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Microphone technique / dos and don'ts

  • 17-10-2011 11:21am
    #1
    Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators Posts: 28,633 Mod ✭✭✭✭


    It's one of those things that's always baffled me - people don't seem to understand how microphones work and why it's important to know, so I thought I'd start this thread.

    A microphone is the tool with which a vast majority of vocalists ply their trade, you *must* know how they work. The biggest offenders are the ones who stand oblivious in front of a speaker with feedback wailing and deafening the crowd. You people should be taken out and shot! Always do your best to keep the microphone behind the speakers to avoid that sort of thing.

    Don't spend €20 on a mic and wonder why it's rubbish - you get what you pay for! You'll get a really good practice mic for €50 and a really good stage mic for €200. Don't be afraid to spend and don't think that it's just the instrumentalists who need to concern themselves with equipment :) Shure and Sennheiser are good brands, I'm sure other folks here can suggest some alternatives.

    Practice how close your mouth should be to the mic for the various volume levels you're trying to achieve. If you're holding it in your hand, then you're going to find this easier. If it's on a stand, make sure you know how to quickly readjust the stand and/or tighten things if they're starting to slip. It's easy to become all muddled on a stage when trying to faff about with a misbehaving stand, so make sure it's second nature before hand so it doesn't put your performance on tilt.

    All that seems very obvious and simplistic, but it never ceases to amaze me the amount of vocalists that slip up in these things and, if I'm honest, how often I've done them myself :) Anyone else have some useful suggestions?


Comments

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,095 ✭✭✭Wurly


    Gret post Shiminay...

    For a singer that's new to the gigging world, you'll get great mileage out of a standard Shure SM58.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,170 ✭✭✭nyarlothothep


    AKG is good too. Also pop shields are good for avoiding hard Ps.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5 Andyfly55


    I think a good monitor is a big part of mic technique.

    I use an in ear monitor and judging the distance from the mic is a lot more straight forward.

    (If youre too close for a high note, you cant help but back off!):)


  • Registered Users Posts: 232 ✭✭AoifeCork


    Wurly wrote: »
    Gret post Shiminay...

    For a singer that's new to the gigging world, you'll get great mileage out of a standard Shure SM58.

    Yes yes yes! SM58 is like the old best friend of every singer. Just be able to clean your best friends head every now and again! ;) Especially if like me you get nice and close to it, the moisture picks up dirt and can clog the mic, losing you out on some top-end and some volume as well.

    Currently looking into getting an Audix or Sennheiser wireless myself. Need something will a little bit more sensitive-I tend to move alot on stage :p

    Anybody got a preference for a mic stand? Hercules all the way? :)


  • Registered Users Posts: 232 ✭✭AoifeCork


    Andyfly55 wrote: »
    I think a good monitor is a big part of mic technique.

    I use an in ear monitor and judging the distance from the mic is a lot more straight forward.

    (If youre too close for a high note, you cant help but back off!):)

    Hi Andy! Can I ask what pack you're using? Are they all the same, would the cheapest-Shure-do the job like any other brand? Its my understanding that they do the same job all round...


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 16,115 ✭✭✭✭Nervous Wreck


    No matter how cool you think it looks, don't sing sideways into the mic and don't hold it like this:

    4710126715_cea7f556f6.jpg



    If you do that, you're doing it wrong.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 7 Komodo Studios


    Find out the pattern of your mic and use accordingly. Just because it's a dynamic doesn't mean it's cardioid. I've got Sennheiser 935 and OM7 which are both amazing in the right hands, but don't suffer being treated like cardioids at all.

    Watch Phil Collins and Mick Hucknall live to see how to use mics properly.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5 Andyfly55


    AoifeCork wrote: »
    Hi Andy! Can I ask what pack you're using? Are they all the same, would the cheapest-Shure-do the job like any other brand? Its my understanding that they do the same job all round...

    Hi Aoife,

    I use a Sennheiser EW300 IEM, with just one earphone in. (So I can still hear my vocal but not feel like Im in my own world.)

    I really think you get what you pay for when it comes to any wireless system.
    I used a cheap Shure one years ago and it was constantly cutting out and getting interference.

    Invest in a good system and it should last you years.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 26 UnklePhil


    No matter how cool you think it looks, don't sing sideways into the mic and don't hold it like this:

    4710126715_cea7f556f6.jpg



    If you do that, you're doing it wrong.

    Unless you want to treat your fans to a bunch of feedback and muffled garbage sounds instead of your vocals - which in this case may be muffled garbage


  • Registered Users Posts: 187 ✭✭BlackBlade


    SM 58A Beta is one of the best you can get and is only a tiny bit more cash than the std SM58


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  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 7 Komodo Studios


    My new favourite mic for general applications where a 58 would be considered normal is a Neumann KMS 104. It just sounds more natural. Technically, it's a condensor, but since it works the same as a dynamic, who cares? It's so much nicer than a 58beta. I record lots of live shows, and this gives me the quality of a studio mic in a live setting.

    For metal, growling, screaminig, rapping and "extreme" applications, the Audix OM7 is king for me. It's hypercardioid, but once you're aware of that, you'll appreciate what it can do.

    Whatever mic you use, do try to get to know it first.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,785 ✭✭✭9959


    I like to use the biggest one available, it doubles as a shield against bottles and brickbats.
    Still have all my own teeth!:D


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2,350 ✭✭✭doolox


    When using a mic it is preferable to make your "p" sounds like a "b" and you "f" sounds with the mouth slightly open, more like a "wh" sound so that you reduce air pressure known as plosives which can be distorted by some mikes. Breath shields will also help in this regard.

    Special electronics boxes called de essers are available which modify high frequency components from some vocal sounds which can be distorted or over emphasised on microphones.

    Try and get mics with a frequency response greater than 15Khz and you will have less trouble with distortions due to "f","p" and "s" sounds in your vocals.

    I use both Sennheiser and Shure Mics and find them very good.

    Always check and take care of all cables, don't stretch or stand on them, when gigging and always have spares to hand for each cable you use.

    Audiences do not appreciate failures in sound equipment and you will not have time to troubleshoot and repair suspect items mostly cables which take a lot of punishment in live gigs.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 31 Big Tanya


    AoifeCork wrote: »
    Just be able to clean your best friends head every now and again! ;):)

    This made me chuckle....
    Thank you AoifeCork.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1 EDvoicetalent


    Hi guys, just following the thread here.
    I do voice-over work and it really depends on what you want to use the mic for. for example, LIVE or studio work, podcasts are now very popular so a cheaper USB mic may do.
    It all depends on the quality you want, and the budget you have! SM58 would be popluar LIVE mic. A more expensive, condenser mic such as Rode or Neumann may be more suitable for studio environments.
    Thea mic stand can have a great effect on the overall sound of the mic. Depending on the surface you have the mic on, it may pick up floor vibrations etc. As regards stands, I got a great stand called a Revelator from a crowd in Dublin - enhancedaudio.ie
    Youtube can be agreat way to get advice and to hear/see some mics and mic stands in action so to speak! :)


  • Registered Users Posts: 22,080 ✭✭✭✭endacl


    For a masterclass in mic technique go see Sinead O'Conner live. Doesn't matter whether you like her music or not. Astounding.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,785 ✭✭✭9959


    endacl wrote: »
    For a masterclass in mic technique go see Sinead O'Conner live. Doesn't matter whether you like her music or not. Astounding.

    Ahem...what exactly does she do with the mic that's so 'Astounding'???


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Music Moderators Posts: 14,305 CMod ✭✭✭✭The Master


    9959 wrote: »
    Ahem...what exactly does she do with the mic that's so 'Astounding'???

    I think he means the mic technique she uses, like in this example

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECwMWrV-KL0


  • Registered Users Posts: 22,080 ✭✭✭✭endacl


    The Master wrote: »
    I think he means the mic technique she uses, like in this example

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECwMWrV-KL0

    That's it. Her right hand/arm stays practically immobile when she holds a mic. She uses head movements in relation to the mic to enhance what she does with her voice in terms of volume, dynamic and tone. I'm not a huge Sinead fan, btw.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,785 ✭✭✭9959


    Sorry, I got you now. What you're really saying is that Sinead's 'Head' technique is superb.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 22,080 ✭✭✭✭endacl


    9959 wrote: »
    Sorry, I got you now. What you're really saying is that Sinead's 'Head' technique is superb.

    I'm sure I wouldn't know anything about that!

    :pac:


  • Registered Users Posts: 21 areidy


    I was a long suffering live band sound engineer who had to watch guys/gals up on stage standing a foot from the mic and their friends and family giving me the eye because they can't hear the vocals!! Many a time i had to walk to the front of the stage and push the mic to their mouths... A lot of it was people freaking out hearing their own voice in monitors for the first time, others just no practice. Funny sometimes, like pulling teeth other times:( And, of course it's my fault if you can't be heard...


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