I would like record the sound a motor car, by fix a mic on the motor directly, the problem that I get is that the sound overload the mic, and I'm how that some here could tell me what kid of mics can record a sound greater tahn 160 SPL ? thanks in advance for any hint

3 Answers 3


Are you absolutely positive that it is the mic that clips, and not the pre-amp? 160dB sounds insanely high for a muffled motor, even a gunshot hardly reach that high. Myself, I've been using several microphones for this, but DPA has always been a good choice. Though I normally really really don't like lavs, the DPA 4060 has proven itself more than enough when needed to be placed in things like a tight motor, though you'll have to be careful not to fry it. If you can fit it, though, their small membrane ones, like the 4011C compact cardioid and the 4006 omni are awesomesauce.

  • I will always +1 anyone who recommends DPA - I've a 4006 & a 4060 & I've never used anything in the same league. A lav mic 1" from a snare? Are you mad? - Go for it. Edit - if you really do need 160dB, which I doubt unless it's a race-car, then DPA do high SPL versions of some of their mics.
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 17, 2014 at 17:56
  • Not +1 for DPA – sure they're good, but... as you say, would be a pity to melt one of these; and anyway brand name worshipping without pointing out a suitable model is would not be good advice (I maintain that a dynamic mic is ideal for this application, though I prefer condensers for almost everything). But +1 for suggesting it might be the preamp's fault, that seems indeed likely enough. Sep 17, 2014 at 19:55

A bass-drum microphone would work well, e.g. the Beta52A has a maximum SPL of 172 dB specified. Indeed, even a cheap dynamic mic will probably be fine: unlike condenser mics those don't really "overload", but rather go into soft clipping.


There is no way your motor is making over 160 dB for one this would be an illegal road vehicle in the US (assuming you are in the US but most countries have a similar regulation). Here in the US we are only permitted to run cars that are up at 108 dB anything louder is not legal. That being said if this is a track car or some non road vehicle you may go over 108. Even still 160 is quite a bit louder, a jet engine at 100' is still only 140 dB. Taking all this into consideration it sounds like you are clipping your preamp and not the mic its self in which case you should just turn down your gain.

Furthermore you say you want to clip the mic "to fix the mic to the motor directly" are you recording the sound of the engine block or are you trying to capture the tailpipe noise (what most people go after). Why do you need to connect the mic directly to the engine? Can you simply back the mic up a few feet or record the noise after the fact and drop it back in in post production?

Shure claims the SM58 is good up to 150, so that would be my choice, and I would place it appropriately.

There are also heat concerns here. If you are placing the mic in the engine bay of a car and driving it with the hood closed the heat from the engine will effect what is happening. Engine bays can get over 200F and most mics are tested at room temperatures so the numbers you see for maximums are only for room temp (or what ever it was tested at). Considering the thin nature of a mics element the engine heat could have a serious effect on it. I wont speculate as to what that effect may be as I do not know. Not to mention the heat will increase the resistance in all the electronic components

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