Friday, March 02, 2007 ... 3:09 PM

I know this one

A recent Google referral to this blog asked the question, "What microphone does Neko Case use live?"

We know from this revealing story in Frets Magazine that Neko tracks vocals in the studio using the Audio-Technica 4050 -- a relatively inexpensive, home-studio-grade condensor mic, which Neko sets to its omnidirectional pattern, and positions in the control room, sonically isolated from the engineer by a portable partition. Quirky.

It looks from all the pictures I've found that, onstage, Neko sings into a Shure SM-58 -- not so quirky. The 58 is probably as common onstage as the electric guitar. It shares its capsule, or innards, with the SM-57 instrument mic. The 57 is the most common, most reliable microphone in the business. I interned in a studio in which the owner suggested that he'd not feel uncomfortable mic'ing a whole album with SM-57's. The difference between the SM-57 and the SM-58 is the 58's globular screen, which filters vocal plosives.

Gillian Welch and David Rawlings also sing live into SM-58's, and mic their acoustic instruments onstage with 57's. (Neko, alas, plugs in.) I've read listserv lore alleging that Gil & Dave travel with several pairs of 57's and 58's, which they have mated based on the individual microphone's sonic nuances, and that they match certain pairs of microphones to the acoustics of a venue -- essentially tuning their gear to the environment. I don't know the degree to which this lore is true. Or that, if true, the practice amounts to anything more than audiophile hokum. But I like the story as an example of fan mythology, for its suggestion of arcane ritual, the dream that the artists whom we admire are tuned to a wavelength that we are unequipped to receive.

Speaking of Gil & Dave -- I promised a review of their Charlotte gig (a surprising and terrific set). In my third year of blogging, I oughtta know by now that publicly committing to a post is the best way to ensure I'll never get around to writing it. (Sol Who-pii?) So -- I'm moving house this weekend, and the Gil review is on hold. If I'm ever timely by mistake, someone please call me on it.



hello! just came across your blog while following a few interesting rabbit trails that appeared when i googled mike strauss.

i'm a charlotte citizen (matthews to be precise) who goes to shows at the muse and the neighborhood. occasionally playing out with my wife.

i just wanted to say thanks for adding to the conversation about charlotte americana-ish stuff.

you should go see over the rhine at the visulite april 16, or catch richard shindell at the muse april 15. maybe i'll see you at a show sometime.

in fact, i wouldn't be surprised if we've stood next to each other watching good music at some point...

blaine and leah howard

By Blogger Leah, at 4/02/2007 2:06 PM  

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Making Notes: Music of the Carolinas
(Novello Festival Press, April 2008)
includes my essay, "Link Wray"


Flop Eared Mule
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