To move from the philosophical to the practical (of microphone placement), we considered 3 “microphone” movements (in relation to the source you want to microphone).
1. THE BODY MOVEMENT, moving the microphone closer or further from the source.
2. THE FOCUS MOVEMENT, moving the microphone slightly left or right from the central axis of the source.
3. THE TONE MOVEMENT, turning the microphone at different angles from the source.
We looked at number 1 in the previous article, so let us consider number 2 and 3; it goes without saying that what I have shared and am about to share is written beside the confinement of practical needs that vary too much for me to take them into account in this context.
2. THE FOCUS MOVEMENT
This is not true for all instruments but it is true for most (especially voices, wind instruments, most string instrument). Acoustic instruments are not nicely package symmetrical sound sources. They are “living” things, as such their sound production is often not symmetrical, therefore what is true on the left side (of the source) is not so true on the right side.
A voice is a very good example of this. Put your headphones on, listen to somebody speaking or singing closely (via a microphone), then imagine a central line (i.e. the nose) and listen to the same person moving the microphone to the right and the left. You will probably notice a difference between the 2 sides. In some people this is very slight in others it is very significant. In some instruments this is very remarkable.
I call this the focus movement, think of it like a rotating the focus ring of a lens until the subject is in focus. So it is for you when you discover the right side of the “moon”. You will notice that something about the sound “got into gear” or better, it become suddenly more focus more “together”.
3. THE TONE MOVEMENT
Lastly turning the microphone at different angles from the source will award you a palette of different colours / tones. Because the frequency response of a microphone changes at different angles, changing the angle, gives you the opportunity to smooth-out the tone. For instance, you placed a microphone on an electric guitar amp, you did it well (you read my articles – lol). You are happy with most of what you hear, but for the fact that is a bit too bright. Because the polar pattern of a microphone is narrower at high frequencies, rotating the microphone away from the central line will make the tone less bright and therefore more LF will be present.
Rotating a microphone really aids to your tone control!
NB: For vocals there is a further movement possible (if you are recording), up and down in relation to the mouth. Down towards the chest, up towards the forehead. The sound will change very remarkably in tone.
Next week we will look into stereo microphone techniques and the week after we will wrap things up looking into phasing and “bleed”.
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