How to use a tape microphone

By | April 9, 2021


Place your microphone on a tripod in a shock dock. The shock absorber stops the microphone, reducing the effects of vibration and high pressure on the output of the microphone. The tape microphone has a very sensitive, often fragile element. Shock absorber protects your microphone from damage.


Attach the male end of a microphone cable. Check that there is some cord in the cord and that it will be long enough to reach the mixer. Wrap the cord around the microphone a few times to keep it tangled on the floor.


Attach the female end of the microphone cable to the input on your preamp. The amplifier helps to shape the tone and increase the output of the tape microphone. If necessary, activate the phantom power. Phantom power – usually a +48 volt signal equipped with an amplifier or mixer via the microphone cable – is used to power the active electronics of certain microphones. These electronics help increase levels and smooth out signals. Phantom power can be turned on nd from either the preamplifier or the mixer.

Tape microphones generally do not require phantom power due to their electronic passivity and can be severely damaged if attached to a phantom power source when not needed. However, some newer tape microphones may have an active circuit to increase the lower output levels typical of tape microphones. Consult the microphone literature to determine if the microphone requires phantom power.


Adjust the microphone and stand close to the sound source you want to record. Usually the tape microphone can be placed in the same way as a capacitor microphone. When recording electric guitars, keep the microphone at a distance of 1 to 12 inches from the speaker for close applications. A tape microphone can also be placed at a varying greater distance from the speaker to pick up the room’s atmosphere and reverb. For the song, the microphone should be about 8 to 10 inches from the singer. The placement is relatively subjective and should be adjusted as needed to give a satisfactory tone. for further tips on microphone placement for different instruments.


Adjust the controls on your preamp as you test the tone coming through the microphone. Play chords on guitar to be recorded or the singer sings a few lines as you adjust the settings. When you have reached a tone, you are happy with, record a few bars and listen to the playback. Make additional adjustments to the pre-program and microphone position as needed.

Tips and warnings

  • The tape microphone is useful for reproducing a tone naturally without the harsh brightness of a condenser. Try using a tape microphone on many of the same instruments.
  • The band elements of the microphone can be very fragile. Be careful when handling the microphone so that it does not break. Do not use phantom power on a microphone that does not require it. It will damage your microphone.
  • A tape microphone is a type of dynamic microphone that converts the motion of a thin ‘band’ of metal – usually aluminum – placed within the magnetic field of two surrounding magnets into a current that can be amplified to reproduce sound. Tape microphones have been used for decades and are known for their warm and natural sound. Generally quieter than condenser microphones, a tape microphone may take a few tries and errors, but the result is accurate reproduction of electric guitars, vocals and horns in recordings.