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How To Setup a Vocal Microphone

Updated: May 28, 2023

How you set up your vocal microphone makes the difference between a great

recording and unusable take. This is Spencer Miles owner of Spencer Studios

which is your local recording studio in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Today we

are going to teach you how to set your microphone up to achieve the best

recording results.

Recording Studio Lancaster Pa

In a previous article we talked about what microphone to use and how in a

broad context. This

article will more closely cover specific positioning and similar factors.

Positioning will be relatively the same from microphone to microphone no

matter if you're using a ribbon or condenser. If your environment is free of

excess noise, we want to place the microphone between 8 and 12 inches away

from your mouth. If we go closer than 8 inches, we will have excessive

buildup in the bass region. Placing the mic at 8 inches will cause the

recorded signal to more accurately resemble how you hear your own voice. Placing

the mic at closer to 12 inches will create a more transparent sound to how

others hear your voice. I recommend the use of a mesh pop filter at a

minimum to reduce any moisture from making it to the microphone in addition

to preventing plosive issues. Placing the filter farther off of the

microphone can be a great way of maintaining your intended distance spacing.

Many people think the pop filter is the only means of reducing wind bursts

from letters like p and b however, it is not. Place the microphone either

slightly above or slightly below mouth level and rotate it to the left

approximately 30 degrees. This will reduce plosives the filter doesn't catch

as well as high frequency S issues. If your plosives are partially strong

you can use a metal pop filter with the mesh pop filter. SE electronics

makes a dual pop filter for this purpose.

Microphone choice can vary however, in most cases the best vocal microphone

is going to be a large condenser microphone. Dynamics can be particularly

useful for genres like rap and heavy metal. A ribbon mic might be used to

further round out a raspy timbre or create an increasingly mellow tone. That

being said I have used a large condenser on both rap and heavy metal so if

you can only buy one, buy a large diaphragm condenser microphone. The last

item we have yet to touch on is polar pattern. In 95% of cases cardioid also

known as uni-directional is going to be the best setting for vocals.

Before we wrap up this article, I want to clear up a few misconceptions. If

you are recording a single vocal your best results will be with one

microphone leading to a mono track. I occasionally hear of artists or

voice over actors who talk about using two microphones because the think it

sounds better. The human brain as observed from graphs like the

Fletcher-Munson phon curves is programed to think louder sounds better. When

you record in stereo you are essentially increasing the volume by 6db. The

recording itself is not actually better, it is just louder. There is no reason to use two microphones other than if you are aiming for a specific transient or eq effect. Use one microphone just like the professionals do and instead focus more on you craft and less on the technology.

Spencer Miles

Spencer Studios

313 W Liberty St, Lancaster, PA 17603


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