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A Guide To Multi-miking | Audio Examples

Hear For Yourself! By Mike Senior
Published February 2024

These 10 audio files accompany my Multi-miking article, published in SOS February 2024.

Download the ZIP file for high resolution 24-bit WAV versions you can import into a DAW session and assess.

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Here's an example of a project-studio drum overhead recording. You can hear that the snare is quite dull-sounding compared with the hi-hat, so a sensible answer to the question 'what does the snare sound need?' would be 'more brightness'.


Unfortunately, the only snare close mic that was provided to supplement the overhead mics in the previous audio file was this dull and characterless over-snare mic. A brighter, noiser under-snare close mic would probably have been a lot more likely to provide what the snare sound in the overhead mics was missing.


Here's one of the acoustic guitar multi-mic recordings from my Mix Rescue remix in SOS March 2011 -- a large-diaphragm condenser. It's in a pretty nasty-sounding position right in front of the instrument's soundhole, where the sound is muddied by the boom of the instrument's main air resonance and also blighted by exaggerated picking noise.


The second multi-mic on that same acoustic guitar is a dynamic model, but has been placed right alongside the large-diaphragm condenser where it gives a very similar sound with much the same muddiness and pick-noise problems. So not only do neither of these mics sound very appealing in their own right, but they also provide almost no scope to adjust the guitar sound in the mix because they sound so similar to each other.


For this example I'm recording an electric guitar cab with two mics: a Shure SM57 dynamic and a Shure KSM137 condenser. I've polarity inverted one of the signals and am gradually moving one of the mics relative to the other as the file progresses to demonstrate how their phase-alignment affects the sound. The sound is weakest around the 20-second mark, indicating the optimum phase-alignment of the mics at that moment.


Here's the same recording I showcased in the previous example, but this time without one of the mics polarity inverted. Again, the best phase alignment (and therefore the clearest tone) is at around the 20-second mark, but the point of best phase-alignment isn't as obvious, which is why the polarity-inversion trick is useful.


In the following audio files, I'm going to demonstrate how polarity switching helps with building up a multi-miked electric guitar sound. First let's listen to each of the three multi-mics on its own. This is an AKG C414B-XLS large-diaphragm condenser mic in hypercardioid mode placed around 90cm away from the cabinet. I like the brightness and aggression of this mic, so I'm planning to use this as the basis of the final sound.


The second multi-mic is a Shure SM57 cardioid dynamic mic roughly 40cm from the speaker cone and slightly off axis. This mic has a sense of 'growl' in the midrange that I want to mix in.


Here's the third multi-mic, an Electrovoice RE20 cardioid dynamic mic, placed well off-axis to the speaker cone about 60cm away, so that it provides lots of warmth in the lower midrange. Notice that all three of these mics sound quite different, so they give me plenty of scope to sculpt the final mixed guitar tone.


Here I've mixed in a bit of the SM57 with the C414, but rather than adding the 'growl' I'd hoped, it actually seems to make the sound tinnier, which isn't what I wanted.


In response to the underwhelming sound of the previous example, I've decide to invert the polarity of the SM57, which gives a much more appealing combined sound, but also thins out the low end a little too much for my taste.


In order to fill out the low end, I've tried mixing in a bit of that warm-sounding RE20, but again this doesn't give the result I was hoping for -- if anything, it makes things sound even thinner!


Inverting the polarity of the RE20, however, fills out the low end as I'd hoped it would, giving me a final sound I'm happy with. Now, I don't know if you like this sound yourself, but that's not the real point of these examples. The main takeaway here is how important it is to experiment with your channel polarity switches when creating any multi-miked sound, because I think we can all agree they made a big difference in this case!