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Vocal Microphone Technique For Singers - How To Hold The Mic

Updated on October 15, 2012
Figure 1.
Figure 1.
Figure 2.
Figure 2.

Intro - If you sing in a band then you would be forgiven for not giving any attention to correct vocal mic technique, or giving it thought but never really getting it right. There are so many things that can mis-guide you as you try to get a good microphone technique. MCs on stage holding a mic at the shell and in any direction that looks good is a good example of how vocalists are mis guided on how to hold a microphone. Music videos, were the artist is playing "live" but the shot of the artist is more important than having the microphone in the correct place (as its actually only a dummy microphone) is another example of were young artists may take influence and get microphone technique wrong. In this hub Im going to lay down some basic techniques on how to hold a mic and what to do with it as your singing as well as communicating with the audience. Please visit my sound blog for more advice!

Tip one - Most microphones are designed to be held a specific way. Its fairly obvious were you are supposed to hold the microphone but for some reason singers often don't hold the microphone in the correct manner. On the SM58 for example you hold it with your hand around the black part of the microphone (Snoop gets it right in figures 1) and keep your hand away from the shell (Figure 2 shows Mr shady getting it all wrong). No matter how un-comfortable you feel holding the mic in the correct manner, you must hold it like that as any interference with the shell will lead to an increased chance of feedback.

Tip Two - My second tip requires a little more technical knowledge to fully understand but is fairly simple to grasp without the technical background. Microphones only pickup signal from certain places around the shell, I wont go in to detail on were or how (this wiki artical does) but its safe to say that the strongest point for most vocal microphones to pick up signal from will be directly in front of the microphone. It therefore stands to reason that this is the point that you should be singing in to, the best way i can describe it is for you to think of the microphone as an extension of your throat and hold it as shown in figure 1 again. Try singing from different angles in to the microphone and see how the sound differs from place to place.

Tip Three - The third tip is to think about the distance you hold the microphone from your lips. The closer you hold the mic to your lips the less gain the engineer will have to add meaning less background noise and a clearer signal. The down side to holding the microphone close to your lips is the sound conveyed by the speakers is bassier - this is due to something called the proximity effect (See hear for more info if your a techie). It is for this reason i suggest holding the microphone roughly 2 inches from your lips, as a happy medium as you sing normally.

If you find your act requires you to be quite dynamic with your vocals you may need to bring the mic closer and further away depending on how loud you are singing at anyone point. Don't go crazy just move the mic away by 4 or 5 inches as you sing the louder parts to your songs and bring it within 1 inch as you sing the real quite parts. These are just guide lines so just find out what works for you.

You may ask, why bother doing any of this? Cant the engineer just turn the gain up so i can be heard? Well they could but usually too much gain results in feedback so holding the microphone in the correct manner & place is essential when performing in a band.

So there you have it, the basics on the best way to perform with a microphone in your hand. Please comment rate and subscribe

I regularly work as a sound engineer for a PA Hire in Leeds company.



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    • schoolgirlforreal profile image

      schoolgirlforreal 5 years ago

      Thanks for the advice, some things I didn't know like how to hold the mic

    • profile image

      FreeSingingLessons 6 years ago

      These are some very important tips a singer doesn't normally get about singing on a microphone. I will love to pass this important information along. I will link to you from my site. Thanks!

    • onionaudio profile image

      Daniel Williams 7 years ago from London

      Well get practicing then!

    • profile image

      Ella 7 years ago

      I would like to go on tour and sing in front

      of people

    • joecseko profile image

      Joe Cseko jr 8 years ago from New York, USA, Earth

      Nice job. Coming from a fellow musician, I love the attention to detail. And yes, too few vocalists are aware of the differences between omni and unidirectional mics.

    • profile image

      simon 8 years ago

      Good article Dan. It seems that I'm not the only one who waffles about technical stuff :)