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  • Terry Wigmore

DIY - Condenser Mic Capsule Replacement

Necessity is the mother of invention, and calamity is the spring from which opportunity and learning emerge. At least, that is how interpreted the moment when I went to record a podcast with my good friend, Jim, and nothing was recorded from my mic. What? I was just using it an hour before this and it was fine. Apparently, this mic is quite well-documented for the capsule part failing over time, or so my on-line investigation revealed. No shortage of notes from various people about similar circumstances and, fortunately, no shortage of videos and text descriptions with photos to illustrate how to go about repairing this problem.

I think I began my WIX site with a DIY about my garden tractor repair and maintenance. That spirit of adventure is now moving into electronics and circuit boards (though I think I prefer the larger nuts and bolts sort of adventure). So, what was the process and how did it end?

Google! Yes, the mighty search engine offered lots of avenues to investigate and scope out the variations on mics, the possible difficulties, the variety of things that were encountered by musicians such as myself, and there was a lot of information regarding the steps needed to complete the repair, should I choose that route. Of course I could have taken it to my local music store but what would I have learned, and what experience would I have missed if I didn't try to repair it myself?

I found a supplier of the particular capsule I needed on Amazon. I found the information needed, to perform the procedure, on YouTube videos and chat rooms for musicians. I was satisfied that this repair was within my skill set and knowledge base, so I started the process by ordering the capsule. It wasn't an original manufacturer's part, so I was taking a bit of a chance, but all the documentation on the product indicated similar frequency responses, so I wasn't all that worried. I went to the local hardware store for the solder I thought I would need, and for a set of mini-tools, the jeweler- size of screw drivers and heads that I would need to effect the repair. A rainy afternoon afforded the time to actually do it.

The process was one of investigation first. I unscrewed the old exterior casing and gently removed the circuit board with the capsule on top. I examined the capsule, looking for mounting points and connections, and took photos to remind myself of where stuff goes, once I started the disassembly :) The next step was to lay out all the material I would need and decide which wire to remove first and how. I decided that simply heating the existing wire locations on the circuit board would melt the solder and I could gently pull the wires off the soldering points. This worked like a charm, and there was no need to add additional solder to those points. In my mind, less solder is better, so that was my approach. Pushing the capsule into the flexible rubber-like mount proved my biggest challenge. The rubbery plastic had become brittle over the years, and the process of tugging at it led to the capsule mount tearing. I tried a variety of tape, but nothing held, so i resorted to the only thing I had at hand - a hot glue craft gun. This seemed to work, though I am uncertain as to how long it will hold the capsule snug in it's embrace. The final step was to insert the circuit board back into the exterior casing and screw it all back together, and TEST the result - plug everything in and, "test, test...1,2,3" Voila!

After making sure there was a good signal, the final step was to explore the quality of the mic capsule by varying my proximity to the mic, and using various volumes. A little adjustment to my old EQ and Compression settings and away we went. The first podcasts using the repaired mic is on the Jim and Terry Show for this week

Of course, I had a backup plan, just in case my repair efforts proved unsuccessful - I purchased a far less expensive do-for condenser mic from Amazon as well. Now, my good friend Jim has a condenser mic too, and we have a spare. In case anything fails, I will keep the soldering iron and tools in my Hobbit Hole studio for now.

I am not an engineer, and have not dabbled in electronics, but I am willing to learn, given necessity and a reasonable opportunity to be successful.

The new capsule arrived
removing the old capsule
new capsule
attaching the ground

broken capsule mount

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