tone. So in fact, uh, I've done quite a bit of experimenting here, so there's the built in pad.

Um, [00:23:00] and then actually, so most of this wasn't done in my studio or none of it was in my studio. I just have the one pad. It does the job. But with API APIs, I've got lots of experience with APIs as well. Um, and they are way too hot. So you have to Pat them pretty well for any use. Um. I think especially the real ones, like the actual API brand was way hotter than the warm, even.

It's just insane. Uh, so there is the option to use external pads, which are like these inline paths that you actually attach onto an XLR cable. And you can throw them that way. You can put them on the input or the output even, which can be cool if you want to really distort things, but then turn them down before they hit a compressor or something.

Um, and then there's also, uh, other patting devices made, like little labs makes this external pad box kind of thing, um, that you can kind of like, they have trim knobs, so you can like do a variable pad kind of thing and kind of find a sweet spot, which is really awesome. And that's. The total way to go if you're obsessed about [00:24:00] what the pad is doing to your tone.

You guys don't got to worry about that. What's your like spending cause those API preamps I think they're like 25, $3,000 per rack kind of thing. Yeah. Used. So if you're worried about that, you can start worrying about pads, but really just flick it, I find with my Apollo twin. So that, that's something that some of you might have.

Um, the pad does have a slight tone change, but yeah. There's kind of usually a sweet spot in the game where I can get to. Um, so if it's either I'm, I've got my game really low with no Pat on where I turn the pad on and I can ride the gain a little bit higher, and one of those is going to sound better on that.

You just gotta test it each time. 

Benedikt: [00:24:44] Okay. That's cool. Um, yeah, so, but I think for most applications in a double DIY recordings scenario, it's just a matter of am I clipping? Yes. Then I use the pad, and if not, if I have enough headroom, I just don't use it. Right. [00:25:00] So, yeah. Okay. 

Malcom: [00:25:01] Yeah, yeah, yeah, you're right. Um, well, one last thing to add on that though, is sometimes you might have like, say you have a keyboard and you use the pad to turn it down, but you don't like the tone change that happens, which will be subtle.

Like guys like that. There isn't a big tone change. Um, but if you don't like it, you got to remember that your keyboard. Probably has a master output that you're feeding into that channel as well. So sometimes it might make more sense to turn it down on the keyboard versus on the preamp. Um, so just be aware of your gain staging.

Benedikt: [00:25:31] Oh, yeah, that's a, that's a good idea. Um, totally depends on, on the source. So if you, like, if you're talking about making a guitar amp, it's, it gets more tricky because turning down the amp might also mean a tone change. And you gotta decide what. What's the better way to go? Like turn on the amp or use a pad or like you have to test all these combinations.

Basically get the gain staging, right, and then choose whatever sounds best. Um, but with a keyboard and uh, [00:26:00] or synth and stuff like that, that's very true because those outputs will probably not have a sound or not change the sound drastically. And if you can trim the those there and not use the gain and not use the pad.

It will be probably a cleaner result than having to use a pad instead of turning the opera down. 

Malcom: [00:26:17] Yeah. Yeah. So another control I've got here is a low cut. Um, so that's built right into my preamp control as well. So a loca, um, those are also kind of variable. It depends on your device, what that cut's going to be.

Uh, I think the new two usual places are like 60 Hertz and 80 Hertz. If I. I recall correctly, um, between most microphones and most preamp designs. Uh, so all that is doing is really cutting out really some of those sub content of your signal. Um, so on, uh, like right now I should have it engaged because Benedict doesn't need my voice to have this really basic quality.

That's just going to kind of mess with things while he's trying to edit [00:27:00] the spark asset or a sort of, Thomas is going to be editing. Sorry. Uh, but so, so sometimes you don't need that stuff so you can just cut it right out. Right on the way in, which can be great. 

Benedikt: [00:27:10] Um, and 

Malcom: [00:27:12] how, what are your thoughts on the low cut daddy?

Cause some people use it all the time. Some people say they never use it ever. Um, so kind of curious what you do. 

Benedikt: [00:27:22] Totally depends. Is it always a bad answer, but totally depends on the, on the signal and on the, and on the actual low cut because there are in fact, much more, uh, extreme low cuts than what you are describing.

Because if you are, if you're talking about 60 Hertz or 80 Hertz. It's going to be pretty obvious when to when you can use it and when you can not use it. So you could, you could, the theory, you could use those low cuts on everything except like bass guitar, bass drum, or like a sub synth or whatever because everything else specifically doesn't need anything below 80 or so.

But there is, and without getting like [00:28:00] again, without becoming like too, too nerdy and too getting too much into the details here. A low cut always also does something to the phase always changes the phase a bit. So if you're recording multiple signals and you have to be careful with that. So let's say, let's say you have two inputs, or you have a, um, an interface with eight inputs or digital recording desk with some people have and their jam spaces or something like that.

And let's say you record a drum kit and you have on the, you have Mike on the snare top and on the snare bottom. And you have some, um, you have a lot of bass drum bleed on the bottom, snap drum, Mike, for example, and you want to get rid of that. So you use the low cut to filter out the kick there and you don't use that low cut on the snap top.

It could be that you just reversed the polarity basically, and you have to check for that because the local changes the polarity, the phase. And not the polarity, but the phase. And that could result in basically 180 degree, um, [00:29:00] switch sometimes. And there's that, and there's also resonance that's happening.

So right at the, at the frequency where the slow cut kicks in, right? If it's an 80 Hertz, low-cut. At 80 Hertz. So somewhere around that frequency, that could be a slight boost and that could be cool. And you can use that creatively. In fact, so if you, if, if you have a kick drum and the pretty low low cut and you use that low cut, you might get rid of some of the very low sub rumble if you don't need that, but you might actually get a slight boost in a more useful area of the kick drum.

Or if the load is higher up, you could get a boost where the body of the snare drum is. But. Rid of whatever is below that. Same with a guitar amp. You can get a little more of this, like the, the feeling of air moving and the, the oomph of the guitar speaker, you know, but you get rid of everything below that.

So a loca does not only remove low frequencies and does that cleanly, but most of the [00:30:00] time it has side effects. And those can be good or not so good. So you always should just try what the local does. And really here. For all the different things, not only for the low end, but also what changes above and what changes in the relationship to other signals and what changes at that spot where the local actually is.

So it's not a like, it's, it's hard to give good advice here because it totally depends on the situation. And there are things, I was just looking up like the SM seven because you are talking to an SM seven microphone and it has a low cut switch on the microphone. 

Malcom: [00:30:33] It does to see if it's on. 

Benedikt: [00:30:35] And is it on?

Malcom: [00:30:37] No, it is flat 

Benedikt: [00:30:38] and it's Slack. Yeah. I figured because I use that microphone in the studio as well. In the first couple of episodes we did. I always use that. And you did as well. And your voice has had had much more low end. And that's partly because you have a lower voice. But also because I used that low-cut and I didn't really, I always use it because I, I [00:31:00] just, I dunno for spoken word stuff for pocket stuff.

I, I feel like I'd hit, like I, most of the time I don't need that much low end. But, um, I wasn't actually aware of how drastic that low-cut on the SM seven really is. With four for a voice, because that low cut on the SM seven I think starts at 300 or something, so, 

Malcom: [00:31:22] Oh, wow. 

Benedikt: [00:31:23] Yeah. So it's, it's, it's a roll off and not a steep cut, but still it, like if you would use that on snap rom or something, you would definitely notice a big difference.

So it totally depends on the gear and on the input. Um. Yeah. 

Malcom: [00:31:39] I think there's a little bit of, even the room, not so much with the, some seven here, but my, um, condenser microphone in my vocal booth. I have a, like a pretty small, tight vocal booth and I find that I'm using the low cut in there cause I don't like how the, like the low frequencies build up even on a voice.

Um, and then the other reason I also play with the low cut [00:32:00] is it does affect how it might hit hardware after the fact. So if you're recording into a compressor, you might get a different result by having less low end information triggering the compression. Um, so I play with it a little bit in those situations as well.

Benedikt: [00:32:15] All right. Yeah, yeah, totally. Yeah. I don't know what, what should we recommend people do? And if it's a local, 

Malcom: [00:32:24] yeah, totally. And if you can't hear the difference, then this is probably not a noticeable enough difference to care. 

Benedikt: [00:32:32] Sure. Yeah, absolutely. Okay, so the loca and also the last thing to add to this year, you might have a variety of like a variable loca because I know that some of the more modern interfaces or some of the desks have actually controlled for the loca and you can, you have to be really were just super nice, but you have to read it.

Be really careful with that because you can easily destroy things. Because one thing I think we should say [00:33:00] here is that you should be careful because if you have too much low end recorded, you can always re most of the time, remove that after the fact pretty easily with a low cut filter in the doll and during mixing or whatever.

But if you accidentally set a low cut filter too high. Then those frequencies are gone and you can't really bring them back. So when in doubt, I would rather leave it off, then turn it on, and if you have a variable low cut, I would find what I usually usually do is I would start very low. Then I would turn the control, like move the frequency where it's at in move it up.

And when I notice I'm a decrease in low frequencies, I go back a little. And then I'll leave it there so that it's not really audible, but I just know it gets rid of whatever is below the stuff that I need, but it doesn't really cut into [00:34:00] the signal that I want to use. 

Malcom: [00:34:02] Yep. Yeah, that's, that's a great way to think of it.

Cause low cut isn't really, to make something sound less basically is to get rid of stuff that is irrelevant. So there might be like just this little rumbling of low content that you can't even perceive, but it does kind of all start to stack up inside of a mix. Um, when you've got a bunch of tracks that all have this like little bit of rumble, so you could, if you can just kind of clean that up then that, that it's not gonna present itself as a problem later 

Benedikt: [00:34:29] on.

Yeah, sure. Absolutely. And you should do that in your recording because many people might ask, do I do that now in recording or do I do it in the mix? So I would say if there is no. Gear in the chain other than the micro and the preamp, it doesn't matter as much. But if you have, if you are, um, recording into, or if you're sending the signal from the my preamp into a compressor and record that, for example, then it totally makes a difference if there's the local before that compress or after it [00:35:00] because the compressor reacts differently to the low end.

So in case you are using like any facts outwork or whatever, after the preamp it matters much more if there's nothing in the chain. Yeah, it doesn't, doesn't really matter that much. It's nice to have like cleaned up signals and it will, the rough mix will sound better immediately. So you could definitely get rid of stuff and it's not a bad idea to do that.

And if you're careful, but if you are using gear after the pre-amp, it's, it gets much more important because the compressor might grab. The signal had turn it down a couple of DB just because of some low rumble stuff that's going on that not, that doesn't really belong to the actual signal that you want to record.

And it totally changes the compressor's behavior. So 

Malcom: [00:35:45] the last thing I think we haven't talked about for inputs is the link button. Um, Oh, which only some interfaces half as well. Uh, but what that does is essentially it links a pair of, of [00:36:00] preamps together so that they can be controlled as if they're one.

Um, so the most common uses of this is something like drum overheads where you have to mix up the drum, um, or maybe like an X, Y pair of microphones on a guitar. But essentially when you have two microphones, but you kind of want them to be doing the same thing. Um, and they're probably placed in like the same place or in relation to the instrument that are like the same distance kind of thing.

And that just lets you grab one control and turn both of them up or down. Um, and all their other controls should link as well. So if you flip the polarity, it'll do it to both channels as well. So whenever you have like a pair of, of Mike's doing the same job, or they could be, you know, a left and a right out of a keyboard into it, where obviously if you flipped the polarity, you'd want to do it to both sides.

Benedikt: [00:36:50] Yeah, absolutely. And sometimes this control can be on the interface. Most of the time it will probably be in the software, the control software or the monitoring software. [00:37:00] After the interface. So it's often a digital digital control, but wherever it is, it just means one control for two channels. 

Malcom: [00:37:09] Yeah. All it does is makes work flow a little bit easier.

It's not necessary, uh, to use it if like, you can still use a pair of mics without, without that button, obviously, but it just kind of speeds up the process. 

Benedikt: [00:37:23] Sure. All right. Then, um, one more thing that I just, that just came to mind, but we have to, to say it is, by the way, uh, going back to the low cut real quick, a high pass and the low cut, all the same thing.

That's important to say because that's, that can be very confusing. And I remember myself like, um, I was, I was confused by that as well when I started out. So. It's the same thing. And if you think about it literally like it's app, it's logical and it's clear, but it's still confusing. So low cut, you cut the lows, high pass, you let the highest [00:38:00] pass through.

So it's the same thing. It's just two different terms for exactly the same thing. Um, yeah, it's a little weird why two of these terms exist, but on some interfaces it says low cut and others high pass, but it doesn't mean the same thing. 

Malcom: [00:38:14] Yeah. And same goes for a. For blow pass, you know, and, and high cut it.

It's the same thing. Yeah. It stops it. 

Benedikt: [00:38:22] Yeah. Okay. So then, uh, what else do we have? So, as I said, on my interface, there's no more switches. Basically, all I have left is, um, a mix. Control, and what that does on my interface is it lets me dial in a headphone mix or it lets me choose what I, what I'm hearing on my headphones.

And it lets me blend between, um, the input, like what, whatever comes into the mic or instrument or line inputs. And the doll. Um, it's so in my interface it says input and doll, [00:39:00] and that means whatever comes from my, from the computer, through my digital to analog converters and arrives at the interface. So I can monitor through the interface without going into the computer.

So I can do a hardware, um, monitoring. Which means no latency, which also means no effects and such the dry signal that I'm, um, hearing from the microphone. So I can use that or I can monitor through the computer, through the door, and he was going on there and I can blend between the two and many interfaces will give you that option.

And with some interfaces, there is not a blend control, but just the switch where you can choose direct monitoring or not. And I think. The most important thing here is just know that you have this option and don't use two things at once accidentally, because that's what many people do. Many people will switch on, like direct monitoring and also monitor through the doll, for [00:40:00] example.

And then they hear this weird delay and don't know why that is. Yeah. So they're hearing themselves twice, or it might sound like chorus or, um, phasor type of effect. And, um, so choose one. I don't know. Do you have a preference there? I honestly never really use the direct monitoring feature. I always monitor through the doll or the, at least the the software of my interface because I want to have, most of the time I want to hear compression or reverb or whatever on the monitoring.

Malcom: [00:40:28] Yeah. I'm the same way. I'm under three pro tools and that lets me use some plugins and stuff. As long as I. Keep an eye on the latency. Right. Um, so no real thoughts there, but some people, like if your computer can't handle monitoring through the door, I think it's probably necessary to use. Um, I, I, my old focus right Scarlet that I used to have, I think it was just like a little switch that said direct input monitoring.

Um, but it was kind of a pain to dial in. Uh, it's just easier on the doll for me. Sometimes though we should mention, like with my Apollo here, um, [00:41:00] the monitoring is controlled in the computer, not on the interface itself. Um, so they have like a direct monitoring kind of setup, but it's through a little software.

They include with their product, not it, there's no controls for it on the actual interface, the physical interface. 

Benedikt: [00:41:15] Okay. Yeah, but it's exactly the same thing. It, it's just digitally controlled. I think that if your computer can handle that, I would always monitor through the dot for the an even if you're not using compression or reverb or anything, or plugins while you're recording.

It just feels, it's just safer to me and it kinda makes me nervous not hearing what I actually record because there might be an error or something going on and you just don't notice it because you are listening to your, to what your pre-amp does on the interface, but not your listen. You don't listen to what the converters do, what the computer does.

So I always feel better if I hear it like off tape. What would be the term for that? So I'd like to hear the whole thing like as it's recorded. [00:42:00] Okay. 

Malcom: [00:42:01] There's one kind of to be the devil's advocate, I have noticed, and I was told about this as well, that with vocals, especially when there's any latency, it's more noticeable than like any other instrument.

Um, and the more latency you have with, so when you are monitoring through your dog, by the way, there's going to be probably some latency because just because of processing throughout the session. And normally it's like not very. Uh, like it's a very low amount and we can't really perceive it, but with a voice, because it comes from, uh, the kind of inside of you, it starts to kind of feel like your voice is coming from like right in front of your face instead.

And that kind of is a weird experience for singers who aren't used to that. Um, so I've been kind of starting to experiment with monitoring directly for vocals versus the Dar, but everything else, I just thrown the dog. Everybody does fine with it. Uh, but I'll, I'll keep you posted on how that turns out.

Right now I'm doing it actually, um, I'm listening to my voice from the director, um, input monitoring instead of my door, and it [00:43:00] feels great. 

Benedikt: [00:43:02] Yeah. And I'm listening to the di and I have like, I don't know, three milliseconds or whatever latency. 

Malcom: [00:43:08] Oh, that's pretty good. 

Benedikt: [00:43:09] That's good. Yeah. But, but still, it's different than no latency.

Right. So. Yeah. Yeah. So true. Okay. So we have that. So we have the sub sort of direct monitoring functionality that you probably have on a modern interface. Um, what else did you have like, so that's basically it for me. I have the volume. You've already said that I have a separate volume for phones. That's pretty obvious.

Don't need to explain that. Probably. So there's a, in addition to the outputs for the speakers, there's a phones output, headphones output, and it has a separate volume control. But it's pretty obvious that 

Malcom: [00:43:45] there is on mine. I don't think most of these have this, but it's one of the reasons I love this little box so much.

Um, on my monitoring side, I have a dim button, which just takes the overall level of your speakers and just drops it. Um, and you [00:44:00] can actually, in my, uh, kind of software controller, I can set what that level is drops to. Um, so that's really useful in the mixing and mastering world because you can just like do a little.

This and check at a different volume and our ears perceive, uh, like balances and frequencies differently at different volumes. So it's kind of a good little gut check to be like, okay, Oh, that's really loud. I couldn't tell when it was at full volume, but when I listened to it quietly, the, the bass is like 40 be too loud 

Benedikt: [00:44:28] kind of thing.

Malcom: [00:44:29] So that's super valuable to me. Uh, I never use it when I'm tracking though. So definitely not that necessary. Yeah. Do you ever, 

Benedikt: [00:44:39] yeah. 

Malcom: [00:44:40] Yeah. Sorry. Do you mean you look like you're going to say something? So I wanted to see if you use it when you're tracking. 

Benedikt: [00:44:44] Yeah, I do. Um, just for one reason, because the main benefit for me from a Dem switch is I don't have it on this little portable interface here, but at my studio I have it and on my monitor controller, and, um.

The main benefit here is to [00:45:00] me that most monitor controllers, unless they are digitally controlled or they have a switch instead of a pot of volume pot, um, they will. So every pot, no matter how, how, like no matter the quality, even the high end ones will. Have differences in the stereo image. When you turn them the volume down to very low volumes, like at some point at the very, very bottom, like very low volumes, one of the two channels will die earlier or will like the stereo image will not be the same anymore.

So you've noticed when you turn the interface down, that one speaker will suddenly get quieter than the other one. And sometimes I want to check things really, really, really, really quiet, even during tracking. So just when I listen back to what I just tracked and there just something, so for example, high end distortion, like symbols and stuff like that, I can only really hear that the subtle things in there when I listen really, really quietly.

And, um, when I do that with my, [00:46:00] I have a good monitor controller, but if I do that with the pot, if I turn the volume down, it just, the stereo image is not right anymore. So, but with the dim switch, I can do that. I can turn it down until it's so to a point where it's quiet, but still. Like everything's okay.

And then I hit the button and then it will go really, really quiet. But with the stereo image intact. So that's what I like to use it for. If you have a very expensive monitor controller with like switches instead of a pot, this doesn't happen. And if you have a digitally controlled one, it also doesn't happen.

But with the usual normal, um, monitor controllers have volume controls, this will be the case. 

Malcom: [00:46:40] Yeah. Yeah. I think it's probably something that even like the, you know, the lower quality or interface, the more that. Uh, kind of stereo image disjointing becomes apparent. My focus was scar that was not very good on that front.

It was like, Oh my God, this is not balanced. Not balanced. Not, but, okay, we're getting closer. But it's like, [00:47:00] it was pretty tragic. I mean, it's not going to stop you from making a good record, but might stop you from mixing one. 

Benedikt: [00:47:06] Yeah, exactly. So, yeah. Can be an useful thing. And if you're wondering what that does, that's all it does.

It's like a pad for the, um, monitor output, right? It just lowers. The, the output that goes to your speakers or headphones? Yes, 

Malcom: [00:47:21] yes. Um, and then I've also got another one that I really love is a mono button. Oh, yeah. Uh, so a mono button just sums what you're hearing to mano instead of stereos. Everything seems like it's coming up the middle.

Um, in a fact. It's just both speakers playing the same information. Um, but that is also really useful in, that makes you a master in realm because again, we will be able to kind of perceive things differently. It's also kind of like a listen check because a lot of people listen to music on mano devices, like phones and stuff like that.

Um, so you can kind of get an idea of what's going to happen when it is played back that way. You might notice that somethings are louder or [00:48:00] quieter. So really useful for that. Uh, it's also useful in tracking though, because I find it a lot easier to check phase. And polarity changes in mano. I don't really even know why that is, but it just, it just is.

It's like a tomato and then check the phase and it's just pretty obvious when what happens to the low end, especially. 

Benedikt: [00:48:22] Yeah, I agree too. Nothing more to add to this. If you have it, it's a great 

Malcom: [00:48:27] grade button. Not a lot of interfaces have it though, unfortunately. 

Benedikt: [00:48:30] Yeah, true, true. And I think it's, yeah, it's also more of a mixing thing, but as you said, it's true.

It's useful and tracking absolutely. Checking phase and it's in mano is great. And also arranging stuff so. When you are, when you are recording and you're wondering where, like when you're creating tones. Exactly. Especially when you are engineering tones and try to fit the guitar tone or whatever into the arrangement.

Moto can be useful because [00:49:00] in stereo you can kind of trick yourself a little bit because it might sound, you might be able to hear everything and it might sound like a good arrangement like frequency wise and everything. But when you hit motto and everything collapses to the middle, somethings might be, might be disappearing or be masked by other things.

And if you can still hear everything when, when it's in motto. Um, that's, uh, most of the time. That's a good, a good sign. And, um, yeah, so it's, it's helpful also for recording. Yeah. Yeah. There's a, 

Malcom: [00:49:31] I mean, there's people that mixes exclusively in mano, which I find just insane and unpleasant, but, but it, it's, there's definitely something to it.

You know, people are making a work, um. And, uh, the last thing I've got here for my controller is a talkback button. Uh, which can be really handy. Like for me, it's, it's essential. I would never have an interface without a talk-back system. Um. Oh, well, I mean, you can have an [00:50:00] external talk-back system, so it's not the end of the world.

And, and in a lot of cases, like my old place, you know, the guy was just tracking, singing right behind my head so I could just turn around and talk to him. But if you have a multi-room thing going on, it's so awesome to have a talk back button that you can just reach over and click, um, like while your other hands on the mouse still working away or whatever.

So, but that, yeah, self explanatory. Everybody knows what their talk button is, if they have one. 

Benedikt: [00:50:25] Yeah. There's just some, I don't know. You said you would, you always use it. I, for some reason, most of the time I've set up like separate talkback chains basically, or I use the separate talk by Mike and routed that.

To a channel just because, I don't know. I don't know. You set up, but if you're using multiple rooms, and that's probably not the case for many people recording at home, but if you're using multiple rooms, you might have a patch Bay and you might have a wall box or something in the other room where you might have a snake or a multi-core, some multi-core cable of some sort in [00:51:00] the other room and the talk back from your interface or your controller.

Might not have a separate output and it might not be routed through there to the other room and stuff. And so, so the headphones in the recording room might not be directly connected to the interface or the monitor controller. And if that's not the case, the talkback doesn't work. So the talkback is only if you can connect the headphones directly to the device with the talk back button, right?

Malcom: [00:51:27] Yes. Yeah, it, it works in my situation, but I see your point for sure. 

Benedikt: [00:51:33] Yeah, because I already, and I say that because when I was starting out in our rehearsal room, it was not a proper studio. It was a total DIY situation, but we had like two, two rooms and I just ran a snake, like a multi-core, um, cable that you would use for live applications, usually from, uh, the, the practice room to a corner in another room where my desk was, and I had my interface there.

But. With a talkback, but I [00:52:00] couldn't run like a  the whole headphone and monitoring thing and everything was different, and it was not directly on the monitor controller. So I never really used that talk back, but I just set up a different mic and put it, plugged it into a preamp and ran, ran the output of that preempt to the other room.

Right. Yeah. So, 

Malcom: [00:52:18] yeah, I mean, there's. There's a hundred ways you can, you can solve the talkback problem. For example, a studio that I, the studio I interned at has this big avid Digi command. Uh, like. Controller console kind of thing, and it's got an auto talk back in it. So as soon as you click stop record, like, and there's no recording going on, talk back turns on.

So you're just like seamlessly talking with the talent. As soon as you click record, it turns off. So you can, you know, talk to the producer on the couch without distracting the players as they try and lay down and take them. It's so awesome. But that's a luxury. 

Benedikt: [00:52:52] But, um, I have a. Very awesome tip here, and I have to just look it up 

[00:53:00] Malcom: [00:53:00] with, Oh, I know what you're talking about.

Benedikt: [00:53:02] Uh, I just totally forgot what the plugin is called. Automatic. Yes, yes, exactly. It's exactly what you just described. 

Malcom: [00:53:10] Yeah, yeah. It's a, so that's a plugin. It's a free plugin, by the way. Yeah. That you can download and you can just insert it on any channel in your dog and it'll link to your transport. So if you stop recording the, it turns, it opens up the channel and you can talk to, uh, the talent, and then when you click record, it'll kill any audio trying to pass through that chain.

Um, so it, it does exactly that and it's free. It's awesome. Uh, yeah, I'm just going to Google it real quick to make sure that we're calling out the right company sound Redux. Oh man. Yeah, it is sound. Reddix Muto medic. There you go. So free, downloadable, go grab it. 

Benedikt: [00:53:51] Super useful. So you can make it work the other way around so that it, um, is quiet when you are not recording and you only hear it.

When you are [00:54:00] recording. So that can also be useful if you're monitoring through the doll and you have, for example, a very compressed microphone in the, on the drums or whatever in the tracking room, and you only want to hear that when you're playing, but not, not in between, or I don't know, could be various things.

So you can set up this, this plugin both ways and it's just super useful. 

Malcom: [00:54:23] Yes. 

Benedikt: [00:54:23] Definitely. Okay. Um, so, but that's, that's a little off topic, but just wanted to, to give you guys though that. Um, alright, then basically that's, that's it for, for. Most of the common controls. I want to add to specific pretty specific things here though that are useful for you or can be useful for you.

And one is with many of these portable small interfaces, like the one that I use, it's the Steinberg, but that's the company that makes Cubase the recording [00:55:00] software and they also have interfaces and it's the, you are 22 MK too. Um, and it is bus powered. And so are the Scarlet interfaces and some other interfaces in that category.

And bus power, it means you don't need to use a power supply. You can just plug it to the USB of your computer and it will be, it will get, um, power from the computer. And that works. And it's also enough to power your microphones. Condenser microphones use the, the fandom power and everything. But, um. And they don't really tell you that, but I just found it out by accident, I think.

And then I just, I read about it. And it's true. Um, if you are using an interface bus powered, it has less headroom. The preempts have less headroom than if you use it with a power supply. And I noticed that when I was plugging in my base into the high C input and the guitar with active EMG pickups, and even with the gain all the way to the left, I was constantly clipping and it got pretty [00:56:00] frustrating.

And I didn't know why that was. And then I Googled it and I found that I should use a power supply, and I used the power supply and gone was the clipping. So right. The power you get from USP is just not enough to power the preamps properly, I guess, to, to handle high volumes. So whatever the technical background there is, we don't want to get into this, but just know that if you have issues with the headroom, if you're clipping, try using a power supply instead of bus powered.

Malcom: [00:56:31] I love when I learned new stuff on this podcast. 

Benedikt: [00:56:34] Yeah. And I see that in this episode because I have a control for that on the back of my interface where I can switch the power source between external and the USB bus part, and that totally changed the behavior of the interface. 

Malcom: [00:56:48] That was great. And for people confused by this dynamic rain or headroom is like the dynamic range you have, um, going into your interface.

So if you have less dynamic range, that means that you have a smaller [00:57:00] threshold of gain that can be inputted into the preamp without clipping occurring. So the more dynamic range and headroom, the 

Benedikt: [00:57:07] better. Sure. Exactly. So the second and the second and last thing here before we go to the controls and the microphone.

Is a ground lift switch that you might have on your dye box. And I don't know if there's one on interfaces. I haven't seen one, I think. But there is one on things like pre-amps for bass guitar on some, um, power amps, the eye boxes. I think the Kemper has one does, I'm 

Malcom: [00:57:38] not sure if he's got like four, sorry.

There's, there's a ground, a ground lift on each output of the campers. So there's like four different ground 

Benedikt: [00:57:46] campers. So, yeah. So, and what that does is, again, w we don't explain the technical details. You don't need to know that really. It's just too complicated. But, um, all you need to know is whenever you are.

Running [00:58:00] multiple electronic or electric devices. Like say you have a guitar amp and you have your interface preempt, whatever, and you plug the guitar amp into one power, uh, like, um, what's the word? Wall socket, whatever. Power outlet. And you plug the interface into another one. There could be hum issues, there could be issues with the ground.

And like you could, you could just hear hum and noise. And if that happens, try plugging. First of all, try plugging everything into the same outlet or use like a, some sort of power distribution that prevents you from getting that home in the first place. And if that's not possible, try using the ground lift switch because that often solves a problem.

And so basically whenever you hear him. Try both, both positions off that ground lift switch, and usually there's one that's better and you just use that. 

Malcom: [00:58:59] Yeah. [00:59:00] Yeah. Sometimes you have to do whatever it takes to get rid of hums, like running extension cable to the tracking room to get power. Um, cause if the DPI, like for example, if you're running a combo amp in a different room and you've got a DUI in that room as well, the DIA is going to be.

Attached to the power of your interface and your preamps and stuff like that, where the app is going to be plugged in in that other room, which might not work out. So that ground, that might be the solution. And if that doesn't work, run an extension cable in there. Got them on the same power. Um, do whatever it takes.

Benedikt: [00:59:32] Yeah. And one more thing here to add, because I've ran it, I run into this and it's also something I wasn't aware of. Some active die boxes you can power, like they are Phantom power. So you can, um, use them with either a battery or you can power them with the Phantom power from the interface, just as a condenser microphone.

But if you, and that's not for every I books and I don't know why [01:00:00] that is. For some, they have boxes and no, there's not, but someday I boxes, if you use the ground lift. The Phantom power doesn't work anymore. You have to use a battery then, because I guess, I don't know. I don't want to explain to you because it's probably wrong, but I just know that it's the case.

So with some the boxes, you cannot run them with Phantom power if you use the ground lift. So if you are using the ground lift and you're wondering why you don't get any signal, just try using a battery instead of the Phantom power. 

Malcom: [01:00:30] Good to know. Cause that would just drive me mad if I ever encountered it.

Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Um, 

Benedikt: [01:00:37] all right. So that's, that's it. Um, and then the last thing, 

Malcom: [01:00:41] one thing to add, this is a kind of the, it's totally unrelated actually, I'm going to be honest, but it's the kind of like, if you're worried about buzzing stuff and groundness this will apply to you. Dimmers in studios can cause.

Buzzing as well, like dimmer lights, switches. Um, [01:01:00] so if they, cause they essentially cut harmonics, the dimmers, right? So if you're having this weird crappy buzzing that you can't get rid of ground switches, whatever, tried turning off the lights, it'll probably help. Um, yeah. So I mean, people tracking in the dark all the time, but totally true.


Benedikt: [01:01:19] and bad. Um, power distribution. Um, like what's the, sometimes I just don't know the words you are, you're 

Malcom: [01:01:29] like faulty wiring. Like, I mean, the old houses with bad, like power routing and whatever. There could be a million cases. For example, I live on a farm studio down the road from me has a farm, and if there was an electric fence turned on on the property, my electric guitars will have a tic a periodic.

Yeah. All it's the worst. So I have to risk like animals escaping every time I record guitars. 

Benedikt: [01:01:56] That's good. That's cool. Um, [01:02:00] okay, so then let's move on to Mike's real quick and then wrap it up for this. A pretty technical, but I hope very helpful episode though. Um, because we have basically covered everything that you will find on a mix, because most Mike's have.

If they have switches at all, they will have, um, maybe a low cut or high pass, which is the same thing as we learned. Or they have a pad so that you can make microphones work for allowed sources. Many condenser microphones will have that because if you put it on up, if you use them as an overhead or in front of loud guitar amps, you might have to use the pad.

But microphones have sometimes have one more option. One more control. The interfaces typically don't have, and that is. I put, um, um, a polar pattern switch. 

Malcom: [01:02:48] So a lot of condenser microphones are multi pattern microphones where you can change the, um, kind of polar response of them. Uh, cardioid polar [01:03:00] pattern is like a kind of a circle facing you with an indent at the back.

And that is the most common. Um. Pull a pattern for a microphone. And essentially what these diagrams represent is what is getting picked up by the microphone and what is being rejected. And the kind of like triangle indent out. The back of the circle is the rejection access. So by changing your microphone's polar pattern to these different shapes, you can essentially change what that microphone is going to be, um, targeting or rejecting, which can be really useful, especially if you're recording like multi instruments.

Um, say a vocalist and a guitar. Uh, so someone's got an acoustic guitar and they're singing and you have to somehow, Mike. Both of those things. Well, trying to get as much isolation into those microphones as possible. These patterns that you get creative and attempt, things like that. Um, but they also just sound different as well.

Benedikt: [01:03:56] Yeah. The frequency response is different in. On [01:04:00] and off axis with a microphone. So, and you get differences in the proximity effect. So if you get closer to the mic, it's going to be more, basically, if you get, if you move away from the mic, you have less space. And I think that's not totally correct, but it's as a rule of thumb, the more directional a micro mic is, the more you have that proximity effect.

And with an omnidirectional Mack, you won't have it as much. Figure of eight, like as ribbon microphones have a very strong. Um, proximity effect on the directional, like measurement, microphones, something like that don't have a proximity effect at all. So that's the difference. And yeah, what's like bleed from the back of the microphone has like sounds differently than stuff that comes in from the front if you have a directional microphone.

So if you have, for example, a mic on the snare drum. Um, the higher head in the back of the mic will sound differently than if the mic would be pointing directly at the high hat. It's just a different sound. So yeah, it's just, [01:05:00] it's a control that lets you decide what the microphone picks up or is more, more sensitive to.

And if you have the option to change this stuff, it helps with, it gives you more like positioning options basically. Because if you're stuck with one. Parent. Well, that's it. And you have to position the mic in a way that works. But if it can switch it, you can do different things with it. Like, so you could use it to reject stuff you don't want to have in your recording or, um.

You could do, you could use it to grab stuff that's, uh, that's coming from another side, so you could use it to get more of the room sound, or if you want to capture something that's in the back of the microphone, for example, you can use a figure of eight. Again, I think we should do a, or we totally will do probably an episode on microphones and microphone placement and stuff like that.

And we can talk about that in more detail then, but basically, yeah. 

Malcom: [01:05:59] Yeah. I [01:06:00] think maybe we should touch on like the three most common like cardioid Omni and figure eight, just so people have a really basic understanding of what those are. Um, two cardioid is like 90% of microphones, let's say. Uh, a lot of them, uh, your SM 50 sevens and stuff like that are all cardioid as well.

Um, like are all dynamic microphones cardioid actually. 

Benedikt: [01:06:22] No. Nope. Definitely not. There is one. Most of them are, and I don't know if you have to do, like if it's difficult to make them not cardio to, I don't know, but I don't, I know that there are some that are not. For example, one of my favorite, um. Trash.

Mike's, I call them like you, you can, uh, you can throw the, like those type of mix that you could throw like in the center of the drum kit and compress really hard and stuff like that. There is a classic Sennheiser, uh, MD 21, I think it's called. So not the four 21, but just 21. And there [01:07:00] is a reissue of that.

I think I'm just Googling it if I'm correct. And that's a dynamic omnidirectional microphone. 

Malcom: [01:07:07] Cool. Very cool. 

Benedikt: [01:07:10] So, um, yeah, 

Malcom: [01:07:12] yeah. So, but cardioid is, is kind of most of them. And that is like your classic directional microphone. You pointed at the thing you want to record. Um, and they generally reject what they're not pointed out quite well, you know, so that makes them great on stage in live environments and just great in most cases, drum kits and stuff like that.

You know, you know, if you have a S and 57 stuffed up against the snare, it's probably not going to really get a bunch of times. Tom drums into it or anything like that, you know, so the great for that Omni hears all around it. So that would be the worst thing. In a lot of those situations, I just, uh, put out, but, you know, they're, they can be really cool.

Um, if you ever have seen like a bluegrass band or anything like that, or like you've seen, uh, Oprah were out though that George Clooney movie. Uh, they're all [01:08:00] singing around one microphone. That's an Omni microphone and it, it kinda hears everything around it. So, uh, it's really cool in those kinds of environments where you just want to like capture what's actually happening in the room.

Um, and then figure eight, it's actually one of my favorites. I love figuring out microphones. They here on the front and the back, but they reject the sides really, really well. Um, I find that they reject the best on like, but only where there re the rejection access is, they hear it at the front of the back really well.

Um. But like stuff like that can be so cool. Like if going back to having an acoustic guitar player and, uh, that who's also seeing him, if you got a finger, eight, a two figure eights and one's on the voice with the null point of the microphone, um, pointed out that guitar or, yeah, pointed out the guitar and then one on the guitar with the knob pointed at the voice.

You can get it. And amazingly isolated vocal with these two and isolated a guitar with these two microphones that, I don't know if you could do any [01:09:00] other way. So they have a place for sure. 

Benedikt: [01:09:02] Sure. I love pick Rhofade for that reason. Also, if you want to have, if you want to get a really wide. From image a figure of it.

Overheads are so cool for that reason because you can really pick up what's below that one of the microphones and the other side of the drum kit. You can recheck that really well. And if you then pan the two apart, it's going to result in a really, really wide, very detailed drum image. And um, yeah, love it.

But you have to be careful though, because you will pick up what's above the kids. So if you have an untreated wall, very close to the kid, it's. Gotta be catastrophe, but, um, uh, if you have a cloud up there or high ceilings, this can work really well. And I love ribbon. Mike's on drums for that reason.


Malcom: [01:09:47] Yeah. Yeah. They're, they're also my favorite room likes as well. They're, they're great for that kind of stuff. Yeah. Um, I, I feel like Benny, you might've even been the one that told me about this, but apparently, uh. The guys in the [01:10:00] Beatles got like a custom microphone made by Norman or something that was a figure eight, so that, um, they could sing together like w like face to face kind of thing.

And, and, and seeing, um, like looking into each other's eyes because that's how they got their vocals so tight was like, they were just like literally singing it together in the same room, like a foot apart from each other. 

Benedikt: [01:10:19] Oh, wow. No, it wasn't me. That was interesting to hear. 

Malcom: [01:10:23] Very interesting to hear. I would have been a nightmare to try and mix and balance them, but that's what I heard.

Benedikt: [01:10:29] Yeah. But yeah, again, if the performance is great and if you're recurring the Beatles, it's probably not that hard to balance them. 

Malcom: [01:10:37] So they probably did it themselves. 

Benedikt: [01:10:40] Yeah. Cool. Uh, so I think. That's all we need to know for now with with those, those polar patterns. I'm just thinking if there is any other switch that we might've forgotten, but I don't think so.

Mike's don't usually have more than, than these options and interfaces. We've covered pretty well [01:11:00] also. 

Malcom: [01:11:00] Yeah. We told the guy that there is sometimes like a tone switch, you know, um, like there's a sound Alexa, you one 95 microphone. They like that. I don't even know if it's meant to be modeling something or its own thing, but it's a beautiful mic and it's got like a fat switch, you know, which does a little low end shaping.

Um, so occasionally you'll find stuff like that, but. They're pretty, you know, self apparent to what they actually do. And they're uncommon as well. 

Benedikt: [01:11:26] Yeah, yeah, yeah. That, that tones, which reminds me of another thing that can happen, and I have that on my. A warm audio preempt that what I was talking about.

And then I know that there are in the cheaper preamps with the audience preempts, I think, and some others have that as well. You might have an impedance switch for the microphone. That could be something like a tone switch. It might copy called tone. But what it does is, um, because I think on my warm audio, it's called tone.

I'm not really sure, but I think, uh, and what it does is it changes the impedance. So, uh, there are microphones with higher and [01:12:00] lower impedances, and if you change the impedance on the preamp, it just changes the frequency response to the sound of the microphone. And you can use that creatively. So you can use a mismatch on purpose.

It doesn't really, it doesn't damage anything. It just sounds different or you can use it properly. Um, whatever sounds better. But it's, if you have that option there, just try it. It's like you can't do anything. You can't damage anything. Just right, because especially with ribbons or older microphones, they might have a different impedance than modern condenser microphones, for example.

And if your interface or preempt gives you that option, just try it out and you might get much more level, uh, or you might get a like a deep, more detailed, high end or whatever, just try it out. It completely changes the sound of your, of your microphone. Some even have like a variable impedance, like the.

The focus, right?  I think, I think they have a, an impedance control, not only two positions of [01:13:00] a switch, right. But it's all the same thing. It's just, yeah, you can match or like cause a mismatch of impedance, um, there. And it just changes the way you microphone sounds so. 

Malcom: [01:13:10] It's kind of like the polarity switch where it's just always worth clicking, you know, just to see what happens.

Benedikt: [01:13:15] Exactly. Exactly. Cool. Um, that's been great. I think we went longer than I wanted this to be, but it was, uh, I think we didn't say anything, um, like redundant or, I think it was, I hope it was helpful and if you want to learn more about these things or if we, if we totally missed something or if something's still not clear.

I have made a blog post and essentially a series of posts as kind of a, a resource to look up, things like that. And if you go to the self recording, band.com/audio terms explained, uh, you will find an article. And that article is called, what does the damn thing actually do and how does this all [01:14:00] work? And this article is basically.

Exactly about what we've been talking in this episode. It's also on the sidebar, on the right of most of my blog posts, and I have it there because in case somebody reads something and just doesn't know what I'm talking about in the article, you can just look up these things and it's basically a monster, a block post divided into six different posts, and you have, um, an index there.

You can search for things. Um, you have categories like general audio terms. Um, terms that belong to like the production process and all the phases you go through during this process. Uh, there's routing and processing microphones and micro sensories preempts converters, interfaces, cables, connectors, computers, software, audio files.

So all that stuff. Uh, it's basically like a glossary or something like that. And you, um. Yeah. So if you, whenever you come across a term or something on your gear that you just don't [01:15:00] understand, go to that article, a book market, go to that article and just look up what that means because it's probably in there.

And if not, let me know and I'll add it. Awesome. 

Malcom: [01:15:09] I'm going to check that out as well and see what stuff I got wrong today. 

Benedikt: [01:15:13] No, you are totally, totally right with everything you said. And yeah, it's, it's, it's, um, I don't know. Things like, these are. Sound boring if you hear the topic. But there's so important, and I think, I think we all, even if you're a little more experienced, we all from time to time, come across things that are confusing or that we just don't understand right away.

And, um, yeah, it's just, 

Malcom: [01:15:39] yeah, we're just talking to the worst thing. The worst thing about getting started in recording is having to do things twice because you screw something up, you know, you're like, okay, I'm going to spend an hour or a whole day recording the song, and then you look back at it and you're like, there's buzz through this entire guitar.

There's no getting rid of it. And if you just understood how [01:16:00] to use the ground lift or something like that, you know, you could solve these problems before they ruin your entire day's work. You'll be really glad that you spent the time  learning your gear. 

Benedikt: [01:16:10] Yeah. Also the insecurity, like I always like to just get the gear out of the way because gear is on the one hand.

Gear is fun. Of course we all love gear, but on the other hand. It. It kind of gets in the way of the creative process sometimes. And if you're constantly thinking of worrying about all the switches and if you might've made a mistake and you're not sure if you use that or not, and it kinds of, it's a distraction.

And if you can be confident and you just know what all the controls do, you know when to use what and you don't have to think about it at all, you just move on and document whatever you're doing, then you are in a much, much better place than constantly worrying and being insecure. 

Malcom: [01:16:48] Absolutely. Yeah. Well, I hope this was great guys, and thank you for listening as always.

Benedikt: [01:16:54] Thanks for listening. Bye. [01:17:00] .

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