In today’s session I’m setting the record straight on mic technique.
There are a so many factors involved in producing a podcast.
Mic technique is where it all starts, and I prefer to allow my mic to capture the most transparent, and full sound of my voice.
Then I setup my preamp, and interface, to accommodate my voice as recorded as transparently as possible.
Unfortunately, there are many podcasters who don’t follow this procedure. They start with bad mic technique and then attempt to make up for it in post-production. This is entirely backwards, and leads to all kinds of difficulties.
Let me set the record straight on mic technique.
Tip #1 – Allow the mic to pick-up the full frequency range
You want the mic to pic up the entirety of your voice in as even, and transparent, a way as possible. The low end, the mid, and the highs should all be recorded as they would sound to someone standing right in front of you.
So, put the mic right in front of you. Not to the side of you as so many podcasters, and even some radio personalities, want to do. Now some will say that certain mic sound great off-axis – that is, not directly in front of the person speaking – but the fact is that’s not scientifically possible. Sure, one mic may be better than the other, but none will sound the same when recording near your cheek as it will recording in front of you.
If you record to the side you will lose brightness – meaning you will lose some clarity to your vocal. So set the mic in front of you, not on the side of your head at a 90 degree angle.
Tip #2 – Don’t place the mic too close
Again, a lot of people like to put their mic one, or two, inches from the side of their face. This produces an abnormally high low end while diminishing the brightness from your voice. I suggest you set the mic a few degrees off-axis, and in front of you, but about 8-10 inches away from your mouth. Then use your preamp, or vocal processing EQ effect, to roll off the low end at about 80-100hz. This is a natural, and necessary cut-off point to avoid any low frequency rumbling, or plosive sounds. Then, of course, use some great plugins to bring the base out without effecting the volume level – but that’s another show, for another day.
You don’t need the mic right next to your face, as it will only cause problems for you in post production. It leads to too much dynamic range, and in podcasting we want to limit the dynamic range, and keep our volume levels across the frequencies of our voice rather even. This makes our voice more intelligible while people are engaged in other actives like driving, running, doing chores, etc., which is how many people listen to podcasts.
Tip #3 – Practice proper mic technique
This is a fairly simple concept. If you’re going to get loud, back-off the mic. If you’re whispering, move closer to the mic. Otherwise, don’t move around too much. Now, if you have a mice like the RE20/320 you can move around a bit as it has excellent off-axis pick-up – relatively speaking.
Tip #4 – Use a mic windscreen, or pop-filter
I use a windscreen on my mic, even though there’s one built in. I suggest you do the same. You can also use a pop-filter, but I don’t like them as much.
One last point I should mention is that my suggestions above assume you’re following my course on podcasting, and using the equipment I’m using. I would never suggest a distance from the mic for any microphone, using any preamp, because it really depends. But if you’re using my hardware setup, it works perfectly. Even if you’re not using my set up, you can still follow these general rules as guidelines to help you get started. Remember, use the mic as a tool to pick up your full vocal range! That’s the key.
If you think you’ll be moving around a lot then buy an RE320, or RE20. They’re great at picking up up the full range of your voice even when you go off-axis.
If you’re ready to start a podcast, or you want to learn how to produce a higher-quality podcast then become a member and get access to all of my courses on podcasting.