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Microphone Month

Controlling Mic Bleed

When tracking multiple instruments in one room, there are trade offs. You’ll get a more “live” sound, and you may get a better performance because the musicians are actually playing together instead of overdubbing. But you’ll also get bleed between the open mics in the room. Here are some tips for controlling bleed:

  • Take advantage of mic polar patterns — carefully position mics so their nulls are aimed at sources of bleed.
  • Mic as close as possible to the desired source.
  • Use the Inverse Square Law — the farther away mics are, the less bleed they pick up.
  • Use gobos or furniture or something to block sound off between instruments.
  • Control the volume — if everyone is blasting away at full volume, there will be a lot of bleed.
  • Try to get the sound right at the source so you don’t have to do a lot of EQing later, which can emphasize bleed even more.
  • Edit/automate tracks carefully to clean up as much bleed between parts, notes, and phrases as possible.
  • Go with it — make the “live” ambient sound part of the sonic signature of the production.

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