Join Bobby Owsinski for an in-depth discussion in this video Exploring how the proximity effect works, part of Audio Recording Techniques.
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Cardioid and hypercardioid microphones experience a low frequency build up the closer the mic is placed to the source. This is known as Proximity Effect. As a result, a mic that's placed within a couple of inches from the source, like on a guitar amp or a snare drum, and seem to have a lot more low-end, than if it were replaced a foot or more away. Sometimes the proximity effect can be useful for adding fullness to the source, but it can also make the frequency response seem out of balance if it's not taken into account. I'm going to show you some examples of proximity effect, so you know it when you hear it the next time you record. Here is how proximity effect works.
Take a listen to the sound and note the low-frequency response. (music playing) Now, take a listen when we move the mic in, so it's only about a foot way. (music playing) As you can hear, not only it did the sound get louder, but there is more low-end as well.
Now you can hear an extreme case of proximity effect. Placing a mic this close to the source is usually never a good idea, because you can't hear the proper balance of the instrument. (music playing) Now, let's hear what happens with an omni-directional mic.
(music playing) Take note of both the volume level, and the low frequency response.
(music playing) When we move the omni mic in close, there is no proximity effect. So, the sound stays even and balanced. (music playing) As you can hear the level got louder, but the low-end stayed relatively the same, because an omni-directional mic does not exhibit the proximity effect.
Remember that the proximity effect is the increase of low-end as a Directional mic is moved closer to the audio source. This can cause the sound to seem either fuller or out of frequency balance. If that occurs just move the mic back a little until the desired frequency response is achieved.
- Optimizing your listening environment
- Listening to how different microphone types affect recording
- Choosing the right microphone for the right recording application
- Positioning microphones for a wide variety of recording scenarios
- Utilizing proper gain staging, preamps, and direct boxes
- Avoiding phase cancellation
- Using a compressor, equalizer, and high-pass filter during recording
- Setting up a headphone mix
- Adding the right amount of compression or equalization
- Capturing great sounds from drums, guitars, basses, keyboards, pianos, strings, and vocals
- Creating a great drum set sound
- Getting the best out of any singer
- Dealing with microphone leakage
- Utilizing a variety of stereo miking techniques
- Setting up and producing a recording session
- Creating a rough mix in any digital audio workstation (DAW)