With the current world where there are literally thousands of mics to choose from, how do you make up your mind?
One way is to follow the path of others. Anyone in the live sound field has used a Shure SM58 and SM57, the two most popular mics in the history of live audio. What made these mics so popular? I would suggest that it was a balance of price, marketing, availability, consistency and sound quality. Neither the SM58 or SM57 are considered “great” mics but they are still used by artists that can afford the best.
How does one make wise decisions about which mic to use on which instrument / voice?
For me personally, I make my choices based on:
A. what is available to me
B. what is most important
C. what someone else has asked for
D. what I own personally
My general thinking is that IF I have a PA system that has been well conceived and then installed and processed, I have a system with a flat frequency response. If so, if I have a mic / mics that are also flat in frequency response, most of my work has been done for me.
Most mics aren’t flat. Many mics have peaks in their response that I consider unacceptable. This would include the Shure SM57 and SM58.
A flat frequency response compared with what? While I own and use other mics, Earthworks mics (in general) are incredibly flat compared with 99% of the other mics available. Consequently, I use Earthworks mics for most of what I do. The one downside to Earthworks mics is that they are expensive when compared to mics like the Shure SM58 and SM57. Most people don’t plan on spending $750 for a mic much less that much for a whole stage full of mics.
So I look for affordable mics that still have a relatively flat frequency response.
A few favorites include the AKG 535, Sennheiser E604 (for drums, percussion, brass, etc…)