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15 Microphone Techniques You Should Be Using

Improve your podcast's audio with these 15 essential microphone tips to get professional sounding shows.

By Jim Cretney | 23/11/2018

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Want to know some more useful tips for getting the best quality audio you can for your podcast? Take a look at these 15 tips for increasing your audio quality.

15. Distance

Don't get too close or too far away from the microphone. Too close and you risk blowing out the microphone and peaking; Too far away and you'll end up sounding like you fell down a well! Try spreading out your hand like the picture to the left and put your thumb against the mic, then your little finger to your mouth. This is a good measurement of how roughly far you should be from the mic.

14. Speak Directly into Your Mic

Would you face away from a person you're trying to talk to? Well the same goes for facing away from the microphone, or to the side of the microphone. This will reduce the volume of your audio and also make it sound like you're not in the same room as the mic. Make sure you're facing your microphone head on, and ideally it should be at about head level. This will help you achieve a consistent volume throughout your recordings and make you sound a lot clearer.

13. Pop Filter

Getting a pop filter is essential as this can stop any popping sounds like P's and T's, reducing the risk of peaking. It also acts like an extra barrier, stopping any spit landing on the microphone which is handy as most pop filters are easy to clean. It can also stop you from getting too close to the microphone. Pop filters come in a few different styles too. There's the regular windshield that people are used to seeing, and then there's gooseneck ones like the one to the left, which are fully adjustable.

12. No Reflective Surfaces

Tabletops, mirrors, and windows will reflect sound back to the microphone making everything sound echoey on your recordings. You can avoid this by recording your audio somewhere without any of these things, or do small things like pulling curtains closed over windows and adding soft furnishings. Some people even go to the extent of putting blankets up on their walls, securing cushions to the corners of the room, or even just recording under a blanket! (Though be careful with that option! Make sure your blanket doesn't brush the microphone!)

11. Aim Your Microphone

Aiming your microphone too high or low can cause more popping sounds to occur. Make sure you aim your microphone correctly, talk into your microphones capture range and, as we said before, centre yourself in front of the microphone. It's also an idea to position your microphone so it hangs down from above, rather than it coming up from below your mouth. This is because you often expel air downwards when you talk, so if the mic is positioned from above, it won't pick up the air making it less likely that your audio will peak.

10. Don't Blow Into The Mic

If you blow into the microphone, you will cause peaking and some really nasty sounding audio. Microphones are built to pick up sound waves, not wind! This and tapping or blowing into your microphone can cause permanent damage to your microphone. Instead, if you need to test volume levels, try clapping or speaking instead.

9. When Not in Use, Turn it OFF

Microphones can heat up a lot when they're left on which can cause permanent damage. The diaphragm in the microphone can deteriorate and that can cause noise distortion in your recordings. Not to mention the amount of electricity you'll be wasting on keeping a microphone live when not in use! Just make sure that you turn off your microphone when you aren't using it and it will be just fine.

8. Not Too Loud!

Microphones are designed for normal volume levels, whether that be vocals or music. There's no need for your to raise your voice. If volume levels seem low, try adjusting the gain for your microphone or check the headphone volume levels. If you're too loud, you'll damage the diaphragm of your microphone.

7. Label Your Microphone

When you first get your microphone, you'll need to set it up to record audio correctly. Some have dials or switches you might want to adjust to get the perfect levels or settings for recording. It always helps to the make a label with all these settings on and attach it to your microphone for quick reference later on.

6. 2 Microphones are Better Than 1

If you can manage, it always helps to have two microphones. With two microphones, if you're recording solo, you'll have a backup microphone incase anything goes wrong with your own, and if you're recording and you have a guest, they can have their own microphone instead of them having to share yours.

5. Upright or Upside Down?

There are two common positions for microphones; Upright, with the head of the microphone at the top, or Upside Down, with the head on the bottom. In the end, it all comes down to personal preference, but one thing to note is that heat rises after long periods of time which can cause damage to the diaphragm when it's upright.

4. Cables

If you have bad quality cables, they can ruin even the best microphones audio recordings. The things you want to bear in mind when looking for good quality cables are:

  • Length
  • Cores
  • Shielding

Some good brands to go to for good quality cables are Mogami, Lynx Pro and Stagg.

3. Condenser or Dynamic?

Two main points here:

Condenser Microphones are for close up audio like spoken word so they will be perfect for most podcasts, due to their close range and sensitivity.

Dynamic Microphones are perfect for picking up noises that are further away due to their ability to pick up less bleed and focus on far away noises.

2. Colour Coordinate

When you set up your podcast studio, the likelihood is that you're going to have a lot of cables. That can get extremely confusing so we recommend colour coordinating your cables so that you can keep track of what goes where. You can also use cable ties or other forms of cable organisation to keep everything neat and tidy.

1. Microphone Processor

A microphone processor can really help to enhance your voice for a grander feel and greater clarity. It can really make a difference in the sound of your voice, and you can adjust your voice to sound exactly how you'd like it to sound. A good idea for those who aren't that confident in how their voice sounds on recordings.

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