Wonder how far you should be from your mic when recording?
Short Answer: About 2 inches to 12 inches, or 5 cm to 30 cm. But it depends on a few other factors too.
You probably have a new mic for your podcast, like the ATR2100 (see on Amazon), or maybe a more expensive model like the one Joe Rogan uses, the Shure SM7B (see on Amazon).
Other than using your headphone mic to talk on the phone, how many people have had cumulative experience speaking into a mic? Well, you’re about to!
The question of how far away you should be from your mic depends on a few factors: volume of your natural voice, mic set-up, what type of mic you have, and the settings of your mic.
Let’s go through each of these factors.
But before we do, here are some general principles to follow.
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The typical distance between you and your mic should be anywhere between 2 inches to 12 inches. Keep this in mind when we discuss factors that affect this.
If you are too far, you will sound distant and with lower quality.
If you are too close, you will sound too “bassy” and overwhelm the audio input.
Have you ever been on the phone, or listened to any recording and noticed specific sounds, words, and consonants recorded louder than any others?
In fact, say the word “consonants” out loud a few times. What do you notice?
You might have noticed the “c” and “s” sounds were much more distinct than the others. The difference is because the process of audiation for these consonants requires more air than others.
This is true of the “s,” “k,” “t,” “p,” “ch,” “g,” “d,” “p” and “b” sounds.
So, when you are recording, remember to soften these sounds appropriately (as naturally as you can) to prevent overwhelming your listener. Of course, use these sounds as needed for any effects you are using.
Factor 1: Volume of your voice & breath
If you are someone with a naturally loud voice, you may want to position yourself 6-12 inches away from your microphone. This position will automatically adjust the volume input into your recording. By moving further away from the microphone, you can also speak naturally without overwhelming the recording and reduce editing time required.
The opposite is true. If you have a naturally quiet voice, move closer to the mic and position yourself 2-6 inches away. By doing so, you avoid taxing your voice by speaking louder and the risk of re-recording or additional edits.
Moving closer to the mic may require you to be aware of your breathing volume. Some people naturally breathe louder, and others quieter. If you naturally breathe louder, you may want to be mindful as it will create extra noise input into your recording. If you have a softer voice, but a louder breath, play around with the distance between 4-8 inches from the microphone.
Of course, if you are struggling with breathing issues due to sickness or allergies, make sure you take some legal pills first!
Factor 2: Type of Mic
Condenser mics = You can be farther away.
If you have a condenser mic, you might want to be 6-12 inches (or even more) away from the mic. Because condenser mics are much more sensitive and can pick up the smallest of sounds, being within 6 inches of the condenser mic will warrant an amplification of your tongue movements, breathing patterns, swallowing sounds, and lip-smacking.
I call these “extra-curricular” sounds when speaking. They will only distract and even disgust your listeners.
Dynamic mics = You should be closer.
If you have a dynamic mic, you will want to position yourself between 2 and 6 inches from the mic. Dynamic mics are less sensitive in picking up extracurricular sounds and are engineered to target the primary audio input.
Although dynamic mics are much less sensitive, the principle of extracurricular sounds is still applicable. Just because the dynamic mic is less sensitive doesn’t mean it won’t pick up anything else at all. You should always carefully monitor those sounds.
Factor 3: Mic Set up & Settings
Following the above suggestions, since you want to be between 2-12 inches away from your mic, you want to make sure that your mic set up is ergonomic. Ensure that the mic is at the level of your mouth and adjustable between 2 and 12 inches.
If you have a condenser mic with multiple polar pattern options, make sure your mic is set on the proper polar pattern desired.
There is no point sharing your mic with anyone else if it is set on a cardioid pattern.
Remember, these factors and the general principles are independent.
One will affect the other, so you’ll need to adjust your distance between 2 and 12 inches from the mic according to your voice & breath volume, mic set-up & settings, and the type of mic that you have.