Studio microphones and high quality live microphones cost quite a bit of money, and logically, one should protect that investment. Even so, many home studio owners and even some professional microphone enthusiasts mishandle and regularly risk damage to their microphones, often without knowing the dangers that their expensive equipment is exposed to.
Here are four bad habits that can ruin a high end microphone–simple, avoidable mistakes that could cost you quite a bit of money.
1. Leaving microphones plugged in, or keeping the batteries in, when they’re not in use. It’s generally considered good microphone maintenance to remove batteries and unplug microphones, because otherwise the contacts can begin to get dirty. There’s also a line of thinking that if you don’t need to send electricity through a microphone, you shouldn’t–while condenser mics are designed to receive an electrical signal, it’s assumed in their manufacture that they won’t be receiving steady electric power for long periods of time.
2. Letting XLR cords remain unorganized. Make sure that XLR cords lead directly to a microphone, and immediately untangle any knots that occur. Otherwise, you’re practically inviting someone to trip over the XLR cord, which may damage your friends as well as your microphones–all it takes is a good fall to break a microphone, especially when dealing with high quality condenser mics. Also, don’t let performers handle microphones by a dangling XLR cord in live environments, as it will certainly damage the mic.
3. Keeping the microphone in a humid environment. Humidity can rust microphones, and at low temperatures it can turn to ice, irreparably damaging key components of the microphone and forever degrading or ruining the sound of your expensive mic. Keep your microphone in a fairly dry place, and invest in a dehumidifier if your house has humidity problems. Try to avoid keeping your microphones in a basement.
4. Tapping the microphone to check whether it’s on. That’s a hard percussive sound; this isn’t Rock Band on the Xbox, and your microphone isn’t a percussion instrument. Take care not to tap any microphone, especially condenser microphones, and instead, test a microphone by talking into it–preferably, at a low volume, since you don’t know whether the microphone is on or how loud it is! If you see any of your band members tapping a microphone, let them know that they’re decreasing the lifespan of the mic.
Do you know of any other bad habits that can damage or break a microphone? What do you do to ensure proper microphone maintenance? Post in our comments section below.