How to Stand in Front of a Microphone
Voice actors have been around for over 100 years. On Christmas Eve in 1906, the ‘Father of Voice Radio’, Reginald Fessenden, broadcast ‘O Holy Night!’ to ships at sea from the shores of Boston. Fessenden used a carbon microphone on that cold night over a century ago. But how was his posture? And could he have captured voice quality better for his audience?
Fessenden would marvel at the advancements in voice over and acting today. He also would be impressed with how well audio gets captured today. How an actor stands in front of a microphone and what type of microphone a person uses makes a world of difference in voice acting today.
Types of Microphones
There are three main types of microphones used by voice actors today. The main microphones used for voice over work are condensers, dynamic mics, and lavalier microphones.
Possibly the most popular microphone for voice acting is the condenser mic. This microphone is sensitive and versatile. The condenser microphone uses its diaphragm to capture input signals quickly. This style of a microphone is a multipurpose device. A condenser superbly captures any studio sound, whether vocals or effects.
There are three condenser microphones: large-diaphragm, small-diaphragm, and electet. Large diaphragm microphones capture a large amount of sound and ambiance inside a room. This mic is good for vocal capturing. Small-diaphragm mics record high-frequency, close-mic sounds like an acoustic guitar. Electret microphones do not require external voltage for power and are common in mobile devices.
A dynamic microphone uses electromagnetism to convert sound waves into electrical signals. These microphones are less sensitive than condenser mics. Dynamic microphones work in noisy environments where the sound is uncontained. A dynamic mic will capture the voice while eliminating background noise and sound. Unlike large and small diaphragm microphones, most dynamic mics do not need an external power source.
Also known as a lapel mic, a lavalier microphone is a small mic attached to the body or clothing of an actor. A lavalier microphone is either wired or wireless. This type of microphone is lightweight to conceal that the actor is wearing it. Lavalier mics work well more for film actors than for voice talent. Additionally, wearing a lavalier microphone limits the movements and actions of the voice over actor.
Why do voice actors use different positions?
There are several job opportunities for voice talent. Voice actors lend their skills to TV and film, commercials, video games, audiobooks, and even eLearning videos. Voice over work requires talent to utilize enunciation, inflection, and pacing. However, how a voice actor positions their body with the microphone is crucial to a successful recording. To accomplish the goal of each particular role, voice over artists incorporate a series of different physical positions.
Different Types of Positions When Standing In Front Of a Microphone
Voice-recording actors usually prefer one of two ways to capture their work: sitting or standing. Sitting positions provide the capability of recording longer than one who stands. Recording while seated makes for a more intimate setting that resonates through the voice during the session. However, recording from a seated position limits physicality, hand gestures, and the ability to adjust the microphone during speaking.
Posture is key to the voice over performance. That is why standing is the preferred position for voice talent. Standing while facing a microphone allows an actor the freedom to move around, express body language, and bring out their energy. More often than not, and whenever possible, standing in front of the microphone will produce better sound and quality. But exactly how far away should a voice over artist stand from the microphone?
Distance from the microphone
Standing 6 to 12 inches from a microphone guarantees the best sound capture. Keeping a proper distance ensures a successful proximity effect. The proximity effect of a vocal recording is a technical term that refers to the distance between the microphone and the sound source. Simply put, the proximity effect is what a listener hears when the speaker moves closer to or further from the microphone. Professional-sounding voice talents ensure a proper proximity effect that does not distort the quality of the recording.
Why Positioning Matters for voice acting
Voice actors should be aware of the ‘sweet spot’. The sweet spot is the location where a voice actor stands that maximizes the clarity of the recording. It is where an actor’s voice sounds best. Every microphone is different and where an actor stands with the mic determines the ‘sweet spot’. You should understand that your positioning matters. Take time to understand where your microphone’s ‘sweet spot’ is.
Ways of Standing To Avoid
Voice over actors should know exactly where and how to stand to hit their sweet spot.. Here are some ways of standing to avoid when recording a voice over.
Don’t Stand Directly In Front Ofhe Microphone
The polar pattern of a microphone is the area around the diaphragm that records the sound. Avoid standing directly in front of the center of the microphone. Instead, stand slightly off-center to either the left or the right. Also, try to place the microphone just above the mouth. Remember to keep a distance between 6 and 12 inches from the mic.
Don’t Stand The Microphone Upright
A common mistake for a new voice actor occurs when the talent places the microphone directly upright. Doing this causes the air from the mouth and nose of the speaker to smack directly into the diaphragm. To avoid capturing unnecessary sound, tilt the microphone at a forward angle. This arrangement eliminates p-pops and other plosives.
The way a voice actor stands in front of a microphone has a profound effect on the overall quality of the recording. A key to a successful performance is standing between 6 and 12 inches from the microphone. Also, standing off-center into a tilted mic is helpful. It is a good idea to know what type of mic is used during a recording session.
Wondering how to take care of your voice? Read our latest article on vocal heath today.
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