Inside the Box: Microphone and Preamp Modeling

Inside the Box: Microphone and Preamp Modeling

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This month’s theme, instrument miking, may seem to be entirely an outside-the-box topic, but even this last bastion of the analog domain—microphones and mic preamps—has been incorporated into the virtual studio world! Of course, you’ll still need a physical microphone and mic preamp. Still, if you can’t afford a mic closet full of the best classic mics and hardware, thanks to the miracle of modeling technology there are virtual options available.

Advances in circuit modeling now do a very effective job emulating the sound and response of analog EQs, compressors, guitar amps, effects, and even magnetic tape and tubes. Until recently, microphones (and to an extent, mic preamps) were another matter. With a microphone, you need to consider its frequency response both on and off axis, its transient response, harmonics, and proximity effect. There is also the interaction between the mic’s output impedance and the mic pre’s input impedance. All these things subtly (or not so subtly) color the tone and character of the mic.