Top Microphone Tips for Better Sounds

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Do you want better sound quality from your microphone – read on and learn.

1. Choosing Your Location With Intent

You need to be choosing your location wisely. You should look for locations that don’t feature a lot of noise in the background especially if you’ll be shooting dialogue. While it might seem like a waterfall is the perfect spot, the sounds of water crashing down are due to produce a lot of noise that your microphone picks up. Therefore, you want to try to stick to a place that is quiet without a lot of ambient noise.

When you are shooting inside, you will want to find a place without a lot of reverb. Unfortunately, bare wooden floors are going to reflect sound much more than you would want. This can result in more echo than you might like. Because of this, you should be looking for a location that has objects in place to break the reflections. One of the easiest and most cost effective ways to achieve this is by hanging blankets.

2. Getting The Mic Closer To Your Subject

If you can get the microphone closer to your subject, the better it will pick up sound from the person you want it to. This can give you the ability to keep the condenser microphone from picking up more environmental sounds than the actual subject. If you keep the microphone right next to the subject’s mouth, you can set the record level much lower while picking up the right level from your intended subject.

This is sort of like balancing flash with natural light. You will find it getting a lot brighter the closer you get to your subject. Likewise, the lower exposure you can use to make the environment darker. That being said, if you are using shotgun microphones, you’ll want to keep the proximity effect in mind.

3. Lav Mic Placement

You will find these microphones to be omnidirectional. Because of this, they can fully pick up sounds coming from every direction. It’s important to optimize the placement to get the best results. Ideally, you should try to get them around 6 inches from the mouth of the subject. For anyone conducting interviews or for doing vlogs, you can always attach them to the collar area of your shirt.

Having them fully visible isn’t something that is going to be entirely possible all of the time. You will typically need to hide them for those narrative pieces you do. Therefore, you could consider taping them to the inside of your shirt collar. This can keep them in the optimal location without making them visible. However, you’ll likely notice that you won’t be getting as good of a sound as if it was left unobstructed. You will want to do some testing to tell whether or not it’s suitable.

4. Get Creative With The Placement

You will find that lav mics aren’t the only microphones you need to pay close attention to when you are placing them. You will find a lot of closed shots or spaces aren’t going to provide enough room for using a boom microphone overhead the subject.

You can find Parker showing a very good example of 2 people that are speaking with one another in a vehicle that was recorded with a shotgun microphone. In this case, you cannot fit a boom mic overhead. Because of this, you’ll need another option. In this case, a shotgun mic is hidden from the camera directly by the dashboard. It is correctly positioned using a boom microphone that hides in the back of the car.

5. Test Your Recording Levels

This one can catch you off guard. It’s happened to me specifically a couple of times with the Tascam DR100. I will accidentally lower the level dial while I was moving locations or I would hit the mic out for another microphone that runs a lot louder and then makes the mistake of forgetting to check the clip which can distort the audio.

Therefore, whenever you are setting up to record something, you want to do a test beforehand. That way, you know you aren’t causing clipping in the microphone and to ensure you aren’t recording too quietly. Nick recommends that you have your levels peaking at around -18 and -6dB.

6. Use A Windshield

You will find that even the most expensive and best-sounding microphones are subjective to wind problems. They are very sensitive to it. It can cause a lot of things including clipping and rumbling that will ruin the quality of your recording. While you don’t want to rely on the foam windshields that come with the microphone, you should look for a dead cat-style windshield as they are reliable. I use Rode’s windshields a lot.

7. Do a Sync Clap before Shooting

While this isn’t nearly as important to do as it once was, it is still a good idea. With software we are using nowadays being so advanced, it can make it unnecessary. However, it is still something good to practice to make your life issue if it doesn’t work for some reason.

One of the tips that are mentioned in the video that is brilliant yet simple is to clap numerous times to match the take number. Meaning, you would clap once on your first take, twice on the second, and three times on the third.

Mastering microphone techniques is crucial for capturing the essence of sound, a principle that extends into the exploration of sound art. ‘Can Sound Art Change the Way We Experience Music?’ delves into how sound art pushes the boundaries of auditory perception, reshaping our engagement with music through innovative soundscapes and recording practices.

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