4 Ideas to “Work the Microphone”

4 Ideas to “Work the Microphone”

Aspiring to be as good as our lot? Here are some little techniques that some of our guys and girls use in their sessions…

1. Placement of the microphone, relative to your mouth, plays a large role in the sound and clarity of your voice over recording. We can’t tell you where your mic should be placed, because every voice, every microphone, every recording booth, and every desired sound are different. However we will say that you should (a) experiment with mic placement, (b) watch videos of engineers and voice actors to see the many different microphone placements they use, for example, the microphone may face the voice actors’ nose, neck, mouth, or cheeks … it may be above them angled downward at their mouth … it may be at the side of their mouth angled inward … it may be below the voice actor’s mouth angled upward …, and (c) get an engineer to review your recording to verify that your placement sounds professional.

2. Lateral movements are movements to either side of the microphone. Such movements create clarity changes. Generally it is necessary to remain “on-axis” (in front of the microphone) to ensure a clear tone. Moving to the side of the microphone is known as being “off-axis” – doing so produces a muffled (less clear) sound. Unless your client requests a muffled sound, as if you’re speaking through a door, stay on-axis.

3. Proximate movements are movements closer to and farther away from the microphone. Such movements create volume (amplitude) changes. In fact, even moving an inch or two can create a very noticeable change in volume. Generally it is necessary to remain the same distance from the microphone during a recording, to ensure a consistent volume.

4. Proximity effect is a richness effect created by moving very close to a directional microphone, the type most voice actors use. “Eating the mic,” as some people call it, produces a full, rich, fat, more bassey (less treble) sound. Use proximity effect when a full-bodied, sexy, deep tone is required. Usually, standing around 2, 3, or 4 inches from the mic achieves this sound. BUT BE CAREFUL! Standing this close to the microphone makes you more prone to “pop.” Popping is when a burst of air from your mouth overloads and distorts the microphone. Popping occurs mostly on “plosives” (words that begin with “p,” “b,” and “t.”) For these words, either move a few inches further away from the microphone, or lessen the volume of air leaving your mouth.

Follow these techniques, and you will sound better and appear more experienced. We hope these help you and your career.

About Babble
We love voices and we love what we do. Since we opened our doors in 2007, bringing fresh talent to an ever-expanding industry, we’ve supplied voiceover artists to clients across the world, on commercials, animation, video games… you name it, one of our VOs has done it. Why should you choose us? With over 30 years experience across the commercial and production industry, we’d like to think we know our stuff, and will use that knowledge to make your life easier. We listen to your casting, production and budgetary needs and supply you with the best voice for the job. Babble – top talent, sounding great.

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Phil Seys