TCM MASTERING: GOOD MICROPHONE TECHNIQUE

Find the SWEET SPOT with great Microphone technique.

When I watch TV programmes like the X Factor, it drives me crazy to see artists singing with the microphone virtually in their mouths using their nose as some kind of buffer.

Pixie Lott springs to mind…..a great voice, but really lousy mic technique. Don’t get me wrong, I love Pixie but nobody has explained the true benefits of great mic technique to her.

By contrast watch somebody like Madonna who has excellent mic technique because she knows how to make herself sound the best she can.

Every microphone has what I call “a sweet spot” and finding that sweet spot will be the difference between a balanced vocal with great tone and a mush.

I think it was on the recent X-Factor series…..I heard a contestant comment that they had noticed that one of the superstar guests held the microphone a few inches away and how it sounded better. Alarmingly, he also mentioned that they were told by the sound guys on the show to hold the microphone as close as possible. To any seasoned and experienced sound engineer this is totally wrong advice.

The art of mic technique is based around the very simple premise of moving the mic closer (but not under your nose) for quiet parts of the song and away again when it gets louder. This evens out the vocal sound and gives a performance natural light and shade.

All microphones are designed around the principle of moving air and therefore will always sound best with a little distance between the vocalist and the microphone. Holding the mic too close to your mouth, when singing, cuts off that natural air flow around the diaphragm of the mic and you end up sounding dull and lifeless.

By allowing the mic to breathe you naturally create a SWEET SPOT where your voice sounds bright, you can hear diction and you will sound altogether better and cleaner.

Try it out for yourself next time you are singing in the studio or live on stage. You will hear and feel the difference and so will your listeners. If you ever get the opportunity to record in a professional recording studio, the engineer will place the microphone about 10cm away from you and there is a very good reason for that. He wants to find that natural sweet spot.

Latest Mastering News: TCM have just mastered the new album by top Austin, Texas supremo Ray Prim of the Ray Prim Project entitled “The World According to Me and Miss Shenequah Jones”.

More Mixing and Mastering News: Robert Gillies – ”Dating With A Checklist” mixed by CJ Boggs and mastered by Ted Carfrae.

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