Grammy-winning Engineer, producer, and songwriter Obie O’Brien Talks Microphones
“Here’s the deal with microphones,” Obie explains. “There’s a lot of people making microphones today and they work great for one or two things. But they don’t work great for everything.”
We all know (and love) Obie O’Brien – mostly for his work with Jon Bon Jovi, but also for the magic he put on productions of Barbra Streisand, The Marvelettes, Cole Redding, The Nighthawks, Alice Cooper, and many more. We sat down with him in his studio in – as he puts it – “the middle of nowhere”, Nottingham, PA, to talk microphones and more.
Obie first experienced the Austrian Audio OC818 Large-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone when he came through Vienna while on tour with Bon Jovi in 2019. “Here’s the deal with microphones,” Obie explains. “There’s a lot of people making microphones today and they work great for one or two things. But they don’t work great for everything.” When he learned more about the details of the OC818, he was immediately taken with it, especially with the fact that the body of the OC818 capsule is ceramic: “The great thing about that is, it’s unaffected by moisture or heat temperature variations. Why doesn’t everybody do that?”
When he received his own OC818, he used it on virtually everything: on the Hammond B3, on the Leslie, the grand piano, for overheads on the drum set, for tom toms on the drum set, as room mics, on acoustic guitar, 6 and 12 string, and on electric guitar amps. “They work great everywhere. They’re so smooth and flat, it’s crazy and I’ve used them for everything, also on vocals.” Obie now has two OC818 and is amazed that they sound almost identical: “We’ve put the microphones together and just had somebody play guitar and somebody else flip between each microphone, and you don’t hear the difference! They are really that well put together.”
The gear should not get in the way of the magic happening. A great microphone doesn’t get in the way. It makes it easier to capture that magic. And that’s what the 818 does. I don’t care where you use it, it doesn’t get in the way, it captures what you want to get, it makes it easier for you.