It’s no secret that microphones are one of the most important pieces of equipment for any musician or audio engineer. A good microphone can make all the difference when it comes to capturing professional-sounding recordings and performing onstage. But even the best mics won’t sound great if they’re not set up correctly.
In this guide, you’ll learn some of the key techniques for getting your microphone to sound as good as possible. These tips will help you make sure that your recordings and live performances will be up to the highest standards.
How To Make A Microphone Sound Better In 15 Ways
1. Position The Microphone Properly
The first step towards a great-sounding microphone is to make sure it’s positioned correctly. Depending on the type of mic you’re using, this could mean positioning it close enough to your sound source (e.g. vocalist or instrument) so that it can pick up the sound without any additional amplification. It should also be placed at an angle that minimizes any unwanted noise or reverberations.
If you’re recording in a room with poor acoustics, it can also help to use acoustic treatment materials such as foam panels and bass traps to reduce echoes and other reverberations that can negatively impact sound quality. Experimenting with different microphone angles and placements is key here – the right position can make a huge difference in mic sound quality.
Related: Podcast Mic Setup
2. Use Pop Filters & Windscreens
Pop filters are essential for vocal recordings and can help reduce unwanted plosives (sounds like “p”, “b”, “t,” etc.) that often cause distortion. Windscreens are also important for outdoor recordings as they can help minimize any wind noise.
You should always double-check that your pop filters and windscreens are free from dust and lint before recording, as this can cause unwanted sounds to be picked up by the microphone. Additionally, make sure that your pop filters and windscreens are securely attached to the microphone stand or your mic clip in order for them to work effectively. Using these accessories will help ensure that your recordings sound professional, clear, and free of unwanted background noise.
Related: Best Pop Filters For Podcasting
3. Use High-Quality Cables
Low-quality cables can cause interference and distortion in audio recordings. Be sure to use cables with good shielding, as this will help reduce or eliminate any humming or buzzing noises caused by outside interference. Additionally, be sure to avoid using excessively long cables, as these might further cause signal degradation. If you need to use longer cables, consider investing in ones with better shielding.
Once you’ve gotten the appropriate cables for your mic setup, make sure that they are securely plugged into the microphone and audio interface. It is also important to ensure that all of your connections are secure and free from dust or rust, which can cause unwanted hissing or static.
Avoid using adaptors whenever possible, as they can further degrade audio quality and introduce noise into recordings. By investing in the right cables for your microphone setup, you’ll be able to achieve clear and professional-sounding recordings without any additional hassle.
4. Use High-Quality Preamps
Preamps are devices that amplify the signal coming from a microphone before it is sent to a recording medium. High-quality preamps provide an added layer of warmth and clarity to the sound of your microphone. Using a preamp with your mic can drastically improve its sound quality, as it can add depth and detail that might otherwise be lost when recording directly into a computer or interface.
Furthermore, using a preamp will allow you to adjust the gain levels to find the perfect balance between noise and signal levels. Preamps can be expensive, but they are worth the investment if you want to get the most out of your microphone.
Be sure to research different types of preamps available on the market before purchasing one for your recording setup. With a high-quality preamp in your arsenal, you will be able to make your microphone sound better and capture audio with greater detail and clarity.
5. Utilize Room Acoustics
The room you are in can have a huge effect on the quality of your recordings. Every room has its own unique acoustics, which can either enhance or detract from the sound of your microphone. To best utilize the acoustics of your room, you can use acoustic foam, which helps to absorb sound reflections and reduce echoes.
If possible, try recording in a room with hard surfaces like concrete or wood, as this will help create a more natural reverberation for your mic. When you get creative with how you use the acoustics of your room, you can make a huge difference in the overall sound of your recordings.
Related: How To Reduce Echo In A Room
6. Adjust Mic’s Sensitivity And Volume Settings
Depending on the microphone you are using, it may have different sensitivity and volume settings that can be adjusted. For example, condenser mics often have an adjustable gain level that can be adjusted to make the mic more sensitive or less sensitive. Similarly, dynamic mics usually feature a volume control knob that can be used to adjust its overall output level.
By adjusting these settings, you may find that it makes your microphone sound better. For instance, if your mic is picking up too much background noise, try turning down the gain or volume level. On the other hand, if you’re having trouble getting enough of your voice to be picked up by the mic, try increasing these settings as needed.
In addition to adjusting these settings on the microphone itself, you can also use software tools like your computer’s sound settings to adjust the input volume of the mic. Whatever you do, just make sure that you don’t turn the gain or volume up too high as this can cause distortion. It’ll take a bit of experimentation to find the best settings for your microphone in any given situation. In most cases, however, simply adjusting these basic settings will go a long way toward making your microphone sound better.
7. Use The Polar Pattern
Many microphones feature a polar pattern, which is the area in which it picks up sound. Different mics have different types of polar patterns, such as cardioid (which focuses on what’s directly in front) or omnidirectional (which picks up sound from all directions), and so on. Choose the most appropriate polar pattern for your needs, as this can make a huge difference to sound quality. Consider using an adjustable-polarity microphone if you need to switch between different settings.
If you’re recording vocals, cardioid is usually the best way to go. However, be aware that some sounds may still bleed in from the sides – if this is a problem, you may want to try an adjustable polarity microphone or experiment with different polar patterns.
With an adjustable-polarity microphone, you can choose the exact area in which sound will be picked up and ensure that only the desired sounds are recorded. This is especially useful if you’re recording in a noisy environment. So, consider using an adjustable-polar pattern for the best results!
8. Use Plugins To Tweak The Sound
Once you have your microphone set up and ready to go, it’s time to move onto the software side of things. Plugins are a great way to make your microphone sound better in recording programs like GarageBand or Pro Tools. There are hundreds of different plugins out there, from EQs (equalizers) to compressors, and each of them can help to enhance your sound in different ways.
Pay attention to the nuances of each plugin, as they may have a subtle but important effect on your recordings. Experiment with different combinations to find out what works best for you. Don’t be afraid to try out more advanced plugins; some of them can do an incredible job of making your microphone sound much better.
Remember to adjust the levels as necessary. You may find that raising or lowering certain frequencies can make a big difference in the overall sound quality of your recordings. With the right plugins and adjustments, you’ll be able to get great-sounding audio out of even the most basic microphones.
9. Keep Distance In Mind
When it comes to getting the best sound from your microphone, distance is an important factor to consider. Depending on the type of mic you’re using, different distances can create drastically different sounds. For example, dynamic microphone is typically used for close-up recording, while condenser mics tend to work better when placed further away from the sound source. Generally, the closer you are to a mic, the louder it will be and the more of your natural voice tone it will capture.
However, if you’re too close to a mic, there can be unpleasant clipping or distortion that can ruin your sound quality. Finding the right balance between proximity and clarity is key to getting better sound from your microphones.
As you experiment with different distances, pay attention to the sound the microphone is capturing and make sure that it sounds clear and professional. It may take some trial and error to find the optimal distance for your setup, but all that experimenting will be worth it when you get a great-sounding recording! Just remember—distance matters!
10. Use Noise Reduction Software
No matter how careful you are with your mic setup, there’s always the potential for unwanted background noise to creep into your recordings. Fortunately, there are several ways to reduce this noise and make sure that your audio is as clear as possible. One of the most effective tools for this purpose is noise reduction software.
This type of software analyzes audio recordings to identify and then remove any unwanted background noise. You can use this technology to clean up your audio signals and tracks and make them sound cleaner and more professional.
Additionally, noise reduction software can be used to enhance the clarity of vocal recordings by reducing ambient sounds such as wind, traffic, or air conditioner hums. If you’re looking for a way to make sure your recordings sound professional, noise reduction software is definitely worth looking into.
Related: Best Podcast Recording Software
11. Use Stands, Boom Arms, And Shock Mounts
Having the right stands, boom arms, and shock mounts for your microphone is essential for making great recordings. Stands help to keep your mic in the same spot and level so that sound is consistent each time you record. Boom arms allow you to position your mic at a range of angles, as well as allow you to move it away from the stand for added flexibility. Lastly, shock mounts help to isolate the mic from picking up noise like floor vibration or desk thumps. All these accessories will help you get the best sound possible out of your microphone.
Try experimenting with different positions and angles when mounting your mic on a stand, as this can make a big difference in the sound. Also, use foam windscreens or pop filters when recording to help keep out unwanted breath and plosives in your recordings. It may take some trial and error to find the right setup for you, but it will be worth the effort.
Related: Best Microphone Arms
12. Choose The Right Microphone
No matter how good your mic setup is, if you don’t have the right microphone for the job, then you won’t get great sound. Different microphones are designed for different purposes and environments, so it’s important to choose one that will suit your needs. There are many types of microphones available, following are some of the most common:
- Dynamic Microphones: These are the most common type of microphone, and they are great for recording vocals, instruments, drums, and other sources. They have excellent voice quality and can handle high levels of sound without distortion.
- Condenser Microphones: Condenser microphones have a much more sensitive capsule than dynamic mics and are great for capturing detailed audio through audio input, such as acoustic guitars or strings. They tend to be more expensive than dynamic mics, but the superior sound quality is worth it.
- Ribbon Microphones: These mics have a unique sound that is warm and smooth. They are great for recording vocals and acoustic instruments as they pick up subtle nuances in the mic audio. Ribbon mics can also be used for recording electric guitars, but they may require careful setup and placement to avoid feedback.
- Bluetooth Microphones: Bluetooth mics are designed for portability and convenience. They are great for remote recordings, such as interviews or field recordings. The sound quality is usually good but not as high-fidelity as other types of microphones.
- Directional Microphones: These mics are designed to pick up sound from a single direction while rejecting noise from other sources. They are great for isolating specific sounds in noisy environments or recording interviews with multiple people.
These are some of the most common types of microphones, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Once you’ve chosen the right microphone for your needs, you can start working on improving the sound quality. Every microphone will have its own unique characteristics and quirks, so it’s important to take the time to experiment and find the best way to use it for your recordings.
13. Turn Off Any Unnecessary Noise
No matter how good your mic setup is, if there are any unnecessary sources of background noises in the room, it will affect the sound you get. Try to make sure that any non-essential appliances or electronics are turned off while you record your audio track, as they can create unwanted noises in recordings.
If possible, try and record in a room that has minimal background noise. Carpets and soft furnishings help to absorb sound, as do acoustic foam panels, which can be mounted on walls and ceilings. If you need to record in noisy environments then consider using directional microphones, such as shotgun mics, to minimize the effect of ambient noise.
If you are recording with multiple people then make sure everyone is aware not to talk or move around while you are recording. Any unwanted noise from other people will be picked up by the microphone and can ruin a good take.
14. Don’t Move Around During Recording
Another key to getting a great sound is making sure that you don’t move around when recording. Even the slightest movement can cause noise and distortion in recordings, so it’s important to be mindful of your movements while tracking. If you need to adjust your body, try doing it slowly and in increments.
Try also using headphones with a noise-canceling feature if you find that movement is causing too much interference. Whenever possible, use an isolation booth or mic shield to block out outside noise and minimize any unwanted sound from entering the microphone’s area. If you move more than you’d like, consider using a pop filter to reduce the sound of your breath.
Lastly, make sure that any furniture you are using doesn’t squeak or make noise when you adjust your position. Taking these steps will help ensure that your recordings come out sounding clear and crisp.
15. Set Up A Good Monitoring System
Once you have the microphone set up, it’s important to make sure that you have a good monitoring system in place. This means having speakers or headphones that will allow you to hear your recordings accurately and clearly. Speakers should be placed at head height with acoustic foam around them to absorb any unwanted reverberation.
Headphones are a good way to hear your recordings without causing external noise, but it’s important to make sure they fit comfortably and sound great. There should be minimal bleeding from the microphone into the headphones. If this is an issue, then consider using a headphone amplifier or mixer.
Having a good monitoring system in place will ensure that you get the most out of your external microphone and will make it easier to spot any mistakes or imperfections in the recordings. Now you are ready to start recording.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that you can make your microphone sound better with a few simple steps mentioned above. By using the right accessories, making sure your environment is ideal for recording, and applying noise reduction techniques, you can really improve the sound recording quality of your microphone.
With a little bit of time and effort, you can make sure that your recordings sound their best! So don’t hesitate to put in the work to make your microphone sound great—it’ll be worth it in the end.