Whenever you speak to your microphone, the mic hears your voice, and the space you are in. If that space is a small room with hard walls, a distinctly “hollow” sound will become part of your recording. You may sound like you are recording in a cave or a tunnel.
We want to hear what you have to say, but we don’t want to hear the sound of your room. Recording studios and radio stations expend a lot of effort to tame the room. Dense fiberglass panels are often attached to the walls and ceiling, so that much of the sound that hits the walls gets absorbed, and doesn’t bounce back to the mic. Additionally, bumpy foam rubber sheets attempt to reduce some of the high frequency reflections.
That’s the ideal approach, if you have a permanent recording location, and the budget for such things. But broadcasters often find themselves in acoustically “imperfect” conditions. What can you do to keep the sound under control?
- Choose a mic with a narrow directional pattern. Cardioid or super-cardioid pickup patterns are most sensitive to sounds directly in front of the mic. Sounds coming from any other angle are greatly reduced.
- Use a dynamic mic, not a condensor. Recording studios tend to like condensor mics because they are very sensitive, and will pick up every little nuance of the sound in the room. But broadcasters, in our “imperfect” environment, prefer to use the less-sensitive dynamic mics. A dynamic mic simply won’t hear the room noises as much.
Also, condensor mics are physically more delicate, and can’t take the mechanical abuse that a broadcast mic often faces every day.
- Keep the mic close to the sound source. 6-9 inches from the mouth is typically the “sweet spot” for spoken voice. Your voice will dominate the sound field the mic is hearing. Any noises from the environment will be significantly less.
(Skype callers often speak to their computer’s built-in mic, rather than a handheld. The computer’s mic is quite a distance away, and has a greater chance of hearing other sounds at least as loud as you. Take the effort to connect your handheld mic to the computer; it will make a world of difference in clarity.)
If the room sounds are still heard, try using a mic processor. Judicious use of the downward expander feature can dramatically reduce the background noise, while still sounding very natural. The mic processor also provides compression for a consistent audio level, and some additional functions to add some extra polish to your sound.
You’ve got something important to say. We want to be sure it’s heard as clearly as possible. Give us a call… we’ll talk about talking.