Music is about expression. Podcasting is about creativity.
Both elements take a massive hit when you’re too loud. Microphones are designed to project your voice in specific ways to ensure you are heard.
When the volume capacity exceeds the specifications of the unit, the result is distortion and incoherence.
If you watch screamo, heavy metal, or similar musical styles in concert, you’ll see people shouting into their microphones repetitively without feedback.
What are they doing with their setup that could be duplicated for other needs?
How to Scream into a Microphone without Distortion
Microphones won’t produce distortion if you don’t go beyond the equipment’s limit. The easiest way to scream into the mic is to back off from it to avoid overwhelming its capabilities. You can also reduce preamp volume or make gain adjustments to minimize the signal level.
When discussing vocal expression, it’s essential to define “screaming” and “shouting.”
Most people are screaming into their microphones when using a loud voice. This vocal process uses the false cord notes and tones, similar to what a male singer might use for a high falsetto.
It’s not getting a full push from the diaphragm, which means it has reduced consistency.
That’s why screaming is such a difficult art to master on the microphone. Your vocal cords are already delivering unwanted feedback to the mic.
When you add the extra volume to that false action, it creates a harsh tone that triggers the mic’s distortion mechanisms.
When you are shouting, it’s the equivalent of using your diaphragm to produce a full-bodied sound.
That’s why you can have opera singers with microphones right next to their mouths without getting the same feedback problem.
When you add the changes to preamp volume and the gain adjustments needed for proper consistency during the vocal warmups, you’ll create less distortion.
How to Sing Punk and Other Harsher Vocal Styles without Distortion
What makes music such a lovely experience is that listeners can choose whatever they want at any time.
Today’s streaming apps, YouTube, and other on-demand resources offer the most extensive library of easily accessible songs and compositions in human history.
As more musicians gain access to streaming services, SoundCloud accounts, and market access, new styles and techniques go through the experimentation process.
Even with all of that creativity available, some traditional styles continue to remain popular.
If you want to sing punk, opera, or harsher styles into a microphone without distortion, some techniques can help you achieve the results you want.
Here are the best tips to follow.
1. Don’t Shout Directly into the Microphone.
When you feel a song’s emotion, it might be tempting to belt out the lyrics with all of your passion. If that event happens, it’ll sound terrible for two reasons.
The first issue is your passion. When emotional reactions overwhelm your singing, you lose control of pitch and tone more readily. That means the risk of having your voice crack when you hit the melody is significant.
You’ll also have the microphone distortion problem to manage. If you see heavy metal singers work a mic, they have a specific technique to limit feedback based on how they sing.
Some stand further away from it, while others pull it down and to the side to protect the sound quality from their vocal cords.
2. Drink Some Water.
The harsher singing styles can produce some incredible tones. They can also wreak havoc on your vocal cords!
Although it might be tempting to drink beer, soda, or other carbonated drinks, your best option is always water.
When you hydrate your vocal cords, they’ll have more flexibility to handle the louder volume of your singing.
That lubrication can also lessen the natural feedback your voice produces when you sing from your throat more than your diaphragm.
3. Take the Time to Warm up Your Voice.
If you want to shout into a microphone without distortion, you’ll need to take the time to maintain your vocal health.
That means a 10-minute warmup session is useful to prepare for the songs you want to sing.
When you sing in the punk genre or use another harsh style, some breathing exercises are also helpful.
Taking a few deep breaths can help your body relax, enabling your vocal cords to push into higher or lower melodic tones.
This example of a professional warmup routine can help you achieve the results you want for that signature vocal sound.
4. Smile and Yawn When You Vocalize.
Some people call this technique “finding your head voice.” When you vocalize notes, it helps to relax your throat in the same way you’d start a yawn.
That process encourages more airflow movement across your vocal cords to produce a stronger, more durable sound.
When you smile, it opens the rest of that pathway to maximize how much air you can push out while singing. This technique ensures a strong voice that can stay loud without triggering distortion.
5. Add a Little Twang.
Although you don’t want to overload your microphone when shouting into it, you do want to use a little “twang” to encourage a unique sound.
Most Americans already speak somewhat nasally, which means you’ll hit those punk tones right away. For everyone else, New York Vocal Coaching offers a lesson that introduces this concept.
You don’t need to sound like you’re from the Deep South to add some twang to your vocals. When you add volume to your singing, some of that accent gets lost anyway.
How to Stop My Microphone from Clipping While Singing
Microphone clipping occurs when it receives a recorded signal more than 3 decibels above its output. You’ll see this result at your mixing station, audio panel, or DAW dashboard. When the gain needle goes into the red, you’ll get distortion instead of a pure sound.
When you hear a microphone with vocal distortion, what you’re getting is a clipped signal.
If you’re right around the 3-decibel level, you might hear the unwanted feedback before the needle dips over to the red.
Even if you route the mic to another channel while lowering the primary receiver’s volume, you’ll still encounter this issue.
Although it is technically possible to have a microphone clip itself because of a mechanical malfunction, you’d need to sing above 130 dB to achieve that effect.
That means you’d need to scream into the microphone while touching it with your mouth to reach that outcome.
You’ll want to adjust your singing style to stop this problem because it could cause speaker damage.
■ How Far Away from the Microphone Should I Stand?
It doesn’t take much distance to reduce the decibel overload a microphone can experience. If you step back on the stage from it, you’ll often get the results you want.
If you don’t have the option to step back, you can put a mic muffler on your equipment.
Sometimes referred to as a “wind cover,” this product reduces breathing sounds when you’re close while limiting the decibel levels from your voice.
This technology is the same protective measure used by filmmakers to film scenes in live locations while reducing unwanted sounds.
When you know your voice will be loud, you can use the best compression microphone with a pop filter and sound reducer to create distortion reduction.
How to Fix a Clipped Recording
If you are recording your voice for a podcast or musical track, you might have accidentally clipped the mic because of your volume. The best way to fix that issue is to get another take.
When that option isn’t possible, you can still take some steps to create a better outcome.
- Send the recording to a channel and put a compressor on what you’ve recorded.
- Turn down the volume a little on the track while making the compressor create a louder sound.
- You must achieve this result without hitting 0 dB to be successful.
When you follow that three-step guide, you’ll make the highest and lowest parts of the track have the same volume.
That technique works because it reduces the decibel overload that certain features of your voice might contribute.
It’s also possible to reduce the gain and threshold while using a multiband compressor to receive a similar result.
Once you’ve reached this step, you’ll need to add an EQ to the channel that analyzes soundwaves and frequencies.
If you see the distortion happening within a specific vocal range, you can lower it to match everything else on the track.
If you don’t have a recording, you can use soundwave restoration to reduce distortion while yelling into a microphone. Several plugins and browser-based tools are available to consider, such as Waves.
When you choose Waves, you’ll receive five plugin options to reduce the distortion and noise on your microphone.
It also takes care of crackles, pops, and clicks from specific verbalizations.
Are There Any Other Techniques to Try?
If you want to shout into your mic without triggering distortion, you have one additional option to try to get the perfect sound.
When you sing, you can put your hand across the microphone’s reception point to create a physical barrier between your voice and the pickups.
Although this technique won’t work for everyone’s microphone or singing style, it could deliver the results you need during a passionate moment when you’re shouting into the microphone.
When you understand the ratings your microphone tolerates, it’s much easier to limit the distortion that loud noises trigger.
Keep this guide in mind for the next time you record or perform to ensure the results meet or exceed your expectations.