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Proximity effect is a cool little phenomena that can be used to help you get the best tone from your recorded sources. It is just one aspect of mic technique that can be used to your advantage but can also hinder your efforts if you are unaware of it’s affect on your recordings.

What is Proximity Effect?

Transcript »

Hello again! Dezz Asante here from the TechMuzeAcademy with another video quick tip. This one comes to us via a question I stumbled upon in the forums from a member named Daniel Eager and he ask very simply, “What is Proximity Effect?”

It’s an interesting question, it’s an interesting phenomenom in fact and it’s something I’ve been asked a few times. And essentially, what it is –  it’s a thing that takes place when using directional microphones, cardiohydro or hypercardio unidirectional microphones wherein the closer you place the mic to the sound source that you are trying to capture, the more perceive base or bottom end response arise into the signal.

So, it’s the way in which you can get that sort of late night radio voice by getting right up on the microphone to get that deep bassy sound to your voice and it’s something you could try very, very simply. Grab any cardiohead microphone that you have in your collection, hit record. Get maybe six inches away from it. Do some speaking. And then get a little closer and do a little more speaking and you’ll see…you’ll hear it rather that the base frequencies become more prominent in the sound in the recorded signal.

Now, this is neither good nor bad. It’s just the thing that you should be aware of. For example, if you’re capturing a vocalist that has a somewhat thin and brassy kind a tone to their voice, then you might set your levels a little lower, a little more conservatively and instruct the vocalist to get a little bit closer onto the microphone, maybe get right up on the pop filter if hopefully you’re using a pop filter.

And the opposite can then be true as well. If you’re using a microphone that has a generally warm round bottom end that perhaps is a little too much for those signal that you are trying to capture. We’re talking vocals here although  you can use this technique in other…in other applications as well. Then you can do just the opposite, set your levels a little higher, get the vocalist to stand a few inches away from the mic. One thing to consider of course is the further you are from the microphone, the more of the room and ambience sound is going to bleed into the signal. The direct signal to ambience signal ratio  will change as you get further away from the mic.

So, this is a way in which you can EQ so to speak the signal from the source. I consider my microphone choice and my microphone placement or technique to be my very first EQ decision. And I think that’s a wise way of looking at things. If you don’t have a lot of microphones in your collection to choose from, then you can use some of these mic placement technique keeping in mind the effects of proximity effect to help you to sort of EQ the source that you are trying to capture before it’s even been capture.

And this is a great way to see proximity effect. What it is? How it might benefit you in your own mixes. If you know more about the topic and like to share by all means, comment below the video. And until then, we’ll see you on the next quick tip.




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