Gear Stories With Sylvia Massy

Jan 1, 2010 12:00 PM, By Sylvia Massy



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Handheld condenser mics were mainly developed for live performance applications, yet they are fantastic additions to a recording studio's collection. Today, there are many options for crystal-clear vocal recording with handheld condensers. I am most impressed with Audio-Technica's AE3300, the handheld version of its AT4033, a popular mid-priced vocal mic in many commercial studios. The AE3300 has an extra level of warmth on a male vocal and it adds a measure of depth on a female vocal without sacrificing the clean top of a good studio condenser.

AKG also currently has two excellent handheld condensers, the C5 and the D5. And although not really meant to be handheld, AKG's C 1000 is a good, relatively inexpensive condenser that's powered by a 9-volt battery with an on/off switch. The main complaint about it is the mic battery always seems to be dead because someone always leaves the switch on. Hmpf! Luckily, it runs on phantom power, too. I've heard how well a pair of these C 1000s do as overhead mics on drums, especially when the drummer is hi-hat- and cymbal-happy, because they are a little bit darker than other condensers. They also do well on acoustic guitars, in pairs or solo.

My AKG C 1000 is still as decent as ever today, even with all the scars and war wounds from its intense studio history. It wasn't my first choice, but it is vastly more important to give the singer what he needs to give you that blistering vocal performance.

Sylvia Massy is the unconventional producer and engineer of artists including Tool, System of a Down, Johnny Cash, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Petty and Prince. She is a member of the NARAS P&E Wing Steering Committee and Advisory Boards, and is a resident producer at RadioStar Studios in Weed, Calif.

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