This is an article written by Audio Expert, Brian Walker, that I mentioned in the latest issue! Brian and I did the ASCAP expo together last year! -teri
Staying Alive and the Art of Microphone Maintenance
By Brian Walker, Audio Expert (Sennheiser/Neumann)
If you don’t own your own microphone, you’re playing with getting very ill. I don’t say that to try and sell a couple more microphones. I say that because I want you to think about who was spitting and breathing on that mic last night that is now in front of your lips.
If you own your own mic, thank you. I’m pleased that you understand the value of protecting your most precious instrument from the evil nasties that are floating around out there. However, it’s time to turn your attention to something you probably have not thought about and that is cleaning your microphone. You may be the only one that uses your mic, but the proteins, enzymes, tiny bits of dinner all get lodged in your mic and it becomes the perfect place for some of the most amazing (okay, disgusting) biological jungles to be found anywhere.
Now that you are feeling the need to gargle a quart of Lysol (please don’t), what should you do to clean your mic? First, go online and search “foam insert (mic model)” if you don’t own a Sennheiser microphone. If you own a Sennheiser, go to www.sennheiser.com , click on the search icon (looks like a magnifying glass) and type in “Pop Protection” pick the foam insert that matches your mic. Order a spare while you are at it, they’re cheap. Please do not use a third-party brand of foam insert. You don’t know what it will do to the sound of your mic.
Now that you have received your foam inserts, it’s time to go to work. Remove the insert from its bag and give it some time to expand to its normal shape. Put on a pair of gloves. Now is not the time to be sloppy, you need to practice “safe distancing” from your mic. Unscrew the wire mesh basket off the top of your mic. Remove the foam insert from the basket. A toothpick can be useful for getting the foam loosened up. Once you have the foam out, put it in a zip-lock bag along with the toothpick if you used it. Give the basket a really good hot water with soap bath. Let the basket dry, insert the new foam insert and screw the basket back on to the head of your mic. Now wipe the entire mic with an Alcohol swab. If you are wearing disposable gloves, put them in the zip-lock bag, seal the bag and throw it away.
Pro Tip 1: Do not spray your microphone with cleaners like Lysol, 409 or Fantastic. Do not spray anything directly on your mic. The chemicals in those cleaners can be really hard on the capsule. Spray a paper towel or a soft cloth and wipe down your mic.
Pro Tip 2: Replace the foam insert every six months. For Houses of Worship, I recommend changing just after Halloween or when Christmas rehearsals start and then change again when Easter rehearsals start. If you are rehearsing for a new tour, put in a new foam and then replace the foam every couple of weeks while on tour. No matter how hard you try, being on tour is hard on your body and your immune system. Four or five dollars every couple of weeks and you make it through the tour is worth every dime.
Pro Tip 3: Own your microphone. Keep it in a bag and keep it with you. If your FOH engineer seems bothered by your behavior, you have my permission to lovingly and gently explain to him or her that your health is very important to you. Remind the FOH that they are one of the best professionals in the business and they will be able to seamlessly mix your mic on stage.
If you have any questions or need any advice on microphones and headphones, you can reach me at 619-933-9255 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Customer Development | Applications Engineering – North America
Sennheiser Electronic Corporation
1 Enterprise Drive
Old Lyme, Connecticut 06371
M +1 (619) 933-9255