How important is the right microphone?
One, two - one two, testing
Buy the best microphone you can afford! Cheaper microphones will give you a poor, unclear, distorted result that no amount of EQ or other effects can fix.
There are many types, but the two you are most likely to use are the dynamic mic - used for vocals but also for instruments that you can mike close-up. The most well known and loved is the Shure SM58 or SM57. Vocal mics work best within a one foot range. Any further away and there is a big drop off, especially at the bass end.
And then there are condensor mics; they are more sensitive and pick up *everything*. Condenser microphones require "phantom power" in order to operate. You can mike from further away, and a good condenser mic will give fine detail.
It is used in a whole variety of situations; for piano, acoustic groups, stage, choir, etc. The main drawbacks are cost (for a good one), fragility (they have more sensitive membranes) and, especially: they can be *too good* : the sound of your foot tapping, instrument rattles, stage hum, etc. all get picked up.

For more on microphones, including the feautured M Audio Luna, see the GarageDoor | Gear | Microphones.
Mic distance and placement
Close to You
Mic distance has tremendous effect on the quality of the recorded sound: place the mic further away and you pick up
  1. more of the natural, total sound of the whole instrument; and
  2. more of the room ambiance (reverb)
By placing the microphone closer to the instrument, you will
  1. record a colored instrument sound - different parts will have a different sound quality.
  2. cut out more of the room ambiance
a saxophone will produce mostly bass frequencies at the "bell"; record half way up for a better blend of high and low
Flautists often play with their mouth directly in front of the mic; although this gives great "presence", the sound may be too "sibilant" - too many pops and hisses.

Shure SM57
$99.00 ($146)at zzounds.com
Free shipping
The Shure SM57
The best known, and most widely used instrument microphone is the Shure SM57, which I have used on stage and in the studio for many years.

About the Shure SM57:
"It is a tool found in the workbench of every sound engineer, both for live and studio applications. There's simply no question: it's a "must-have" mic. The SM57 is a cardiod (unidirectional) dynamic microphone with a contoured frequency response of 40 to 15,000 Hz, perfect for clean reproduction of vocals and instruments. But the SM57 is most renowned in the music industry as the standard microphone of choice for snare drums and guitar amplifiers. Go to any stage or studio and you're likely to find SM57s pointing at the amps and snare. By the way, the '57 has been proudly standing on the podium of the US President for over 30 years. This mic is also known to take a beating and come back for more, so tell your roadie Rocco to have a ball! Its outstanding performance, legendary reliability, and diversity of application make this "workhorse" the choice of performers, producers, and sound engineers the world over. "
Press R for record
Ready to Roll? Hit "R"
  • Don't use the mouse to start recording: simply hit R on the keyboard. Hit R again to stop recording.
  • Typing C stops and starts cycle recording (very handy, for example, to drop a difficult run into the middle of an otherwise good track)
  • To switch the metronome on and off: press command-U.
    Test- why not M or command-M?
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For a full list of GarageBand shortcuts, click here: The GarageDoor | GarageBand Shortcuts

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