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ArtistWorks Vocal School Lessons: Microphone Technique

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[MUSIC]
Knowing how your
mic works is step one.
Inside, there is basically what's called a
diaphragm.
And it's made of a type of material that's
very thin,
and when you sing into the mic, it causes
the diaphragm to vibrate.
That passes, that actually transforms your
voice into electric signal,
which then passes through and into this
chord,
down the chord and into the mixing board
which passes the sound
into the speakers and out, so everyone can
hear you.
So there's a lot of different points where
from here through the wire, the mixing
board,
and the way that the speakers are styled.
Any one of those points could actually
create a variation of sound,
tone, and resonance in your voice.
But if you know how to use the mic and you
have a mic that matches your voice,
which we'll get into in the next lesson,
you can stay relatively in control of
things.
And there might be one addition to it that
you might want to entertain,
which again, we'll get into in the later
lesson.
For right now, we're going to deal with
how to work a mic.
So this is called the shaft and it's what
you hold.
When you watch other singers sing, you
might see them holding it here.
They need training.
[LAUGH] This is not the place to hold a
mic.
And it can create a fair amount of
interference and,
and change your vocal dynamic.
It can also end up creating what's called
feedback.
Which is that horrible electronic squeal
that you might sometimes hear with
either somebody who's not well trained.
Or for some reason the sound man did
something that he shouldn't
have with the mixing board and getting the
right volume for your mic and stuff.
This is where to hold a microphone shaft.
If you're here, depending upon the way the
weight of the mic is,
it could be too top heavy.
Some mics are heavier on top than other
mics.
This particular one, the Lampifier, is
very well balanced.
So even if I were to hold it here,
it wouldn't feel like it was pulling on my
hand.
Or you could hold it here, it really
doesn't matter because it's very balanced.
Now, this is called the nose of the mic.
The nose of the mic is otherwise known as
the zero degree angle.
The side is the 90 degree, and
the back end is the 180 degree, or simply
the back end.
So you could call this the nose, the side,
and the back.
The reason why I'm telling you the actual
number of the degree, 0, 90 and
180 is because you might run into that in
reading about microphone basics.
Or reading about the specs that come with
a given mic if you're shopping for one.
And it can confuse you.
So knowledge is power.
All right, now, most mics are most
sensitive right at the zero degree angle.
As you're, as you start turning the
microphone into a lollipop,
your voice gets drastically reduced in
terms of pick up.
Basically, it would be like the microphone
is reaching to your, to you,
to your voice, to take your voice and send
it to the,
to the mixing board and such to get
amplified.
But when you're here, it can't receive it.
And it's like it feels ignored.
And it shuts down because it's not
designed to pick up your voice here.
If you've ever seen somebody sing or even
just talk and they're holding it like
this, you'll notice a huge, huge
difference in the character of the voice.
I'm gonna give you some examples.
Okay, so we're gonna turn this on.
[SOUND]
And
when you
go here
[NOISE].
You hear how it got changed, the actual
character of my voice changed.
It's not gonna pick you up at all here.
[LAUGH] And [NOISE] there it is.
Now, I didn't change the volume of my
voice, I didn't change the pitch, nothing.
So, it's just the way that the microphone
picks up.
Some microphones have a steeper,
what's called the drop-off, which means
it's very receptive here.
And it immediately loses receptivity here.
Other microphones, while it reduces a
little bit, it's not as drastic
until you get to about here and certainly
here [LAUGH].
But I'll show you a different one.
So we're gonna turn this one off.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
And now,
we're going to
see how this EV works.
So, this particular microphone is
amazingly sensitive, right here.
The flatness of the nose of the mic is to
make
sure that the singer is right on the nose.
Cuz it feels, it's just, it's a, it's
incredible,
it feels really strange to sing here, not
just,
just cuz you, I don't know, I'm not use to
it.
Most microphones for years and years have
had this round nose.
And EV, in their wisdom, went, okay how
are we going to make a mic that's.
Particularly sensitive to the dynamics of
the voice.
And they came up with this flat design
which I love.
This particular mic also has what's called
a personality switch.
And it changes for
when you're singing really loud it wants
to capture the fullness of your voice.
So there's a, there's a switch that you
change.
And then, if you're singing softer and
more sultry you change the switch so
it still stays lush.
Great design.
Okay, so now this is on and listen to the
difference.
Ahh.
Of course, back here, nothing.
But, actually I'll sing you a little bit
of a song.
[MUSIC].
My voice is pretty loud.
I'll go a little softer.
[MUSIC].
Now, I didn't change dynamic here.
I stayed the same and just tilted it so I
hope you heard that difference there.
And I'm gonna put that back up.
And we'll go to the Shure microphone now.
As an entry level mic.
The Shure microphone is a great one to
start off with.
If you have any questions about which one
is good for me, and you're not,
you know, you're not at a real high pro
level yet.
Millions of singers have used the Shure
microphone for years and
years in their career.
And I mean I got this one.
Goodness.
A long time ago.
The other thing about, a Shure is you can
drop it, see that little dent?
[LAUGH] So cute.
You can drop it, it can dent, but it keeps
on ticking.
It's like, oh I won't do an advertisement
for them, that kinda battery, you know?
But at any rate.
Here's the next thing about using a
microphone.
Mic technique has everything to do with
making sure that you're singing into
the most receptive part of the microphone,
the nose, not the side.
And as your dynamic increases,
that you pull away or move your head
slightly, not a lot.
Just slightly so it, you could think of it
as a roll off,
you're just rolling a little bit, and
back.
So, when you go.
[MUSIC].
Cuz otherwise, here's what would happen.
Uh-oh.
[MUSIC].
Versus
[MUSIC].
Or.
[MUSIC].
I don't think I want to do that right on
the mic, but my engineer will freak out.
And so they do, actually, if you don't use
mic technique.
What happens is this.
The microphone overloads.
The diaphragm gets so much
pressure from your voice as you sing
louder that it actually stiffens it.
So instead of being able to vibrate at the
speed it needs to.
To just take the fullness of your voice
and pass it through unaltered.
Other than the characteristic quality of
the microphone
that might alter your voice.
That pressure of your voice on the
diaphragm can cause what's called,
distortion.
Where all of a sudden, you hear, you know,
the voice is gorgeous and
it's singing along.
And then, all of a sudden, [SOUND].
So it, it put this what's called, white
noise, in it.
It can also create squealing [SOUND] you
know.
Not by your voice but
within the electronics of the system that
you're using.
So mic technique is very important.
Now, you can go the wrong way with mic
technique,
where you're singing soft, and you're
here.
So, if you go,
[MUSIC]
The mic is going to capture your voice and
the warmth of it, when you're close.
As you're singing softer, come up on the
mic.
And then, as you increase your dynamic,
the volume of your voice, either roll your
head off a little bit, and then come back.
Or a slight variation here.
Now, if go too far, all of a sudden, the
mic won't pick you up.
If you aren't loud enough to be absorbed
by the mic.
Additionally, when you're singing at a
regular volume,
if you're too far away from the
microphone.
It will only pick up the high end of your
voice and it won't sound full enough.
This is the Shure, good.
So I'm gonna do this for you.
[MUSIC]
That's
the same
volume.
[MUSIC]
Or
[MUSIC]
Whoops,
I'm singing to a non-existent microphone.
Maybe a little sound is coming through my
cheek [LAUGH] but.
[MUSIC]
So there's the importance
of mic technique and in order to practice
it,
of course you need a microphone.
So if you don't have one and you are ready
to
invest in one that isn't expensive.
And, and you don't have huge professional
demands that say,
you know, try out different mics and find
just the right one for you.
A Shure can be a great starting point,
cuz usually it's around $100 or less USD
to pay for that.
And finally, as I mentioned, I just want
to remind you,
there's a text lesson that I would like
you to take a look at.
I've made things very simple, and broken
down a number of terms for
you, defined them.
So that you feel more confident about your
own understanding and use of mics.
In the next lesson, we're gonna test out a
number of different mics so
you can hear the different characteristics
that each mic gives my voice.
[MUSIC]