Skip to main content
Featured ArticlesRoom Acoustics Training

Speakers Vs. Microphones

By October 2, 2012No Comments

One Sound Family

Our speakers and microphones are part of our signal chain. The microphone is at the very beginning of this chain and our speakers are at the other end. Microphones take acoustical energy and convert it to electrical energy and then we process this energy through our equipment. Our speakers then take this electrical signal and mechanically move to produce analog energy that our ears can hear. All of this connectivity ends when we place our speakers and microphones in our rooms.


When we use a microphone in the recording process, we are continually dealing the sound of the room in which it is placed. Care must be taken to include the vocal or instruments information with the correct amount of room sound for a balanced blend of room and music. With vocals we want no room sound or a very small amount. With drum sound, we want the sound of the room. Room sound is usually not welcome in our recordings except when recording drums.

Drum Sound

Our typical drum room has high ceilings and is a larger room. It is a larger room because larger rooms produce a larger sound at the microphone positioned. Most recordings like to have a larger sounding drum. If the engineer gets the drum sound correct, everything else in the mix falls into place much easier.

Speakers Smaller Rooms

Our speakers do not like larger rooms. Larger rooms require bigger speakers in order to produce the necessary amount of energy to fill the larger space.The larger the room, the more detail we loose in our sonic presentation. Larger rooms require larger drivers which loose detail as they increase in size.

Hardwood Floors

When we place our microphone in the drum room, we notice that our drum room would have hardwood floors and not much room treatment on the walls. Reverberation times would be higher than most rooms because of size and lack of absorptive room treatment. If the drum room had carpeting, it would probably be removed and any existing absorptive room treatment would be removed from the walls to increase room reverberation times.

Carpet On Floors

Our speakers do not like hardwood floors. Any hardwood flooring will produce reflections at the listening position and we do not want any reflections at our listening position interfering with the direct sound from our loudspeakers. Carpeting or some type of rug treatment over the hardwood floor is desired.

Find The Reflections

The microphone is our drum room likes reflections. Reflections represent the sound of the room. The time signature difference between reflections from our drum room wall and ceiling surfaces is the sound of the room size that the microphone wishes to capture. All of these reflections occurring at different time intervals all add up and contribute to the room’s total reverberation times. Different drum room reverberation times, produce different drum sounds in our mix.

Less Reflections Please

Our speakers have to be placed in an area of our room that is free from room boundary reflections. Our goal at the listening or monitoring position is to have the direct sound, the sound that travels from the speaker to the listening position in a straight line, reach our ears first before the room reflections. We want some reflections to follow the direct sound to add realism to our sound stage, but our goal is to hear more of the direct sound which contains the essence of our music.


I am a structural engineer as well as a master furniture maker. I design cabinets for low frequency, activated carbon absorbers. Connect with me on Google+

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.