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Best vocal mic for jazz

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by jazz_singer, Sep 3, 2005.

  1. jazz_singer

    jazz_singer Guest

    I just started a jazz music program at university and, as a singer, I'm required to buy a vocal mic. I don't have much experience with them and I want to make sure that I make a good choice.
    Does anyone have a suggestion?

    (I'm not sure yet how much I am willing to spend but I'm a student so times are fairly tight.)
  2. roguescout

    roguescout Guest

    It depends on your type of voice, the style of music, what it will be recorded into, the room it is recorded in and what sounds the best to you.

    Find a local Pro Audio shop or Pro Audio rental company that will let you audition mics until you find the one you like.

    Generally, tube mics will be more appropriate for male jazz vocals, but there are exceptions for everything.
  3. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    I assume that by buying a vocal mic, it means you need a good handheld vocal mic... I can make a few suggestions depending on the amount that you want to spend and the kind of voice you have.

    When I walk into a jazz gig where I have a vocalist that I don't know, I come with one of two microphones. Both are condensers and both require that the vocalist has a certain amount of command over their mic technique (ie knows when to back off the mic, and how to sing on axis/off axis of the mic). The first and most common for me is the AKG C535eb. You can get one for a couple hundred bucks new on ebay or a bit more at your local dealer. The other is the Neumann KSM105 which is a bit cleaner (especially off-axis) and has a similar presence peak. When I have a preamp to place backstage, I like using the Beyer M500- a handheld vocal ribbon mic. It is exceedingly smooth and sounds great, but without a pre, you'll find very little signal getting to the console.

    If you don't have the mic technique, I'd recommend a couple other mic's- all of which will be more forgiving. The most common is the Shure Beta 87. Others I like include the Audix OM5 and the Beyer M88 (technically an instrument mic, but sounds great on vocals). All of these mics have pretty tight polar patterns for a tight pickup and fewer issues with feedback in performance. They require you to sing pretty close to the mic and will give you a good sound. All will give you a much better sound than the typical rock-concert mic- the Shure SM58.

  4. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    I haven't seen an answer to either of your posts (this one and "Live Sound"). Are you a female or male? Live or studio?
    For live sound on a females' voice, I like the Shure Beta 87. That mic was essentially engineered with a womans' voice in mind. For a male, the Audix OM6 or the Beta 86. I have some clients that are female jazz singers....they are my fave gig...I almost always use an Audio-Technica AT4047 on them in my studio.I have a Beyer M88, and use that at times, as well. If I can, I will use a Lawson L47 in another studio(it's on my "short version" of my "wish list"!). BTW, I used to use a Beyer M500 on that type of voice for several years. But they are physically delicate (even with careful handling), they are not happy if the phantom power is on(!), and I don't believe that they are made anymore(?). If you are toting a mic around for live use, I'd stick to the others mentioned in these posts (Shure, AKG, Audix), as they are designed to be USED.
  5. jazz_singer

    jazz_singer Guest

    I am a female singer and for the next two years I will need the mic mostly for live performances.

    Thanks for the recommendations. Now I have a direction to go in terms of testing some mics and a good idea of the price range I can expect.

    If you have anymore thoughts about this fire them my way!
  6. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    If you're interested in the Neumann KMS-105 vocalist mic that Ben recommended, there's a demo MP3 on http://www.Neumann.com. Go to the info pool and then choose the mic and you will find a link to the demo on top of the page. Bear in mind that what you are hearing has probably been plugged into the most expensive gear you can buy, but it will give you some indication of the sound.

    I hope all goes well for you on your course.

    John Stafford
  7. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    What you have to understand is that for a vocalist, the choice of microphone is about as personal as an instrument for an instrumentalist. It can either accentuate your voice or cause you to sound horrible.

    When you test these, the things you need to consider include- your ability to work the mic. Mic technique is something that I would hope your teacher is helping you learn. What kind of pickup pattern does the mic have. What is the mic's ability to withstand high sound pressure levels (ie will you be belting directly into a mic)...

    I would suggest going to a music store that has as many of them as possible. Bring a CD of some music that you like singing and sing through each mic while listening to other music as well as just yourself. Listen without engaging the EQ on the mixer and you may also want to listen through headphones as they'll help you get a better idea of exactly what the mic sounds like. You'll realize very quickly what works and what doesn't.

  8. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    Of course we don't know what your voice sounds like but Norah Jones uses the Neumann KMS 105 live...
  9. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    As does Claudia Acuna and Flora Purim...

    The KMS105, while sounding good, is also not as forgiving as other mics that have been mentioned earlier. If the singer here is a beginner, she may have difficulties using it to start... Condensers in general will sound good (as I said earlier, my other favorite is the AKG C535eb), but they do require a bit of extra "technique" to use them due to the increased sensitivity.

  10. pmolsonmus

    pmolsonmus Well-Known Member

    I assume by your post that this is a mic you'll carry to a lab and keep in a backpack to/from classes. Not how I would handle a $700-800 mic. I like the Neumann too but not with those parameters.

    I would start with the Shures (Beta if you can afford it) or AKGs and move up later if needed. These are not mics I personally still use live myself as a jazz vocalist, but still mics that I use live or record other vocalists.

    I use a Beyer when I front a big band because it cuts through lots of sound but prefer the Neumann or (depending on the room) AKGs (large diaphragm if possible) on a stand. Even the Studio Projects can work well with certain voices
  11. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    hey Phil-

    I use either an old RCA D77 or the Rode K2 for recording jazz vocals but i would not take either one out of the studio! For budget live jazz vocals I find the senny's 835 better than the shure 58 (same price, a hundred bucs) the 835 is a bit darker and rounder than the shure
  12. pmolsonmus

    pmolsonmus Well-Known Member

    Hey Tiger,

    I haven't tried the Sennheiser on my voice but your description sounds pretty accurate from what I've heard on others. My problem is because of range and training, I usually need to minimize dark and round to cut through horns, guitar or keys in a live setting. A woman's voice wouldn't necessarily have that problem. Good suggestion. I may check one out as well for some of my student singers.

    I'm using the K2 through a Seb for recording my voice and lovin' it!
    A glass of Shiraz afterwards and I might as well be in Sydney all my money seems to be ending up there anyway.

  13. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    down unda is coming up with some good stuff!

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