MICROPHONE AND HEADPHONE TECHNIQUE

Brief summary of activity

The following activity will serve to familiarise the participants with the proper use of microphones and headphones.

Aim of the activity

To identify proper use of headphones and microphones to ensure high quality recordings.

Expected Outcomes

Participants will be able to demonstrate knowledge and skills of:
a) Proper use of headphones
b) How to use a microphone

experience and skills required

Practical knowledge of the use of microphones and headphones.

infrastructure, setting, resources

Training room and/or studios.

Length

80 minutes

Materials

Different types of microphones, headphones, portable recorders, access to microphones and headphones in the studio.

How the activity should take place

Tutor Input:
Give a brief introduction to headphones; explain the difference between consumer and professional models, and their importance in sound monitoring
Tutor Info:
When producing programmes for broadcasting it is necessary to use full size studio headphones. This will assist you in monitoring the sound level and ultimately the quality that listeners will hear. By wearing headphones you are able to focus on the source of audio from the microphone and exclude any other sounds that you would otherwise hear. Headphones are plugged into the headphone/output socket using a ‘jack plug’.
This type of studio headphones are known as ‘circumaural headphones’ which have pads that go around the ears, usually very large and very comfortable.
Headphone demonstration
Tutor Input:
Demonstrate the correct technique for wearing headphones, point out the importance of covering the left and right ear with the correct sides, to control the playback volume
Group Activity
Have each participant try wearing the headphones. Ask the participants to record a short piece of audio with headphones on and again with them off. Compare the results, and discuss the importance of headphones for sound quality monitoring.
How to use a microphone
Training input:
Show the different types of directional microphones that are available in the studio and for portable recorders. Explain the correct distance from mouth to microphone to ensure there is not problems with popping or distortion. Show how microphone levels can be monitored using desk/recording software. Demonstrate the correct procedure for connecting the microphone and headphones to the portable recording device. Show how microphone levels can be monitored.
Tutor Info:
The steps involved may include:
a) Open the equipment bag and remove the microphone and accessories
b) Place the windshield over the head of the microphone
c) Connect the lead from the microphone into the recording device
d) Place the headphones correctly over each ear and plug the jack into the output socket
e) Conduct a sound test and avoid ‘blowing’ into the microphone as this can reduce its ability to record properly
f) Your mouth should be positioned a hand/fist distance from the microphone
Have the participants practice this, testing to make sure that everything is connected correctly.

Recommended max. number of participants and trainees to trainers ratio

5 (for visually impaired/ blind trainees, 1 to 1, and learning difficulties trainees, 4 per trainer)

Tips for Trainers

Try to keep it simple and practical by explaining how to use the microphones that are being used in the stations and offer a simple explanation on directionality. Make the workshop as practical as possible.

No specific requirements. This activity can be delivered to any group, and by eliminating any visual elements and allowing a more tactile approach, to blind people.

Analysis and evaluation

Do the participant remember the ideal distance from mouth to mic?
Can they attach a microphone to a portable recorder?
Do they remember how to monitor microphone levels and how to ensure recording is not distorted?
Do they know how to operate the volume of headphones when sitting at the desk?

Scheduling

This should be one of the first activities of technical training.
If offered early in the training, could facilitate a more practical approach to interviewing techniques
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