When working with different kinds of microphones handling is of high importance.
The reason for this is quiet simple, how you handle your microphones has a massive impact on its longevity.
For newbies just getting into the music production space, handling of microphones brings up a lot of questions.
One question that I see often times from newbies is “Should I unplug my mic when not in use?”
Obviously this question is one you’ve encountered in your own recording endeavours.
This post will therefore discuss this and give you some useful information that you can apply to your own mic.
With that said, Should I unplug my mic when not in use?
It’s not a general requirement to have your microphone unplugged when not in use. You should rely on your judgement. With that said, your microphone is less likely to get damaged if its in a case. Furthermore, delicate mics like Ribbon mics are best kept off power and cased when not in use.
With some condenser mics, It’s always a good idea to pack and store the mic in a microphone case when not in use.
There are several benefits of doing this… and some of these are ;
Firstly, you reduce the chances of your mic dropping off.
If your mic is not well mounted you run the risk of somebody accidentally bumping into it…These kinds of mechanical bumps can easily ruin your mic.
Secondly, packing up your mic reduces the risk of dust, smoke, and humidity from getting into the mic and causing problems for the internal components.
To take mic storage to another level and be more careful, It’s recommended that you put it in a plastic bag before putting it in a microphone case.
This will further protect the mic from dust while it’s stored.
You can also take it another step further by putting silica inside the plastic bag or case so that can absorb any moisture.
That will further protect your mic from moisture which can be seriously damaging.
Dynamic microphones have a more Rugged build and are less phsyically delicate compared to both Ribbon and condenser microphones.
Therefore, leaving it on when not in use doesn’t really pose a problem that would lead to damage.
However, a microphone plugged in and mounted is always at risk of being bumped into.
There’s no way of knowing whether a mic accident will happen or not which is why most people unplug these mics when they’re not in use.
One thing to avoid is constantly turning your mic off and on in short periods of time, for example, you shouldn’t turn off your microphone when you still have recording sessions throughout the day that are back to back.
You should probably be done with your recording sessions and then unplug your microphone if you feel the need to.
If you work with microphones often, then you know that ribbon microphones are the most fragile.
Therefore, When you are not using this kind of mic or if you’re transporting it, it’s good to store it in a case, preferably inside a plastic bag.
This will keep dust and small metallic pieces floating through the air from sticking to the strong magnets surrounding the ribbon.
Over time, this dust-like metal can build up sufficiently in the magnetic gap to rub against the ribbon causing distortion, electrical shorts or tearing of the ribbon. Which ultimately leads to damage.
Things to consider
Some things that you have to consider when deciding whether to unplug your microphone when not use or not.
The type of microphone
Microphones are different and there are meant to be used in different ways. If you’re dealing with a condenser microphone meant for recording studio application.. it’s not really necessary to unplug it all the time.
As a matter of fact most electronic components are quite happy if powered permanently, and generally fail when power is applied after being turned off. So leaving a mic powered is unlikely to shorten its life significantly, and may well actually prolong it
This however may not apply to all microphones.
Placement of the mic
The placement of the microphone is also something you have to consider.
If your microphone is not mounted properly, then disconnecting it and packing it may be the best way to avoid it from being bumped into. Atleast until you can find a more permanent mount.
But if your microphone is properly mounted and is unlikely to drop-off…then you could consider just leaving it as it is.
The overall space its in
The space you use the microphone in also should be something you consider.
Some people don’t house their microphones in booths, they may simply be out in the open. In such situations the microphone may be susceptible to dust and moisture accumulation, therefore the best course of action would be to unplug it when it’s not being used and pack it.
One thing you should also pay attention to are your mic specifications.
Unless the mic specifications specify that you should unplug your microphone when not in use then it’s not something you should really worry about. You can leave the mic plugged in and not run into problems.