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In Front of the Mic: Microphone Recording Tips

A high quality microphone is a very sensitive piece of equipment designed to capture sound with as much fidelity as possible. They are impressive pieces of technology which in conjunction with a proper sound isolation booth permit audio recordings of the highest quality. And as you know or would expect, they record every mouth noise, lip smack and breath that will need to be cleaned up and edited after the recording. But this is just par for the course.

Occasionally all the sensitivity of a microphone can cause other problems—the “too much of a good thing” type of problem. The following anecdotes provide some microphone recording tips that may seem improbable, but they are based on real events.

A squeaky or creaky chair or stool obviously has no place in a recording booth nor does the drone or hiss of an air conditioner. Experienced talent know that a cell phone—even set to buzzer—can still produce an audible signal that can ruin a perfect take and are mindful to not bring them into the booth. But there are other things we really think of as being part of ourselves that can cause problems in front of the microphone recording a session. I remember a recording with an impeccably dressed Japanese voice-over actor. While his freshly pressed shirt was bright and crisp, it was also so loud that the microphone would record the distinct “crackle” of his well starched shirt if he made any movement at all. We had no choice but to have him finish the session in his undershirt.

At another recording session, another voice-over artist was wearing new pair of leather shoes. The shoes by themselves were not a problem, and you’d think that they are about as far from the microphone recording the talent as they could be. But when the voice actor was fidgeting and moving his feet during the recording, the squeaking shoes had to make an exit. And in a similar incident involving more leather, there once was a “loud belt” that also had to be banished from the booth.

During another recording session late in the day a few years ago, one of our regular voice-over talent had not had time for lunch. Being the professional that he was, he was determined to stick to the schedule and complete his recording during the appointed time. His reading was as good as always, only it was punctuated by a stomach that was literally growling for food. After enough takes were compromised by its grumbling, we actually had to stop the session and let him have a sandwich before resuming the recording in postprandial silence.

Hair does not normally come to mind a source of sound, but on more than one occasion we’ve had to ask a female voice talent to please gather her mane and tie it up so it could not drape onto her clothing, where its rustling was ruining her read.

You’d think getting a good read is as easy as good pronunciation, a pleasant voice and a good microphone. But a good read also needs to be a clean read.

Following are a few microphone recording tips to improve a voice-over session:

1) Be on time or arrive early—the audio engineer and dialog coaches charge for their services while waiting for you

2) Do your homework and rehearse the script by reading it out loud, the session will go faster and smoother and you’ll sound more relaxed

3) If you are unsure about pronunciation of a word, record alternate takes

4): Find a comfortable position in front of the mic and stay there so your voice level is the same for the entire recording session

5) Don’t drink milk or any mucous producing liquids—no one wants to hear your lips smack

To learn more about InterNation’s  recording studio, please visit Professional Audio & Voice-Over Recording Services.


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