Here is a valuable checklist on how to improve your audio recordings.

Working the microphone

The microphone is what captures your voice, so understanding how to use it to your advantage can greatly enhance your sound and help you get a great recording. Professionals refer to microphone technique as “working the mic.” The following are techniques that should be employed during every recording session.

  1. Placement of the microphone relative to your mouth plays a large role in the clarity of
    your recording, so you should experiment with mic placement. For example, the microphone may face the nose, neck, mouth, or cheeks … it may be above them angled downward at your mouth … it may be at the side of your mouth angled inward … it may be below the mouth angled upward. Look for the “sweet spot” on your microphone, which will usually be indicated with a heart symbol.
  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,” which produces a muffled (less clear) sound.
  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 often used). “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.

Warming up

  • Stretch your core muscles
  • Stretch your neck and shoulder muscles
  • Perform lip roles

Prepare for clear delivery

  • Drink plenty of water (not carbonated)
  • Avoid dairy products e.g. chocolate, milky coffee, milkshakes

Distance to the microphone

  • Ideal: One full hand span and 25 degrees off axis to avoid plosives
  • Standing is best for good diaphragm control and energy levels
  • If sitting, position at edge of the seat and keep back straight.
  • Use a “pop shield” to reduce unwanted “artifacts” during recording.

Clothes and accessories

  • Soft cotton fabric is preferable
  • Avoid starched linen, leather and man-made fibers
  • Remove jewelry and other adornments e.g. earrings
  • Switch off mobile phone

Microphone technique

  • Beware of “plosives” that will cause “popping”
    • Easily avoided by small head movement at delivery
    • Delivery 25% off axis of microphone
  • Beware of “clicky” vocal delivery caused by “dry mouth”
    • Drink water before each take
    • Note: time-consuming to remove in post production
  • Always aim for a clean “in point”
    • Before each take: fill lungs, establish silence, and pause
    • If performing with another, ALWAYS leave air between dialogue so files can be created easily in post-production

Setting gain levels

  • Once Mic is adjusted and placement is satisfactory, adjust gain levels to 18 – 23 db rms (average reading) and -6 db peak.