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Mic Placement When Recording with Spire Studio

by Charley Ruddell, iZotope Contributor January 29, 2020
Mic placement
Mic placement can be the the difference between a good and great recording.

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Explore this article’s session files (Two-mic session, One-mic session) to dive into sessions with two different mic’ing setups in the Spire app.

Microphone placement is sometimes neglected in music production, but its profound impact on a recording should not be overlooked. At the end of the day, a few centimeters of promixmity or distance can be the difference between a good and great recording.

When it comes to a great recording, using Spire Studio to capture live audio has several benefits. It comes with a built-in omnidirectional condenser mic that captures audio from a full 360-degree field. Its mic is capable of capturing a full spectrum of sounds and can be used to capture top-quality audio in a live setting. 

If you want a more controlled method of capturing live sound, try using the two XLR mic inputs on the back of the Spire Studio console. Both channels are also equipped with phantom power capabilities for mics with active circuitry, or certain condenser mics. 

In this piece, we’ll break down some methods for optimal mic placement when using Spire Studio to record live audio by using both the Spire Studio mic and a one/two-mic setup. 

Here’s a look at our two-mic setup example, and our Spire Studio mic example:

Two-Mic Setup

Spire Studio mic

Vocals

Spire Studio mic 

The Spire Studio mic can capture a variety of interesting vocal tones depending on its placement. 

To get a clear and focused lead vocal track, place the Spire Studio mic between four and eight inches directly in front of your mouth. Use Soundcheck to find your input parameters.

Place the Spire Studio roughly two feet from your face at standing-level for a live room sound. This is a prime position for background vocals, or for a dramatic, distant effect on the lead vocal.

You can also experiment with placing the Spire Studio on the ground (and singing while standing), or at the opposite side of the room for a bright room tone.

Guitar

One-mic setup

Getting great live sounds from an electric guitar stems from the proximity of the microphone to its amplifier’s cone. 

Find your amp’s cone and place your mic halfway between the center of the cone and the outer rim. Keep the mic about a centimeter off the grill. Adjust for EQ by moving the mic closer to the center or the outer rim. The center holds the brighter mid/high range EQ, where the low end frequencies live by the outer rim. 

For a fuller-bodied guitar tone, turn up your amp volume and lower your input gain on the Spire Studio. You can also raise the input level and lower the amp volume to achieve an intimate, live room tone. 

Take a listen to our mic’d guitars for reference:

One-Mic Guitar

Spire Studio mic

Mic’ing guitars with the Spire Studio mic should be approached in a similar fashion to the one-mic setup. 

Place the Spire Studio mic about an inch away from the amp’s grille, halfway between the cone center and the outer rim. 

Recording acoustic guitars with the Spire Studio mic is as simple as placing the mic directly in front of the guitar body and between eight and twelve inches from the guitar hole. 

Check out these guitars from our Spire Studio mic example:

Spire Studio Mic Guitar

Bass

There aren’t any hidden secrets when it comes to mic’ing a bass amp. Place your mic around the center of the cone, run Soundcheck on your track, and let the bass do the rest. 

The same goes for the Spire Studio mic. Prop up your Spire Studio so it’s flush with the center of the speaker cone.

Here’s our one-mic recording and our Spire Studio mic recording:

One-Mic Bass

Spire Studio Mic Bass

Drums

Two-mic setup

Because you’re limited to two mic inputs, mic’ing drums with Spire Studio requires a bit of creativity and experimentation. 

Start by focusing on the kick drum. Place your mic just inside the hole of the drum and give it a few kicks. If you’re hearing an excess of low end, a hum, or noise from the kick pedal, move the mic to the outside of the drum. 

The second mic should place an emphasis on hi-hats and snare. To do so, place the mic in between them facing the snare drum. You can also try lowering the mic and angling it up to capture sound from underneath. This mic will capture sound from both the hi-hat and snare, as well as any residual sound from a rack tom or crash cymbal. 

Run Soundcheck on both mics to adjust the appropriate input levels. 

Here you can also experiment with recording effects to manipulate the feel of your drums. Try using the Bass Amp on the kick drum mic to add compression and a touch of low end; you can also use Bright Voice or Acoustic Shaper on the hi-hat/snare mic for a larger room feel.

Pro Tip: Make your drums feel fuller and deeper in the stereo field by double-tracking them. This adds a stereo effect that will double their weight in the mix. Trying to double vocals? Check out our free Vocal Doubler plug-in.

Here are our isolated drum tracks from our two-mic recording:

Two-Mic Drums

Spire Studio Mic

You’ll need to prioritize what the most important element of your project’s drum set is to decide where to place the Spire Studio mic. If you want drums with an emphasis on the low end, place the Spire Studio in front and elevated just above the kick drum while facing you as you’re seated. Place the Spire Studio mic off-center and parallel to your snare drum for a higher EQ range in your drum tracks. 

If you have room in your project to spare two, or even three tracks for drums, use the Spire Studio mic to capture a combination of angles to while multitracking your drums parts. Three optimal locations for this method are:

  • Directly in front of the kick drum
  • Roughly 10 inches from the snare drum
  • Elevated and next to the floor tom 

This spread combined will give you a full range of sound to work within your mix. Take a listen to our isolated drum tracks recorded using a spread multitracking method:

Spire Studio Mic Drums

Conclusion

Between two XLR inputs and a robust condenser mic, Spire Studio captures crisp, clean, top-quality live audio. When placing your mics, focus on the kick and snare elements of your drum set, find the ideal speaker cone placement for your guitars, and keep your Spire Studio mic flush with your face level. All you need to do is find the optimal mic placement for your instruments; let Spire take care of the rest. 

Learn more about recording with Spire Studio:

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