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Mic positioning tips

Mic 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. The following are a few tips from our friends at Shure that you might consider following when miking 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. However, 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!

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