Five Common Microphone Mistakes

Over the years, we have encountered numerous mistakes people make when using microphones. We made a top 5 of the most common mistakes. Have fun reading this and don’t forget to add an example of your own in the comment box below!

1: Hanging microphones over the guitar amp

You see this technique used regularly as a substitute for missing mic stands. The problem is, when using a directional microphone, such as a cardioid, the frequency response of the microphone changes as you move around to the side and back. The severity of this effect can vary from manufacturer, but essentially, your microphone will sound better from the front than the side. Pay attention to the polar pattern of your mic – and use it to your advantage. Shure were in-fact the first microphone company to develop a truly unidirectional microphone in 1939, and the Shure Unidyne capsule (as used in the SM58) remains cutting edge to this day.



2: Cupping the mic head

You might think you’re dope, or whatever the newest word for cool is. But, to your sound engineer – you’re their worst nightmare! Blocking the back of the microphone covers ports, which are vital to the microphone polar pattern and frequency response. Sounding the part, is surely more important than looking the part!

3: Using the Most Expensive Mic by Default

Everyone’s been there. You purchase a brand new posh microphone and use it on absolutely everything. But the truth is, there isn’t really a true correlation between microphone price and the end result. Of course you get what you pay for to some degree, however, although your expensive condenser microphone might sound great on one voice – you might find that with other voices sound better with a dynamic mic. As an example – every John Lennon vocal was actually recorded using the SM57.

4: Too Many Mics

It’s a common mistake to use lots of microphones, with the assumption that more microphones will produce a fuller sound. Unfortunately, due to phase cancellation, the opposite is often the case. Phase coherence must be taken into account when using multiple microphones or your end result will sound thin due to cancelled out frequencies.


5: Lazy Mic Positioning

Paying little or no attention to mic positioning, or taking the attitude of “We’ll just fix it in the mix” is a recurring issue. Modern recording software has made it very easy to hide poor recordings or make the best of a bad situation. My advice – save yourself a headache, get it right from the start! The result is always better and you’re only as strong as your weakest link.

Do you know any examples which you like to add to this list? Post it in the comment box below!

Expert advice

Dont want to make the same (or similar) mistakes?
Shure knows how: For almost every application there are specially designed Shure microphones and wireless solutions. This guide provides you with a basic overview on how microphones, wireless systems and in-ear-monitoring systems work, what you need to consider to select the best product for your requirements, and how to set them up and use them.


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