The key to getting a great sound on tape starts with the instrument that is being recorded. Before you even think about placing any mikes, it is very important that the instrument itself sounds good in the room. Begin by replacing old strings and drum heads, then take the time to check your tuning.
Once you have a signal coming through the board, instead of relying on equalization for the best sound, try experimenting with several microphones types and placements. The best way to do this is to have an assistant change microphone positions while you listen for a sweet spot. If, after all that, you feel that you absolutely must EQ, try removing the frequencies you don’t like rather than boosting everything else.
Don Nicklin is Assistant Director of the Recording Arts Program of Canada.