Mics Or Mikes?

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Studio engineers, recording enthusiasts, musicians and journalists. I hereby call your attention to an issue of utmost importance. It is something that has niggled for as long as I have been writing about studio recording techniques, and I have yet to find a solution to it. I call upon us, here, now, to finally clean up this ambiguity once and for all, lest I never sleep a good night’s sleep for the rest of my days.

Friends, what exactly is the appropriate abbreviation of the word “microphone”? Is it mic? Or mike? My sense of rationality dictates that a suitable abbreviation for a word does not incur a re-imagining of the word itself, and therefore renaming it to “mike” seems faintly ridiculous. And so I much prefer “mic”, despite its erroneous phonetic pronunciation. But then we run into trouble as soon as we start talking about “micing”, or “mic’ing”, or “miking” – a non-OED word invented by sound engineers to describe the act of shoving a microphone some place, which incurs a total overhaul of the original word in order to scan properly. The word “micing” looks wrong, feels wrong and almost suggests some kind of bizarre cooking reference, “mic’ing” forces a descent into the kind of apostrophe retardation normally reserved for market stall sellers of “CD’s”, and “miking”, although phonetically accurate, declares an abandonment of the convention of the word microphone. In all recent writings I have taken the reluctant decision that the only logical interpretation of this chaos is that microphones are “mics” and drums are “miked” in the process of “miking”. However, I am in no way satisfied with this maverick approach to spelling, and find myself on occasions such as this wasting everybody’s time in an unwitting fit of grammatical anxiety. So, can we please – please – have some consensus on this? If the “they” committee would like to organise a board meeting regarding this important subject, I think it would be beneficial for everyone.

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James Gasson
I am James Gasson, music warrior. With my mighty skills of imperfect objectivity and excellent tea making, I am on a mission to encourage critical thinking whilst trying to avoid tripping over stuff. Fancy chatting about audio, drum recording, life, the universe, and/or everything? Drop me a line!

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