If you're feeling crafty, find out how you can make a DIY microphone in your home or studio. This way you can ensure the microphone will sound the way you want while on a budget.Hot right now
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By Gemtracks StaffMay 8th, 2023
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For many artistic endeavours with film-making, recording podcasts, and recording music, the audio is fundamental. In today's world, your phone usually has a good enough microphone to record your needs. However, sometimes you need different microphones for different results. Unless you have studied audio, you probably won't even know where to start.
What Are Your Intentions?
Without a doubt, if you don't know exactly what kind of sound your project requires, you will not know what kind of audio is required and in turn, what kind of microphone is needed. You can make or buy all the high end microphones you want and still have inadequate results. This is because the environment doesn't match the microphone as well as other factors.
The Different Kinds of Microphones
When you have figured out what you are going to be recording, you can decide which of the two main types of microphone you should use. There are many other types and kinds of microphones as well but most of the time you will use these two main types. Most of the other types are the ones that can cost up to thousands of dollars.
The first of the two main types of microphone is called a dynamic microphone. These are the kinds of microphones that do the best in noisy environments. Comedians use dynamic microphones and talk-shows and interviews for TV usually use these as well. The dynamic microphone is usually hand-held.
Inside the dynamic microphone is a magnet and coil that receives vibratory wavelengths and energy. The waves that pass through the internal coil are then transformed into a recordable signal of an electric quality.
The second most used type of microphone is called the condenser microphone. The condenser microphone operates differently from the dynamic microphone in the sense it doesn't use magnets and coils. Condenser microphones use capacitor plates. One of the main differences this breeds between the two microphones is that the condenser is more sensitive to lesser vibrations than the dynamic microphone is.
Obviously, dynamic and condenser microphones have different purposes and capabilities. One such difference is condenser microphones aren't good for bass drums and things like that. The condenser is more suited to intimate settings and requirements.
As its name implies, condenser microphones are more static than dynamic microphones. The reason for this is the internal structure of the two. Magnets and a coil are more durable than the plates.
Microphone Pickup Patterns
Most microphones are easy to use. Pointing a microphone at what you want to record is basically the idea. There are, however, many different ways to change what the microphone picks up without altering the direction they are pointed in. These many different ways are called pickup patterns.
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Some microphones allow you to change the pattern and some don't. The ones that don't usually have a pattern called cardioid. This is due to the fact this pattern picks up a lot of what is in the front of the microphone while the vibrations from the back are not picked up. This is why stage singers use these microphones.
The three main pickup patterns are: Unidirectional, Bidirectional, and Omnidirectional (One direction, two directions, and multiple directions respectively).
Mod Kits For Microphones (And Parts)
There are many do-it-yourself microphone kits available for purchase. These are sometimes more cost-effective and the better choice in long run.
DIY Help With Microphones for NewbiesIf you could fabricate a bunch of studio gear by yourself or with the help of friends, it would save you a lot of money and make you feel pretty good too.
Like most of the things we want to do, we don't have enough time as we would like to have for them. Luckily, there are many kits and time-savers available to us so we don't have to start from complete scratch.
One of the Biggest Barriers to DIY Microphones
Soldering seems daunting to most people when they learn they need to learn how to do it to be able to make your own microphone(s). There are a few soldering starter kits out there for those who have no experience. Soldering isn't hard to learn. Like everything, it just takes time to get the hang of it.
In a nutshell, a microphone is an EQ machine. If you noticed that all of your microphones sound the same, chances are you're not doing something right.
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Each microphone DIY kit comes with everything you need to make a microphone. You will get a mic body, all the necessary components and PCBs of your choice. You also will probably receive a large-diaphragm that you choose as well.
Circuit Replacement Kits
With a circuit replacement kit, you can transmutate a cheap mic into one of quality. This little DIY project is inexpensive and good for gaining experience.
Why DIY Audio/Microphones?
When you build your own audio equipment, you are utilizing one of the best ways to accumulate audio gear. The scale of personalization that comes with DIY is a plus for sure. DIY microphones cost about 10% as much as buying microphones does.
DIY Fundamental Microphone Materials and Tools
It is recommended you have a few basic materials and tools in order to be able to perform DIY tasks. The first thing you will need is a soldering gun. You will also need a solder sucker and some special clippers. There are even soldering stations available online and in stores.
Learning How to Solder
It is not a good idea to learn how to solder on an expensive piece of equipment. There are kits available to buy at low costs to be able to learn how to solder. Soldering is an essential skill in DIY microphones.
Getting Your Feet Wet
You can move on to DIYs after you have learned and mastered the basics of using a soldering gun. Start slow and remain steady as you learn and apply your new skills.
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One of the best first DIY projects is to install a capsule into any inexpensive microphone. This task requires you to solder no more than three wires. This should take you about twenty minutes to perform. Your knowledge and success is fully mirrored in how the microphone sounds after you modify it.
You have to crawl before you can walk. In DIY microphones, this principle is the same.
When and Why DIY Microphones are a Good Idea
If you have the patience and desire to learn how to fabricate a microphone by yourself, you will get premium components and save a lot of money in the process. Customization alone is probably the best reason for DIY microphones. You can build what you want to if you know to do it and specific needs will be met.
This is one of the best jumping-off points for beginners who want a DIY microphone project.
Step One: Acquire a woofer from an old speaker.
Some woofers are more useful than others. For this project, the most useful woofers are the bass ones. These can be found in low, mid, and high speaker towers. You can essentially reverse engineer speakers into DIY projects.
The big speaker towers are generally outdated and this makes them a cheap way to learn how to make your own microphones. These speaker towers can even be found on the street during spring clean-up.
Bigger woofers are better targets to aim for. A foot in width is ideal for this DIY project. Smaller ones would work too if you are in a pinch.
Remove the woofer from the speaker. When it's out, two wires will show themselves that are attached to the cone. The wires will probably be black and red. Where the wires are attached to the inside of the speaker housing, cut them. Try not to cut anything inside of either wire. Use a knife to shave off the exterior coating of the wires about half of an inch.
Once this is complete, the low-frequency mic's diaphragm will be acquired. Keep any screws you need to remove in the process of removing the cone from the speaker box.
Step Two: The next step is attaching a mic cable to your newly detached speaker.
Take the screw out of the femine part of the mic cable. Three terminals (soldered) will be shown after the casing is off. Out of the three wires showing that are attached to the terminals, the three colours are usually black, white, and grey (grey is the wire that is the grounder). We won't need to deal with the ground wire for this DIY project. Carefully cut the wires and remove them from the terminals. Always leave about an inch and a half exposed on the white and black wires.
Once this is finished you are ready to attach the black and white wires. You join the black wire from both the mic cable and the speaker cable. Next, you join the red speaker wire with the white cable wire. After you have conjoined all of the wires, you need to use something to keep the wires together and keep them from touching anything else. Electrical tape is very useful for this part of the task.
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Step Three: Test Your New Microphone
It is pointless to perform any more modifications to your mic if you have not yet tested it to see if it even works. The best way to test your mic is by plugging it into a mixing board. Point the mic at low-end things such as bass guitars and bass kick drums. If you hear what you are pointing at the mic with without any buzz or harsh noise, you have successfully completed the first two steps. Now, all you have to do is insulate those wires with another layer of electrical tape.
Step Four: Now it's time to create a box and/or frame so your new microphone can stay vertical.
It would be very inconvenient for you to constantly hold your mic in the direction it needs to be.
There are many creative and simple ways to fabricate a stand for your mic so you don't have to hold it. All you really need is some scrap wood and screws to build yourself a worthy mic stand.
Whatever you do, make sure you do not harm the speaker or the wires in any way. You will possibly have to start all over and find old speakers and the like again.
Make sure you build your mic stand as good as possible. You can't be too secure because your mic is your baby and is fragile. You should be able to jump on your mic box and it holds you up (as in live show circumstances).
If you are really good with tools you can use a saw and remove the original mount the speaker came with from the tower.
Step Five: Use and Record your new and free microphone.
This DIY project microphone has three main pros that store bought mics don't have. One advantage is that the 12" diameter responds a lot more to low-end wavelengths. The second advantage is that because this is a low-mic, the treble goes almost unnoticed by it. This is very useful when you want to drown out high-end sounds like cymbals. The last main advantage your DIY speaker has is its ability to be very close to the sound source without sounding horrible and crackling out. This is because the natural input of the gain is small.
The Only Downside to Your New Microphone
Really, there is only one downside to your DIY microphone. This would be the fragility of the speaker and its cone. If you are not using the mic, you need to store it in a safe place where it will not be in contact with anything or anyone. It would be sad to have your hard work and pride be ruined by an accident.
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