Microphone positioning and technique is largely a matter or personal tastes – usually whatever “sounds right” probably is right. Nevertheless it’s a good idea to remind ourselves of some of the basics for getting there.
Following are a few tips that you might consider following when micing musical instruments for sound reinforcement.
- Try first to get the instrument to sound good acoustically before miking it.
- Use a mic with a frequency response that is limited to the frequency range of the instrument.
- To determine a good starting mic position, try closing one ear with your finger. Listen to the sound source with the other ear and move around until you find a spot that sounds good – put the mic there. Remember, this may not be practical (or healthy) for extremely close placement near loud sources.
- Remember that the closer a mic is to a sound source, the louder the source is compared to reverberation or ambient noise.
- Place the mic only as close as necessary, keeping in mind proximity effect.
- When possible, use as few microphones as possible due to the Potential Acoustic Gain rule which tells us (among other things) that the volume level of a system must be turned down for every mic added in order to prevent feedback.
- If the sound from your loudspeakers is distorted even though you did not exceed a normal mixer level, the mic signal may be overloading your mixer’s input. To correct this situation, use an in-line attenuator or pad to reduce the signal level from the microphone, or just back it away from the source some.
- More than anything, experiment and listen!
(Thanks to Shure for the tips.)