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Every Inch Matters! Why Mic Placement is Critical!

Every inch matters mic placement VO

Voice coaches love to teach the "hang 10" sign as a way to place yourself at the mic. I once made a Tik Tok video saying "Tell me you're new to voice acting without telling me your new to voice acting", and then put my hands up in the "hang 10" sign in front of the mic. In all seriousness, there is a very big difference between professional recording studios and home booths- no matter what you've made, purchased or worked out. And while that pinky to thumb distance might hold up at a studio, the odds are pretty good it's working against you in your home studio. But why?

Mic placement is critical. Forget the HANG 10 hand distance
Most of you need to forget you learned this!

In my Home Studio Primer class we spent a bit of time talking about comb filtering. Simply put, comb filtering is result of your mic being too close to a boundary or object. Despite your space being treated, sound waves bounce of surfaces- even the soft ones- and cancel each other out as they arrive at the mic from different angles and slight delays. The result if what you would describe as "hollow", and there is no way to fix that at the moment.

The other issue I hear all the time is booths that might be lacking a little in the acoustic treatment department. Often times people make the mistake of treating the space behind the mic, but really the space behind the actor is just as important- if not MORE important. That missing treatment gives us what we'd call a "boxy" sound.

Of course very often I'm presented with both of these issues together: a mic that might be pushed up against a wall in a booth that's not well treated. Now we've got both hollow and boxy sounds. Often times we can improve things dramatically just by adjusting mic placement. Moving closer and forgetting the "hang 10" thing.

Get the giggles out of your system now.... go ahead. Ok. Ready? It's a game of inches- and every inch matters! You should be able to hear the sweet-spot on your mic when you're in the right place and distance. Singers reading this know that feeling in your chest when you're harmonizing with other singers and you just FEEL it. The same relationship exists between you and your microphone. Find that spot and make a mental note of it. Once you're there, experiment with different reads. For a more intimate, softer read, you might lean in and make use of that proximity effect. For a more conversational read, pull back just a little. But always know where to be so that your booth flaws don't impact your sound quality.

This awareness applies to you whether you're in a Studio Bricks booth, a Whisper Room, a treated closet or a PVC pipe and acoustic blanket situation.

As always, if you want ears on your sound- I offer 15 minute sessions to go over all of this. But if you take nothing else from this post- know that when it comes to mic placement, EVERY INCH MATTERS.


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