Many electronic goods with moving parts can benefit from a break-in.
Gadgets, such as headphones and speakers, tend to bring out their best sound after long hours of use, as the diaphragms are better stretched.
Can the same concept be applied to microphones that use similar components?
Here’s If Microphones Need To Be Broken In:
Most microphones don’t need to be broken in because they come ready to operate from the manufacturer. But breaking in microphones can be a case-to-case basis, as some people say you don’t need to, while others say it’s necessary. It would be best to look at user feedback from the microphone brand.
Do Microphones Have A “BURN IN” Period Like Speakers?
Many argue that microphones have a burn-in or break-in period for optimal sound quality. Microphones also have moving parts that pick up the sound, like headphones and speakers.
But, unlike headphones and speakers that you can break in by playing sound continuously, it will be hard to break in microphones by talking repeatedly.
Many point out that breaking in microphones is unnecessary. You don’t need to do it, but you can somehow get things “stretched” by testing it while you set it up. Try looking for the sweet spot or where it sounds best based on your usage.
Using it while sitting down, you can test different angles and heights to get the microphone going.
That said, breaking in is optional, and you should get decent performance out of the box and better sounds once you get the proper position or the sweet spot.
Read our article about do hot & cold temperatures damage microphones?
Do Microphones Deliver Top Performance From Day One?
You don’t necessarily get the top performance of a microphone right from the start, especially when it’s your first time using a particular microphone. It would be best if you found the right spot to get it to sound right. Especially for condenser microphones, a specific side needs to be facing the mouth or sound source to get a good pickup.
Once you get the proper position for your microphone, it will be easier for them to get a good sound.
Can Microphones Get Better Over Time?
Microphones wear out over time with use. There will come a time when the microphone will need some maintenance to run smoothly. At some point, you may even need to replace some parts.
But if a microphone is well-built, it will last you. It might not sound better through time, but it will withstand abuse. The best microphones last decades of use and still sound like they should.
Do New Microphones Need Special Care?
All new microphones need special care.
All microphones need the care to last longer.
Now, if there’s anything you should not do is that you should not tap on the microphone to test if it works. Tapping causes unnecessary pops on your speaker, damaging them in the long run.
Instead, try speaking random words and include words with plosives or those that tend to make popping sounds. These include words that have the letter B and P in them. Also, you might want to check how it handles the letter S, which can be problematic for specific microphone models.
The letter S sometimes creates hissing, so it would help if you did that test.
How Do You Prepare A New Microphone For Top Performance?
You might have the dream microphone you want, but you won’t get the best results if you don’t set it up correctly. That means setting up the microphone based on the user and giving importance to the actual room where you will use it.
For the most part, if you will only use the microphone for video calls, you don’t have to make any significant adjustments.
But for those who want to use the microphone for content creation or even streaming. While there are plenty of tricks and tips to help you get the best sound, let’s look at the two essentials: microphone placement and room treatment.
Check Microphone Placement
Microphone placement is the first thing to consider. Not all microphones behave the same, so you need to find their sweet spot. If you’re using a microphone that comes with gaming headphones, there’s not much adjustment.
But for, microphones, such as USB microphones or any other microphone used for content creation. So, what is the proper position?
Well, it depends on the microphone you’re using.
The most common microphones consumers buy are either condenser or dynamic. You’d even have a ribbon microphone if you’re in the professional recording industry. But for beginners, let’s look into condenser and dynamics:
- Dynamic microphones are relatively straightforward in position. Often, you’d be speaking, or even singing, towards the top of the microphone if it were in a standing position. After which, you need to get the proper distance. You need not speak too close to the microphone. To help you find the proper distance, try speaking at different lengths, and with the volume control on your computer or mixing console, find the closest distance that doesn’t distort, which is below the red in the volume meter.
- When it comes to condenser microphones, the same can be said, except that some condensers have a different polar pattern. Polar patterns refer to how the microphone picks up the sound. You may check the manual of your microphone, and sometimes, there’s a switch to alter the pattern. Once you find the spot where to speak, you can adjust the speaker’s height and distance. Note that condenser microphones tend to be extra sensitive, so you may have to back off. Lastly, don’t forget to turn on the phantom power using a condenser microphone. USB condensers do not have this, so you can skip them using a USB version.
Setting up room treatment
If you’re seriously bent on making content that sounds good, you should look into treating your room acoustically. You need not spend a fortune on soundproofing the room to remove any reverberation.
You can use everyday household items, such as blankets and heavy curtains.
While these work better for podcasters, this solution might not work best for video makers unless you don’t mind the eyesore or can keep them out of sight from your cameras. Remember that the microphone picks up the room ambiance when you use it for your videos.
The most common material used for room treatment is acoustic panels. You can buy them pre-made, or if you’re skilled with power tools, you can make them from scratch using wood and heavy blankets or towels.
The idea is to make them think enough to absorb frequencies and remove any echoes.
You can also opt for acoustic foam as an alternative, but they don’t diffuse sound that well. Nonetheless, it is still a good starting point.
Can you enhance a microphone’s sound?
You can enhance a microphone’s sound during the actual recording or editing.
A common way of enhancing microphones that record straight to a computer is through plugins. Using a USB soundcard, such as the Presonus Audiobox or the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, these soundcards have built-in microphone preamps that help you improve the sound. Particularly the 2i2, this soundcard has an air switch that changes the sound property.
Check also our guide to ASMR microphones and how they work. They’re very sensitive.
Do any parts need replacement in microphones?
Like any other electronic device, microphones have parts that wear out. The most common that needs replacement would be the cable, and the windscreen, if any.
If you’re using a ribbon microphone, the ribbon inside wears out. These need replacement after a few years, mainly when used regularly.
Read our blog about where are the microphones in my car?
How long do microphones last?
When properly taken care of, microphones can last you a long time. They can even last a lifetime if they are not abused. That said, buying a good microphone from the start is a good investment if you want something that can last for years.
Microphones should sound decent, at the very least out of the box. While you need to make some adjustments when positioning it, once you get the sweet spot, you can maximize the microphone in your content.
- CIE: Top 10 Tips for voice clarity and microphone skills in presentations
- Courvo: What’s the Life-Span of a Microphone?