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HOOKING UP A MICROPHONE DIRECTLY TO YOUR MAC

HOOKING UP A MICROPHONE DIRECTLY TO YOUR MAC

A guitarist may get his or her flashy solos, but everyone knows the singer is the star of the show. If you want to use GarageBand to show the world your vocal talent, you're going to need to hook up a microphone. Chances are, if you have been singing for a little while, you probably already own a good microphone. If you are just getting started and need to purchase a mic, there are lots of good vocal mics available for under $100. In this section, we'll show you how to connect a professional dynamic microphone to your Mac.

CHOOSING A MICROPHONE

There is one basic difference between a “professional” microphone and a “consumer” mic. Professional mics have a three-pin connector called an XLR connector, as shown in Figure B.13. Consumer mics generally have a 1/4'' or 1/8'' phono-type connector.

Figure B.13. This is a typical pro mic with an XLR connector. (Photo by Jay Shaffer.)


The reason that pro mics use XLR connectors is that a three-pin connector allows a less-noisy, balanced connection to other audio gear. Among pro mics, there are two basic types, called dynamic and condenser. Dynamic mics are generally the “ice cream cone” type of mic that you see live performers using, as in Figure B.14. Condenser mics are usually those big Tylenol capsule-looking mics that you see in recording studios and in Figure B.15.

Figure B.14. Audio Technika makes several dynamic microphones for under $100. Perfect for that Idol audition. (Photo by Jay Shaffer.)


Figure B.15. This is a typical condenser microphone shown with a shock mount and stand. Looks dangerous. (Photo by Annie Kennedy.)


Dynamic mics are much less fragile than condensers and don't require batteries or power. Dynamics are generally cheaper and are far more common than condensers. By far, the most popular mic on stages around the world is the Shure Sm-58 because it is a very rugged, good-sounding dynamic mic. Sm-58s go for about $150, but many models of similar mics are available for well under $100.

Condenser mics are more fragile than dynamic mics, but they are also more sensitive and are better at picking up nuances. They also require power in the form of batteries or via phantom power supplied by a mixer or preamp. Condensers are best used in a controlled environment like a studio and usually start at about $300 and can go up to several thousand dollars.

If you plan on singing live on stage, get a dynamic mic. If you're going to be using the mic in a studio situation and you can afford it, a condenser is a good choice.



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