A Vocal Microphone with a Pop Flilter in front of it.

4 Steps To Make Better Recordings – The 4 Point Microphone System

In today’s post, I share with you Digital Recording School’s 4 Point Microphone System.  This system will give you a checklist that will solve your microphone technique problems.

Are you scratching your head trying to figure out how to track better recordings?  Do you struggle with selecting the microphone that is the perfect fit for you?

Watch the video below:

Full transcript below:

Which microphone is the best for recording?? All of them! 

My 4 point microphone system is simple and it will help you in choosing the microphone and helping you capture better recordings in your tracking situation.

4 Steps To Making Better Recordings:

The first step to my 4 point microphone system is identifying the source. What are you recording? Is it an acoustic guitar, a snare drum, a vocalist, a piano, etc.? It is important to think of this first because it will help you in what you choose. You need to understand the varying characteristics of each. A snare drum is significantly louder than an acoustic guitar. Is the acoustic guitar fingerpicked or played with a pick?

Step 1: What is the source’s role in the song?

Is the acoustic guitar a supplementary rhythmic instrument in a full rock mix or is it a ballad? Is your singer a male or a female? These characteristics are incredibly important to identify.

Step 2: Environment

Where are you recording? Are you in a big warehouse, a giant drum room, a vocal booth, a closet, or a bedroom? Are you in a garage, your living room, or a tile bathroom? You must consider the acoustic characteristics of the room. Is there an acoustic deficiency in your room like a bass build up or flutter echo? If there is a lot of flutter echo you may want to choose a dynamic microphone like an SM57 so that you don’t capture too much negative room noise.

Step 3: Microphone Selection

When selecting your microphone you have to consider the first two elements; the source and the environment. What if I have a big roomy sounding open space but I want to record an acoustic guitar for a full band rock mix? I probably want an SM57 to close mic it. I want to capture the percussive rhythmic punch of the strings, not the open room of the acoustic. If it were an acoustic pop song or a ballad I may want a more open sound.

This is an example of how the environment can affect our microphone decision. Perhaps I’m recording a drum kit and I want the sound from the room. I would pick a microphone with a polar pattern that worked for that decision. If I’m doing an electric guitar I would go for a blend of a ribbon microphone, an sm57, and maybe a room microphone. Or just a straight up 57 on the cab.

The possibilities can be overwhelming and endless. But considering these factors makes your choices much easier. Now that you can finally make your microphone choice now it is time for the 4th step:

Step 4: Mic Position

A mic position can drastically change the way a sound source translates. But it is only after I have taken into account the other three things do I start playing with microphone position. If at this point the microphone was the wrong choice, rinse and repeat until you find the right fit.

The best engineers in the world are able to get the results that they need without touching an eq by using the right blend of microphone choice and positions. The more that you practice, the better you’ll become.

Recap: The 4 Point Microphone System

Let’s recap the 4 point microphone system: The first step is identifying the source and understanding the individual characteristics of your instrument The next step is to consider the environment and the room that you are recording in.

The third step is microphone selection. Select the right microphone taking into considering the source and the room The fourth and final step is adjusting microphone positioning.

If you do all of this right, I promise that you won’t have to stack 7 eqs on top of each other to fix a problematic sound and your mixes will thank you for taking the time to apply these steps. I really hope that this tip helps you and finds you well.

Remember, you’re just one song away…


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