Mics Or Mikes?

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.


About James Gasson

My name is James Gasson. I am a musician, sound engineer, artist and chief operator of Third Circle Recordings. I journey through life trying to work out what exactly is going on whilst doing my best to avoid tripping over. Some days are more successful than others. View all posts by James Gasson

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