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Importance of Microphone Placement

Jun 17, 2008
Microphones are like real estate property; placement and location is one aspect which cannot be neglected. If a microphone testing is conducted with a number of positions of the microphone, and the music is recorded, it will definitely show the great importance of microphone placement.

Steps to remember in pacing a microphone correctly

One of the rules of thumb is to place the mic at the side of the mouth of the speaker but as close as possible. However, if it is too close it would pick up unwanted sounds.

For a drum kit the setup is different. They are placed over the heads of the drum kit. The general formation of a drum kit is very systematic. The Kick is placed in the center, Snare at center, Hats at half right or right, Cymbals in the left to right, and Toms positioned at left to center to right. A drum kit is quite wide, so the importance of microphone placement is more important here, as wrong locations would result is phasing out the music.

For drums the mic needed to have the ability to handle High SPL or Sound Pressure level, as at times the sound pressure created by drums can be of extreme nature. For Snares one mic may be placed from top and the other from the bottom. Mics must also be used for the Kicks, the Toms, Hi Hats and the Ambience.

Importance of microphone placement and the accepted configuration for Stereo Recordings

AB Configuration

The simplest form of all the other configurations is the AB form. Two Cardioids mics are placed several feet apart, facing forward, with an angle between each other. However, this configuration can cause some problems. When the sound waves are entering into the mics they may land odd timed with each other causing constructive and destructive frequencies. In the recording this may show as beat frequency.

XY Configuration

The distance between the two mics causes the beat frequency problem. This configuration solves the earlier problem. Here the two cardioids mics are placed close to each other, with a right angle formed at the top.

Binaural Configuration

It is an old configuration but one of the better form of configuration where the music is reproduced quite correctly. Here, two omnidirectional mics are placed apart by a dummy head put in between to reflect a dummy human head. This configuration is a simulation to reflect how the human ears pick up the sound, and quite readily shows the importance of microphone placement in a recording session. The recording is to be listened to using headphones.

MS Configuration

MS is acronym for Mid or Side configuration. It is one of the most interesting of all the configurations. For this configuration one Cardioid mic or an omnidirectional mic is used along with a Figure 8 mic. Figure 8 is a type of mic where both the left and right channel possesses a transducer facing 180 degree from each other. It is a type of stereo mic, hence the two channels, left and right, are distinct from each other.

An amateur musician cannot overlook the importance of microphone placement, as it is the microphone which captures the music and converts it into electrical signals, to be decoded later by the speakers.
About the Author
Victor Epand is an expert consultant for music gear, speakers, and microphones. You can find the best marketplace for music gear, speakers, and microphones at these 3 sites: music gear, DJ equipment, recording equipment , speakers, subwoofers, and omnidirectional microphone, cardioid microphone.
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