Top Tips On Improving Microphone Technique For Singers
If you’re a singer, you can rely on a good-quality microphone to help enhance your voice and performance. However, how you hold and use a microphone can impact the success of your performance overall.
Good microphone technique can be a singer’s greatest skill, and its effectiveness is often overlooked. For impactful performances every time, it’s important to practise with a microphone to become fully comfortable using one on stage.
In this guide, we’re pulling together our top tips on perfecting your microphone technique. From holding the mic correctly to avoiding unwanted feedback, it’s never too late to learn how to use your microphone like a pro!
Table of contents:
How to hold a microphone whilst singing
If you’re new to using or holding a microphone, it’s important to take some time to get used to it so that it becomes a natural part of your performance. If you feel tense, this will show on stage and could even impact your vocals.
With this in mind, if you don’t have a microphone to practise with, use a substitute, such as a hairbrush or water bottle, whilst you rehearse, so holding the microphone and moving with it becomes second nature.
You’ll want to hold the mic just below or slightly to the side of your mouth to deliver your vocals effectively for the best results. It’s also worth remembering that most microphones have an area which absorbs sound the best, like the top and sides of a dynamic microphone, so concentrate on hitting that to make the most of your dynamics, power and tone.
How close should I hold the microphone to my face?
The distance to hold the microphone to your face will differ from singer to singer, but as a general rule of thumb, you want to aim to hold it somewhere between 10-20 centimetres from your face. The distance between the mic and your face should increase as the notes become higher or more projected.
If you’re a quiet, soft singer, bring the microphone closer to your mouth, whereas more varied, dynamic singers will alter the position depending on how long they are singing.
Some singers leave little distance between their mouths and the microphone, a technique known as ‘eating the mic’. This is usually employed by more energetic performers who jump around a lot when singing. Hence, they find it difficult to keep an even spacing between the microphone and their mouths. They eat the mic to keep their vocals at the same projection level throughout their performance.
If you prefer to keep the microphone close to your mouth, you must be mindful of the proximity effect and how that might impact your vocal performance.
What is the proximity effect?
The proximity effect regarding singing into a microphone is when the distance between the mouth and the microphone is significantly reduced, causing an increase in the output of the voice’s lower frequencies. The closer the microphone is to the sound source, the greater the bass sound becomes.
If you’re a singer with quite a bassy voice, you need to be mindful of this, as this can make your vocals seem heavy and unbalanced, as the higher frequencies of your voice become lost.
How do you sing into a microphone?
When singing into a microphone, you should sing as you would without one!
This may sound counterintuitive, but many singers are so used to belting out notes without a microphone that once they have one in front of them, they tend to hold back rather than sing as they naturally would. This makes it difficult for sound engineers to know exactly when to alter the mic’s volume to enhance the performance.
By singing as you naturally would, a good sound engineer will use the microphone volume to support your voice and enhance your vocals for a more impactful performance.
Here are some other useful tips on how to use the microphone to your advantage:
Consider the dynamics
You need to consider not just your own vocal dynamics when performing into a microphone but the dynamics of the mix. Whether you’re performing with a backing track or with a live band, you must ensure that the music is loud enough for you and the audience to hear but not so loud that it overpowers your vocals when you’re singing.
If you don’t have the luxury of a sound engineer, ask someone to stand at the back of the room during your rehearsal to check that the dynamics between you and your backing are correctly aligned.
Pull the microphone away on your higher notes
If you’re going for a high note, learn to pull away from the microphone to prevent your note from distorting. Timing is key here, as you don’t want to pull away too soon mid-projection, as you may lessen your note’s impact (the mic will also help you to support and control the note).
As you go to hit it, once you’re confident in your delivery, try pulling the mic up to 20 centimetres away from your face, then bring it back close to your mouth when you’re ready to go for the next note.
Avoid feedback and distortion
Feedback is caused when a microphone picks up onstage noise from the monitors and speakers, causing it to screech. To avoid this from ruining your onstage performance, always identify the positioning of monitors and speakers during your soundcheck and avoid getting too close to them.
Distortion, however, can occur when the microphone is held too close or far from the mouth or if the microphone’s volume is too high. A good rule of thumb is to have your microphone volume low enough to project well without any distortion occurring. A sound check before your performance can be a good way to check this.
Can a microphone make you sound better?
When used correctly, a microphone can make you sound better. Much like the amplifier of a guitar, a microphone can amplify your voice to improve and add colour to a recording or to enhance your vocals during a live performance.
However, the quality of the microphone that you’re using does play a part in the sound quality. Invest in a good quality microphone, as cheaper ones can omit some of the voice’s lower and higher frequencies. A more expensive mic will give a far better, more accurate representation of your voice.
What is the best microphone for singing at home?
The best microphone for singing at home will depend on the purpose you require it for. If you’re looking for a good microphone to rehearse for your live performances, invest in a good dynamic microphone since this will most likely be the type of microphone you’ll use on stage.
If you’re looking for a microphone for your home studio, a large diaphragm condenser microphone might be a better choice, as it will add more accuracy, colour and clarity to your recordings.
If you’re unsure which microphone will suit you best, our Microphone Types and When To Use Them guide will give you all the information you need to make an informed decision.
Where can I buy a karaoke microphone?
A karaoke machine could be the perfect solution if you’re not looking for a professional setup and just want to sing for fun. Most karaoke machines are really good quality, so you can easily sing along to your favourite tunes.
With options featuring karaoke mics included, you can set up your system easily and spend time belting out your favourite tunes. Or, if you simply want to add a microphone to your current setup, you’ll find wireless karaoke mics to add to your current machine in our range at Prebeat.
What is the best USB microphone for singing?
Regarding recording vocals at home, USB microphones offer great quality. They are usually a fraction of the price of most XLR microphones, making them a great entry-level product and the best microphones for singing if you’re on a budget.
With plug-and-play technology, they are easy to use and convenient. With built-in analogue to digital converters, your files can be used immediately with your digital recording software.
Although XLR mics are often favoured for their noise-rejection technology and a clearer quality of sound, you do need an ADC (analogue to digital converter) before you can use your audio files with most modern technology, which can be costly if you’re just starting out.
Shop microphones at Prebeat
So now you know all of the tips and tricks to hold and perform with your microphone correctly and the best options for singing at home, why not browse our microphone range at Prebeat and find the perfect one for you?
Alongside our vocal microphones, which you can shop via the links above, you’ll also find paging microphones for your office or workspace, instrument microphones to record and amplify your instruments or band, and much more.
Unsure which to choose to suit your needs? Contact us, and an expert member of our team will be happy to assist you!