Microphone Placement

This is one of the steps people have the least amount of knowledge with, and what makes it even worse, this is one of the critical steps that must be addressed to achieve professional recordings. This step is required regardless if you are recording instruments, vocals or speech. Many low end mics, both dynamic and condenser, will come with a little desk top tripod mic stand.

The best thing you can do is throw them away or build a stand that this tripod will sit on. If you have to build a stand, you are better off investing $20.00 for a proper mic stand to begin with. When working with the ACX, this is critical. It will help you avoid being inconsistent with your recordings, which may get your project rejected. Consistency is a major requirement when it comes to passing the ACX tests.

If you record chapter 1 with your mic 2 inches from your mouth and then record chapter 2 with your mic 4 inches from your mouth, there will be a tremendous difference on how each chapter sounds. Depending on what mic you use, this distance can be as little as 1 inch to effect your recordings. So why do I suggest you throw away the little tripod that may have come with your mic?

Simple, first of all, the distance between your mouth and your mic should only be between 2 to 4 inches. You will never achieve this distance using the cheap desk top tripod mic stand that came with your mic. You need to understand that if you can not achieve this proper distance, the very first thing that will be effected is your noise to signal ratio.

The second thing that is effected is what is referred to as “Proximity Effect”. Simply put, the proximity effect refers to how much bass is added into the recording, without using any equalization, (EQ) or special effects. It is a mathematical equitation that determines the distance from when the sound hits the front of the mic diaphragm to the time the sound hits the back of the mic diaphragm and at which pressure this sound is delivered to the mic. If this sounds confusing, just keep reading and I promise you it will become very clear.

So knowing this, it is easy to see that placing the mic 2 inches from the sound source, in this case our mouth, will have a greater sound pressure then if we place the mic 10 inches away on a desk top mic stand.

Hold your hand two inches from your mouth and sing the alphabet. Now move your hand 10 inches away and do the same thing. You should notice that when your hand was closer, you could feel the air hitting your hand and on some letters, it felt stronger.

These letters are called plosives. Yet when you moved your hand further away, you could not feel anything or if you did, it was at a much lower pressure against your hand. This is a simply way to illustrate sound pressure. Now substitute your hand for a microphone that works off of detecting sound pressure at minute levels and you can see how moving your mic 1 or 2 inches can change how your audio is recorded.

So the simple way to achieve all these requirements is simply to have a recording area that not only blocks out unwanted outside noise, but also controls how the sound inside your recording area reacts to the room surfaces.

Combine this with selecting the proper mic that fits your voice along with your recording area and making sure you can achieve proper mic placement 100% of the time, and I have no doubt that you will notice a remarkable difference in your recordings.

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