Microphone Techniques for Live Sound Production

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Authored by Ben Cochran, Ken "Pooch" Van Druten


Course Code: OMPRD-255

Next semester starts September 23

12 Weeks

Level 2

Level 2

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


This course will emphasize the differences in approach to microphone techniques, and give you the tools necessary to make informed decisions about microphones in live sound. You will learn standard microphone selections and various microphone techniques specific to live sound applications.

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Miking in the live sound environment is often difficult due to acoustic challenges and possibilities. Microphone choices, pickup polar patterns, and placement become far more important in the acoustic to electric transduction capture of instruments in the live sound environment vs. studio recording because of many differing factors. This course will emphasize the differences, and give you the tools necessary to make informed decisions to combat the difficulties associated with microphone techniques in live sound.

The first half of the course will focus on types of microphones, selection and placement techniques, anatomy and function of dynamic and condenser microphones, polar patterns, and various applications. The second half of the course will focus on challenging environments, room acoustics, feedback, multiple adjoining sources, phase alignment issues, electrostatic interference, electrical resistance/impedance, sensitivity, maximum SPL capture, and wireless technologies.

Through these 12 weeks you will learn to understand, identify, and apply miking techniques in challenging environments.

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • classify the various types of microphones (dynamic, condenser, and ribbon microphones), including their components sensitivity, maximum SPL, and frequency response
  • discuss microphone polar patterns and various applications
  • define the function and applications of phantom power
  • describe electrostatic interference and locate electrical noise from unbalanced connections
  • creatively use the sonic influence of proximity effect
  • evaluate frequency-dependent electrical resistance and impedance
  • use wireless microphone transmission and reception
  • use DI boxes and discuss their function
  • choose the best mic and placement for an instrument
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Lesson 1: Dynamic Microphones

  • Dynamic Microphone Basics
  • Dynamic Microphone Polar Patterns
  • Dynamic Microphone Usage
  • Common Dynamic Microphones in Live Sound
  • Dynamic Microphone on a Snare Drum
  • Assignment 1: Dynamics

Lesson 2: Condenser and Electret Condenser Microphones

  • Condenser Microphone Basics
  • Explanation of Phantom Power
  • Condenser Microphone Polar Patterns
  • Condenser Microphone Usage
  • Common Condenser Microphones in Live Sound
  • Condenser Microphone on Acoustic Piano
  • Assignment 2: Mic Internals

Lesson 3: Why We Close Mic Everything in Live Sound

  • Room Acoustics and Far Away Miking
  • Sheer Volume
  • Gain before Feedback and Resonance and Uncoupling
  • The Mix Destroyer: Multiple Microphones on a Single Source
  • Assignment 3: Multiple Microphones on a Single Source

Lesson 4: Acoustic and Electrical Transduction Characteristics

  • Transient Response
  • Output Level and Sensitivity
  • Overload and Max SPL
  • Impedance
  • Assignment 4: Record a High SPL Impulse

Lesson 5: Drum Microphone Placement

  • Choosing the Right Drum Microphones
  • Multiple Microphone Phase Issues
  • Inside or Outside the Kick Drum
  • Common Microphones and Placement
  • Overheads and Stereo Miking
  • Working with a Mono PA System
  • Assignment 5: Input List

Lesson 6: Ribbon Microphones and Stereo Mic Configurations

  • Ribbon Microphone Basics
  • Ribbon Microphone Polar Patterns
  • Common Ribbon Microphones in Live Sound
  • Simple Setup on a Guitar Amplifier
  • Stereo Microphone Configurations
  • Assignment 6: Placement

Lesson 7: Miking Electric Guitar, Bass, and Acoustic Instruments

  • Guitar Speakers
  • Choosing the Right Microphone
  • Multiple Speakers
  • Guitar and Bass Cabinet Isolation Boxes
  • Speaker Emulator Direct Boxes
  • Contact Pickups and Super Cardioid Microphones
  • Assignment 7: Record an Amplifier Using a Direct Box and a Microphone

Lesson 8: Vocal Microphones

  • Characteristics of a Vocal Microphone
  • Handling Noise
  • The Conversation
  • Proximity Effect
  • Assignment 8: Microphone Technique

Lesson 9: Proper Care of Microphones and Troubleshooting

  • Microphone Care
  • Troubleshooting
  • Is It Broken?
  • Recognizing Microphone Diaphragm ‘Tiredness’
  • Assignment 9: Disassembly and Cleaning

Lesson 10: Multiple Microphones and Direct Box on the Same Source

  • Pros and Cons of Multiple Microphones
  • Spaced Pair, X/Y Placement, Mid-Side, Coincident
  • Shock Mounts
  • Using a DI and Multiple Microphones
  • Assignment 10: Phase Cancellation

Lesson 11: Wireless Microphones and Wireless Technology

  • Transmitters and Receivers
  • Multipath Reflections, Diversity, and Signal Dropout
  • FCC
  • Why Cables Are Better
  • Wireless In-Ear Monitoring
  • Assignment 11: Shure Axient

Lesson 12: Putting It All together

  • Best Mic Choice for the Source
  • The 20 Best Microphones
  • Unusual Solutions
  • Assignment 12: Input Lists of Top Tours


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Prerequisite Courses, Knowledge, and/or Skills
Students should have experience working with their Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) of choice.



  • Students will need to record the following:
    • Spoken voice in weeks 1 and 2
    • A single source, such as a guitar amplifier or acoustic instrument, in weeks 3 and 10
    • A high transient source, such as a snare drum, in week 4
    • A drum set in week 5
    • A live band in week 6 (using a stereo miking configuration)
    • A guitar amplifier in week 7



  • Audio interface with at least 4 mic preamps
  • 2 XLR dynamic microphones and cables (3 recommended)
  • 2 XLR condenser microphones and cables (3 recommended)
  • Direct box (DI box)
  • Multimeter

Student Deals
After enrolling, be sure to check out our Student Deals page for various offers on software, hardware, and more. Please contact support@online.berklee.edu with any questions.

General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in Live Classes. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course. 

Mac Users

PC Users

All Users

  • Latest version of Google Chrome
  • Zoom meeting software
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection


Ben Cochran


Ben Cochran is an engineer and technology adviser at Audio-Technica in Stow, Ohio, and is the worship and production director at Christ Community Chapel in Hudson, Ohio. He holds a master’s degree in electrical engineering.

Ken "Pooch" Van Druten


Pooch is a tenured and acclaimed producer, engineer, and live sound engineer. His track record of recognition for flawless engineering started at Berklee College of Music and has continued through three Grammy nominations and a history of Platinum and Gold records. He is the FOH engineer and production master behind Jay-Z, Travis Scott, Justin Bieber, Iron Maiden, KISS, Guns N’ Roses, Linkin Park, and many more. He holds close to a dozen FOH engineer accolades.

What's Next?

When taken for credit, Microphone Techniques for Live Sound Production can be applied towards the completion of these related programs:


Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT'L), or by email at advisors@online.berklee.edu.

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