Microphone Working distance is defined as the the distance between the sound source and the microphone. The closer a sound source is to a microphone, the louder a sound source will be, and conversely the farther a sound source is from a microphone the quieter a sound source will be. For speakers, the sound source is the mouth which should be between four to six inches from the front of the microphone for the average person. Persons that speak loudly should move further away from the microphone. This avoids the distorted sound caused by overloading the microphone. Persons that speak quietly should move closer to the microphone. This avoids the pickup of excessive room reverberation, which causes the speaker to sound distant, and lowers the intelligibility of speech.
For miniature size microphones, such as the "tie tack" clip-on style often used with wireless microphone systems, the proper working distance is different than for a non-miniature size microphone. The proper working distance for clip-on style microphones is not in front of the mouth, but rather in the middle of the chest. This is due to the fact that clip-on microphones are designed with compensating gain and equalization to sound normal for indirect sound pick up from a distance, such as the middle of the chest. For men the proper placement of a miniature microphone is on a tie or a suit jacket lapel, and for women the proper placement of a miniature microphone is clipped onto a blouse or a suit jacket lapel. Speaking directly into a miniature microphone should not be done, as this will result in both severe distortion caused by overloading the microphone, and a thin sound due to the special chest cavity compensating equalization.
When using a microphone, a person should always hold or stand directly in front of the microphone for best results. When a person is directly in front of a microphone he or she is referred to as being "on mic." When a person is off to the side, or not directly in front of a microphone, he or she is "off mic." Of course it is important to always speak slowly and clearly in a normal voice when using a microphone. There is no reason to whisper or shout, speak normally and let the microphone work for you. Microphones enable a person to speak to large audience with ease, but the sound quality of the speech is entirely up to the presenter.
P-Pops are low frequency explosive sounds created by the release of breath following the articulation of stop consonants, such as the letters P and B. P-Pops are both annoying and distractive to an audience. A well written speech given by a dynamic speaker is not as effective when marred by the addition of unwanted, unprofessional, and unnecessary P-Pops. P-Pops are picked up by the microphone when the microphone is placed directly in front of the mouth, shown on the left. P-Pops are avoided by speaking across the front, rather than directly into the front of a microphone, easily accomplished by holding the microphone at an angle of forty-five degrees to the mouth, as shown on the right.
At times holding a microphone in the hand may be inconvenient or otherwise impractical, and a clip-on microphone may be unavailable. These situations require a microphone to be placed in a microphone stand. There are two types of microphone stands that a presenter is likely to encounter, the floor stand and the desk stand. A floor stand, as the name implies, is a microphone stand that is placed on the floor to be used by a person that is standing. Floor stands are adjustable for height, typically between 36 inches to 64 inches. A desk stand is shorter than a floor stand, and is used on podiums, tables, and by persons sitting at desks. Desk stands are height adjustable between 8 inches and 13 inches.
Regardless of the type of stand being used, care must be taken to assure that the microphone stand height is correctly adjusted. The correct height for all types of microphone stands is the height at which a person speaking is able to maintain a proper microphone working distance. Proper microphone working distance is achieved when the front of the microphone is between four to six inches from the mouth of the person speaking. Not all presenters feel it is necessary or want to be bothered with adjusting a microphone stand before a speech. This often results in the presenter speaking "off mic," which has a detrimental effect on speech intelligibility. This is unfortunate, as achieving correct stand height can be quickly and simply done, as described and illustrated below. The procedure is the same for both microphone floor and microphone desk stands.
• Hold the microphone firmly with one hand, and grasp the stand adjusting barrel with the other hand
• Turn the adjusting barrel counter clockwise to release the stand lock
• Raise or lower the upper part of the stand as required to allow the front of the microphone to be between four to six inches from the mouth of the person speaking
• After adjusting the stand for correct height, turn the adjusting barrel clockwise firmly to set the stand lock.