The Importance of Correct Mic Set Up
It’s often impossible to know how a voice recording will turn out in advance; you need to hear the end result. To support a successful recording session one key question is where do I position the microphone? Recording dialogue for a clear outcome depends on the position of the voiceover artist and the position of the microphone used to pick up the sound of the voice. However, there are also other factors to consider.
One such factor is the proximity effect. The closer the voiceover artist is to the microphone corresponds with an increase in the low-frequency sounds captured and can negatively impact recordings. This is known as the proximity effect and is something many of us experience during recording sessions. It can also be used to increase low frequencies during a voiceover session too. An easy way to decrease the proximity effect is by increasing the distance between the microphone and the voiceover artist. A concerted effort has to be made to maintain that distance, not as easy as it sounds.
If you’re receiving a finished recording file which exhibits a lot of the low-frequencies caused by the proximity effect then there’s a few ways in post to mitigate the problem. One of the easiest methods is EQ’ing. Using a simple HPS (High Pass Filter) rolling off at maybe 85 Hz depending on how much of the proximity you want to remove should help. You can always use a parametric EQ if the HPS isn’t enough.
Setting the correct levels is also another factor to consider. It can sometimes be tempting to turn the levels up, however this can lead to unwanted distortion. If the audio meter in your NLE or on any other input device is turning red, the recording is likely to be clipping, and too loud. It’s a simple fix of turning down the gain on your mic or your audio interface or asking the voiceover artist to move back from the microphone.
Sometimes sounds from within the room can be picked up by the microphone. Shouldn’t be a problem in a voiceover booth but there has been a need to record from artists homes during the pandemic. The best thing to do in this situation is to ensure the artist is close to the microphone. This increases the volume of the voice and keeps room noise to a minimum. It is also worth considering the type of mic for the job. A cardioid microphone which records in a single direction is a good choice in this situation.
Those who record from home can have difficulties from low frequencies or vibrations around the home or outside being recorded, such as a neighbours washing machine or traffic. To help ensure that any microphone stand is isolated as much as possible from the floor and ensure that the lowest part of the vertical pole isn’t touching the floor. Some microphones have a high-pass filter built in to remove low frequencies and leave voice frequencies intact. If your mic doesn’t have a filter built in, it might be worth investing in a microphone suspension mount which will also help reduce noise and vibrations from any bumps against the artists table.
Another potential pitfall is ‘phasing’. Problems can occur when using more than one microphone, all placed at a different distance from the voiceover artist. It’s also known as cancellation. Essentially the sound waves can cancel each other out.
‘Plosives’ happen because ‘p’ and ‘b’ sounds send a rush of air towards the microphone diaphragm, making it distort. Fortunately, pop filters help with that. They’re a thin mesh screen that attach to your microphone stand and placed between the artist and the microphone. It decreases the power of the bursts of air reaching the microphone without changing the character of the recording.
Just making a few of the changes above can make all the difference to the quality of the final recording.