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Building Blocks 19: Mic Technique 2

Mic Technique pt 2: Intelligibility

Last time I explained (briefly) the concept of sound quality, the idea that how something sounds is important.  This time I will explain intelligibility.

Intelligibility is the sound parameter that represents how easy it is to understand what someone is saying. A person speaking clearly and with good diction (enunciation) would be described as having good intelligibility.  A person speaking with a great deal of reverb or slurring would have bad intelligibility because they are harder to understand.

A great place to hear good and bad intelligibility is a musical.  At a musical you will likely have the opportunity to hear a single person talking in contrast with multiple people talking at the same time.  You will also hear singing in the form of solos, duets, and ensemble numbers.  If the show/song has good intelligibility then no matter how many people are talking or singing you should be able to hear each individually as you focus on them and pick their voice out of the sound landscape.

We don’t need to be talking about vocal sound to be talking about intelligibility however.  We can describe instruments in the same manner.  Next time you go to a concert try and focus on different instruments. If the music has good intelligibility you should be able to pick out the different instruments from the sound landscape and hear their individual sounds.

Intelligibility is important because we want people to understand us when using voice chat.  If you have poor intelligibility you won’t get your message across.  While there are certainly variables relating to your mic and set up that will affect intelligibility, good mic technique will allow others to understand you better.  How well you talk is the first thing.  If people keep asking you to repeat what you have said even when you aren’t using a mic, consider starting with your speech.

Your enunciation and diction are the biggest thing.  If you talk in a mumbly voice your words will slur together making them unintelligible.  Remember, your voice is being amplified, and that means that, less any modifications, every aspect of your voice is being amplified.  While certainly not necessary, talking slower can help with your pronunciation.  This may be more of a problem for folks with an accent.  If this is something you’d like to work on, try working on some tongue twisters throughout the day.  However, I do not recommend that you try singing everything you say into a mic while playing DDO

Projection is also important.  Even though you are using a microphone, you need to talk with some volume behind your voice.  Granted, you don’t need to shout, and you don’t need to pretend you are an actor on a large stage, but your voice does need to reach your mic with enough volume to be mixed by the various pieces in the sound system.  If your voice doesnt reach the mic, the best sound system in the world wont make you sound good.

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