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The Microphone Chronicles I: From Mystery to Mastery

Microphone [mahy-kruh-fohn], n.: 1. An electrical device. 2. A tool of the entertainment trade. 3. A status symbol originating in the twentieth-century. Yet, for many who desperately rely upon them, we’d have to add another definition: a mystery.

The Microphone Chronicles I: From Mystery to Mastery

Seasoned singers have reported that once they’ve moved from mystery to mastery with microphone knowledge and technique, they’ve improved their performance and have greater confidence both in the studio and on stage. This article introduces a series designed to help vocalists move into the driver’s seat with technology.

The engineer tells us that a microphone is a device that changes air pressure into electrical signals. But singers usually aren’t technicians or engineers; they are artists standing on a stage, vulnerable to an audience, hoping that the piece of metal they are holding will convey the talent they’ve worked so hard to share.  Is this trust well placed?

Mic Questions

This question leads to more: is the mic one finds already on the stage to be trusted?  Are the industry standard mics the best for everyone’s voice? What about mic technique? Are there ways to avoid popping noises, syllables spiking out and other annoying sounds that can turn an audience off? What about the differences between live and studio environments—can one mic suit both? Does paying more for a mic ensure you are going to sound better?

Over the course of this series technical jargon and theory will be clearly explained.  VoiceCouncil readers will gain an understanding of EQ, mic technique, compression, and product differences without having to enrol in a university degree program.

Why invest in the quest to know more about microphones? Singers are united:

• Because the voice shouldn’t be subjected to whatever is lying around.
• Because even industry standard mics may not be right for your voice.
• Because a little know-how can boost your performance quality.
• Because the voice is a valuable instrument, demanding care an attention—even if it means the artist having to become technically savvy.

Read VoiceCouncil’s Article: Mics for Live Performance