Here are some basics when it comes to microphones. Microphones receive sound frequencies, usually in the range of 20-40HZ (low end) to 18-20KHZ (high end). These frequency responses will vary so it’s recommended to look at the frequency specs of any particular mic. There are quite a few variables when miking an instrument or vocalist. It really depends on the positioning of the microphone and for vocal artists the coloration of the voice and style of singing.
First, you want to use a microphone that has a frequency response that does justice to the frequencies of sound that you’d like to accentuate. Remember that mics pick up every nuance within that range of frequencies being produced, so filtering some unwanted sounds will be beneficial. Make sure that the sounds that are produced are ones that you’d like to hear at the stage of final mixdown.
To ensure that sound signals are desirable, move the mic around to different areas and places until you feel comfortable with the tonal playback with the studio monitors. Also very important are room acoustics; how noise reacts inside confined areas. Make sure you position it correctly. However, if the results are still not up to par it is best to switch positions of the instruments.
There are times when inadequate room acoustics will persist and you receive unwanted frequencies and room tone in the background. If these problems are unfixable try positioning it closer to a louder part of the vocal or instrument in order to change the balance in the direction of the desired sounds vs. the room tone. Experhyment further with different methods by placement and isolation of the instrument, vocals or microphone to prevent the unwanted frequencies; even the tonality and other acoustic problems of the space that you’re recording in.
Having knowledge of basic mic characteristics, room acoustics, pick-up patterns and instruments will always assist in achieving the best sound more quickly than not. There is no correct microphone that should be used; the main goal is for the appropriate sound for the music. There is no ideal position for the mike either, it is always best to make sure you are getting desired results by listening back.
A method for recording vocals is pretty similar. However, it all depends upon how many vocalists are surrounding the mic and the best option for that specific situation. Have the singers group around an omnidirectional mic to keep an even balance of the voices and their ranges. Single vocalists can manage with this mic pattern also because it will catch the singers voice from every direction. Singers, however, usually opt for a cardioid pattern which picks up more directly with some of the sounds from the sides of the mic.
The mic should always be aimed directly between the nose and the mouth to catch the vocals and timbre in their entirety. Doing so can assist with the unwanted breathy explosions and consonants being overly accentuated. A wind blocker may also be the best solution for stopping these unwanted sounds.
Anyone can use these methods to record effectively and efficiently and in turn to create better quality records. Remember to always think about how much the acoustics affects the sound and adjust accordingly. Recording can become even easier and fun when keeping these few tips in mind. And remember the ears are the final judge. Use them in every aspect of the recording process.