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In theory, there’s no reason that a well-kept mic with the proper maintenance shouldn’t last forever if it’s stored properly and cared for with love.
However, if you want to maximize the lifespan of your mics then you should take a few precautions.
Here’s what you need to know to get the longest performance from a microphone.
The number one killer of audio equipment is mechanical stress and this is just as true for microphones, whether you’re using ribbon microphones, condenser microphones, electret microphones, etc. the more you move the parts around on your mic, the more it’s going to wear out.
Fortunately, there’s a fairly easy way to ensure that you don’t unduly stress your mics – make sure you place them where you will use them and then try not to move them around too often.
If you do notice a part on the mic starting to wear out – replace it.
It’s also worth noting that the diaphragm of most microphones moves every time that you talk, sing, etc. into the device.
That means the diaphragm will wear and if you subject it to high sound pressure levels then you may find it wears faster than you might expect.
Ribbon mics are particularly susceptible to rapid wear on the diaphragm. The good news is that if you keep an eye on this wear, you can replace the diaphragm before you cause any further damage to the microphone.
Many tube mics will develop a gas leak in the vacuum tube over time, when this happens the filament inside the tube mic catches fire and burns up.
Fortunately, the mic design for this sort of microphone allows you to easily replace a tube if it no longer functions properly. Most of them have screw fittings and you just twist them out and place a new one in the mic.
Humidity can wreck any mic but there’s a particular risk for solid-state condenser microphones because the other components (such as printed circuits) are particularly vulnerable to water damage.
The use of air conditioning can dramatically reduce the level of humidity in a room, as can the use of a dehumidifying device.
Unfortunately, it’s very hard to repair the damage wrought by humidity after the fact, the best thing you can do is stop if from happening in the first place.
Corrosion is often caused by humidity but it can often be caused by getting the mic wet while in use too.
Copper corrodes over time as does aluminum, however, the gold used in some mics and particularly RCA mics is immune to corrosion.
It might sound obvious but you prevent this kind of damage by keeping things dryu.
Your microphone probably contains heat vulnerable components and even mild heat can cause damage to a good mic.
We note that vacuum tubes are a conductive material and as you heat it, the tube increases in diameter and comes into contact with the rest of the shell causing damage.
One major cause of heat damage can be the power supply and it’s a good idea to keep the mic away from the PSU.
You should also keep dust and smoke away from your mics as over time they can really impede the performance of your equipment.
And while it might seem obvious, if you drop stuff and cause “physical trauma” you might break it too.
The top manufacturers of microphones say that their mics can last, quite literally, for 30+ years as long as they are cared for properly.
Now that you know the main points of failure for these products, you can take care of yours so that they produce sounds that are awesome for years to come!