Voice Talent Rachel Alena talks shop about microphone basics…
I was at a party this past Labor Day weekend watching a friend’s band play. Being the voice talent that I am, I was chit chatting along with a good friend until I heard my name called. The bass playing/singer in the band asked me to come up. Join them for a song or two. How fun!
There was one mic for us to share because the other mic was being used by the guitar player. The plan? He’ll sing the lead and I’ll do the backup vocals. No problem! Like Simon and Garfunkel, but with a bass and much flatter hair.
We sang our hearts out. I could hear him next to me and through the monitors. I belted out my best Aretha-like backups but when the song was over…the crowd was yelling. They couldn’t hear me at all! What went wrong?
Well…microphone type has a lot to do with it.
Your choice in a microphone can really make a difference in sound quality.
The band used wonderful, unidirectional, cardioid microphones. They were gorgeous, looking like they came from a 1920’s radio station! Scott’s lovely voice was heard because he was standing directly IN FRONT of the microphone. I, however, was standing next to him. So, his unidirectional, cardioid mic couldn’t hear me. It’s designed to pick up only the sound directly in front of it and reject bleed from other voices and instruments.
For me, as a voice actor & singer, using the right microphone type is important.
Microphone types/lingo:

  • Condenser, Cardioid: Ideal for voice over work. It doesn’t pick up much sound from the side or back of the mic. More sensitive to loud sounds.
  • Omni Directional: Picks up more sound from all around.
  • Dynamic, Cardioid: Great stage mics. It also doesn’t pick up much sound from the side or back of the mic.
  • Super Cardioid: Picks up sound from behind the mic
  • Hypercardioid: Takes in sound from the back and less from the side. Good for noisy environments.
  • Bi-directional: Good for interviews since it picks up noise from both sides.
  • Shotgun mic, line mic or gradient mic: Good for film because it picks up voice but minimizes other sounds.

Do your research and pick your mic carefully based on what you’ll use it for.
Also, maybe, keep a dynamic Shure SM58 in the car. You never know….
because when your Simon and Garfunkel moment calls you up to that stage…
you and your microphone, will be ready.

She’s a talker! So far, in August and September 2017, Rachel has voiced projects for: Microsoft, Mundipharma, Zytiga, CheckInAsyst, Alliance Residential, Modern Teacher, Smart Milestones and 47 Mind Hacks for Writers!
What just dropped? 47 Mind Hacks for Writers. Audiobook narrated by Rachel Alena! Check it out.
Rachel is a national voice talent who brings over 20 years of experience in voice acting to her clients and students. She has voiced hundreds of narrations for clients such as Disney, Microsoft, The Rockefeller Foundation, Goldman Sachs, Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Schnucks and Alliance Residential. She also provides private voice over training for students all across the country. Her studio is located near Boulder, Colorado.

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