How To Choose The Right Microphone
When it comes to choosing a microphone for live performance there are some important factors to consider.
- You need the microphone to be tough and reliable, holding up to the rigours of live performing and travelling from gig to gig.
- Ensure that it is comfortable and easy to hold whilst performing
- The mic should offer good feedback resistance
- Your microphone must have the ability to cope with high sound pressure levels (SPL)
Industry Standard Microphones
Generally, the industry standard mic of choice for stage performing has historically been dynamic microphones like the Shure SM58 as it is rugged and can handle high SPLs, as well as clumsy roadies since the diaphragm is more rigid than that of a condenser mic.
The trade-off is less response to particular frequency details, thus resulting in a less comprehensive sound than in a studio condenser vocal mic such as the Sontronics STC-2 . Hoping to combine the best of both worlds by offering studio-quality sound in a hand held stage mic, a number of manufacturers are now introducing a new generation of road-worthy condenser mics- an example of which is the Rode M3 Condenser Microphone.Vocal Microphones
Some top pop singers use relatively inexpensive dynamic microphones such as the Shure SM58 rather than condenser models, because the dynamic mic gives them a warmer, thicker and punchier sound which tends to wear better on the road. On the other hand, a breathy and intimate voice can benefit from the detailed high-end of a capacitor mic.
In most live sound systems, the drum set is miked with each drum having its own microphone. Using microphones with tight polar patterns on toms like the Shure PG56 helps to isolate the sound from each drum.
You can share a mic with more than one drum, but in this case a microphone with a much larger polar pattern is essential.
Guitar & Bass Microphones
The electric guitar is less demanding on mics because a typical guitar cab has a very limited high-frequency output. In fact, the electric guitar has sound characteristics - believe it or not - similar to the human voice. In most instances, a dynamic vocal or drum mic will do fine, the Shure SM57 being the workhorse of choice.
Directional (Cardioid) dynamic mics with a smooth, flat response and the ability to handle high SPL are good choices for horns and other brass instruments.The Sennheiser E604 microphone would be an example of a suitable choice ..
In a concert setting, it’s a good idea to use two flat-response large or small diaphragm condenser microphones. You might try one positioned 12 inches above the treble strings and the other above the lower strings. As an alternative, you may wish to try both microphones at about 8" from the hammers. Popular choices are the AKG C414 B-XLS microphones.
Just like the electric guitar the saxophone produces sounds not too dissimilar to that of the human voice which is why the response of a dynamic microphone is the preferred choice. However, a miniature condenser microphone mounted on the bell often does the trick (such as the AKG C419). The sound is fairly well distributed between the finger holes and the bell. To avoid picking up key noises saxophone mics are usually positioned in the middle of the instrument.
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5 Oct '11