Microphone techniques for singers are often overlooked as one of the skills you need to become a successful singer and performer. However, your microphone techniques affect the way in which your voice comes across to the audience.
Many singers when first starting out are very nervous when given a microphone for the first time and it often comes across in their performance.
Most microphones have a radius around them that will detect noise, it’s important to hit this radius with every note you sing, and proper microphone technique is not something you should ignore.
Microphone techniques for singers
Sing with the microphone too far away from your mouth and you won’t allow the tones, dynamics and power of your vocal to be fully captured, already you could be at a disadvantage to other performers on stage who have mastered their microphone techniques.
Get comfortable with the microphone
Feeling tense and holding a mic awkwardly can really affect your vocals more than you would imagine, so get to know the feeling as early as possible by practising.
If you don’t own a microphone then use a prop; although it may seem a bit lame, using a bottle or hairbrush it will definitely get you used to that feeling and soon that mic will be just like an extension of your arm and more importantly, your voice!
Microphone positioning for vocals
Make sure you sing right into it. It’s one of the simplest microphone techniques but it’s so important. Singing directly into the microphone allows all of your vocals to be fully projected.
Ideally, you should keep the mic 1-2 centre metres from your mouth at all times except for the high or more powerful notes. If you turn and move around the stage always maintain the same distance and if you use it as part of your performance during instrumental breaks always make sure you bring it back to your mouth.
If you don’t the projection of your vocal will be inconsistent and you’ll lose key elements in the performance of your song.
How to use a microphone to sing
This may sound really obvious however there are many occasions when a singer has practised their song without amplification, absolutely nailed every note and brought it to life with beautiful dynamics, overall it’s sounding just right.
They then pick up a microphone and all of a sudden start singing with completely different power and volume and the whole thing just doesn’t sound or feel like how they practised it anymore.
This is especially vital for that all-important sound check as the sound engineer will set your levels based on the vocal volume he or she hears. If that changes dramatically or is inconsistent in either the soundcheck or the actual performance they’ll simply have a guess when to put your vocal level up and down.
Whether you manage to get away with is or not, it will by no means result in you sounding the best you could have.
1. Avoid feedback
Feedback is that awful sound the microphone gives out and causes everyone to wince a little. One of the most common ways for a microphone to affect your performance is with feedback from the speakers or monitors. Take time to check where they’re situated on the stage & simply avoid getting too close.
This is one of the easiest microphone techniques to correct and is probably the most important as it’s off-putting!
2. Avoid distortion
Distortion occurs for a couple of reasons, one of them being a singer holding the microphone too close or too far to their mouth. The distance from your mouth to the microphone is essential as it can make your vocals sound muffled and distant.
The other reason a singer might notice distortion is when the volume is too high on their microphone, keep the volume low enough to allow you to project.
Control on the microphone
3. Volume control
A very common problem singer’s face during a performance is not getting the balance right between the backing track and the microphone. You want the backing track to be loud enough that you can hear it but also so you can hear yourself. This can vary a lot depending on the quality & production of the track.
If you don’t have a sound engineer, the best way to solve this is by trying out various settings until you’re happy. Ideally, have a 3rd party present standing near the back of the room where you’ll be performing to ensure the microphone is loud enough for you to be heard but not be overpowering.
4. Control your dynamics
A very common problem singer’s face during a performance is not getting the balance right between the backing track and the microphone. You want the backing track to be loud enough that you can hear it but also so you can hear yourself.
This can vary a lot depending on the quality & production of the track. If you don’t have a sound engineer, the best way to solve this is by trying out various settings until you’re happy.
Ideally, have a 3rd party present standing near the back of the room where you’ll be performing to ensure the microphone is loud enough for you to be heard but not be overpowering.
What to do with a microphone on high notes
Hopefully, you will have practised to your song to give dynamics to the performance and emphasis the low and high notes. This is the time you will need to pull the microphone away from your mouth on the high notes or risk feedback and being too loud. How far you pull away really depends on the volume and power you sing them with.
5. Pull away on high notes
To further avoid microphone feedback and distortion, pull the microphone away from your mouth on the high notes – how far you pull away really depends on the volume and power you sing them with.
Far too often, this is ill-timed by singers and they pull the mic away too quickly thus losing the projection where it’s needed most for impact. Timing is crucial and observing other seasoned singers can assist you to get this right.
Having strong microphone techniques can really help a singer enhance their performance. Breath control when holding a note is crucial. If you have little breath left by the end of that all-important sustained note, a sudden dip in power is going to be very noticeable to you and your audience.
Try pulling the microphone away from you then bring it back as the note ends, it sounds as of you held it consistently and the audience will be left remembering the power you still had to the very last second. Very impressive.