Microphones are Dumb
That sums it up really nicely, a microphone takes the vibrations (sounds) in the air and turns those vibrations into an electrical signal that becomes, in our case, your voice. However, please notice that the description doesn’t say it turns just YOUR individual sound into YOUR individual electrical signal. Moving air is all around us and ALL of it is sound, sound that is picked up but cleverly filtered out by your brain but NOT filtered out by your microphone. Mics, in a way, are a “dumb” technology; they can’t distinguish between the moving air molecules that make up your voice vs the ones that make up the sound of your air conditioning running full blast in mid August in Vegas.
Let’s do a little listening test…
Stop and listen, really listen to your environment. To really listen you need to notice all the sound around you that your brain filters out day to day. Every space has a sound, a room tone and ambience. As stated before, your brain usually filters out these sounds and tricks us into thinking our space is quiet while the truth is often the opposite. Far too often I am on the receiving end of a remote talent record where the noise on the talent end is unacceptable and will have to be artificially filtered to be used in a production. If you think your space is quiet, try this simple test to make sure: set up your microphone and preamp just as you
would if you were recording a quieter read. Now hit record in your audio software and exit the booth, closing the door behind you and record about 60 seconds of “silence”. When done, put on your headphones or turn your speakers up to your normal playback volume and have a listen. Do you hear air moving from your heating or air conditioning? Traffic? Clocks ticking? If you do, your brain has tricked you but your “dumb” microphone has revealed the