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Handheld condenser feedback question (live)

Discussion in 'Microphones' started by Har, Oct 18, 2012.

  1. Har

    Har Active Member

    Hi! Most of you probably also work as engineers or simply perform live. That's why I'd like to ask you a question regarding to feedback reduction.

    Til now I've been using dynamic mic Shure BETA58A, but I want to do a step further. That's why I decided to buy a condenser microphone for live gigs. I believe that condenser sounds better than dynamic microphones (correct me if I'm wrong, do you know any dynamic microphone that can be equal to condenser?), but the thing that I'm afraid of is feedback. Is there any handheld condenser microphone that has better feedback rejection, or the mechanism of 'em are always similar and there are no condenser microphones that can be safer live? Also do you know any equipment that can reduce feedback? The only thing I have is BOSS VE-20 which will give me phantom power. What about any other things that can reduce it?

    I think it's worth to say that I'm sure I will be able to use the microphone in our two acoustic songs (so it's worth buyin' it even for them), but mostly my band is playing some heavier rock stuff and that's where I need to know what to do. I already ordered Shure SM86 since there was a great deal on amazon, but I'm able to buy one more microphone if you give me some advices.

    The only video with condenser in heavier situation I've seen so far is this one, looking great:
    Michael Bublé - "Haven't Met You Yet" (Live) - YouTube

    Do you know any other live performances that are not like in X-Factors or POP music, but heavier? I think that also Matt Bellamy from Muse is using condenser microphone.

    Any advices?

  2. drumrob

    drumrob Active Member


    First of all, a condenser is not just automatically better than a dynamic. VERY GENERALLY speaking, they are more sensitive than dynamics, which sometimes in a live situation is a bad thing.

    There are three things that I believe are most important in reducing feedback on stage when using a vocal mic:

    1) your stage volume. Some bands have the stage monitors so loud that there is no hope of ever NOT having feedback.
    2) stage monitor placement in relation to the mic. Normally you want the butt end of the mic to end up pointing at the monitor. That means that the sound from the monitor is reaching the part of the mic that is LEAST likely to pick up the sound.
    3) pick up pattern of the mic. The standard of the industry, the Shure SM58, is a cardioid pattern mic. There are many models, including the Beta 58 that you mentioned, that use tighter patterns like hypercardioid or supercardioid. This helps reduce feedback. You can search the internet for lots of options. Two I'm familiar with are the Audix OM7 and the Heil PR-35 (both dynamic microphones) that can give excellent results. Remember that #1 and #2 of my list still apply, though.

    I took a quick look at the Michael Buble video you linked to, and it appears to me that he's singing into a Shure SM86. I've used the Shure Beta 87a a number of times with good results as well.

    Other considerations to reduce feedback include the use of an equalizer on your PA system. Google "ringing out a PA system" to find lots of info. Some companies, like dbx, also make "feedback destroyers" and the drive rack systems. Your mileage may vary with those.

    Have fun!

  3. Har

    Har Active Member

    Thank you Rob! I think the best way for me will be if I'll use Shure SM86 for softer acoustic songs. With heavier ones I think I need to find a dynamic microphone that is closest to condenser according to quality of vocals. I checked Heil PR-35 and what I like is that frequency response - it seems like this microphone can show warmth pretty well. Audix also looks great. As I said before right now I use beta58a and it's a great microphone (I like it more than sm58) I sound very good on stronger vocals, but the only thing that's missing is the warmth on lower vocals, it's simply a little bit too sharp. So whaddya think if I'll buy Heil PR-35 will I feel the difference to my beta?

    Best regards!

    P.S. I'm a little bit afraid about heil pr35 since this microphone is designed mostly for broadcasting etc. and my voice can sometimes be very heavy and loud.
  4. drumrob

    drumrob Active Member

    I like the PR-35 WAY better than the Beta 58 (I own both). The Beta 58 can sometimes be very shrill. The PR-35 definitely has that warmth to it. I've read that some people find them tough to work with on big, loud stages, but with mics you always seem to get a thousand different opinions. I've been VERY happy with my PR-35, but I play mostly in smaller venues in semi-acoustic groups, so your situation may be different. I'd say the PR-35 is worth a try, though. Especially if you can rent or borrow one to begin with.

  5. Har

    Har Active Member

    Ok you made it easier for me, thanks!

    So for me now it's between

    Heil PR-35 vs Neumann KMS 105

    Will decide...
  6. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Both excellent choices. The Neumann is good enough to use in a studio. Is it better? That depends on your voice and ONLY your voice. I will say this, there's a bit of a safety net with a dynamic live that a condenser wont have. And THAT particular condenser is going to demand that you can sing and sing in pitch as well as have a quality mic technique to go along with it.
  7. Har

    Har Active Member

    Nahh... Heil PR35 is goin' to be my mike. No more doubts. :D

    I don't know if you've heard about this guys, Especially you Rob, since I see that you love Heil microphone -

    News - Heil upgrade PR 35 handheld vocal mic

    Seems like it was upgraded few months ago. I will probably buy the newest one, since it's upgrade I hope they didn't change the sound of it for worse or something. :- )
  8. drumrob

    drumrob Active Member

    I DO love Heil mics. I've also got three of the PR-20 mics. They are also quite nice, but the PR-35 is definitely a step up. I had seen the news about the new upgrade, but I haven't heard one of the new ones yet. It sure LOOKS pretty!
  9. audiokid

    audiokid Staff


    To add,

    I sang live for over ten years using an AKG 535. Before that it was SM58, a few Beyer 500, Senn 441, many more. I will assure you that a condenser rocked but! We kept the stage volume down real low and I had a gate on it all the time. Condensers pick everything up and the feedback can get real crazy if you don't have a great sound system and engineer. I also have a really powerful voice so I didn't need a lot of gain. This was a big factor.

    DPA has a road mic, d:facto. DPA ROCKS!
    This apparently comes from the 4011 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwn1FxF6GGo

    DPA Microphones :: DPA d:facto

    Key features:
    • Extreme sound level handling, 157 dB
    • 3-step pop-protection grid
    • Suppression of handling noise
    • Ready for wireless use
    • Impressive definition, accuracy and zero coloration
    • Superb linearity in frequency and phase, also off-axis


    You might want to look at this. I know I would if I was performing live.
  10. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    That Beta 58 is the closest sounding dynamic to any condenser microphone you could possibly want. Condenser microphones have no place on small stages, in small environments, in small clubs. Feedback from reflections are too great in those scenarios. That's why dynamic microphones make sense since they know is provide better gain before feedback. You won't find that in the condenser microphone even intended for live. Sure it might have a hyper cardioid pattern but it's still going to pick up more of what you don't want. Maybe all you really need is a limiter for your Beta 58? How about a little high pass filtering? Ya know, the switch you find on the condenser microphones but not on that dynamic microphone. Try a Sennheiser 421. It's like holding something completely different.

    The 421 has a five position low-cut filter. Use it.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  11. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Na, condensers work awesome Remy, but you need a few things in the bag before you can pull them off. A really excellent band and as mentioned before, great equipment and sound engineers who know how to mix the PA and the console are paramount. I certainly wouldn't use one for vocals in a head banger band, loud Rock, loud stage, but for high end, nothing like them. SM58 are mud compared, but they are also excellent for head banger bands and people who are able to eat them. SM58 and similar clones are great for the norm and take eq well.. Either aren't for everyone or every type of production or singer but I wouldn't make a blanket statement like they don't belong on a live stage.. Condenser's sound incredible in my hand and other people I've produced on stage.

    I wouldn't hesitate to use my 4011's

    No disrespect towards your SM58 but I don't think Sting would settle for anything less than stellar. Here is a Testimonial of a 6 condensers. My vocals sounded quite like this night after night. :)

  12. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    No matter which you choose, you will have to take extra care to keep a condenser mic from road perils like condensation and even excessive moisture from your breath. Especially when you take a swig of - whatever it is you like to take a swig of - and then scream directly into the mic. That kind of behavoir puts a lot of water vapor into that element.

    audiokid, to me the Boss VE-20 raises a red flag that he may not have a great sound engineer.

    The 441 is a silky smooth dynamic, that has a condenser-mic sound. It's a shame their shape doesn't lend itself to handheld vocal. It's a great stage and studio mic - love them on a guitar amp that has good tone.
  13. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Hi Dave, agree but I am more just shooting the sheeat with Remy and doing some devils advocate here :) She is fun to roll with. coochy coochy coo.

    Thanks for commenting. I agree. And he also mentioned handheld and this poses another threat thus, making a dynamic the better choice for this app. We never moved them off the mounts.

    But is that DPA D:Facto a dynamic? DPA's site has been producing errors on my end. Can't get more info. But I would wait and check that out because... everything DPA makes IMO is stellar.
  14. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Found it, just for our own info, sorry to derail this topic a bit but it is interesting. I'm quite intrigued over this new DFacto so I finally found a page with some more info on it. It is a condenser but a hand held with features normally found in a dynamic. Its looks amazing. So it does fit the bill! :


    DPA Microphones :: DPA launches d:facto
  15. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    OK so I have a couple condenser microphones that I wouldn't mind using outside even if it rained. Let the rain pour on them. It poured on them for about 10 years or so already. They only weigh about 20 pounds each. They are B & K microphones, Originally mounted on telephone poles and designed to measure the SPL of different types of ordnance detonations, jet engines and such. With a plastic nose cone, a desiccant container and something like a 128 V power supply was something like 148 DB SPL. With a protective crystalline coating on the diaphragm. And of course they are Omni directional. They're just too heavy to lug around everywhere. I mean this is like over 40 pounds for one pair of microphones. They're equipped with Larson Davis capsules strangely enough. Even though they are B & K microphones. Larson Davis must've been the lower bidder for the replacement capsules. These were government units. That is until nearly 20 years ago or so maybe more? I used them at both the Austrian & French embassies here in Washington DC to record Marilyn Cotlow. This lousy old Metropolitan Opera singer from the late 1940s I refer to as mom. And a few other jobs with these bizarre monsters. Nothing you can ask to put on any mic stand. Chairs work well. Portable basketball nets are good for mounting LOL. I don't have any though. Foldout chairs are so much easier. You rest them on the back of the chair and tilt them in the general direction LOL. I would want to refill the desiccant containers if I were to use them outside again. Oh and I removed the nose cones. Only because I wouldn't want anybody to stick this 3 1/2 foot long microphone somewhere where it shouldn't go. I wanted to make it look a little more uncomfortable. So now they just sort of look like B & K microphones, again. With a 10 pound preamplifier at the base of its three foot-long stainless steel neck. So this would do a nice job. I wouldn't worry about anybody hurting these microphones. I'd be more worried about someone being hurt by these microphones LOL. I think you could have a linebacker tackle these things and it would break them? The linebackers. Certainly not these. Ouch. So yeah condenser microphones will work just fine. Of course none of the B & K microphones/DPA microphones are true condenser microphones. They are all electret. And that's about really the only type of condenser microphone you want to use outdoors.

    True condenser microphones can be extremely sensitive to humidity. It really changes the way they sound. I've actually had some vocalists work some 67/87's so close to the capsule, that their breath was so heavy in humidity that the capsule would fade out almost. I've seen capsules with so much horrible junk on them, they're disgusting. These things are electrostatic air cleaners. And the electret type doesn't suffer quite in the same way. Today those mostly just deteriorate from age. Fairly indestructible today. Not so for the Japanese zero pilots when they were first really used. There microphones would keep dying on them because of humidity in their voice. And that's why it's safer to use an Omni directional dynamic microphone. You know it's going to work even through a hurricane. And that would be a really cool way to record a marching band. Let's go to Florida!

    Last one to Key West is a rotten crab.
    Mx. Remy Ann David

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