How To Find The Right Distance For A Microphone Average Recording Setup?

You've probably heard a microphone howl a few times when you're standing or talking too close to it. So how far is enough? Let's find out with us.

by Derrick Reeves | Updated: August 14, 2021

How far should a microphone be from your mouth? This can depend on the type of mic that you are using. In 95% of cases, vocal recording microphones will be large diaphragm condenser mics. So if you are using one of these types, a good starting point is about 6 inches between your mouth and the microphone. 

Why Microphone Placement Matters Singer?

Microphone placement can be a tricky thing. Whether you are recording vocals or instrumentals it is always important to have your microphone in close proximity to what you are trying to record. This will provide an optimal sound quality. 

When recording vocals, the optimal distance is about six inches between your mouth and the microphone (unless you are using a lavalier mic). This provides an intimate feel for vocal recordings. It also helps eliminate unwanted sounds that might be picked up by accident or if someone in the room with you were talking while they were recording. 

Instrumental recordings, on the other hand, require a much different approach. This is because instruments are usually picked up by how they resonate and not how loud they sound at any given moment. If you were to put your microphone too close while trying to record an instrument it would pick up all of these unwanted sounds that we do not want to include in the final result. 

Why Microphone Placement Matters Singer 

Distances For The Different Types Of Microphones 

There are a lot of different types of microphones out there and they all require slightly different distances.  

Cardioid Micro 

Cardioid microphones are typically how most vocal and instrument recordings will be done. These types of mics work best at a distance between two to three feet from the person or object being recorded.  

Shotgun MicroMikes 

This type of microphone is used for recording interviews, speeches, and anything that needs to pick up sound from the front and nothing from the back. The optimal distance would be about 12 to 18 inches. 

Omnidirectional Microphone 

This type of microphone is used to pick up sound from all directions. This is how a lot of room mics are done, where you put the mic in one corner and run it around the room. The optimal distance for these types would be about 4 feet away from what you're trying to record so that it captures both close sounds. 

Distances for the Different Types of Microphones 

Lavalier Microphone  

These types of microphones typically clip onto a person's shirt or collar, but they can also attach directly to an instrument like a guitar or piano. These microphones can be placed as close to the speaker or instrument as possible without touching it. 

This type of microphone is typically used for things like conference calls, lecturing, and public speaking events where you would want a wide range of people in the room to be able to hear what's going on with minimal screeches from those sitting close to the microphone. 

Dynamic Micro 

This type of microphone is how most instruments are recorded. The optimal distance would be about a foot away from the instrument being played or talked into. This allows for some movement while still picking up all of the sound coming from what you're trying to record that way no part will be missed and it doesn't change how far away the mic. 

Figure 8 Micro 

This type of microphone is how you would record a choir. They are typically placed above and around the group so that all sounds can be picked up, but there should not be any overlap with other parts. The optimal distance for these types could vary depending on how many people they are recording at once as well as how close they need to be. 

How High Should The Microphone Be Placed? 

This is something you would have to figure out depending how high the microphone needs to be placed. For instance, if your mic was on a stand and needed to reach over someone's head then it might need to go up higher than where they are sitting (unless of course, they're standing). The height that works best for most people in most cases is about two to four feet in the air.  

How High Should the Microphone Be Placed 

Pop Filter Distance to Your Microphone 

The best way to combat how hard and how much air comes out of your mouth is a pop filter. This little device sits directly in front or on top of the microphone that catches any excess saliva, breath particles, popping sounds from P's, S's, and other words like those while still letting all the clear sound through. The optimal distance for how close a pop filter should be to your microphone will vary depending on what type of mic you are using and the size it is. 

Reduce Microphone Background Noise 

One problem you might have with how close your microphone is to what you're trying to record is background noise. A lot of this can be solved just by how far away the mic is from whatever it's picking up, but there are a few other things that could help too such as adding in more mics and using a directional type instead of how omnidirectional ones, or using a microphone where the person is actually speaking into it instead of one that picks up sounds from all around. 

Conclusion 

This article has given you a few different options for how far your microphone should be from whatever it's picking up the sound of. The most important thing to remember is that there isn't just one way and what works best will depend on how close or how high, deep, loud, etc., it needs to pick up sounds. Hope all of the above will be useful to you now or in the future. 

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