Best mic position for music recording?

Today’s subject is a little bit technical…

The question is…

What is the best mic position for music recording?

Now, there are two extremes actually in this. Too close or too far.

Why should it matter how close you are to your microphone when recording vocals? And, as long as it’s picking up sound at a sufficient volume level, isn’t that good enough?

Well, not really.

If you want a quality vocal recording, it really does make a difference if you’re too close or too far from the mic; and here’s why.

If you’re too close to the mic…

While there certainly will not be any issues with capturing enough sound when you’re very close to your microphone, there are often unwanted side effects that may make you want to take a small step back and simply turn the input gain up a little more instead.

First and foremost among our concerns, if we’re singing very close to the microphone are plosives.

Plosives are the sounds within language phonetics that include a sudden outward push of air, or a sudden stop of the airflow within our speech.

In English, this includes the sounds typically associated with the letters: b, c (hard), d, g (hard), h, k, p, q(u), and t.

Microphones are susceptible to the pops and clicks produced by these sounds. Sounds that push lots of air are especially problematic for microphones to handle.

Along with plosives, another major issue with being too close to your mic are sibilants.

Sibilants are phonetic sounds that require air to be pushed out in a hissing way, such as in the letters s, sh, and z.

As we are forcing air out towards the mic there are inherent issues during recording when singing these sounds.

In addition, sibilant sounds typically carry a strong high-frequency component.

This is what makes the hiss sounds feel so piercing to our ears. Standing slightly further away from the microphone can help dissipate the amount of sibilant sound power that is picked up, thereby creating a cleaner, clearer-sounding vocal recording.

Best mic position for music recording?

And what happens if you’re too far from the mic?

When you stand far away from your microphone, in order to capture sufficient vocal power you will need to turn up the input gain.

But, when you do this you are also increasing the input level of all the other ambient sounds captured from within your recording spaces.

This means you’re picking up very low-level noise sounds within your room that you didn’t even notice previously, and now they’re competing with the other elements of your recording.

These ambient sounds will also include the reflection of your vocals echoing off the walls and other surfaces of the room, which can add to your direct vocal sound and lead to a hollow or muddled vocal sound in your recordings.

The final question we ask is how far is too far and how close is too close? What is the best mic position for music recording?

Ultimately it’s a matter of making the best compromise between proximity and distance that optimizes our recording quality while minimizing the degree of unwanted negative side effects.

Your best position will be somewhere between 2 and 12 inches (5 and 30cm) from the face of your microphone. You should also place a pop screen filter about 1 to 2 inches (2,5 to 5cm) from the mic and apply additional measures in your recording space and mix, as needed, based on your choice of distance.

Also, you must consider what kind of recording you’re after, either quiet or loud, and position yourself accordingly.

Let me know if this helps you.

And yeah, let me know if you have any other subject you would like me to cover.


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