Pro Audio Files Logo Pro Audio Files

Elevate Your Ears Become a Member

31 Microphone Tips from Recording Hacks

Article Content

Here are 31 tips from Matthew McGlynn of

Quiztones for iOS EQ ear training screen

Ready to elevate your ears?

It doesn’t have to take years to train your ears.

Get started today — and you’ll be amazed at how quickly using Quiztones for just a few minutes a day will improve your mixes, recordings, and productions!

  1. *Listen*. If the track sounds like crap, move the microphone.
  2. Omni mics don’t necessarily mean “bleed.” Try one up close. No proximity!
  3. If a client blows into a mic to test it, immediately explain that that’s bad for the mic. While beating him with it.
  4. Put a fig-8 mic under the cardioid on acoustic guitar. Mid-Side = instant free stereo ambience. Adjust to taste at mix time.
  5. Put a second mic 10′ away from the cabinet or acoustic instrument, for ambience.
  6. Need a tight, ‘poppy’ kick sound? Try a boundary mic: crown PZM or Shure Beta 91A on a pillow inside the drum.
  7. Fix the room. Make all your mics sound better.
  8. Buy cables with 90-degree female XLR ends for your end-address snare and tom mics. The drummer will thank you.
  9. Try bringing the vocal mic in from above, nose height, angled down. Reduces plosives and makes the singer stand up straight.
  10. Need more lows to thicken up a guitar? Try a ribbon mic. Proximity can be your friend.
  11. Check phase coherency of kick, snare, and OH mics *before* you record.
  12. Life is too short for crappy cables.
  13. Tracking a band live? Dynamic mics will pick up much less bleed/ambient sound than condensers.
  14. Bulk mic cable costs $1/ft. Commercial XLR cables cost $1.50-2.00/ft. Learn to solder!
  15. Most inexpensive condensers have funky off-axis coloration. Consider what unwanted EQ this brings to your track. Or buy nicer mics. ; )
  16. Watch the drummer play before you set up mics: see where not to put them!
  17. Still getting too much bleed in the vocal mic? Try a Shure SM7B: 19dB rear rejection! (shootout here)
  18. Get stereo mic mounts for XY, MS, and ORTF. Using just 1 stand for these pairs is SO MUCH easier than using two.
  19. If the room sound isn’t great, keep the drum OH mics low to increase the ratio of direct to reflected sound.
  20. Have at least 1 very clean, high-gain input channel for your dynamics & ribbons. (Or, get one of these)
  21. Very few microphones “suck.” But lots of placements do. (And some engineers, too.)
  22. The magnets in ribbon mics will attract harmful “tramp iron” if left exposed. Cover or case them when not in use.
  23. There is 1 indispensable tool for finding the best mic position for ANY source. (Hint: you have 2 of them.)
  24. High-pass filter the guitar track you’re re-amping, esp. if the cab is close-miked. Proximity + subharmonics = mud.
  25. Amateur drummer? Put OH mics high, & cheap dynamics close. Save the grief of an errant stick taking out your best condensers.
  26. Just because you can pound nails with your vintage Electro-Voice dynamics doesn’t mean you should do it.
  27. Your cab’s speakers probably do not sound the same. Record the one that sounds best.
  28. For quiet acoustic instruments, stay away from high-self-noise condenser mics.
  29. Hang your tube mics upside-down for long sessions, so the tube heat doesn’t cook the diaphragms.
  30. Point the 90-degree nulls of a fig-8 ribbon at nearby instruments you don’t want to record: better isolation than a Cardioid mic.
  31. Use a pop shield to enforce a minimum distance between the singer’s mouth and the microphone.

Dan Comerchero

I'm Dan, Founder of The Pro Audio Files and Quiztones ear training apps.