Neema Vedadi and I have gone through a lot of microphones, pop filters, and all sorts of expensive and complicated ways to get our voices from our head to out in the world. What we’ve finally figured out is that the best solution for is actually much simpler and easier than most of what we’ve tried in the past two years. We’re now both using relatively inexpensive Shure dynamic microphones (Neema uses a Shure SM58, I use a Shure Beta 57A), with very cheap foam windscreens. (Or as we call them “mic condoms.”)
Mic condoms are great for making your sound smoother, more professional and listenable by reducing “plosives” (popping on P and B words) and sibilance (harsh sssssssssss sounds on S words), even when recording indoors. And mic condoms are IMPERATIVE for recording outdoors. A good example of how a mic condom will minimize wind noise is this video by Neema Vedadi.
The only problem with mic condoms is that if you use the mic a lot, and use them right up on the mic like we do, the mic condom eventually smells…It will smell like food, smoke, whatever, even if you have good breath. But it will stink ESPECIALLY if you smoke. While mic condoms are good to keep smoke out of the mic (smoke is bad for mics), the way to keep mic condoms from smelling is to have a bunch of them and wash them in warm water after every show. It only takes a moment, and really makes the mic condom (and mic!) last longer and keeps everything smelling nice.
It doesn’t take long to wash mic condoms, just run them under warm water, get them totally soaked, squeeze them under the running water a few times. Then squeeze them out, and blot with a towel. Then hang the mic condom (I use a coat hook on the back of my bedroom door) or set them somewhere dry where air can get inside them for a few days. Do NOT put them back on the mic until they’re COMPLETELY dry, or you will harm your mic.
It’s good to have a bunch of different mic condoms, because after you wash them in warm water, you need to dry them for longer than it will take before your next show. And if you’re running a media empire like Neema and I, that means at least 4 shows a week. So you need a few mic condoms.
You can wash them less often, but I’m obsessive about my gear, and you should be too, if you want to really do things well. The real problem is when people NEVER wash or replace their mic condoms (or even worse, don’t use them. Do NOT ride bareback on your mic, your sound will suffer.) I’ve been in many a rented band practice space where they never replace the mic condoms, and it stinks like stale beer, weed, cigs and burritos when you go to sing.
I ordered a pack of seven pretty colored mic condoms on Amazon for 14 dollars, HERE.
They come packed flat with the air sucked out of the bag, in a strip that looks like a roll of flavored condoms for a giant with a thick, short johnson:
You open each compartment with scissors, and then, as the Amazon description says, “Once they are opened from the package, allow for them to reform to their natural shape and beauty.”
They really are BEAUTIFUL. And I love the term “BEAUTIFUL” for mic windscreens. These are lovely, and wonderful to brighten up your windowless worldwide man cave (or lady cave). They’re also good if you do sound in a club, and have different bands each night. Because the different colors help you keep track of which mic is in which channel, especially with performers who move around on stage a lot. You can even put a piece of masking tape across the mixer strip each night and write “red” on channel one, “purple” on channel two, etc.
They fit snug on any large-ball mic (like an SM58, and many other mics). They fit a little loose on a no-ball mic like an SM57 or a small-ball mic like an my Beta 57A, but still work. Mic condoms fit more snugly on smaller mics if you turn the mic condom inside out:
Or you can hold them on tight with a rubber band:
These flavored mic condoms are also fun for leaving little “notes” to your wife to see in the morning, in the form of hats for critters. You can both rearrange them into all sorts of sexual positions at each other (depending on who gets up before whom), and the colored hats give infinite possibilities. Below is the G-rated version, before we start arranging the critters:
And now, as promised, for no reason at all (or to speed up your Internets), here are my latest kitty pix:
I didn’t arrange them like this. They just do this on their own once in a while:
My wife did arrange this “Peanut burrito” with Peanut, but he loved it and fell asleep on a cold Wyoming morning. Here’s him falling asleep:
–Michael W. Dean