Proper recordings with a cardioid microphone: The Shure SM57 LC

We all started out as little kids with cheap toy-like cassette players with a plastic-mic attached to the toy

that had a recording function for the cassette. Later on, we progressed to mobile phones, which in some cases could even record!

The quality was quite bad though and you couldn’t just plug your mobile phone to your PC.

Even then you might have had only a mono file in bad quality with a low bitrate and a very low Hertz rate.

All in all a cheap recording, therefore.

Let’s say you buy a mic. You have no idea what is what and you just buy a mic. You record with it and

find out that it’s recording a little bit of your instrument and ALL of the surroundings as well.

You wonder what has gone wrong with your decision, and here’s the answer to that:

A cardioid microphone!

Shure SM57 Cardioid Microphone
Shure SM57 Cardioid Microphone in usage

First of all: There are 4 types of microphones out there. Figure 8, Omni, Super Cardioid and Cardioid.

Today we will focus on the cardioid side of microphones.

It should be mentioned that these types of microphones are a standard as a studio recording mic and they’re accounted

as professional gear. It works in a close range and a tight angle. You might wonder: “How can I filter out background noise?”

Well, the answer is you start with the right recording hardware and finish with slight software approvements.

Cardioid mics were build to pick up sounds in front of them and not behind

Not an all-around tool:

It is specifically used for vocals or when you record your guitar amp. It is not a must. You can “misuse” it of course for other

sounds, like recording animals at a close range or weird feedback noise live improvisations, but who would do something like that. Am I right? 😉

If you consider doing a lot of vocals, this is the tool for you.

Excerpt from Wikipedia and fun trivia to know:” It is used extensively in amplified music and has been used for speeches by every U.S. president since its introduction in 1965.”

You won’t record feedback in your room if you’re in a room with bad acoustics and it is also known as a solid and steady companion in regards to recording drums.

I wish somebody would’ve told me that these kinds of mics have existed for over 60 years now.

I love my mobile mic, but a lot of recordings are puzzled down to this factor that you don’t have any background noise that modulates your recording session in a negative way.

Not just limited for music or politics…

The more you work with audio, the more you realize that audio surrounds you every time.

If you’re on a tight budget, these kinds of mics are definitely for you.

Instead of fixing your walls and ceiling and ground with expensive styrofoam with or without

measuring, you need a quick, cheap, effective and immediate workaround.

If you’re a streamer you can use it for your voice-overs or if you’re into editing videos you

can overdub ’em quite well. Don’t forget that you need a pop filter when speaking into a mic.

That is a general rule of thumb for every kind of mic.

Noise reduction, one of the most important aspects…

… when it comes to music or film production. Unless you want to use background noise for aesthetical

reasons on a VHS-like movie or song for a vaporwave-like vibe you prefer lo-fi sound and quality

to give everything an authentic feel. But consider that you always can take a high-quality recording

of everything, put it through a lot of effects and you get a retro vibe while you’re limited in your style

if all your equipment is lo-fi.

I’m not a rapper or singer, but…

once you got the same tools as these guys, you want to try out their style, act out in their territory.

If you would’ve asked me in the past if I would ever consider focussing more on my vocal side, I would

have laughed at you. Now, look where we are today. A lot has changed.

You get a certain urge to use some gear more than others.

I am constantly busy thinking about new lyrics for my new rap track, even though I’m not that much into

rap, nor did I calculate the capacities that it takes to make a proper track in that kind of genre.

Still possible to record with lo-fi mics:

In today’s age of time, it is easier than ever to get huge success with very cheap hardware.

As years-long music hardware and software (ab)user though I think it is nice to have such

a back-up plan.

Imagine you recorded all your songs with your iPhone headphone mic and now you got your first

gig. They want you to perform live. You need a mic like the Shure SM57 LC so the mixer knows

how he has to worsen your voice to sound like an iPhone headphone mic while still seeing and

knowing the frequencies the mic is capable of in real-time.

If you’d do it with your cheap mic some frequencies might be hidden and it not visible

comprehensible how and why the cheap mic is acting the way it is acting.

Somebody goes deaf or experiences hearing loss and somebody might even sue you then.

To keep a full look over the situation you need something that professionals have worked with.

I wish I wouldn’t have to pay for any music gear, but you know that somebody else has to make

a living producing those products and they also won’t do it for free.

So we come to a final conclusion like most of the times:

Do you need it? Yes? Then buy it. If you find no real use to it, you might want to wait

or save up for some other great gear that it out there.

Remember Black metal artist Burzum record one of his first albums completely by

his own using a cheap children’s toy headset. So that is the other side of the grass.

As always. Thanks for reading and I hope I could teach you something about proper mics and when to use ’em.

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