With the help of modern technology, setting up a recording studio in your home has become easier than ever before. Whether you’re trying to lay down vocals for a track or if you’re interested in recording a video for YouTube, learning how to set up a microphone for recording is essential.
Typically, when you purchase a mic, it might come with a list of instructions on how to set it up using your computer or recording software. Other times, it doesn’t.
If you’ve never had the opportunity to use a professional microphone at home, below are some tips and tricks for learning how to install one and how to use one properly.
Step 1: General Installation
The first thing you’re going to need to do is to hook your microphone up to your computer. Since you’ll be using an external microphone, there should be an included cable that will fit into a port on your computer.
Typically it will be a USB cable that you will put into a USB port, likely connected at the back of your tower. Otherwise, you will have to connect the microphone to the small pink jack at the back (it resembles the size of a headphone jack).
Step 2: Changing Your Audio Settings
Again, depending on what you’re using the microphone for, you’re going to need to work with your audio settings. If you’re not going to be using a particular software program to work with your recordings, then you will need to use either Windows’ or Mac OSX’s onboard audio recording settings windows.
Ideally, what you want to do is ensure that your computer is reading your microphone. Otherwise, it won’t work. You will also be able to fool around with some of the settings such as the output volume level of the microphone, so it’s at the perfect volume to where you don’t have to yell for any sound to be picked up.
Step 3: Install Recording Software
The third step to learning how to set up a microphone for recording is to install software. If you’re going to be mixing a track, you’re undoubtedly going to be using recording software; in this case, it’s best if you install it now.
There’s no point to adjusting the microphone settings through the Windows and Mac OSX microphone settings if you’re going to be using a third-party program.
Once the software is installed, open the microphone settings and adjust them as you see fit. Ensure that you take advantage of the playback settings where you will be able to hear what the mic sounds like as you make adjustments.
Step 4: Adding Additional Components
If you’re listening to the playback recordings of the quality of your mic and you’re starting to notice things such as sibilance (high frequency boosts of air when saying “S” and “F” sounds), you may need to consider purchasing additional components.
For example, a quick at-home trick for dealing with sibilance is to attach a pencil with a rubber band at the base of the mic. That way, when you speak into the microphone the air from your voice will be split as it travels over the pencil, which significantly reduces the high-frequency feedback.
Another hugely popular component is a pop filter. Pop filters are designed to prevent the artist from accidentally getting too close to the mic and breathing heavily or accentuating parts of speech to a point where it pops or becomes distracting.
They’re easily obtainable and can be attached to relatively any type of microphone. In fact, the majority of recording studios have pop filters installed on their mics, and for a good reason.
How to Set Up a Microphone for Recording: Tips for Using Your New Mic
Now that you have it installed, certain things need to be taken into consideration when you’re working on setting your microphone up for recording. For example, knowing which room in your home would be the best regarding acoustics.
Even with the most professional mic installation, you’re still going to need to take these important factors into account; otherwise, your recorded media is going to suffer.
Tip 1: Create Great Room Acoustics
As mentioned, you can set your entire recording studio up perfectly, but the one thing that will make or break the sound of your track is the acoustics in your recording room. There are ways that you can improve the acoustics in the space, but it might become costly.
If so, you can find cheaper alternatives such as reflection filters. This is one of the most important parts of learning how to set up a microphone for recording.
Tip 2: Think About Foot Noise
If you’re in one of those houses where you can hear whenever someone is walking around on the floor, it’s certainly going to be picked up in any recording you do. This is going to become incredibly difficult for artists that have the tendency to tap their foot or fingers while recording.
With every tap, vibrations are going to travel up the stand of your mic right into the receiver.
If this is a concern, you may want to consider purchasing a shock mount. It is easily attached between your microphone and your stand and helps to absorb shocks and creates an acoustic isolation between the floor and your microphone.
The best part is the majority of mics come with one in the box, but you may need to buy one separately. Be sure to find a model that is compatible with your particular type of microphone because it’s not a “one size fits all” component.
Tip 3: Working On Your Recording Experience
Even though we’d all like to assume that we’re immediately prepared to record a studio-quality track as soon as our recording tools are set up, that’s not the case. In fact, artists that have been recording music for years have unique techniques they use to get the best quality sound. Every single body and head movement they make is deliberate.
It’s recommended that you try different methods of recording with your new setup before you sit down to complete a professional track. You’ll want to get the hang of controlling your volume using distance, avoiding sibilance and popping, controlling your breathing, and more.
Installing your own microphone for your at-home studio is simple, but becoming a professional recording artist is a whole other ordeal. With the help of this guide, you should be well on your way to establishing an affordable studio with all of the right equipment you could possibly need.