Tech Tip:For the Love o' Mics: Understanding Microphones Part 4: FAQ's
What is a tube mic?
Tube microphones are condenser mics that use old-style vacuum-tube electronics instead of modern solid-state electronics. Condenser mics always require some sort of on-board amplifier/pattern converter and the older mics used tube amps. The old mics are prized for their warmth and depth. A number of reissues and new tube designs take advantage of this technology.
What is a figure-eight pattern good for?
Figure-eight patterns are great on electric guitars when you want to avoid some of the bassiness that characterizes close-up cardioid mics. They're also excellent when you're looking for a little "air" in the recording without losing the power and presence of a close mic. Try an AKG 414 set for figure-eight, and use the on-board pad if you're playing loud. Figure-eights are also great on brass and woodwinds.
Why not just use condensers all the time?
Variety is the spice of life where mics are concerned, and while condensers tend to be more sensitive and detailed, they can sometimes lack the body and physicality of other mic types. Their high sensitivity can make them unsuitable for some loud instruments, and they are very touchy around wind. If your kick drum or woofers are moving a lot of air, or if you're trying to record brass instruments close up (honestly I don't know why you would, but people do), condensers will "splatter," crapping out in a way that sounds pretty much like farting. A wind or pop filter will usually solve the problem but at the expense of transient response and brilliance. Sometimes a dynamic mic is the only way.
Copyright 2000 Douglas B. Henderson