When I’m recording new artists there are a few things that crop up around mic technique so here’s a just a really quick cheat-sheet for improving your microphone technique.
Most artists write their lyrics on their phones and we’re used to holding our phones down around our stomachs and looking down at them so often I find that newer artists end up looking down at their phones, reading their lyrics while recording. Its really important to look up, with your mouth directly in front of, and aiming towards, the microphone. Hold your lyrics behind the phone or, at Free House, you can pop your phone straight into the phone-holder attached to the mic stand.
The opposite problem to the one above is that artists can get carried away with excitement and jump around, nod their heads or sway from side to side while recording. This constant movement around the mic changes the way it hears you and you end up with an inconsistent recording.
Keep your head still for the best results.
If you are going to move around at all make sure there’s a good creative reason to, check out how Jay-Z moves slightly closer to the mic on every beat of the track and then away again in the video below – this puts a real bounce into the vocal recording and adds to the final song. If he moved his head from side to side instead his voice would loose all the bass and suddenly sound distant.
It can be tempting to stand right up next to the microphone when recording but there’s no need. Professional recording studios are acoustically treated so that even if you’re a little further away, and the engineer has to turn the mic up a bit more, you’ll get a clean recording.
On the other hand, moving closer to a microphone means a boost in the bass frequencies – its called the proximity effect and happens with all mics. Its why radio DJs have such booming, bassy voices – they’re really close to the microphone. But when you’re rapping or singing the extra plosives (‘p’, ‘b’ and ‘d’ sounds) that result from there being more bass in the recording can have an influence on the listeners sense of the rhythm of the track.
Its best to try and be about 6-10 inches from the microphone.