This is just a basic guide into microphones. I’m not an expert on sound, but I hope this will give you an insight about microphones, and how they work.
While most people think that they know how to hold a microphone, I’ve often noticed that when you actually give someone a microphone to sing into, they need to be shown Mic technique as to how it actually works, how to hold it etc, to get the best from it.
Inside the microphone there is a membrane with some wires attached to it. When you sing into your microphone, your sound waves will hit this membrane and turn them into an electrical current. This current then can travel down the microphone cable and into your mixer/speakers etc.
There are several different types of microphones on the market, such as dynamic, condenser, ribbon etc, I’m basically going to concentrate on the dynamic mic as this tends to be the one that most vocalists use.
You may also have see the terms directional or omni-directional when looking at microphones. This basically is how the microphone picks up the sound. Directional meaning that the sound needs to come from the front of the microphone, Omni-directional, means that the microphone can pick up sound from around the sides of the microphone too. A quick mention here to about Cardiod . You often see this term with microphones – basically it means that the pick up area of the microphone is a heart shape.
When you sing or speak, sound is generated from your mouth, so you will need to direct your voice towards the pick-up pattern of your microphone.
Most microphones are designed to be held in a specific way. With our dynamic microphone, you will need to keep your hand away from the grille part of the microphone (as this is where the sound will enter your microphone) and hold the stem firmly. If you hold the grille part of your microphone, you will find that this can cause an increased chance of leading to feedback (that horrible screeching sound from your speakers).
You should aim to hold your microphone horizontally towards your mouth, rather than holding it vertically, where the sound can actually skim over the top of your microphone. If you turn your head when singing, move your arm and take the microphone with you, otherwise you will find the microphone fails to pick you up when you move out of its pick-up pattern. You may possibly find your arm aches from holding your microphone correctly after a while. Keep swapping arms, or you may find a mic stand helpful.
How far away from your mouth should you hold your microphone?
As a rough guide about 4-6 inches away from your mouth when singing normally, but we need to go back to how a microphone works to get the best from this.
Remember earlier I said about the sound wave hitting this diaphragm inside your microphone to create an electrical current. The louder you sing, the more forcefully the soundwaves will hit this diaphragm, the quieter you sing, the less force it’s got. So bear this in mind when holding your microphone. If you’re singing a quiet note, bring your microphone towards your voice, and take your microphone away more if you are singing a loud note. This also should be applied with frequencies too. If you sing a low note, the frequency is lower, so bring your mic a little closer. If you’re singing a high note, the frequency is higher, and is able to cut through easier than a lower note, so move your mic a little further away. Also if you hold your microphone too close to your lips, the lyrics are going to sound muffled.
A microphone cannot be used to overcome poor singing/speaking technique, just as buying an expensive microphone is not going to make a bad voice sound good.
Some guidelines about buying a microphone:
Try out several microphones before you commit to buy. More expensive microphones have bigger frequency ranges to suit different vioces, so try to select the microphone that suits your voice. When you are trying out microphones, make sure the amplification system is set flat, (eg no extra treble, bass or reverb), so that you can hear the differences between the microphones.
Buy a mic most suited to the physical setting where you will be using the mic, eg don’t buy a recording mic, if you plan to sing live vocals.
Practice with your microphone to find out how to get the best sound from it. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
Oh, some other things I need to mention:
Don’t point the microphone at the monitor or the speakers as this can cause feedback.
Don’t drop or bang your microphone as you can damage the delicate membrane/diaphragm, which converts your voice into an electric signal.
Don’t get your microphone wet, you could receive an electric shock.
Always carry a spare microphone lead, as they can let you down when you least expect it.
Wired or Wireless- I’ll leave that down to your own personal choice.
mic technique for vocals
© Successful Singing