Headset Microphone Placement Guide

Here is a simple guide to help with placement of headset microphones. Microphone placement for speaking is very important as a small change in placement can make a big difference in the tone of someone’s voice. Spending a few seconds to check and double check proper placement will help achieve the most natural sound, which in turn eases the ability for people to focus in on what is being taught.

The boom should be adjusted to rest as close to the face as possible with the microphone capsule about an inch behind the corner of the mouth. Rotate or bend the microphone boom (depending on model) to achieve optimal positioning. Leave a little room for facial hair as necessary.

Here is an example of what proper microphone placement should look like. A few seconds to make these adjustments will help achieve the best sound quality and make the headsets comfortable to wear.

Proper Placement

Below is a guide of adjustments for the different style of headset microphones at Riv.

The Shure Beta53 headset’s adjustments are as follows.

Shure Beta53 01

Shure Beta53 02

The DPA 4088 headset adjustments include adjusting the headband width, adjusting the boom length, and bending the boom position. Be sure to always bend the boom over a gentle surface, like a finger. The boom can be bent for both horizontal and vertical optimal positioning.

DPA 4088 01

The DPA FIOF10 headset adjustments include the headband width, the boom length, and boom roll. The ear loops should be placed with the flat section fully under AND behind the earlobe.

DPA FIOF10 01

The boom can be adjusted in length by sliding forward or backwards inside the flat section.

DPA FIOF10 02

To reverse which side the boom is on, simply rotate both ear loops.

DPA FIOF10 03

Then roll the boom to the correct position.

DPA FIOF10 04

Setting up a basic mix

To help establish some best practices, I thought I’d share these few steps to getting at least half way to a good sounding mix.

1. Start with your inputs. Make sure everything is plugged in correctly. Identify devices that need phantom power. Check good, close microphone placement for instruments and vocals. Remember that good input = good output. You can not fix a bad sounding input, or poorly placed microphone from behind the FOH desk. Make sure to check your monitors and ears are plugged in correctly too.

2. Check your patching and assignments. Before everything else, confirm that your inputs are patched to the correct channels, outputs are patched to the correct aux’s, and any VCA or group assignments are correct. Getting this step out of the way first ensures that you can spend time crafting your mix, not stumbling over why levels aren’t balanced, or musicians can’t hear properly.

3. Gain structure, gain structure, gain structure! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard problems with a mix that could be easily fixed with proper gain structure. Before setting your monitor or main mixes, make sure to get the gain structure correct. This means checking and double checking your preamp levels, matching instrument/vocal gains, and being consistent across the board. Aim for -3dBu levels on everything to start. Set all the input faders at 0dB and bring up the master to 0dB. Match the levels of your subgroups or VCA’s. You should have a good balance of everything. If you don’t, adjust the preamps of each input until they balance. Be sure to check gain before and during rehearsal. Sometimes things change after a song or 2. Make corrections as necessary.

4. Set your monitor mixes. Spend time talking with the musicians to make sure they have a good mix so they know what they need to play. Great sound comes from great performances. Do whatever you can to help the musicians play their best. Remember, a great monitor mix doesn’t need to include everything. The less instruments you put in a mix, the more level you can give of those few instruments. Make sure to leave the house on while setting monitor levels. Musicians will hear some of the house mix, which decreases the need of monitor level.

5. Set your house mix. Balance levels between instruments. Know who leads what songs, and make that the loudest vocal / instrument. Don’t be afraid to make changes. Use EQ, gating, and compression to help improve the sound of each input, and how those inputs interact with each other. Be sure to start from the bottom up. Set your drums, bass, and rhythm instruments first. Add lead instruments like guitars and keyboards. Finish with vocals so they stay on top of everything else.

Following these 5 steps will get you up and running with a decent mix. Additional time spent on EQ, compression, and effects can round everything out nicely. Don’t forget however to establish these 5 things first.

Holt Lobby Sound System

It’s been a long time coming, but finally it’s here!  This last week we installed a new sound system for the lobby that is separate from the auditorium system.  This will make it a whole lot easier to hold events in the lobby and keep the auditorium systems used only for band practices and weekend services.  The whole setup only took about a day, and was a fairly simple process.

Start by cutting a rack sized hole in the wall between the AV booth and the auditorium entranceway.

lobby1

Rack mount equipment.

lobby2

Pull a couple of cables under the floor.

Mud, sand and paint the gaps.  Add door to keep everything safe.

lobby3

In the end we have a sweet little lobby setup.  Two wireless microphones, auditorium sound feed, and wireless bluetooth audio for music.  Most bluetooth enabled phones can travel the entire lobby and still have good signal, which is quite impressive for being built into an inexpensive mixer.  All in all, I’m certainly very happy with this new setup.