Why You Sound Terrible On A Microphone (And What To Do)

One of the most satisfying feelings of singing is being able to record and create music that you’re proud of. But what if after listening back to what you recorded, you don’t like what you hear? There are a few reasons you might not sound the way you want to on a microphone (and it’s not because you’re an awful singer!)

The reason why you sound bad on a microphone is that singers never hear their own voice accurately due to the vibrations through their eardrums and bone conduction. How singers listen to themselves compared to the audience will sound different. The lack of reverb or effects that we’re all used to hearing through music can also make you feel uncomfortable with the way you sound using a microphone. 

Singing through a microphone and allowing yourself to be heard is important for any singer to improve and get out of their comfort zones. So don’t let your sound deter you from continuing recording and singing. In this article, I’ll go in-depth about the different reasons you might not like the way you sound with the mic and what you can do to improve it. 

Let’s begin!

We never hear our voices accurately

One of the most interesting things about sound is how different we can hear ourselves compared to others. That’s because when we sing, we hear our voices in two distinct ways.

The first way is through having vibrating sound waves bouncing off objects around you and rebounding back to your eardrums. This is how other people hear your voice.

The second way is the resonance inside your skull created by your vocal cords. These vibrations travel through your skull and to your eardrums. As they travel through the skull, they spread out and lower in pitch, giving you a false sense of bass. The conduction of the sound through your heads tends to provide it with a richer and deeper sound. 

When you hear your voice through a recording or a speaker, it can sound thinner, and less appealing than what you thought was “your voice.” That’s why many people, including some professional singers, don’t particularly enjoy the way they sound in their recordings. 

Although there isn’t a concrete way of changing the way you hear yourself because that’s how our body and system works, what you can do is to train yourself to adapt and get used to the way you sound with the resonance in your head

During your practice, try putting an earplug or earphone in your ear to hear yourself more clearly through the vibrations in your own head. This small adjustment will allow you to be more familiar with the way you sound and help you hear yourself more clearly. You’ll want to use earphones that are in-ear buds because they can effectively block out outside noise.

I personally like to use IEMs (in-ear monitors) because they sound great and block out sounds from the environment very well. One IEM that I recommend buying is the Shure SE215 (Amazon). They’re durable, sound fantastic, and are great for improving the way you hear yourself when you’re practicing and recording.

By getting more familiar with hearing yourself through your resonance, you’re giving yourself the best chance to understand how you sing and pinpoint the things you need to work on to make your vocals sound better. 

After practicing using the earbuds, you still might feel that you will sound different. However, you’ll have more confidence in your voice, feel at ease and be more familiar with how you sound to yourself. If you practice with this method consistently, you’ll definitely see massive improvements with your performance when you use a microphone. 

Lack of Vocal effects 

Another reason why you might think you sound bad on a microphone is because of the lack of effects or plugins that you’re used to hearing. As music lovers, we’re all used to hearing songs that are highly produced and edited. Even many covers on Youtube have been processed because of how easy it is to edit recordings now. 

Our ears are often used to songs that have gone through heavy production, using multiple effects and plugins. This can lead us to innately compare our voices and recordings to these tracks. 

So if you record yourself without adding some of these effects, your voice sound can sound too bare or “dry” to you. When singers feel that their voice sounds too bare, they’re uncomfortable with how they sound, which strongly affects their performance. 

Obviously, you don’t want to add too many effects to your voice, or else you’ll sound unnatural in your song. But important vocal effects like reverb can highly improve your vocals and help you sound more pleasing and “warm” to yourself and the audience.

Whether you’re singing into a microphone at a live show or recording a track, make sure to add enough reverb to your voice so that you feel comfortable. 

If you’re singing in front of a live audience, make sure to do a soundcheck and see if you need to adjust your reverb and your EQ settings. 

This point is very important so i’ll repeat this again.

Make sure to soundcheck your voice before singing in front of people! The worst feeling is singing on stage and realizing you don’t like the way you sound. If you’re in charge of the PA system, you won’t be able to change it during your performance. So make sure to do this before your gig!

Read More: 21 Things You Should Know Before Singing At An Open Mic

The Balance Of Your Sound Isn’t Good Enough

One of the biggest challenges of singing on a microphone is balancing your voice to your backing track and band. There are so many sounds fighting for attention that can sometimes stifle your vocals. If your voice is amplified, the band behind you will be quite loud as well. 

So make sure to balance your vocals and the other instruments around you. You have to make sure you hear yourself accurately. If you’re playing in front of a band, make your voice be the priority and stand out.

With a better balance, you’ll find that you’ll strain your voice less, and you’ll sing with more comfort. You’ll also be able to hear yourself better, thus improving your technique and pitch accuracy. If you’re in a live performance setting, again, a soundcheck will be necessary. 

If there’s a live sound technician that you’re working with, make sure to communicate about how you’re sounding and the changes you want them to make. Also, let your bandmates know if they’re playing too loud so they can change their volumes to balance all the noise.   

You want to make sure you hear yourself through the monitor without having the background music drown you out. Use the in-ear monitor that I previously mentioned if your budget allows you to get the best experience of hearing yourself properly when you sing. 

Improve On Your Vocal Techniques

Although there may be other reasons why you sound bad on the microphone, sometimes it merely might be because your vocal techniques aren’t strong enough. If you’ve just started singing and recording, your vocals are still a work in progress, and that’s ok! 

If you think it’s your singing voice that needs improvement, I suggest looking for a vocal coach to help you build your fundamentals so that you can sound better when you’re recording. Having a vocal coach is a great way to speed up your learning curve because you don’t have to waste time going through with trial and error and seeing what works. A good coach will quickly guide you to where you want to be, whether it’s improving your breath work, vocal stamina, increasing your vocal range, or stage presence.

With a vocal coach, you can ask them to tailor the lesson to learn how to sound better using a microphone for your recordings and live performances. 

If you’re unable to find a vocal coach near you or if the cost is too high, you can take singing lessons through online singing programs. One program that I recommend for beginner singers is the 30 Day Singer singing program. They have an excellent step-by-step guide to help new singers learn the fundamentals and slowly build up their voice. This program also features different vocal teachers, which is great for those who want to choose which vocal teacher they want to learn from. 

I’ve written an in-depth review of the 30 Day Singer singing program that you can check out here. 

Read More: Best Online Singing Courses – The Ultimate Guide

Final Thoughts 

Sounding great on a microphone takes a bit of understanding of your voice and small adjustments to the way you approach your practice and your preparation. Although you currently might not be happy with how you sound using a mic, it doesn’t mean you’re going to sound like that forever! Just take some time to work on your craft, make simple adjustments, and see a lot of growth in how you sound and perform. 

Do you want to improve your singing and learn how to hit those high notes without straining your voice? CLICK HERE to get a FREE trial with 30 Day Singer!

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