My friend, writer, musician, and reviewer, Dan Schwartz can tell you what microphone was used in most vocal recordings. It’s nothing short of amazing.
Walking into a room where a good stereo system is playing he’ll often proffer an opinion. “Sounds like a Neuman,” or some other microphone. It’s happened more than once. And others I have met in the recording industry can do the same, easily identifying the microphones vocals were recorded with.
I suppose it makes sense. If you hear the human voice through microphones often enough, you begin to recognize the pollution imparted by the thin vibrating membrane—a technology that imprints its signature on all it captures.
And that’s the problem with everything we listen to. Overlayed on what our ears would hear without benefit of the recording process, microphones place an indelible stamp forever changing what’s been recorded—like the world through rose-colored glasses.
Over time we get used to the sound. But when we are lucky enough to enjoy live music, the haze is gone and the truth revealed.
From our end of the playback process, there’s a limit to how close we can get to live as opposed to the source. In fact, we may be closer to the source than we’re comfortable admitting.
As long as microphones stand in our way, we’ll never get where we all aspire to someday be.