Exchanging the acoustics of the bathroom for the amplification of a microphone can be an amazing experience for any enthusiastic singer. It involves creating a sound system which might appear complicated but in reality couldn’t be simpler as you will soon find our. Before we get started though, Lets make sure that
In essence, a microphone operates when the sound waves it detects cause vibration in the diaphragm, an internal flexible membrane. The microphone is attached via a cable to a preamplifier. This links to an amplifier and then a pair of speakers to produce an amplified vocal.
How The Basic Set Up Works
There are serverl thing that you need to get correct in the setup.
- Choosing the correct mic
- Arranging The Speakers
- Positioning The Microphone
- Microphone Stand
- Connecting A Microphone To A Preamplifier
- Sound Level Gauges
We go in to each of these in detail below.
There are several types of microphone but not all of them are suitable for sining like the ribbon which is used with musical instruments or a clip on mic which is normally used for gaming. These microphones are the most suitable for singing:
- Dynamic – An electromagnetic system which uses the sound waves of your voice to cause a magnet and metal coil to react against each other which in turn vibrates the diaphragm.
- Condenser – Also known as a capacitor, this uses two metal plates that are highly sensitive to sound waves. They’re the type you see in studios with a shield in front to prevent the slightest unwanted noise from being picked up.
- Cardioid – The front of this microphone is the most sensitive area which makes it ideal for capturing more of your voice and less of the surrounding noise. It can deal with a wide range of frequencies and vocal styles including heavy rock. Consequently, it is frequently used by vocalists during live performances and is the one I would personally recommend for a beginner to start with.
Now we have the correct mic it’s time to get the setup correct.
Arranging The Speakers
Although you can set up a microphone for singing in a stereo format which requires double music channels, to keep the procedure simple, I’m using mono. The procedure is practically the same in that I still have to use two speakers. Place them towards the front but on either side of the stage to serve both halves of the auditorium.
Positioning The Microphone
Draw an imaginary line between the two speakers. Using a microphone stand to mark the position of the singer, make sure it is placed behind the imaginary line, adjusting the speakers as necessary. Before I connect the microphone, I’ll explain why positioning is important in reducing feedback.
What Is Feedback?
Due to the complex physics of electromagnetics, electrical appliances pick up interference feedback from each other. Feedback from the speakers will cause the sound to hiss and screech. Keeping the microphone behind the speakers helps eliminate feedback. Take a look at our article on how to eliminate feedback for a more solutions to this problem you may encounter.
Every singer probably prefers to hold the microphone but for a beginner who needs to be mindful of where the speakers are, I’d suggest using a stand. Clip the microphone onto the stand while keeping the cable close to the stand to avoid tripping over it. We’re now ready to connect the other end of the cable to a preamplifier.
Connecting A Microphone To A Preamplifier
Although preamplifiers might differ from one another, the general layout and labelling will be very similar. There will be a slider or knob for volume and a switch nearby which should now be turned to the microphone mark. Insert the microphone cable into the input socket of the preamplifier.
Why Can’t A Microphone Connect Directly To An Amplifier?
A preamplifier acts like a transformer, converting the weak signal of the microphone to a stronger one that is compatible with the amplifier. Without a preamplifier, the signal and the sound become distorted. The amplifier increases the strength of the signal before it is passed through to the speakers.
Connecting To The Amplifier And Speakers
Use an appropriate cable to run from the mono output of the preamplifier to the amplifier’s mono input socket. If the amplifier doesn’t have a mono facility, the connection can still be made through the left stereo input socket. Connect the speakers via cables from the output sockets on the amplifier.
Sound Level Gauges
The sound levels on both the preamplifier and amplifier have to be finely tuned by making a series of adjustments. There are different types of sound level gauges including a needle style monitor or a set of LED lights. While checking the preamplifier, keep the amplifier’s controls set at minimum.
Conducting A Sound Check
An average starting position for the main control on the preamplifier is approximately two-thirds. Speak at normal volume into the microphone and observe the sound level gauge. I sometimes find the sound distorts if I have the preamplifier’s main control set high at the same time as the input control is low.
Amplifiers have bass and treble controls which allow a greater capacity for fine tuning in addition to setting the volume at an optimum level. The final thing to do to set up a microphone for singing is to check if there is any further feedback. If there is, either reduce the volume or move further back when singing.