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I was watching a music video of a live performance. At one point, the singer popped the microphone from the stand and later put it back. Both of these should have produced some sort of sound, but of course, it didn't -- or at least I didn't hear it. I'm curious why not.

The obvious answer is that the singer is lip syncing, but we see this over and over, and that would be a lot of fraud going on. And maybe that's what it is. I find it hard to believe very band out there doing so-called live performances are cheating.

I saw Styx live back in the mid-80s in Minneapolis. Two of the bandmembers bumped into each other. There should have been some sort of interruption, but there wasn't. And we have all see, both live and on video, lead singers remove or replace the microphone from its clip on the stand.

Does someone have an explanation other than lip syncing?

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  • This is an audio question, not a video question, but the answer is that most live performances released on video are recorded on multi-track recorders and then mixed afterwards, and are not just a feed of a live mix. Any bumps and thumps would be removed. Quite often the vocals are retuned too...
    – tomh
    Commented Sep 2, 2023 at 17:40
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    …or the mic had a high handling noise rejection. It's kind of pre-requisite for s decent hand-held mic.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Sep 3, 2023 at 7:59

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Music videos, even of live performances, are mixed from recordings of the individual instrument tracks instead of recording the whole front-of-house mix (either directly or from before the stage) because a live mix is done under time pressure and with a view towards front-of-house production.

Then a live mic (unless we are talking a country-style bass growler) will be mixed using a rumble filter (on my mixer, I read 75Hz low cut with 18dB/oct). That is good for seriously attenuating handling noises. Singer's microphones tend to be cardioid (pressure differential sensitive) that naturally taper off at low frequencies. When they are intended for handheld use, the microphone capsules (typically dynamic) tend to be separately suspended within the microphone exterior.

Then there are heavy duty balanced microphone lines in order not to deal with microphonic cables (sometimes it is surprising how much handling noise the cable can pick up, admittedly more a problem with electric guitars than microphones).

And in some cases, for after-the-gig video production there may be an almost invisible head set microphone doing separate recording duty, for results that have consistent loudness and proximity and no handling noise. It's not the singer that is lip-synching in that case but the microphone.

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  • In summary: professional equipment expects mic handling and is specially designed to handle it. Thank you for the fabulous explanation. Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 13:13

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