How to Hold a Microphone

by Richard Kalinowski

Whether for home recording, a live webcast, a business presentation or playing a music gig at a local coffee shop, proper microphone handling can increase sound quality and clarity. Knowing how to hold a microphone goes beyond simple hand positioning; you also need to judge mic's distance from the speaker, possible feedback sources and grip strength.


Avoid unnecessary handling. While you may instinctively grab hold of the mic during a performance, if the microphone is already properly positioned using a mic stand, there is no reason to touch it.


Position your hand cognizant of mic connections and switches. If the microphone has an on/off switch, keep your hand positioned away from the switch. Additionally, don't grip too close to the cable running into the mic; you don't want to accidentally nudge the cable and disconnect it.


Grip the microphone firmly, and make sure your hand is comfortable so you don't have to continually re-grip during recording. Media College cautions that "the mic will pick up any handling noise, so be careful not to move your hand around on the mic casing."


Avoid major sources of feedback or distortion. Amplifiers, musical instruments, and other microphones can create feedback. Don't get too close to these items or you'll hear some obnoxious buzzing. You can still operate a mic alongside amps and instruments; just make sure the mic is up near your mouth while the instrument and amps remain closer to your abdomen or the floor, as far away from the mic as possible.


Avoid crossed cables. Even a well-insulated XLR cable will hiss or crackle when other cables cross its path. The difference may be slight, but it can be enough to be noticeable to the audience.


Hold the microphone at least 2 to 3 inches from your mouth. Many people tend to stick the mic right up to their lips; this can lead to a more muffled sound and you may even accidentally bump the mic with your mouth, causing unwanted audible rustling. Additionally, it's even possible to get a small electric shock if your lips or tongue inadvertently touch the mic.


Point the microphone at your sound source as you hold it. If you're giving an interview, tilt the mic toward whoever is speaking. When tilting the mic, keep its directional properties in mind.


Perform a sound check in advance, making sure to hold the mic exactly as you will during the live event or recording. Testing ahead of time helps identify and correct unforeseen mic problems.


  • check Consult Media College's article on directional characteristics to find out the best angle for your specific microphone.

About the Author

Richard Kalinowski began writing professionally in 2006. He also works as a website programmer and graphic designer for several clients. Kalinowski holds a Master of Fine Arts from Goddard College and a Bachelor of Science in education from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

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