Microphone Basics

A microphone does more than simply amplify your performance, it allows you to express subtleties and nuances that are yours alone. As one of my teachers said “25% of your performance is the microphone.” Learning how to use a mic effectively and comfortably will improve your performances.

  • Hold the microphone by its shaft. Holding the ball of the microphone distorts the signal going into the microphone. (Note: beat boxers and some vocal percussionists use this fact to their advantage, but for “regular” singing we don’t want this distortion.)

  • Keep your lips off the microphone. To avoid distortion or a muffled, muddy sound, the microphone should stay 2 to 3 inches from your mouth during normal singing. You will have to experiment a little as the distance depends on your natural power and ability to project.

  • Find the furthest distance you can move from the microphone and still sound amplified. Listen for the amplification effect in the MONITER. Move no further from the mic than this distance in performance.

  • Practice using the microphone to enhance or lessen certain effects until it becomes second nature.

  • Be sure you can hear yourself, not just the accompaniment. If using a backing track, set the track volume to a volume slightly less loud than your singing.

  • Pointing the microphone directly towards a speaker (including your monitor) can cause a high-pitched noise called FEEDBACK. If you are holding a mic, keep the head pointed toward the ceiling when you are not using it. That way you won’t inadvertently point the head toward a monitor.

  • Having the volume too high can cause FEEDBACK and DISTORTION.

  • Consider taking the mic off the stand and holding it. You have more control over distance this way. (Be sure to move the microphone stand to the side if you are not using it. The audience wants to see you, not the stand. )

  • Microphones amplify the puffs of air created with certain consonants – most noticeably “p”s and sometimes “b”s and “t”s. Aiming these consonants slightly over the top or slightly to the side of the mic head can keep them from “popping.”

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