3 Keys to Proper Microphone Technique for Recording VocalsDec 16, 2022
There are 3 major keys to recording vocals with awesome microphone etiquette. The microphone stand height, the distance your mouth is from the mic, and plosive prevention! These might seem like no brainers or no biggies, but dialing these elements in with precision will allow your microphone to do it’s job in the best way possible!
This might seem obvious, and it is pretty straight forward - you’ll want to raise or lower the microphone stand so the singer can sing right into the mic. More specifically you want them to sing into the diaphragm (in most condenser mics you can see the diaphragm and it looks like a circular disc inside the cage of the mic). Just make sure when the singer is singer, their mouth is in line with the diaphragm. Note that sometimes singers raise their head when they sing compared to when they’re just chillin, so the height might need to be slightly higher than when they’re just standing there.
When recording vocals you'll want to make sure the vocal mic placement is at the right distance from the mouth. 6 inches is a good sweet spot, possibly further if your singer is super loud. Easiest way to test your distance is to make the “shaka” sign with your hand- the distance between the tip of your thumb and the tip of your pinky from the mic to the mouth is usually good to go. If you’re too close to the mic you might experience proximity effect where the low frequencies sound louder than the high ones. Being too close might also accentuate unwanted mouth noises.
Lastly, you'll want to make sure you prevent plosives from hitting the diaphragm with too much air. Consonants like p, b, even t and d can often cause ugly puff sounds on microphones. Pop filters are your first defense, always use a pop filter. They will reduce the amount of air that hits your mic. Windscreens can be used as a second defense if your pop filter isn’t cutting it, but I wouldn't choose a windscreen in lieu of a pop filter. Plosive sounds can also be minimized by angling the mic away from your mouth, and if it’s still sounding like big wooshes of air on your p’s, just back up of the mic a little bit.
There is only so much you can do in the post recording mixing phase to make your vocals sound good when your original recording wasn’t optimal. Practice good mic technique and the mixing phase will be much easier (and non-surgical we some recording engineer would say!). Little by little you will add more tools to your toolkit and in no time you can be a professional recording engineer for yourself or others. The ability to record your own vocals will allow you to be self sufficient in the studio and soon enough you can be cutting your own albums or running your own demo singing business! Get to it!
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