Girl wearing NTH-100 singing into NT1-A with Pro Tools on computer screen in the background

Four podcasters with PodMics on DS1s recording with RØDECaster Pro II

Podcasting, Speech and Singing

If you are singing, recording a podcast or a voice-over, you generally want to get nice and close to the microphone. If you have a dynamic microphone (such as a RØDE PodMic or Procaster), your mouth should be 2-6 inches away from the grille. If you have a condenser microphone (such as an NT1-A or Broadcaster) you can be a little further back – roughly 6-12 inches – but you should still be up nice and close. This will give your voice a rich, professional sheen and help reduce background noise.

Man wearing NTH-100 talking into PodMic

Using a Lavalier

If you need a more unobtrusive solution where the microphone is less visible in your video, then a lavalier is a great option. Lavaliers are small clip-on mics that you attach to your clothing. Again, getting the lavalier close to the mouth is ideal – about a single hand-span away. They can be mounted on the chest to a shirt or lapel, or you can get creative and, for example, mount it on the brim of a hat. Check out this video for great tips on using a lavalier microphone.

Girl wearing Lavalier II on white jacket

Using a Boom Mic

Another way to get the mic out of your shot is to use a microphone mounted on a boom or stand. Again, the closer you can get the mic to your mouth, the better. Typically, this means putting the mic just above and about a foot in front of you, so it is just out of frame, with the mic pointed towards your face or chest. In a static studio shot, you can also get creative by putting the mic even closer, so it is in the frame, and then blanking it out with a matte of your set that starts just above your head.

Boom operator with shotgun microphone above man

Recording Musical Instruments

There is no right and wrong way to record a musical instrument, but in general, the closer the microphone is to the instrument, the more dynamic and exciting the sound will be. For a more natural sound, position the microphone around 1 to 3 metres away from the source. For a very tight, exciting sound, you can get as close as you like. As always, monitor on headphones as you go and experiment to get the best sound. It’s worth noting that, in general, microphones need to be closer to the source than a listener would be in the room. Putting a microphone in the spot where the audience is situated is usually too far back and will yield a distant-sounding recording.

TF-5 Matched Pair on Stereo Bar recording harp

Man wearing NTH-100 and talking into PodMic whilst using RØDECaster Pro II for video call

Preparing to Set the Gain

To set the gain, you need to put the microphone into the correct position, and then get the performer (or you, if you are the performer) to rehearse their material. It’s important that this rehearsal is the same as it will be during the recording or livestream. For example, if you know you will get excited and raise your voice during your show, make sure you rehearse that way to ensure your gain setting compensates for this sudden peak in volume. Whilst rehearsing, watch the level meter on your recording device or software and adjust the gain to ensure you have a good level showing on your meters, but it is not going into the ‘red’, which may result in clipping/distortion.

RØDECaster Pro II on white table with faders up and meter levels showing

Setting Gain on RØDE Products

On the RØDECaster Pro, the RØDECaster Pro II and RØDE Connect software, there is an easy-to-read gain meter for each channel. Go to the gain setting and ensure that the level is comfortably inside the green section. On the AI-1, simply turn up the gain knob until the level LED is green, with occasional flashing of yellow when the audio source is louder. If you see red, turn the gain down. For USB microphones, go to the sound settings on your computer, look for the microphone level, and check that the level on the meter ‘peaks’ at about three-quarters of the way when you are performing.

AI-1 on gaming table with purple LED nearby

Setting the Gain on your Camera

If you have a microphone connected to your camera, there are a few things you can do to ensure a clean, clear recording. Firstly, turn off Automatic Gain Control (AGC) and set gain to manual. You should also disable any processing (for example, wind reduction). Then adjust the recording level so the audio ‘peaks’ at about three-quarters of the way across the meter. It is also good practice to turn up the output level of the microphone (if your microphone has adjustable output) and use as little camera gain as possible. To learn more about setting gain in a camera, check out this blog post.

VideoMIc GO II on camera recording girl in yellow backdrop

Reducing Plosives

Although being closer to the microphone yields a great sound, it also increases the risk of plosives. This is a ‘popping’ sound that occurs on hard syllables such as ‘B’ and ‘P’, which can overload the microphone capsule. There are a number of ways to mitigate this if it is a problem. The first (and most effective) way is to practice performing whilst listening to yourself in headphones and moderate your voice to reduce plosives. Concentrate on how you say words like ‘pop’ and ‘bass’ to reduce the puff of air that comes from your lips. After a while, your vocal technique will naturally improve. However, sometimes plosives are unavoidable and there are other steps you can take to mitigate risk. The first is to use a pop filter – either a foam windshield over the microphone, or a separate mesh pop filter in front of the mic. Both of these are an effective way to reduce plosives. Another technique to try is to angle the microphone slightly so you are speaking across the front of it, rather than directly into the capsule.

Girl wearing black singing into NT1-A

The Proximity Effect

Getting closer to the microphone does not just make the sound clearer, it also affects the timbre of your voice. When you get in really close, bass frequencies are exaggerated. This is called the ‘proximity effect’. You can use this to your advantage as it helps give your voice a richer, more intimate sound. For example, if you lean into the microphone and speak quietly, your voice will gain additional low-end emphasis. Learning to moderate the volume of your voice whilst you move in and out from the microphone is a great skill to have, as you can use it for artistic effect when singing or podcasting. As always, wearing headphones and practicing are key to understanding how to leverage this effect.

Girl wearing NTH-100 and talking into PodMic mounted to PSA1+ whilst gaming

PodMics on DS1s  next to RØDECaster Pro II and NTH-100

Choosing a Room

In general, you will get the best result in rooms that have as little reverberation as possible. Rooms such as kitchens have a lot of hard surfaces that create natural reverberation (or echo). In day-to-day life you probably don’t notice this, but in a recording, it will be immediately obvious and can be distracting for your audience. Record in a room such as a bedroom with lots of soft furnishings, carpet on the floor and curtains. Just this simple change will deliver a more professional result.

Acoustic Treatment

If you are still struggling with reverberant or echoey recordings, consider adding acoustic treatment to your space to minimise acoustic reflections. This could be mounting professional acoustic tiles on your walls, or it could be a simple as hanging heavy blankets around your recording area. Thick, heavy or padded materials will all help to reduce room reverb and can make a significant difference to your audio quality.

NT1-A on SM6 with acoustic panels in background

Eliminate Background Noise

Removing background noise from your recording is another way to deliver a more professional result. This means listening for any noise in your room prior to starting your recording and eliminating them as much as possible. For example, you may consider turning off air conditioners, fridges and other electrical items that might rumble or buzz, or close windows to reduce noises from outside. If there is a temporary sound source – for example, your neighbour mowing their lawn – wait until it stops before starting to record.

NT-USB Mini on desk in dimly lit bedroom