Brighton Singing Lessons – tips on Mic use

Microphone Technique Tips

I have been teaching singers for quite a while and it is a common occurrence that singers can be almost intimidated by the sound of their own voices being amplified. Stemming from this perhaps, there can also be quite a bit of confusion about how to use a microphone to get the best results both in a live context and a recording context.

Consider just for a moment, that in the past, Opera singers relied on training their voices for anything from 7 to 14 years to obtain enough vocal control. They needed sufficient projection to be heard (unaided by any form of amplification) by the entire audience in packed opera houses large enough to hold hundreds of people.

Luckily, with the invention of the microphone, the results of vocal amplification have enormously cut down the need for such stringent vocal training. However, that is perhaps not always a good thing, but this subject is for another post…

Think of your mic as your trusted tool, your friend & ally that will enable you not only to hear yourself, but also to grow to really enjoy the sound of your own singing, if used properly:

  • Never place your thumbs or hands over the part of the microphone where it receives most of the sound.
  • Did you know, if your microphone’s mesh head becomes smelly from saliva (yeuch!), you can unscrew the head and wash the foam inlay by removing it gently and rinsing in lukewarm water with a mild detergent. Let it dry thoroughly before replacing.
  • When you soundcheck in an empty venue, don’t forget the sound will alter once packed with people. Their clothes and bodies will absorb an enormous amount of the sound.
  • If you play at a festival outdoors in the summer, the weather will have an influence on the sound and how it carries. On a dry day the air molecules will be dry and carry the sound faster. On a wet day, each air molecule is heavy with moisture so the vibrations in the air cannot happen as fast, the sound will be duller. Notice you can hear planes flying overhead a lot clearer on a dry sunny day.
  • To make life easier for yourself when singing a song with particularly low notes, such as ‘Sweet Love’, change the EQ on your channel by boosting the bass. This means you don’t have to sing those low notes quite so loud and the sound of your lower register will be enhanced.
  • Pull back off the mic when you go for your full ‘chest belt’ in the chorus, otherwise you risk overpowering your audience.

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