I run sound and am also a caller. I have definitely had folks for whom the
proximity effect emphasizes particular frequencies in their voice and makes
it much more difficult to eq from the sound board. As both a sound operator
and caller, I definitely value intelligibility over strict reproduction of
the voice -- I would much rather intelligibly not sound like myself, rather
than to sound just like my normal voice but not cut through the crowd and
band sound. Proximity effect (the emphasizing of lower frequencies when
holding the mic extremely close to your mouth) causes more trouble with
some voices than with others. I have had a few callers who when they are
right on top of the mic become almost unintelligible, but if they back off
just an inch or so, are improved markedly and get a much more consistent
sound. Because it is more consistent, it is also easier for the sound tech
to eq your voice.
Using a monitor can also be a big help because it gives you a better idea
for how your voice is coming through the system.
Be aware of how quickly you're talking. Record yourself (and listen to it,
even when it's painful). Can you understand yourself clearly?
On Thu, May 19, 2016 at 4:03 PM James Saxe via Callers <
Here are a few thoughts:
Besides working on mic technique, pay attention to enunciation.
I'm not saying that you should hyper-enunciate to the point of
sounding stilted, but if you want to be understood in spite of
room reverberation and competing sounds (crowd noise, music,
electric fans) a little hyper-enunciation can help.
One way to check yourself on enunciation (and more) is to make
a recording from the back of the hall and force yourself to
listen to it.
If you're a guest caller at someone else's dance, politely let
the sound tech know that your voice may be different from the
main caller's, and ask for whatever help (s)he can give to make
sure you're intelligible.
Try to arrive early at the gig so that you and the sound tech
can have a few minutes to experiment with what equalization
and what mic position work best for you (e.g., what's not too
close, but not too far), at a time when dancers aren't waiting
for a walk-thru to start.
If you don't 100% trust the sound tech to give ample priority
to caller intelligibility--and maybe even if you do--enlist a
trusted friend who can offer feedback during your sound check
and who can call problems to your attention while there's time
to do something about them, instead of after the dance is over.
I agree with those who have recommended speaking along the axis
of the mic. While there are people who have learned to get good
results with the ice-cream-cone style of mic hold, it's easier
for most of us if we point our mouth at the mic and point the
mic at our mouth. Keep the mic fairly close, but not to the
point of "eating" it.
As for overpowering the mic, I doubt that you would actually
be speaking loudly enough to force the mic element to the
extremes of its travel. It is possible that the first stage of
amplification (usually controlled, on analog mixers, by a knob
at the top of your mic channel labeled "sensitivity", "gain",
or "trim") could be set too high, resulting in clipping, which
could make you sound loud, horrible, and unintelligible all at
once. A competent sound tech will know how to set the gain
structure to avoid this. If the sound tech is a turf-conscious
clown, then you have a problem, but you won't solve it by trying
to offer advice based on stuff you read on an internet mailing
list while you yourself are inexpert.
... the sound guy was sitting there and I'm
sure would have done
If the sound board is near the stage, the sound tech can easily
be unaware of a problem until (s)he stands up and walks to the
middle or the back of the hall. Assuming the sound tech isn't
a turf-conscious clown, a request to "please check that I'm
intelligible in the back of the hall" can be part of the same
kind of polite conversation as "my voice may be different from
the main caller ...".
On May 18, 2016, at 7:09 PM, Darwin Gregory via
I am a new caller, and I have called two dances. The first, I
completely blew the
microphone part. Since then, I practiced holding the
mic close to my mouth like was suggested to me.
The second dnce, I was told that my voice was too deep for the
microphone, and I
was overpowering it. It was suggested that I hold the
microphone further away and project, which I tried, but again, not
something I practiced.
Someone afterwards suggested that it could have been dealt with by the
board. Although, the sound guy was sitting there and I'm sure would
have done something if it would have helped.
So, any advice? Is there a particular mic or mic type that is good for
voices? Any techniques to practice? Sound guy/gal need to be on the
Any advice welcome.
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