All Things About Mic Placement

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Music is good for the ears, but there are a lot of factors that can ruin its beauty. Mic placement, for example, is one thing that should be considered most especially when recording or performing before a crowd.

Mic placement requires skill. The person in charge, otherwise known as the recording engineer, must have good ears for such task. With practice and basic understanding, mic placement would be more like an art than a challenging job. This article will talk about everything that you’ll need to know about mic placement.

Keep distance

Keeping the right distance is one of the golden rules in microphone placement. In most cases, if you place the microphone too close to the sound source, it would probably create distortion, unwanted noise or unwanted effects. Additionally, placing a mic too close to a moving object is not advisable as it might get hit by the object.

The following are the different techniques used in microphone placement:

Distant mic’ing is a technique in which a microphone is placed in a distance (3 feet or more) from the sound source in order to capture the totality of the sound source. Usually, there are different sources captured in this technique and its goal is to get the natural mix of its sound.

In the contrary, close mic’ing is another technique that is placed relatively close to the sound source (1-3 inches). This focuses on capturing the sound of a single source. This helps eliminate unwanted noises from the environment. This technique is commonly used by those recording at home.

Accent mic’ing is a technique where a microphone is placed closer to a specific sound in a larger ensemble. When using this technique, make sure to balance out the accent to the overall pickup so that it wouldn’t create an unnatural sound.

Aside from the techniques mentioned above, consider also the highly-reflective surfaces near the microphone.  These are hard walls, table top and windows. Avoid placing the microphone near these surfaces as it can create feedback.

Avoid the “Phasing Effect”

The 3:1 rule of microphone placement  followed by professional recording engineers says that:

“Two microphones, intended to pick up two sound sources, must be placed apart at least three times the distance that either microphone is from it’s intended sound source”

Phasing Effect occurs when one sound source is picked up by different mics placed on different places. This is because sound waves interfere with each other.

Mic placement varies on different sources

Mic placement varies depending on the sound source. Mic placement for spoken words differ from the mic placement for musical instruments. It also goes the same for each musical instrument. Mic placement for violin differs from the guitar, bass, drum set, trumpet, french horn and everything else. Here are a few tricks to guide you of the different mic placements for different sound sources.

  1. In mic’ing a vocalist, to achieve a natural voice timber while standing on a podium, make sure to aim the microphone at the mouth and not on the sternum (breastbone).
  2. In mic’ing acoustic guitars, pointing the microphone into the sound hole gives more body while pointing it closer to the neck gives more string attack.
  3. In mic’ing a piano, a microphone with a wide frequency response is best suited for this wide-ranged instrument. For a clean natural sound, condenser mics are the best choice.
  4. In mic’ing an upright bass, the most common choices are large-diaphragm condenser and large-diaphragm dynamic microphone. Mic placing an upright bass is tricky and so it is important to experiment on different positions.
  5. In mic’ing a violin, a typical microphone choice is a wide-diaphragm condenser microphone. It should face the top of the instrument. When playing classical music, keep the microphone 3-8′ above and away from the violinist to produce a smooth tone. For a folky tone, place the microphone 6-8″ closer.

The items mentioned above are just few of the tricks that a recording engineer must apply for a better audio quality. There are a lot of resources online which can give you an in-depth knowledge on mic placement.

Practice makes perfect

No matter how good your sense of hearing is, it will always take a lot of practice in order to perfect this skill. Experiment on different positions and microphones until you get the desired sound. Remember, microphone placement is a matter of personal taste and there is no ideal way to place a microphone. But with this article, I hope you’ll have a good start.

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1 comments
Williamnids says May 8, 2016

Thanks-a-mundo for the forum.Really thank you! Much obliged. Kapperman

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