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The Best Position for a Studio Microphone [EXPLAINED]


When it comes to the overall audio quality of your recordings, the brand and model of your studio microphone are not the only factors that will contribute to the final output. The placement and position of your studio mic can directly affect your sound.

While there are already plenty of guides that list down what the best placements and positions are for streaming, gaming, and more, this article seeks to explain these practices in-depth.

What is the Ideal Location for a Microphone?

For the best audio results, you will need to find the sweet spot of your mic. The sweet spot is what we would like to the call ideal location to place your mic relative to the sound source you are recording. Whether you are registering a human voice, instruments, or other objects, finding the ideal location for your mic can help produce the best recording quality possible.

Truth be told, there is no specific location you can place your mic that can work for all sound sources and applications. Factors such as the acoustic environment, polar patterns, and address types will affect what the best location will be.

For the acoustic environment, you will need to consider where you are recording, the room’s layout, and external factors such as background noise and sounds coming from other appliances or nearby sources. This is because all of these factors have a hand in how the sound waves will travel and how they will ultimately be picked up by your recording device.

The environment will also have a say in the reflective surfaces, which can help prevent any sound from bouncing. Thus, the recording can either sound complete or flat depending on the positioning.

The polar patterns of the mic can also help in finding the best location for it. If you have an omnidirectional device, you can find the ideal location by moving around the room with it and monitoring the audio with earphones plugged into one ear. The audio will be best in an area where it is full and rich.

A cardioid-type or bidirectional mic’s sweet spot can usually be found perpendicular to the source you plan on recording. You can monitor this by plugging one and cupping the other while listening to the open ear. Lastly, if you plan on stereo-miking, you can cup both your ears and move around the area to find the ideal location for the mic.

As for the address types, knowing the directions to which a mic is most sensitive when picking up sounds will help you determine the ideal location. A top address has an on-axis response placed on top while a side address has an on-axis answer at the side. Be mindful of the type so you would know where the mic should be facing to get the best pickup possible.

What is the 3:1 Rule of Microphone Placement?

The 3:1 rule helps minimize any audible phasing problems when you’re using multiple microphones simultaneously. This rule is about the source-to-mic distance of other microphones in the vicinity. The distance between the sound source and the nearest mic should be three times away.

Following the 3:1 can help prevent any phase peaks and dips from happening when recording, which is the usual case when multiple microphones are being used simultaneously. Also, note that microphones should have a 10 dB level difference to help minimize phase peaks.

What is the Best Mic Placement for Recording Vocals?

Aside from the obvious mic placement of placing it in front of the vocalist or person who will be speaking, there are certain technicalities that you will need to follow for optimal results.

When recording vocals, microphones should be placed at least 6 inches away from the mouth of the speaker or vocalist. If the speaker prefers to place the device near the mouth, then accessories such as a windscreen or pop shield are highly recommended to avoid any wind noise or plosives from being picked up.

Another placement tip is to angle the device upwards and slightly slanted with the diaphragm in line with the mouth. This placement will help produce a more natural pickup as opposed to a nasal one.

Naomi Feller

Originally from the East Coast, Naomi started singing as young as 3 years old. In her early teens Naomi made some embarrassing YouTube videos before settling on a love for Podcast editing. When she's not pouring over endless amounts of audio, she lends her expertise to us here at Shout4Music with her crystal clear and finely tuned microphone reviews.

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