Microphone Technique -a basic primer

How often have you had a person use a microphone off axis or wander around stage with the mic pointing at the foldback wedges. This often seems to be very common with people who have no experience or very little experience. One of the most irritating is the corporate gig where the speaker moves away from the lectern mic. This is a very common fault, you get the lectern set up and the lectern mic is sounding great. On comes the speaker and they either move the microphone out of the way or step to one side of the lectern or they keep turning their head away from the mic to look at the great Powerpoint display they have created even if it is also displayed on the laptop in front of them. And no matter how many times you have explained to the people that are going to use the lectern how to use the mic to their benefit, they forget it once the event is on the way. If it looks like the speaker is going to be someone that moves around a lot, it might be prudent to suggest that they wear a radio headset system. Some people might not like the idea but it makes good sense if they are the sort to roam the stage, they will at least be heard by all the important people – the audience. these days headsets mic systems are very light and not very noticeable. It also might be a good idea to stick a note to the top of the lectern reminding people to talk into the microphone with an arrow pointing to the mic. I have had people talk into the goose neck light that is often on lecterns.
Another problem that I have encountered is someone using a handheld mic for singing or speaking. When this person stops singing or speaking the relax their arm and let it hang down with the microphone pointing at the floor. This has the potential to create feedback if you are using foldback speakers. As an audio operator you really need to be on the ball to mute this mic if this happens and to be very quick if they decide to use the mic again. Again it is a matter of trying to educate these people in the correct use of a microphone. another common trait is for people to actually speak quieter when using a microphone. They are assuming that the microphone is there to do all of the work. Not so, it is their to boost their natural voice not their whisper. I have to explain to them that audio system has to work harder if they talk quieter. And the harder it has to work the more likely it is going to feedback, thus annoying the audience somewhat. So for any event requiring microphones it is a good idea to spend some time with those using microphones explaining how to use the mics for this particular set up. Even some professional performers might appreciate this if the PA is set up in an unusual configuration. This is because you are trying to make them sound good and that is what they want.

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One thought on “Microphone Technique -a basic primer

  1. Sadly this is a common problem even when you do tell them those tips. I think for most presenters listening to what we say, seems unimportant to them until after the event and cant work out why no one is fired up about their presentation or product. I write on my Lecturn “Use the mic or none will hear you” I also go through a brief training session on mic technique. Basically, pucker up and make the mic touch your bottom lip (get the mic close to their mouth) and speak into it, not across it. As for feedback…. It’s something they have to listen too… Mmmmm luv the 2k squeal @ 106DbSPL!!

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