Microphone Technique

You've rocked those lessons and now you have a band! Yes!  Now.....hows your mic technique? Bad technique can turn the best into the worse and shoot your vocal chords at the start of a strenuous set. You've embraced your instrument but now you are ELECTRIC!

Discovering The Process

Proximity

  • Think of the mic as an extension of your voice: And the monitors as an extension of your ears. Don't run away from it and don’t force your voice, enjoy the fact that you can let the mic take over. Take time during a soundcheck to make sure this is all clear. I've seen too many gigs ruined by slap dash sound checks and a lack of clarity on stage, arrive early for your gig and make sure your sound is perfect.  A good technician is invaluable during sound check. NO MATTER WHAT always be polite to your techy when soundchecking. At your gig you want them on your side. If you can, use one ear plug so you can hear your pitch and tone no matter how loud the band is.

  • Get your angles right: If you sing into a mic from a wrong angle, only half your voice is represented in the mix. You want all that lovely tone you've been working on to be heard. Sing into the center of the nose of your mic––not the side or across the top of it. This may take practice, but it pays off in a fuller more present vocal tone.

  • Hold the body of the mic, gripping too close to the head can result in feedback which is the direct opposite of what you want people to hear. Good mic technique includes holding the shaft of the mic.

  • Let them hear you: After all your hard work your want your audience to understand what you’re singing. If you move your head away as you fade the volume at the end of your phrase, your voice will drop out of the mix. Stay centred on your mic and stay present in your stage craft.

  • Consonants: Highlighting most consonants will cause disruptive pops and hisses. Think of your consonants as needing the same amount of air as their accompanying vowel sounds. Vowels are the stars of the song, consonants are there for rhythm.

Choosing Your Mic

Your Perfect Mic

  •  Choose a mic that fits you:  The right model can make you sound amazing, the wrong one can be a disaster. Mics are produced with their own personalities. If the mic doesn’t fit the personality of your voice, you can unconsciously tense up  in an attempt to compensate for the electronic alteration.

  •  A high-pitched vocal tone such as that of Pharrell Willliams or Birdy need a mic that will recreate but not exagerate the treble in their voices while adding warmth via the mid and lower tones. A deep, rich voice such as Nick Cave or Nina Simone will commonly need a mic designed to draw attention to upper mid and treble sparkle so as to phaze out muddiness and help the voice project over the other instruments. Additionally, consider your band. Is this an electric or an accoustic gig?

Rock The Mic

Rock the Mic

 

  •  The mic stand: Rockin the mic stand can be a blast onstage. You can tilt it, raise it up or drag it, similarly it can be a disaster. "Chuckle" I prescribe lots of rehearsal before your gig, get used to the feel and movement of your equipment.

  •  Do you're thing with the mic. If you are moving around the stage you might want to consider holding it. I personally favour wrapping the cable round my hand. Wind it loosely but grip it firmly. It looks cool and controls the tension on the xlr output. You want to create drama on stage. Slow and challenging songs I prefer to use a mic stand so I can have the best form. I can move my arms, shake my hips and shimmy and sometimes the less you move the more they pay attention. Feel the music. It's your stage find the best way to create drama for you.

  •  The trouble with an XLR cable:

  • I’ve seen singers grab the mic off the stand only to have it, along with the mic, land squeeling on the floor. Techys like their cables wrapped around stands so at sound check don’t forget to unwind the cable from the stand before you start your set so it’s a fast and seamless transition from stand to hand.

  • Similarly I've had cables come loose on me as I've gripped the mic. My quick thinking had me clicking the cable in and popping up from the floor on the first line of my song belt voice. It worked but only just. To avoid an onstage disaster do as I say not as I do, check your cables ;)
  • And lastly............get in lots of practise in rehearsal rooms, know your equipment and have a blast.