Music Production Tips – Microphone Placement

It may seem like a simple thing to do, but it ends up being one of the most common over sites of a new home producer. Where should you put the mic?

Well… before we dig into that we need to settle on a few things. Mic placement can affect a lot of things when you record and you need to decide what it is you want to do first. There is also the simple fact that when working at home we don’t have all the special walls, and fancy gear they use in pro studios, so we are forced to use our heads, and imagination.

Where you are recording plays a big part in where you stick the microphone. What kind of space do you have? Big room? Small room? Problems with noises from outside? Do you have an audio interface? A USB or traditional Mixer board? What you have to work with makes a world of difference.

Let’s start with isolation. When you are recording, the person playing, or singing will need to hear the backing track, a drumer might want to use a metronome (the piano time clicker). The question is how can they listen to it without having it bleed over into the mic?

If you have a mixer board, or a better quality audio-interface you can usually just plug a pair of headphones into an output port to listen to the mixing track combined with what you are playing/singing. If that is not an option you can use two computers. One to play the backing track, and another to record with. If that is also not an option you can try isolating the mic from the backing track.

If that isn’t an option you can get a cheap audio interface that you can plug amped instruments and mics into and record directly into the computer. I think things sound too digital when done this way, but you might be happy with the results. The next option is to isolate the mic from the backing track as well as you can. If you have an amped instrument, or a small enough PA, sticking the recording mic and the amp/PA in a closet with a bunch of blankets padding the door will usually work. Putting them in a hallway away from you is another possibility.

If all else fails and you simply have no way of separating the mic from the backing track completely, all you can do is watch the volume levels on the backing track and try to keep the mic pointed in the other direction. Hanging up blankets and other “baffles” is about the best you can do to kill the bleed over. I have had some success with taping cardboard boxes that have been bent into an accordion shape to the walls, and blankets hung over a clothing line. It isn’t a 100% solution, but if that’s all you’ve got, that’s what you use.

For best results you want to use a regular mic and a mixer or audio interface for recording, and an amp/pa for playing/singing into. This old school way of recording helps get rid of that “too clean” feeling of purely digital recording. For things like guitars, and singing, stick the mic around a foot away from the amp. Use a Dynamic mic, the Shure SM57 is the industry standard and only costs about $100.

For recording woodwinds, brass, and strings you want to set the mic up close to where the instrument amplifies from. Most String instruments have electric versions these days, but if you don’t have one of those, set the mic about a foot away from the body of the instrument, you will need to play around till you get a nice consistent result. For woodwinds, and brass, set the mic a foot or so right in front of where the sound comes out.

There are a lot of variables to consider when recording. The important thing to worry about is getting a nice clean recording, using what you have and/or what you can afford. Don’t worry so much about what you don’t have to use, just do what you can with what you have, and even the worst set up can produce some great results. In my opinion there is no greater learning experience for a new producer than having to work with crap gear. When you are able to afford the better stuff everything just keeps getting easier.

Author Bio: I have been working with music production in the home environ for nearly 4 years. If you would like to read some more Music Production Tips Please Use the Link:

Category: Arts and Crafts
Keywords: Music Production Tips,Microphone Placement,where to put a mic for recording,mic positioning

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