How to set up a mic for singing

This article will discuss the different ways in which you can set up your microphone for singing.


We will also discuss the different ways in which different instrument players can set up a microphone as well.



When most people think of a microphone they think of a device that amplifies or that makes the voice louder.



Little do they know that the microphone has a whole range of capabilities.



Microphones also assist singers to get soft melodies across that may not be heard with the naked ear.





The microphone is absolutely one of the most important parts of any vocalists toolkit.


As an inexperienced singer, you thought that you were just born for the stage, and that when a microphone is in your hand you will just make magic.


But little did you know that microphones are part of the weaponry that you need to make good music, and like all weapons you need the right training and skill to use it.


Here we will talk mostly about live microphones and not studio microphones.


First of all, you do not need an expensive microphone firstly to be a singer.


Keep in mind that at the end of the day, if you sing poorly it does not matter what brand of  microphone you use.


This article will break up the various terms that you must be aware of.


Spider Mount/shock mount


One thing that I would suggest you invest in especially if you have a home studio, would be a shock mount or spider mount.


It reduces vibrations say from people walking or from artists who move a lot.


Pop filter


A pop filter is good for reducing the postal sounds, the B;s and the P’s from being over bearing.


It essentially reduces the air that comes out when you make those sounds.


Dynamic and Condenser microphones


Dynamic microphones have a flat frequency response and are awesome for live gigs at clubs.


A condenser microphone (which uses phantom power) is more acoustically responsive.


Polar Pattern


Polar Pattern


The polar pattern of the mic is also important when considering the type of microphone to purchase


The 4 polar patterns are omni directional, cardioid, super cardioid and hyper cardioid.


Omni directional and hyper cardiod microphones are usually used for lappele microphones and qior microphones. The most commonly know cardiod microphone is the Sure SM58 microphone.


That’s the one you see being used most by Mc’s and musicians who walk up and down the stage.


Super cardiod condenser microphones sound awesome in acoustically refined spaces.


As  a performance vocalist, then you will be making use of cardiod or super cardiod patterns.


Live singing/vocal microphones will either be dynamic or condenser.



Before you start your set as a musician you want to test the microphone.


Firstly, before you do your mic checks, make sure that the band plays as loudly as they can. This is done so that the sound man should check real levels.


Instead of doing the usual, mic check one, two, you should sing into the microphone as loudly as you can.


Not all microphones are created equal


Microphones can enhance the acoustic voice by adding resonant color. Microphones facilitate the addition of effects such as reverb and delay.


Many singers use their microphones to create amazing soundscapes using loop pedals.


When you want to get singers connected to the PA system (public address system) you will need a microphone and a microphone cable.


If you want to know which microphone is the best for you and your voice, then test them out.


Head over to an audio store, or meet up with someone that knows audio equipment so they can set up a range of microphones on balanced EQ, then sing your heart out and see.



Decide on the type of stand you want:


The common types of microphone stands are


  • Boom stands with the tripod base




Tripod Base





  • Straight stands with the round base




Round Bass





Which stand should you use?


Use a straight stand if you are not playing an instrument.


Use a boom stand if you intend to play an instrument and sing at the same time.


  • This is because with a boom stand the singer can move the microphone and the stand without getting the instrument in the way thereof.


Check the  clip on your stand to make sure that it will support the microphone.


The last thing you need happening during a performance is a microphone falling off the stand.


Next you grab the XLR cable and plug it into your microphone.


I would advise that you do not wrap the microphone cable around the boom as, if you need to remove the microphone from the stand, you do not have to fight with the cable tangled on the stand.



Piano Singers




If you are a piano player and you need a microphone, then you may want to take the following advice.


Firstly, if you want to do a Stevie Wonder rendition, the microphone needs to be close to the singer.


To do this, the microphone should be slightly behind the piano, preferably to your left.


You could place it on your right, but for me the left-hand side is preferable for the following reasons.


  • I prefer my piano monitor on the right-hand side.


  • When I stand up, I personally get up and walk to the right, so I would not want to accidentally bump into my microphone if it were placed on the right.


Make sure that your microphone is high enough to reach your mouth, and far enough, to ensure that you do not bump it with your hands.


Watch out for the cable of the microphone. Make sure that the cable is well tucked into the microphone so that it does not land up on the piano whilst you are playing.



Let’s talk about setting up a microphone for a singing drummer.


Singing Drummer


Given the sheer size of a drum set, drummers need a lot of room.


Just like the microphone set up for the pianist the microphone for the drummer should be to the left.


Now, drummers need a lot of space, so you must make sure that the microphone is high enough that the drummer does not bump into it.


One very important thing is to ensure that the microphone does not in any way point into the drummer’s monitor, otherwise you will get a whole lot of feedback.



What kind of microphone do professional singers use?


The answer to this question is, it depends. There are a few things that a musician will consider before using a specific microphone.


You must determine what the microphone will be used for


  • You must consider the instruments that will be under the microphone. For concert grands, you may want to consider a condenser microphone.


  • You may want to consider dynamic microphones for louder sound sources such as guitars, basses and drums.










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