Miking a cab is simple: you just point a mic in its
general direction, right? Yes—and to get to the moon, just jump
really high. Actually, there’s much more to miking than meets
the ear, as you’ll find out from these tips.
|IK Multimedia’s AmpliTube 3 has two main virtual
mics and two room mics that realistically emulate the results of mic placement.
1 Dynamic Mics Rock Shure’s SM57 dynamic
is the classic guitar-cabinet mic. Many engineers
choose it even when cost is no object—although there
are some excellent “upscale” dynamic models available.
2 Condenser Mics Roll Condenser mics—
though often too sensitive for close-miking loud amps
without being padded (see below)—produce a more
open response. They make good “secondary” mics. For example,
placing a condenser further back from the amp adds definition
to a primary, close-positioned dynamic when the sound
captured by both mics is blended.
3 Ribbons Rule Although ribbon mics used to
be fragile, newer models are more rugged. Ribbons have
a warm personality, and a polar pattern that picks up
sounds from the front and back—but not the sides. In multicab
guitar setups, ribbon mics let you do cool tricks by choosing
which sounds to accept—and which to reject—based on
4 Pads Matter Many mics have switchable attenuator
switches (called “pads”) to lower the sound
level, for example by -10dB. With loud amps, engage
this to avoid distortion.
5 Placement & Tone Moving the mic closer
to the speaker’s center tends to give a brighter sound,
while angling the mic toward the speaker—or moving it
further away—provides a tighter, warmer sound.
Start off with the mic an inch or two back from the cone,
perpendicular to the speaker, and about half to two-thirds of
the way towards the speaker’s edge. To capture more of the cabinet’s
influence on the sound (as well as some room sound),
try moving the mic a few inches further back from the speaker.
6 Try Different Speakers Each speaker
in a cabinet should sound the same, but that’s not always
true. Mic each speaker, and listen for any significant
7 Add a Direct Sound Some amps offer direct
outputs (sometimes with cabinet simulation), and
combining this with the miked sound can produce a big
sound. However, the miked sound will be delayed compared
to the direct sound—about 1ms per foot the mic is positioned
away from the speaker. Nudge the miked sound earlier in your
recording program until the miked and direct sounds line up,
and are in-phase.
8 Use a “Flight Simulator” Programs
such as IK Multimedia’s AmpliTube 3 let you move
virtual mics around in relation to a virtual amp. The
results parallel what you’d hear in the “real world,” and you
can learn a lot about how mic placement affects the overall