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9 Essential Microphone Techniques For Singers

Microphone Techniques For Singers

A microphone is necessary if you’re planning on performing live in front of an audience.

And just learning how to sing well isn’t enough, you also need to learn how to use your mic effectively to bring out the best in your voice.

Plus, you also wouldn’t want to create a show-killing feedback by accident (and make your audience’s ears cry…)

That’s why in this guide I am going to show you the essential microphone techniques for singers that you need to know to create an amazing performance.

So let’s get started.

1. Sing Into The Center Of The Microphone

Hold The Mic Correctly

One of the simplest yet overlooked vocal microphone techniques for singers is learning where to sing in your mic.

I have seen:

  • Singers holding it by their chest as they sing…
  • Holding it in front of their face at 90 degrees…
  • And holding it too far away from their face…

The best part is that this is one microphone technique that you can fix immediately.

There’s two things to keep in mind when learning how to sing into a microphone correctly:

  1. What microphone you are using…
  2. The optimal distance between you and the mic…

And what you are going to have to do is experiment with the distance and angles to see what sounds best for your voice.

If you want numbers, then a good microphone positioning for vocals would be around 60-80 degrees facing you and around 2-3 inches away.

The best way to think about it is to imagine you are holding an ice cream cone and about to eat it.

You wouldn’t hold it against your chest and it should be pointed towards you if you’re about to eat it.

And just sing straight into the center of the microphone.

It’s really that simple, but most beginners forget when their nerves get to them when they perform on stage.

2. Find The Optimal Distance Between You And The Mic

Hold the mic properly

This is one of those microphone techniques for singers that require a bit of experience and finesse.

You can control the distance between you and the mic throughout the performance to create certain effects in your voice.

Now, the problem lies if you do it incorrectly:

Do it too close and you’re going to have that cool low DJ effect and also known as “eating the mic” (which isn’t the best for vocal performances…)

And do it too far away at the wrong time and you are going to lose intensity in your song…

That’s why learning how to sing into a microphone and control the distance depending on what effect you want to create for your audience is crucial for a singer.

Here are some cool effects you can create for your singing.

This is when you bring your mic close: When you want to emphasize your breathy tone or sing quietly.

When you bring in your mic, it enhances the lower frequencies, also known as the proximity effect (and that’s how the cool DJ effect is created…)

But when you bring in your mic closer, it also makes noises like your breathing more audible.

So the perfect time to bring in the mic closer is if you want to emphasize your breathy tone and create a sexy feeling.

Michael Buble does this in his songs and performances to “woo” his audience.

Another way would be to emphasize the slowness or the sadness in a song.

Maybe adding some vocal cry or just speaking quietly that something sad has happened in your life (like a kid stole your ice cream or something…)

Those are the two primary effects you use when you bring in your mic closer.

Now, the other technique is to bring your mic further out.

And the reason you want to do this is that when you bring the mic out, it decreases the intensity of the voice and makes it less likely for distortions to happen for your performance.

The best time to pull your mic away is when you are about to belt a note for your performance.

Now when I say move your mic away, I’m only talking about a couple inches (so 4-6 inches would be perfect.)

And another thing you want to note is to get the timing right when you pull your mic away.

Pull your mic too soon and it’s going to lose the build up for your crescendo.

And pull your mic too late, and it’s going to create some vocal distortions at the beginning of the note.

These are some professional microphone techniques that take some practice to make sure that you time it right so that your performance goes smoothly.

3. Hold The Mic Correctly

Microphone technique

Now that we learned how to sing into the microphone and find the optimal distance between us and the mic, now it’s time to learn how to hold the mic correctly.

It’s one of those foundational microphone techniques for singers that you’re going to need to learn.

So when you hold the mic, you want to hold it at the shaft.

This is because if you hold the mic by the top (also known as “cupping the mic”) the mic goes from a cardioid direction to an omnidirectional.

The sound is going to be picked up from everywhere (including your audience) instead of just your voice.

And that can create problems real quick when you have background noises, audience members cheering for you, and just other sounds that will be picked up by the mic.

And this is how you create a nightmare with a muddy and screeching feedback.

That’s why you want to hold your mic properly at all times.

For your sake and your audience’s ears’ sake.

4. Don’t Stand In Front Of The PA Speakers

Microphone techniques

One thing you want to keep in mind when performing at all times is not to stand in front of the PA speakers.

PA speakers stand for “public address” and it’s the speakers where your voice will come out.

What happens is if you stand in front of the speakers by accident, all the sounds that’s being transmitted from the mic will be picked up by the speakers giving you the dreaded feedback that makes everyone’s ears bleed.

That’s why during sound check, you just want to double check where the speakers are on your stage so that you don’t accidentally step right in front of it.

So yeah, don’t step in front of the PA speakers.

Something to keep in mind for your vocal mic techniques.

5.  Get A Proper Soundcheck before performing live

Sound check before a performance

Getting a proper sound check before performing live for an audience is something essential that most singers don’t do.

This is where:

  • You sing so that the people can optimize for your voice for your performance…
  • And you get a feel of everything around you…

Now, when the person asks you to sing at a volume like you are going to perform live, I want you to sing slightly louder.

This is because when you are singing in front of nobody, your nerves are going to be more relaxed and you are going to feel more comfortable.

But when you step onto the stage, the adrenaline and nervousness might get back to you and you might sing slightly louder without realizing.

And when you sing slightly louder than what you did at the performance, then your voice is going to get slightly distorted.

Now ideally, you would sing at the volume you perform but because of variables you can’t control during the stage, I recommend you sing slightly louder.

6. Sing Like There’s No Microphone

Microphone technique for singers

Another singing newbie mistake is that when you are holding the microphone, you want to sing like there is no microphone.

This is a truly part of the essential microphone techniques for singers that is important to be aware of especially for beginners.

A lot of singing newbies like to sing a little softer so that the voice doesn’t get too distorted into the mic.

This becomes a problem because when you sing a little softer, it doesn’t have the power and emotion behind the words you sing.

That’s why I want you to sing like how you have been singing without the microphone.

So when you are belting a note out, I don’t want you to hold back the power just because of the mic in front of you.

You can always adjust the mic and mic distance so that your voice can get captured at its best.

7. Use A Pop Filter And Windshield 

Pop filter

Now, this isn’t really necessary when you are performing live, since the mics they already hand out to you will already have a pop filter or windshield.

This microphone technique is for singers who want to record a song at their home studio.

When you don’t use a pop filter, what happens is those vocal plosives with the words “p” and “b” become overemphasized making a “popping noise.”

Try it yourself.

Buy a pop filter and see the difference between singing with one and singing without one.

Notice the sounds when you say something like:

  • “Peter Penguin popped his polar cap.”
  • Or “Sally Shovel saw seashells at the sea.”

You’re going to notice a lot of “popping noises” with the first sentence and a lot of hissing noises from the second sentence.

So be sure to get the right pop filter for your mic so that the sounds become less audible.

Plus, using a pop filter forces you to sing a couple inches away from the mic (so you aren’t just kissing it by accident…)

If you’re planning on recording vocals with a pop filter, then you want to make sure that you choose the best mic for your voice to capture the best sounds.

It’s a combination of the right techniques, equipment, and voice that will make your voice shine.

8. Get A Dedicated Monitor For Your Voice

Practice with a microphone

Now when you are performing live, it’s going to be really loud.

There’s going to be noises from:

  • Your band members…
  • Your audience members…
  • And just other noises…

And if you have ever been to a concert, you can understand what I mean.

That’s why you need to make sure you have a dedicated monitor for your voice, so you aren’t just yelling for no reason.

Because what happens is if you can’t hear your own voice, you are naturally going to sing even louder so that they can hear your voice from the band.

And this becomes a losing game because as you keep pushing your voice, your voice is going to get tired quickly and may not have enough power to perform for the entire performance.

That’s why you see famous singers on stage with earpieces and earplugs so that not only can they hear their own voice and how it sounds like…

But to also just protect their ears.

So ask the sound engineers for a dedicated monitor so that you don’t blow out your voice.

9. Practice And Get Comfortable With The Mic

Gandhi Quote

Last but not least is just practicing and getting comfortable with the mic.

It’s one of those microphone techniques for singers where you notice the nuances and it becomes second nature on using the mic correctly.

What I recommend is recording yourself to make sure that you know how you physically look like when you are holding the mic.

There’s a lot to be learned when you see yourself from another perspective holding a mic.

And this is important because how you see yourself is how your audience is going to see you hold the mic.

And even though the audience members didn’t come to see you hold the mic (or at least I hope they didn’t) but they came to see how you perform live with your voice.

And holding your mic to bring out the best is what will lead to an amazing performance for both your audience and yourself.

So practice by yourself and see how you perform when you aren’t nervous.

And ask someone to record the show so you can look at see how you performed during an actual performance.

Over time, you will become more comfortable and proficient in using your microphone.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do singers put their mouth on the microphone?

Singers put their mouth on the microphone to emphasize certain words when singing quietly or to emphasize their breathy tone.

Why do singers pull away the microphone?

Singers pull away the microphone so that when they are belting a note, their voice doesn’t get distorted when they sing into the microphone.

How Can I Sing Better With A Microphone?

The best way to learn how to sing better with a microphone is to practice using a microphone in a safe environment like a Karaoke bar and playing with the angles and distance to find the best sound for your voice.

Conclusion

I went over the 9 essential microphone techniques for singers that you need to know if you are performing live or recording in your home studio.

Singing and using the mic are two separate skills that are important if you want to capture the best sound for your voice in front of an audience.

Let me know in the comments below about your first experience using a microphone.

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As a seasoned musician with multiple years of experience, Anthony writes about tips and tricks to improve your craft whether you are a singer, pianist, or guitarist here at Melody Beats.

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