Foxtrot Oscar Mic…

Bad mic technique is a real bugbear of mine. Sigh – the wedding speaker, the gobbler, the cupper, the wanderer, the human hurricane, the yoyo champ… Never mind those people who insist on using cheap “vintage” toys because they “look good”…

Thank you for this, hairy sweary dude… (this stuff doesn’t just apply to metal and rawk, btw.)

I’d add one thing here, probably more pertinent to jazz singing. When singing without a pop screen (or a pair of your drummer’s tights stretched across a wire coathanger), always angle the mic so you’re singing slightly across it, not right into it. There’s very little an engineer can do if you sound like you’re in a force nine gale… which you’re creating by blasting the capsule with your rose-scented breath… The mic is to amplify your voice, it’s not a valve on a kiddie paddling pool.

Glenn Fricker (for ’tis he of the hair and the swear, and love those canuck vowels btw) also has some good advice on getting your band ready for gigging and recording – another thing that frequently gives me grief. The way I’d summarise the process is thus:

Write it before you practise it;
Practise it before you rehearse/refine it;
Rehearse it before you gig/record it.

Easy as 1-2-3, baby, you and me. Believe it or not, there really are plenty of musicians and sound engineers around who are fair enough not to just put up with it and humour you while you clock up a bill needlessly. If they get a bit frustrated when working with you, it isn’t because they’re being high and mighty, it’s because they want the best result for you.

It’s their job, and in many cases, their passion to make you sound good. So why fight them?

Anyway, nice to find someone out there who swears as much as I do. I’m slightly more charitable towards bassists though… And if you ever want some tips on mic-amp setups for that precise thrash sound, it’s not really my area but Glenn would seem to be your man.

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Posted in c) Musicianship, j) Sound & Vision
6 comments on “Foxtrot Oscar Mic…
  1. Adam Cole says:

    I appreciate the advice, but if it’s all the same to you, I’ll just continue cupping the mike. That’s my signature sound, that garbled, feedback-laden, undecipherable gibberish. How else can I amplify my strength – great lyric writing?

    • Jason says:

      My favourite is the wedding speaker.
      Holds the mic at waist height, constantly asks to be turned up, then wheels around the stage randomly pointing the thing at monitors. The howl begins.
      Then when people start frantically gesturing at them to stop it, the silly buggers cover the thing with their hand. Cue the agonised death screams of several million cilia…

      • Adam Cole says:

        O, I thought they held the mike at waist height, asked, “Can everyone hear me?” and when the answer is four-thousand “No’s!”, they continue holding the mic at waist height, ask, “Is that better,” and then proceed to ignore the next four-thousand “No’s!”

  2. If you’re a member of the big nose federation* like me (or, much more significantly, the late and wondrous and greatly missed Amy and any number of other people), the mic has to be horizontal or close to it else you’ll sound appallingly nasal.

    *Why ? “Because the air is free” :- Philip Roth.

    • Jason says:

      Hi Arthur.
      I’ll have a think about that, but I’m not so sure. I was tutored in singing as a kid, and I’m all for using bodily resonance. But physiognomy aside, you really shouldn’t blast directly into the mic…
      Anyway, there have been many, federation members or not, who’ve been magnificently endowed in the conk department and haven’t sounded like a phone call in a gale.

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