Miking Your Gongs/Bells/Bowls In Larger Rooms - Part 2

OK, let's look at some ideas about mics for Gongs/Bowls/Bells.

Whether you are using your own sound system, or using the house/rental system, the first thing to under stand is that the old stand by mic, the Sure SM-57, just won't do. I know, they're inexpensive and everyone has them, but they're the totally wrong mic for Gongs/Bowls/Bells. Great on drums, not great on Gongs.

Drum mics are not Gong mics.

The thing is, drums have a very limited frequency range that is mostly in the mids, with some lows. Gongs/Bowls/Bells are more in the upper frequencies, with larger Gongs moving into the mids and lows, covering the full spectrum. So yes, you can use an SM-57, or similar drum mike, but it will short change your sound. So don't do it unless that's all you have to work with.

Sure SM-57 frequency response

Above is the frequency chart for the Sure SM-57. The line represents the frequencies picked up by the mic, starting with the low/bass on the left, moving to the very high threshold of human hearing on the right. The 0 in the middle is the flat frequency response. Where the line moves above that, the frequencies picked up are more pronounced. Where the line goes below 0, the frequencies are picked up are lessened or even eliminated.

If we notice on the far right, when it gets to about 9000Hz, it takes a nose dive. Well, those are your Gong/Bowl/Bell frequencies, the high ones at least, that give you that bright, sparkly sound. Without them, it's pretty much a strong mid-range, with a rising peak at 6000Hz from this mic, which is great for a snare drum. You can use a mic like this on Gongs, but you're really short changing the sound you are picking up.

What you want to use is something in a full frequency condenser, or even a ribbon mic. Most places that have their own sound systems should have a decent selection of mics to choose from (at least you would hope so). Otherwise, if you are doing a lot of dates where you need to mic things, you might be wise investing in your own mics to tour with.

AKG-C214 frequency range

The chart above is for an AKG-C214 condenser mic. Notice the far right and how the line stays up for the higher frequencies. Also, other than a slight peak at about 12000Hz, it stays fairly flat and even. This is great for things like Gongs/Bowls/Bells, which cover a lot of frequency range. With a mic like this, you can get a great sound without having to balance the sound with EQ, or process things.

The is no excuse for not being informed.

So the thing to do now is some homework. Go on the internet and start reading up on mics, recording, live sound, and getting a feel for things. Pay special attention to things about miking acoustic instruments, like strings, guitars, and hand percussion. This will be very useful information.

In Part 3, we'll look at mic set up and positioning.

~ MB

Chop Wood | Carry Water | Play Gongs


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