Microphone Technique

Mixdown Magazine Article

mic technique at Vox Singing Academy

Christopher from Closure In Moscow

At some stage being a performing singer whether you’re a backing vocalist or lead the singer you are going to have to sing into a microphone.

First and foremost, it does not matter whether you are an aspiring singer that has never sung live before or you’re a hardened forty-year veteran of the music scene.  I strongly recommend as a lead singer you should have your own microphone. I am constantly surprised at them amount of singers that come through our doors that don’t have their own microphone and simply just have blind faith in what will be dished up to them at the venue or rehearsal studio. So if the guitarists and drummer bring their own equipment? So should you.

The reason for bring your own microphone is purely and simply for hygiene reasons as you never know what the person using the microphone before you has got. However the main reason for having your own microphone is that you get acquainted to the sound and feel of your own microphone as they all slightly different.

What type of microphone should I have as a beginner?

There are 2 types of more microphones out there directional and unidirectional. The differences between the 2 are: –

  • What gets sung into a directional microphone will be picked up, used and come out of the PA system on the other end.
  • A unidirectional microphone will pick up all the other sounds in the room. This will make it a nightmare to the guys handling the EQ.

That is why I recommend as a beginner you spend between $80 and $150 and buying an entry-level directional microphone. I also recommend that you buy a microphone lead, microphone stand and a small cheap guitar or keyboard amp to practice at home with.

Always keep the microphone close to your lips and horizontal when practicing. (Referred to example 1).

Do not cup the Microphone (referred to example 2) and hold it in a relaxed manner for a ballad and whichever way you want to hold it for a rock song.  Just make sure that you feel relaxed and your grip is secure so you do not drop the microphone.

If you are a performing singer, proper microphone technique cannot be taught it must be learnt!  You will learn this through experience while rehearsing at home through a fold-back, amp or at the rehearsal studio.

There are lots of different directional microphones out there. They are a bit like cars, there are lots of different brands, some cheaper, some more expensive but they all basically do the same thing. So what I am about to tell you may vary slightly from microphone to microphone.

I highly recommend that you test drive and use the microphone before you purchase your microphone. Again I am surprised with the amount of singers that purchase a microphone just off the recommendation from what they have read or the salesperson (who is most likely not a vocalists) suggests they should buy.  Would you purchase a car without test driving it? The answer is no! And the same thing should go for the purchase of your microphone. You want to feel, see and hear what sounds best for your voice and genre of music before you buy!

Microphone technique

The cardinal rule is to keep the microphone horizontal and close to the lips but not touching the lips directly.  As you are singing a phrase with more power or volume pull the microphone slightly away from your mouth so that the sound coming out of your fold- back or speaker is slightly quieter, therefore preventing distortion of your sound or deafening the people that are listening to you.

So technically you are using the microphone as a volume control. As I have stated before, you learn this by practicing into an amp or fold-back speaker at home or in the rehearsal studio.  Do not hold the microphone too close to your fold back or front of house speakers as it will feedback (make a high pitched squeal). If you are receiving this sound pull the microphone away from any speakers.

I recommend practicing most of your singing at home into a microphone. I would also recommend some singing without your microphone, so that you can hear your voice in its natural state.

So just to re-cap, the 4 main things with microphone technique are: –

  1. Have your own microphone
  2. Practice your microphone technique at home and in the rehearsal studio
  3. Microphone technique is not taught.
  4. Practice, practice, practice.

Until next time, much respect and always remember to have fun singing!