How Singers Can Get the Most Out of Their Vocal Microphone

Article by: Allison Colby
LA Music Review | Advice for music creators

A good variety of musical equipment is essential for recording artists. It helps give structure to music by allowing you to combine instrumentals with vocals, something you can read more about by clicking here. Without vital tools, such as different instruments, recording equipment and the like, the sounds you create will never amount to anything.

One key piece of musical equipment is the vocal microphone. This article from Shout4Music notes how it’s the backbone of the music industry because it’s a central piece in studios, both home setups and professional establishments. A mic captures the human voice – one of the best instruments available – at its best. This is why several vocal mics are developed to properly amplify the voice. One is the Neumann U87 AI, a condenser mic producing a high-end, open, and airy sound for recording vocals and instrumentals. Another is the Neumann KMS 105, a handheld mic with incredible sound quality.

Aside from singing into a mic, there are other ways to maximize this essential piece of equipment. Here’s how.

1.   Hold the mic at an angle

It may come as a surprise, but Shure—an audio electronics and microphone brand—reveals that 98% of pop singers don’t know how to hold a mic properly. In their 2020 article “Holding a Mic in the Proper Position,” they reveal that you shouldn’t place your mic directly below your nose. This will record your breath, taking attention away from your vocals.

Instead, hold the mic to one side of your mouth—but make sure it is still pointing at the center of your mouth. To guide you, keep it at a 45-degree angle. This is how famous singers like Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra held their mics, allowing them to fully showcase their voices without capturing the sounds of their breathing.

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2. Don’t cup the mic

Another error that prevents you from amplifying your voice and maximizing using a mic is cupping it. Some artists may do this to reduce external noise and increase their base tone. Unfortunately, this has a minimal effect on preventing noise. Cupping the mic does more harm than good because it disrupts tone and volume, something that can prevent your listeners from hearing and appreciating your actual voice.

To avoid this, grip the mic at its handle. It’s there for a reason, so avoid cupping your mic. If you’re concerned about external noise, do a sound check before your recording or performance to find out if your mic can capture it. Should the answer be yes, address the noise’s source before you start your performance.

3. Know when to pull the mic away

Developing creativity is one of the essential skills you need as a musician. This post of ours shares how you must be patient in doing this if you want to effectively cultivate and build upon your craft. One way to be creative is to know when to pull the mic to or away from you. The basic rule is to pull away during high notes to prevent creating a distorted sound. Conversely, pull it closer to capture your low register.

Meanwhile, some singers alternate between these to create a proximity effect. According to Audio-Technica’s post “What Is Proximity Effect?” you make deep, earthy sounds when the mic is closer and a penetrating sound when the mic is farther. This creative technique takes time, patience, and practice, so experiment during your singing sessions to find out if you like it or if it suits your style.

4. Pretend there’s no mic

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The point of a mic is to amplify your voice when you sing so you don’t strain your vocal cords. If you overexert yourself while singing with a mic, you may end up with vocal damage or even laryngitis, as emphasized right here. These conditions can alter your voice and cause discomfort, preventing you from singing. That’s why one of the best ways to use a mic is to pretend you’re singing without one—in other words, at a normal volume.

As a singer, you’ll use mics for most of your career. These tips can help you use them to the best of your potential.

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by Allison Colby

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