Basic Mic Instructions

The world of microphones can be as esoteric as Oldsmobile tail light designs from the 1940s. Those that care, really care. Those that don’t, don’t.

I see a microphone as one of a few tools I need to publish my podcast episodes. Along with a recording space, an audio editor and Auphonic, I use a digital audio recorder as my mic. I love the Zoom H2n. But for all it’s wonderful characteristics, it’s still just a fancy mic.

Many people use a musicians mic and are happy with that, especially if they never go outside. The point is, it doesn’t really matter which mic you use. They all have their idiosyncratic sides. The key is to follow some basic techniques and learn the quirks of your particular tool.

The techniques common to all mic use are:

  • Speak slightly to the side of the mic.
    • This avoids pushing “P” sounds into the mechanics. A plosive “P”.
    • It tends to reduce “S” sounds grating through the audio. A sibilant “S”.
  • Discover your ideal distance from your mic.
    • This stops the audio peaking, a phenomenon where the waveform spikes upwards and slams into people’s eardrums.
  • Use a small screen to to protect from the “P” and the “S” effects and to keep your mouth the correct distance from the mic.

After that it’s a matter of experimentation.

With the Zoom H2n, I have a number of options for setting up. “Low Cut”, “Audio”, “Meeting” and on and on and on. The more options, the more possibility of making my voice sound “wrong”, to me. My listeners, mostly, have never met me so don’t know how I sound in person.

The more options, the experimentation.

A student of mine used a $30 eBay cheap Chinese mic and by following the basic rules, sounded great. He recorded indoors, had a room where he had everything setup in the ideal place and never deviated from what he discovered worked for him.

Takeaways

  • Use whatever mic you have or can acquire.
  • Practice speaking slightly to the side of the mic.
  • Experiment to find the ideal distance from your mic for it to work.
  • Do NOT use mic excuses to avoid starting your podcast.

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