Microphones are the most used devices when it comes to music and you can find more info here about the ones that people use for their drums. Mics are used for recording and here we don’t just talk about the voice, but also about all the instruments. Live performances also rely on mics because they are the ones that catch the sound made by all of them.
In order to get the best sound possible, it is very important that your mic works at its highest performance levels, and the most important thing about it is that it has a high volume in order to provide high-quality sound.
It is possible that you are not using your mic appropriately if you have low volume and, in this article, we are going to tell you all about how a mic works and about how you can improve the volume in order to get the perfect sound.
To first understand how to increase your mic’s volume, you first need to understand how they work. The answer that a scientist would give you is ‘they are transducers’, but that is not clarifying enough for people who are not familiar with physics. Transducers are devices that convert sound into electrical signals.
The one that is most popular is the dynamic microphone which has a membrane that catches soundwaves. This membrane, or diaphragm, is connected to a coil. A magnet surrounds the coil and it will transform the sound into electrical signals through electromagnetic impulses.
When the diaphragm catches a sound it will move. This motion will move the coil and will make the magnet create a magnetic field that will surround the coil. At the same time, this system will transform the soundwaves into an electric current which is the actual output signal. Pretty simple, right?
A dynamic microphone is exactly like a loudspeaker, but it works the opposite way. A dynamic mic usually handles louder sounds better as it is not as sensitive as other types of microphones and the volume input is, therefore, louder. They are usually used in live performances exactly for this reason.
If you go into a recording studio, you will most definitely encounter condenser mics there. This type of mic can be seen in a lot of positions because it is multidirectional, it can gather sound from every direction, not just from the front. The reason they are used for recording is that they are more sensitive.
This sensitivity will allow the sound engineer to produce high-quality recordings, but when it comes to concerts, this type of mic is not recommended due to the different sounds that come from all over the place and that can distort the sound that you want to project. Being more sensitive, a condenser mic is not suited for very high volumes.
Condenser microphones need more power in order to work properly and this is why people use the Phantom power. This is important to know because most people think that the Phantom’s role is to increase the volume of the mic, but this is not accurate information.
What to understand by ‘volume’
This term is very easy to explain. It actually defines how many decibels a sound system outputs. The loudness that you hear coming out of loudspeakers is the volume. So the volume is the output of the microphone. So when we talk about making a mic louder, we are talking about increasing the output volume.
The clearest sound is considered by the music industry to be at 0 decibels. This means that if it is above, the sound will begin to distort and if it is below, the sound is too low. Usually, a high-quality microphone will have the appropriate volume and there is no reason why you shouldn’t hear it perfectly on your recording program.
However, there are some things that could happen to make you experience low microphone volume and that usually has to do more with your computer than with the microphone itself.
So whether you are using a dynamic mic or a condenser mic, or you just want to have the great volume at your inbuilt laptop mic while you are having an online meeting, your computer settings are to blame.
Everything you need to know about decibels
Humans are different from some animals in terms of the sound they can perceive. However, we perceive sounds that are in a range between 0 decibels and 130 decibels. Everything above 90 decibels can be harmful and if you go above 115 decibels you can suffer from hearing damage that is irreversible.
When we talk about musical decibels the things are a little bit different. This happens because most people think that decibels are a measure of sound but they are actually a ratio. When it comes to music, the ratio has as components the voltage and the power in your music gear – in this case, the microphone.
Can you increase the volume by managing distance?
The further away the sound comes, the lower the volume is. If you are recording vocals, for example, the closer to the mic the vocalist is, the louder the volume of their voice will become.
To change the distance in order to change the volume, you should keep in mind that the levels increase exponentially. So twice the distance is the equivalent of -6 decibels and 10 times the distance is equivalent to -20 decibels. As long as you keep the rule, you will be able to adjust the volume by bringing the sound source closer.
Can sound frequencies be used to manipulate volume?
The way the human ear can perceive volume is influenced by the frequencies present in the output sound. Higher frequencies are perceived as louder, even if they are not. Lower frequencies are perceived as quieter, even if the volume is not low. So to make the volume seem higher, you can increase the level of mid and high frequencies.
A DAW interface will allow you to manipulate frequencies as you wish and if at first, you are not familiar with the basics, you can play with the sound in order to understand how you can change the way you perceive the volume.
How to fix the problem
If you feel that the output of your microphone is too low, there are some steps that you have to take in order to fix this problem. The first thing you need to do is to access the sound control settings on your computer. Check if the computer is using the right microphone.
If you have connected an external microphone to your laptop, you might have a setting that does not allow the sound to enter through that mic, but through the inbuilt mic in your laptop which is of lower quality than the mic you want to use for your recording.
If you access the recording section in your sound settings, you will be able to see which microphone you are using. To set on the mic you want to use, you just have to set it on default. To increase the volume of the mic you have to go to the level section and set it to the maximum.
The important thing you need to understand is that you can not set it higher than what your system can handle. If you have a mic that uses a boost, you will have to change that as well to as high as you feel like you need in order to have a proper sound.
If you increase the volume of the microphone too high, you will have the unpleasant experience that the background hiss and noise will also be increased. If you are using a condenser mic, the background noise will be much more increased than it would be for dynamic mics.
A mic’s volume is relatively hard to change because these are produced to work properly in a certain range of sound and if you go above that, the sound will lose its quality. This is essential to understand because this means that you have to stay in that range to have high-quality sound. However, you can manipulate how people perceive the sound.
Sound engineering is a vast domain and people who have knowledge in this field are very well documented and, even if you think that this part of the music industry is not as complex as other are, you would know that if you begin to read more about it, you will enter a journey that you will not be finishing very quickly.