I'm preparing for a mic shootout at a local store as I consider which one to buy. Besides bringing one reference mic of my own and my own recorder, I'm also planning on preparing a few spoken phrases and bringing a handful of props to test things like transient handling and frequency response: Finger cymbals, keyring with keys, small drum (open bottom). Is there anything specific that YOU'D bring to such a session to test-drive small-condenser mics for purchase?
I've done many of these:
I've tested them on:
Glass bottle with a stick.
A small chain.
Crumpling up a newspaper or plastic bag, or even a small chip bag.
I'd also be ready to take them outside to see how their overall noise rejection sounds.
I'd also speak into the back of each of the mics to see how much coloration happens to the off-axis pickup.
I'd also bring a sibilance script - like "Sally sold sea-shells at the sea shore" to get an idea as to how sibilant or smooth it is relatively.
But, ultimately, I'd just play around with it and walk around and see how it sounds in the headphones and see what you think of it - it's weight, it's size, it's directionality. Just see how it reacts at different distances to the source and off-axis and choose what sounds the best to you!
Just some ideas.
Wine glasses. A simple hit/ting sound can give lots of information regarding the tone, clarity and transient handling. Plus you can also fill the glasses with water to get different pitches. And if you fancy, either have wine or break the glasses (as the final test) after all the tests are carried out.
transient response - a loud bell, and a loud non-resonant piece of wood or metal axis response - a rain stick. start on axis and move off while the beads flow. good approximation of white noise. other - a balloon. lots of frequency expressions possible that could reveal interesting characteristics.
Generally I'd really just roll with your voice though. speaking, whispering, etc.
i don't know what size the drum you're going to bring is, but you might want to bring something that will generate some low-end frequencies. maybe an empty water cooler jug?
Rubber bands are a favourite of mine when playing with friends' toys, especially stereo mics. The big, fat, blue ones. Stretch one out and pluck it against your chin, high-end snap + low end res.