Find The Right Distance between Mouth and Mic Fast

Distance Between Mouth And Mic

How Your Microphone Is Placed Changes The Final Recording

To figure out the right distance between your mouth and microphone you will have to find out which type of microphone you are using. The most common microphone for vocal recording is a large diaphragm condenser. In 95% of cases this is the case and chances are the microphone you are using yourself is one. A good starting point for most of these microphones is about 6 inches.

How Close You Should Be: The Proximity Effect

Understanding the proximity effect is vital to figuring out how your distance to the microphone will affect the sound of your track. The proximity effect is a phenomenon which causes low frequencies to increase the closer you get to the microphone.

So going to close can ruin an otherwise good recording. At the same time being too far away can take the bass out of your recording and make it sound airy. But don’t panic. After doing a few test runs you should be able to figure out how your microphone behaves at different distances. You can also use this to your advantage. If you desire a brighter sound, move further away from the mic. For a deeper, bass heavier sound move in a little closer.

Distances for the Different Types of Microphones


This type of microphone is highly dependent on the proximity effect. So our distance will have a strong effect on how the sound on your final recording turns out.

4 inches: If you are about 4 inches away from your cardioid microphone it will produce a warm and intimate sound. The minimal distance you can have between a cardioid microphone and your mouth is 4 inches. Anything less will negatively affect your recording

12 inches: 12 inches distance between you and the mic will give you an airy and open sound. This recording will appear to be very bright.

In most cases going for 6 inches will yield you good results. If you are still unsure in your ability to pick up on these nuances, going for more distance rather than less is advisable, so your recording will not be ruined by overly heavy bass.


Omnidirectional microphones are the ones least influenced by the proximity effect. This enables you to get close and cozy with your mic without affecting the final tone too much. Still maintaining a reasonable distance of a few inches is sensible, when you like moving around a lot while recording.

Whispery vocals can be realized especially well with this type of microphone at a distance of 1 inch or less, without ruining your recording.

They are typically used for recording orchestras. Nevertheless they have great applications in your home studio, when you are recording acoustic guitars, percussions or background vocals. Basically everything that sounds great with some room ambience.


This type of microphone is meant to be use up close. The lower end is usually artificially lowered to counteract the proximity effect. So if you have a dynamic condenser get as close as you can to the microphone and start recording. This type of microphone is well suited for rock vocals and even screaming.

You can use this microphone at different distances too and test how things turn out. But generally, since it was designed for up close use, using it in the intended range will get you the best results.

Figure 8

Figure 8 microphones pick up noise from two opposing directions. Imagine it this way: You are listening to two guys left and right of you and ignore everything else. At first this type of recording pattern might seem a bit nonsensical, but there are a lot of cool techniques and applications with a figure 8 microphone:

  1. Recording two voices at the same time
  2. Recording a singing guitarist/instrumentalist
  3. Recording in stereo

Why not just use an omnidirectional microphone for this? The side rejection of the figure 8 pattern proves to be a strength, because the two sounds are now separated distinctly, due to the side rejection. Extraneous room noise is also cut out to a certain extent, as the mic only picks up the sound sources that you aim it at.

How High Should the Microphone Be Placed?

The vertical position of the microphone affects the sound more than you think. Not only should the microphone be placed in a way that makes it comfortable to record, but also which type of frequencies of your voice you want to predominantly capture.

High frequencies tend to beam slightly downwards from the nose and mouth. So any placement below your nose will result in slightly brighter recordings. Some consonants like “S” and “P” tend to sound more poorly on a directly vertical axis.

Optimal horizontal settings don’t really exist. They’re different for every performer, because we all move around in our own unique way while recording.  The best you can do is try to use the pop filter, if you are in fact using one, as a reference while recording.

The Right Angle

How your microphone is angled certainly affects how your final recording sounds. Even if you keep the same distance between you and your microphone, the outcome will differ drastically depending on how the microphone is placed in relation to your mouth.

Even the best large diaphragm condenser microphones have less sensitivity to the high end of the frequency spectrum when recording off-axis. This way you could in theory soften background vocals or do anything else that you deem sensible. Keep in mind though, that recording off-axis is a tricky thing that can quickly ruin a good recording if not employed properly. Most budget to mid-range large diaphragm condenser mics often have an uncontrolled off-axis response and create all sorts of nasty peaks and troughs.

The most principled thing to do is stay on-axis and do the necessary editing post recording.


Now that you know what types of factors are important in finding the right microphone placement, it’s your turn to start experimenting and trying out different settings. We hoped this little guide helped you along the way in your journey of becoming a more adapt producer.

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