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live vocal mic

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by robertmetal, Dec 16, 2005.

  1. robertmetal

    robertmetal Guest

    hello, im a singer in loud metal/rock bands but i actually sing not shout or scream so my voice isnt shout level loud. im looking around for a good vocal mic for live use. i owned a shure beta 58 sometime ago but sold it because although it did cut through a loud mix it sometimes sounded a little shrill or brittle on the top end. i also own a sennheiser e845 and it sounds quite good but it doesnt cut through a really loud mix. i need a mic that basically makes my job easier as a singer so it has to cut through a loud mix so i dont have to strain to be heard. i have a few mics in mind the sennheiser e935 which is supposed to be designed to cut through a loud mix but its a cardiod pickup so i might get bleed. also the senn.e945(supercardiod) audio-technica ae6100 and audix om5 and om6 (though ive never demoed any audix stuff)

    any suggestions?

  2. MilesAway

    MilesAway Guest

    perhaps turning the rest of the band down?

    ... hate to sound like a smart-ass but if a Beta58 isn't getting the job done, the issue *probably* isn't with the microphone :roll:
  3. Jeremy

    Jeremy Active Member

    I am a fan of the Audix lines of mics, although I dont know if they would alow you to "cut through" the way you seem to want. Venue, and venue equipment has alot to do with getting the vocalist louder, and still remain clean. Lets face it, getting vocals above drums, guitar, and bass in a somewhat smaller venue is very tough, especially, when the guitars and bass start trying to fight to get over a drum set too. Start with getting the drummer to try to hush his kit down a little bit, and keep as much tone as he can, this will potentially, free up some space for your vocals. On another note, maybe getting a really good preamp, designed more for vocals could help with getting this lead vocal mic out front a little more.
  4. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    try a classic '58 :)
  5. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    Not necessarily true at all.. every voice is different, and it is important to find a mic that fits it well. The classic SM58 is so ubiquitous for a good reason: it suits a wider range of voices than any other mic of its type, includng the beta 58 IMO.
  6. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    I'd be inclined to think that if none of those mics are getting the job done, it's probably an EQ issue.
  7. MilesAway

    MilesAway Guest

    Fair enough, but IME doing live-sound, if there's a problem hearing the vocals, it's almost *always* because the rest of the band is *way* too loud... not because of the microphone-choice.

    Back to the original poster: Often, simply side-washing the guitar amps will be enough to balance the FOH for a vocal-friendly mix. It'll also get your guitarists to turn down in a hurry when those 4x12's are pointed at the band-members and not the audiance!
    Anything that gives the sound-guy more control is a good thing!
  8. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Stop kidding yourself; the mix is bad, and someone (everyone?) is playing too loud when you sing. Start with putting the amp cabs at the guitarists' HEAD or chest level, or at least tilting them up that way, on road cases. You'll be amazed at how they suddenly get on line in terms of realisitic levels. Most guitarists want to hear (and feel) themselves full-on, in a complete mind-numbing wash. Putting the amps at their head level will do this nicely, it might even lower your overall stage level, and let your FOH and Monitor mix guy have a little room to mix.

    Ditto for anyone else who's got their amps too far away from their instrument. Let 'em hear exactly what they're playing, and how loudly they're playing, and things will improve dramatically.

    I agree about the mic choices, too. If a beta or regular SM58 isn't cutting it, and if you can't find something similar with an Audix or AT, maybe the problem isn't the mic. "Cutting through" a bad mix is a bit of a desperate concept anyway, isn't it? What about finding the right mic that fits YOUR VOICE and YOUR SOUND? What about getting you band to allow you to be heard during verses and choruses? It's something called respect and professionalism. Who wants to hear a band that's constantly blasting away at "Solo" levels? That's mind-numbing after 10 minutes. They need to develop the concept of playing at one level during vocal passages, and another at insturmental breaks, solos, etc. (It's called: Playing as an ensemble. Far too many amatuers think this is the job of the sound guy. NOT SO at all.)

    I think that's way more important that trying to find a "flame thrower" to obliterate everything else onstage and in the mix. A good mic is an accurate mic, with plenty of gain before feedback, but that only goes so far.

    FWIW, I happened to catch "Fireball Ministry" last night on Carson Daly's show. Full disclosure: I am not a metal-head fan by any means, and I'm way too old to be chasing the "new big thing" in that industry. (I make my living recording acoustic music, for the most part nowadays.) I LOVED this band; they were tight, dead on, and althought I"m sure they were good and loud, they knew how to play, and how to let each person (including the sound guy) do their jobs.

    The vocal (which I THINK was an SM58 - wasn't really checking at the time) cut through perfectly - thanks to the guy doing the broadcast mix, as did the rest of the instruments - all of them in their place sonically. Whoever did the mix for broadcast knew how to get the most punch out of each instrument, from bass to drums to guitars & vocs. It really rocked, without sounding completely smashed together, as well. Never had a problem hearing what they were singing, and never lost sight of the sound they were after: Vocals, guitars, bass/drums, in that order.

    And, as I recall, they each had tall stacks behind them, at least as high as each of them, double cabs (almost comically tall, actually, but they could each hear themselves, I'm very sure.)

    Let me put it this way: I"M GOING TO BUY THEIR CD BECAUSE OF THIS APPEARANCE, and specifically because of their GREAT sound on the show, including the vocals. The CD may suck anyway, but I was literally cranking my stereo up (at 2 a.m.) and enjoying the HELL out of this silly-stoopid moment from (of all things!) network television.
  9. pmolsonmus

    pmolsonmus Well-Known Member

    To answer your original post - the guys making comments about volume and players may have never had to deal with other band members and their wants and desires or egos - solutions that they're suggesting rarely work for the long term- So....

    While their suggestions may or may not be valid, if you aren't cutting through in a way you would like, you may want to try another brand of mic. I sing with a 17 piece big band and they make a lot of sound. The only mic I am happy with when singing with this band is a Beyer M88. It's not as warm as I would like on certain pieces, but it can cut through a lot of sound - especially mid heavy stuff (trombones/saxes in my case - guitars in yours) I don't like to eq much and I find that this works great in that situation. You may want to also consider a decent inexpensive compressor and/or mic pre to help you out. The beauty of it is that it can also double as a great bass drum mic in certain circumstances.

    I think you can still find the Beyers in the mid 200 -low 300 range if you want to go that route.
  10. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    the guys making comments about volume and players may have never had to deal with other band members and their wants and desires or egos - solutions that they're suggesting rarely work for the long term- So....

    Phil, to this is I respectfully say: BULLSH*T. :wink: I'm 50 years old, and I've been in more bands than I can to remember - performing, recording, singing, and most of all surviving, and I do know a little bit of what I'm talking about here. I've also been doing live sound for nearly 30 years, as well as all the studio work I've done independently since 1988. Believe me, I know ALL about egos and marginally talented folks who use technology to fix "problems". Trust me, some things never change, esp human nature.

    Human nature also dictates that when we listen to music, we want to hear VOCALS first in any piece of music. If you can't hear what's being sung, then the point is moot. Unfortunately, far too many instrumentalists loose sight of this the moment they join a group. ("More ME in the mix!") I have met far too many of these, as I'm sure you have too. :twisted:

    It doesn't matter if you're playing balls-to-the-walls speed metal or accompanying Diana Kroll; the end result is the same: Can the audience hear what the singer is singing? If you've got band members that are too stupid or megalomaniacal to understand this, attempt to enlighten them and correct the problem, or find another band/musicians. Tough call, but that's life. (Ever wonder why some make it to the top, and others are always on the outside? This is one of those thousands of little things good serious musicians understand early in life- it's not always about THEM.)

    Technology will only do so much, same with good sound people. It's always best to solve the problem organically BEFORE forcing technology to do it for you. Something as simple as learning to play correctly, at apropriate levels in an ensemble - of any genre - is always the first goal.

    Putting a bandaid on a problem like this sometimes works, but I assue it's only a short term solution. Granted, there's always plenty of options in today's biz with mic choices, and chances are there is a good mic out there for him.

    But as most would agree here: If you're not able to cut it with a standard SM or Beta 58, it's time to resasses, from the components of the sound system itself, or what the band is doing to sabatoge the vocals.
  11. CoyoteTrax

    CoyoteTrax Well-Known Member

    Even the pro's have this issue from time to time. The last time I saw Suicidal Tendencies (yeah, I know. that was a few yrs ago) they had the same problem. The band has to work together to resolve this issue man and come to a sonic balance. Arrangement is another thing. There's gotta be room in the arrangement of the material for the frq range of the vocalist to punch through the mids the guitars produce..

    Aside from that, I'm a big fan of the EV 767 live, and the EV 967. Off axis rejection is good on both mics, they're warm with rich lows and smooth high's.
  12. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    Always useful to have one or two of those hanging around! I like mine on guitar and bass cabs too.. :)
  13. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I gotta agree . Stage volume is all about respect....for each person up there playing.

    Strict control of this aspect is the BANDS' responsibility and doing this makes everything better. The soundman is happy, the band is happy, the audience is happy, and its amazing how much better you play when dynamics actually begin to mean something and the response from this little-used aspect becomes the norm for your music.

    You can be powerful as hell with a simple single note delivered ontime with the right attitude and feeling.

    As for mics that cut....the ATM6100 is a razor of a mic. All my bandmates and I use its little brother the ATM61HE. The only mic in its pricerange that comes close as far as tone, projection, and side rejection is the OM5 Audix. We have two Beta 58's in the mic bag that never see thew light of day. The AT blows em up.
  14. pmolsonmus

    pmolsonmus Well-Known Member


    I'm not suggesting at all that you're wrong or even anyone else who gave suggestions, and I agree the situation is BS. I just haven't been in situations where that problem gets fixed - and I'm in my 40s. You can respectfully ask, you can bitch and moan, you can appeal to their greater sense of ensemble, but when push comes to shove, a loud player tends to stay a loud player regardless of what is asked of them. I would love to believe differently, but I haven't seen it.. even working with some of the "best" pro players in the area, many of whom are first call musicians, pro educators, or full-time players.
    There are players that use their ears and there are players in all genres from punk to classical that are egocentric. Many of whom are solo recording artists. It's unfortunate but a fact of life. Should the problem be handled organically - absolutely. I've run FOH in some god-awful rooms. Less is better almost always. But, by the last set and a few drinks or other vice,... it usually becomes business as usual.

    If you've uncovered some secrets please share them; my only eventual solution is to try not to work with those players if I can avoid the issue.

  15. robertmetal

    robertmetal Guest

    hi and thanks for all your posts!

    i would have to agree that the best solution would be to try and get the optimal level for all the band members at a lower volume but i have to say that i have found in my experiences with bands that it can be quite hard to get people to realise they need to turn down-some just really dont listen they seem to think its the vocalists job to turn up their voice and a p.a. is not a guitar cab, cos there comes a point of feedback! plus i know through studing singing that for contemporary styles of SINGING(thats NOT shouting, screaming ect.) the best volume to sing is a medium level as it gives you the greatest control over the voice. the other situation i have experienced is where i have had an audition with a band that have done 5 albums or so and they play REALLY loud but because im auditioning its not my place to dictate what they should be doing i.e. turn down. as for microphone choice i really do think it can make a difference as i stated before i have owned a beta 58 and it did indeed cut quite nicely(but it sounded a bit shrill, nasally and brittle sometimes so i sold it) whereas the sennheiser e845 i have doesnt seem to cut very well at all!
    i also believe that possibly the clearer a mic is the better it will cut!

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