My thoughts...Wisdom from over the years

Of Mics and Men Part 1

Posted in: Featured, tip of the week ♦ Monday, September 17th, 2012, 11:01 am ♦ No Comments on Of Mics and Men Part 1

Of mics and men part 1

As a vocalist I may spend hours in preparation.  I may work hard with my vocal team and my band for an upcoming time of worship or song presentation.  When the final moments before I sing approach there are two things that I am really counting to work: my microphone and my sound man (or woman).

Although there are sometimes variables that we can’t control. There are some things we can do to insure that things go smoothly once we get on the platform for the final culmination of all of our preparations.  One of the first things is to understand the microphone we use and how to use it.

There are two basic types of microphones that are appropriate for our use on the church platform: dynamic and condenser.  Understanding the difference between the two can make a big difference in terms of which mic we choose for our application and the technique we employ while using it.

Dynamic Mics are generally more rugged and can take abuse a bit better than condenser mics. They have no internal electronics and are usually considerably less expensive than the average condenser mic. Although they are somewhat more limited in their frequency response, the great thing about a dynamic mic is that it can be used on a small stage with less danger of picking up the surrounding sounds—such as the guitar amp next to you. Because of this, and the reasonable cost, dynamic mics are more often than not the microphone of choice for many church platforms.

The very thing that makes this microphone so user friendly for the average church platform is also the thing that causes the church sound guy much frustration.  The pick-up on this type of mic is of medium sensitivity. Therefore it needs to be used close to the source (in this case your mouth!). These mics work the absolute best when your lips are about 1 inch directly in front of the center of the top of the mic.  So it’s always best to point the mic directly at your mouth—not on an angle or with the mic resting on your chin so that the tone goes across the mic. You want the tone to go directly into the mic.

There are some folks who don’t like the look of a mic plastered to their lips, so they may roll the mic off at a bit of an angle. If you do this, you will lose some response on the mic, but your face becomes more visible to the congregation. This is up to you. You may also find that with the mic placed properly you get a lot of “P” popping. This can be controlled with technique or once again you can opt for angling the mic away below your lips or slightly off to the side, to help—you will lose some response (that’s why the “P” doesn’t pop) but it might be worth it to you to not have to worry about those pesky “P’s”.

If you are inconsistent with your placement of a dynamic mic, you will notice a serious change in response. Simply moving the mic from 1 inch to 2 inches away from your mouth can cut the response 6 decibels, which to our ear sounds like the volume level is cut in half and if you double it again to 4 inches, you’ll lose another 6 db of level! (Inverse square law)  Not only that, but you’ll notice a serious loss in bass frequencies when you move away from the microphone as well. (Proximity effect)



The first reason is the inverse square law. If you hold your mic a half-inch from your lips it receives a given amount of sound energy from your voice. Move it twice as far -one inch- and it receives one-fourth as much energy. That extra half-inch takes away three-quarters of the efficiency of your sound system. While good mic technique involves “working”  the microphone, singers that fully extend their arms when reaching for that climax, are usually doing it for dramatic effect. Small changes in distance from the mouth can result in very dramatic changes in sound level. 



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