Are you a musician or singer who loves to perform but hates having to lug around bulky equipment? If so, you’ll love pencil microphones! These tiny microphones are perfect for use in various situations and are easy to transport and set up.
In this post, we’ll explain what a pencil microphone is, how they work, and the advantages of using it over other types of microphones in the market. You’ll learn why size doesn’t matter in the world of pencil microphones! So if you’re ready to discover this unique microphone, grab a pencil and get ready to take notes. Let’s go!
What is a pencil microphone? The cylindrical, long, and skinny design of a pencil microphone is what inspired the name. These mics are small-diaphragm condenser mics, often called recording microphones, despite their wide range of potential applications.
What are pencil microphones?
Pencil microphones are also known as “pencil condenser microphones” or “pencil mics.” It is a type of small-diaphragm condenser microphone that typically has a long, thin cylindrical shape resembling a pencil.
These microphones are popular for recording acoustic instruments such as guitars, drums, and pianos, as well as for capturing natural sound effects in film and television production. Due to their compact size and unobtrusive design, they are also commonly used in live sound reinforcement applications, such as for overhead drum miking or for capturing ambient room sound.
Pencil microphones are highly sensitive and have a very flat frequency response, which makes them well-suited for capturing subtle nuances in sound. They also typically have a cardioid polar pattern, which means they are more sensitive to sound coming from the front of the microphone and less sensitive to sound from the sides and rear.
Shure SM7B Dynamic Vocal Microphone
Shure SM7B Dynamic Vocal Microphone
How are pencil microphones used?
There is a wide variety of uses for pencil microphones. Here are some of the most typical applications for pencil mics.
1. Pencil mics in stereo-miking setups
When using a stereo miking setup, pencil microphones are a fantastic option. This is notably the case with coincident and near-coincident couples.
Mics with the size and shape of a pencil have very tiny diaphragms. This is ideal for coincident and certain near-coincidental pair approaches because it simplifies the placement of two (or more) pencil microphones near one another. Because they are directed upwards, pencil mics are also easy to aim at. Pencil microphones aim in the right direction easily, so we can easily set the correct stereo miking angles.
2. Pencil mics as drum overheads
While large-diaphragm condensers have their place as drum overheads, pencil microphones aimed downward in a spaced pair (or a single mono) are a common sight. Pencil microphones are ideal for recording a drum set’s entire, coherent sound from above because of their uniform polar patterns and broad frequency responses.
3. Pencil mics on stringed instruments
When recording stringed instruments, pencil microphones are often used to capture the instrument’s main sound and complex harmonic character. Therefore, studio engineers commonly use pencil microphones to get the best possible sound while recording piano, guitar, harp, violins, and many other stringed instruments.
4. Pencil mics for measuring ambient noise levels
They may also be used to measure ambient noise levels. You can do this by playing a long note in one part of your studio, pointing the pencil mic in a certain direction, recording it, and listening to the sound to figure out its quality, loudness, and characteristics. You may use this information to choose the best spot for your speakers or acoustic panels.
The benefits of using pencil microphones
A pencil microphone is a type of condenser microphone that has a narrow diaphragm and a compact size, making it suitable for a wide range of recording applications. The following are the advantages of using a pencil microphone:
- High Transient Response: Pencil microphones are known for their ability to accurately capture fast transient sounds, such as drums and percussion instruments. Their fast transient response ensures that no detail is missed, resulting in a more natural and dynamic sound.
- Clarity and Focus: The small diaphragm and condenser construction of pencil microphones result in exceptional clarity and focus, making them perfect for recording acoustic instruments such as guitar, violin, and piano. Pencil microphones also reject any off-axis sounds, allowing for a more accurate capture of the desired sound source.
- Versatility: Pencil microphones are versatile and can be used in a variety of recording applications, including vocals, acoustic instruments, percussion, and overheads. Due to their compact size, they can also be easily positioned in tight spaces, making them ideal for capturing sounds in difficult environments.
If you want even more tips and insights, watch this video called “Pencil Mic Vs Large Capsule Condenser | AKG P170 Review” from the Dark Corner Studios YouTube channel.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Do you still have questions about pencil microphones? Below are some of the most commonly asked questions.
Why do pencil mics come in pairs?
This is ideal for coincident and certain near-coincidental pair approaches because it simplifies the placement of two (or more) pencil microphones near one another. In addition, pencil mics are also easy to aim at because they are directed upwards.
What are pencil mics good for?
Pencil microphones often capture quick, explosive noise (a short, sharp burst of sound energy). For example, picking an acoustic guitar string or a quick note on a brass instrument are high transient sounds.
What is the 3-to-1 rule for placing microphones?
This rule is in place to reduce phasing problems that can be heard when many microphones are combined into a single mono signal. In general, the distance between the microphone farthest from the sound source and the sound source should be three times the distance between the microphone farthest from the sound source and the microphone closest to it.
So, that’s the basics about pencil microphones. Now that you know more about pencil microphones, look for a reliable one before recording anything. It will give you crystal-clear audio output!
So, is a pencil microphone convenient for you? And did I cover everything you wanted to know? Let me know in the comments section below (I read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, share it with a friend, and check out my full blog for more tips and tricks on music production. Thanks for reading, and never stop making music.
This article covered what a pencil microphone is. Here are some key takeaways:
- Pencil microphones are a type of small-diaphragm condenser microphone that typically has a long, thin cylindrical shape resembling a pencil.
- Pencil microphones are highly sensitive and have a very flat frequency response, which makes them well-suited for capturing subtle nuances in sound.
- Pencil mics are used in stereo-miking setups, as drum overheads, capturing sound in stringed instruments, and even for measuring ambient noise levels.
- Using a pencil microphone gives clarity and focus in the recording.
- Pencil microphones are versatile since it can be used in a variety of recording applications.