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Microphone for live work for soft voice

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Microphone for live work for soft voice

Postby Tristan Jove » Tue Mar 20, 2012 11:07 am

Hello,
does anyone have any recommendations for a live microphone that would help me project my voice. I have a soft, airy, pure voice. I currently use an SM58, which is adequate, but I'm wondering if there is another microphone which has more output or punch, which can help me place my sound forward when the band is playing loud, especially over loud distorted guitars and drums.
Thanks,
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Re: Microphone for live work for soft voice

Postby Mike Stranks » Tue Mar 20, 2012 12:12 pm

... and your budget is...?

... and do you mix yourselves or connect to a sound-system with operator?
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Re: Microphone for live work for soft voice

Postby James Perrett » Tue Mar 20, 2012 3:14 pm

The Audix OM7 has a reputation for being the best mic for bringing out quiet voices in a noisy environment.

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Re: Microphone for live work for soft voice

Postby Guy Johnson » Tue Mar 20, 2012 7:26 pm

And another stalwart for feedback rejection and fuller sound is the Heil PR35 though its new look is horrible; I suppose the sound is the same.
JUst for a change I used some PR35s on fiddles, banjo and bazouki, and all sounded nicer than normal with a ceilidh band in a smallish room.
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Re: Microphone for live work for soft voice

Postby Bob Bickerton » Tue Mar 20, 2012 7:42 pm

As James has said the OM7 is one of the best mics for feedback rejection, but you didn't mention feedback as being a problem.

Whilst the OM7 may help, you will have to work it on the lips, so you may have to change your mic technique.

So are you having difficulty getting enough level before feedback to hear yourself in the monitors, or is the on stage sound over powering your vocals through the front of house?

If your voice is not carrying over the onstage sound you may need to address your vocal technique or get the band to play down. Ultimately the mic needs to 'hear' more of your voice than the band. A tight patterned microphones worked on the lips may help.

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Re: Microphone for live work for soft voice

Postby SparkyG » Wed Mar 21, 2012 7:35 am

Look at the line 6 wireless mic. It has models on it so you can change setting to suit voices. I think mine is great for me, I used Sm58 b, om5 and sennseiser e865 before. This is certainly better and I use the line 6 own Model.

Good luck.
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Re: Microphone for live work for soft voice

Postby Tartaruga » Wed Mar 21, 2012 9:40 am

For a ‘constructed’ solution,I would advise you to make some measurements of your voice frequencies.Probably someone can help you with this,and analyse the frequencies that your voice work in(spectrum analyser).
That way,you can choose the mic that better suits your voice.
We did that with a friend singer,it happened that the Sennheiser 421 was the perfect one for the job.He was very happy with it,and carries it every time he has a gig.Suddenly,it was easier for him to ‘sit’ in the mix.He’s also happy to arrive at the sound check and tell the front man:’I have my own mic’...
Plus,it looks good,in front of your fellow musicians,to carry ‘something’,even if you’re the singer ;-b !
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Re: Microphone for live work for soft voice

Postby BWSE » Wed Mar 21, 2012 11:13 pm

Like the poster above mentioned, it's all about what maths your voice.

As an addition to your 'to audition' list though, I would like to point you into the direction of Shure's Beta 87 series. There's 2 versions of it and whenever I have encountered quiet singers in Bands I have worked for, they have worked particularly well. But like others have mentioned before, how important is feedback rejection? You won't be able to get the same 'gain before feedback' with this series. (Another flavour would be a sm86, which I have found to work well on quiet male vocals).
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Re: Microphone for live work for soft voice

Postby ef37a » Thu Mar 22, 2012 1:20 am

If you checkout the new SoS microphone guide you will find that most of the dynamics from AKG, Sennheiser and Prodipe are some 6dB more sensitive than the stalwart Shure 50's.

And dare I suggest an AKG Perception 170? They are somewhat road hardened capacitor mics, assuming of course you have phantom power available?

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Re: Microphone for live work for soft voice

Postby grab » Thu Mar 22, 2012 9:21 am

For our band, I've got a few stage condensors. The Peavey CM1 is quite a shrill mic and can be very good for extra cutting-through quality.

I wouldn't recommend stage condensors on a loud stage - they sound great, but gain before feedback is usually an issue.
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Re: Microphone for live work for soft voice

Postby Scramble » Thu Mar 22, 2012 9:28 am

>I wouldn't recommend stage condensors on a loud stage - they sound great, but gain before feedback is usually an issue.

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Re: Microphone for live work for soft voice

Postby ef37a » Thu Mar 22, 2012 9:58 am

grab wrote:For our band, I've got a few stage condensors. The Peavey CM1 is quite a shrill mic and can be very good for extra cutting-through quality.

I wouldn't recommend stage condensors on a loud stage - they sound great, but gain before feedback is usually an issue.

The AKG P170 has a 20dB pad which might seem daft to use but I bet the sensitivty is still higher than a 58 and you retain the smooth response that has always been one of the prime requirements for beating feedback.

Back in the day, the top men in sound reinforcement said that omnis gave better gain before ring than directional mics! I know that is counter-intuitive but there was some math to back it up. I doubt anyone would bother to try the idea out today and anyway the cardiod conquers all these days.

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Re: Microphone for live work for soft voice

Postby ef37a » Thu Mar 22, 2012 12:56 pm

Well didn't do a lot of stage and 'twas a long time ago but you just can't win with SR!

I had about 6 mics set out nicely around a conference table to reinforce and record an AGM via a hired in A&H mixer. All was going swimmingly until we got to the treasurer and the bugger stood up! AND he was about 9feet tall and spoke like Bob Harris!

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Re: Microphone for live work for soft voice

Postby tacitus » Thu Mar 22, 2012 2:29 pm

Well, that's treasurers for you, Dave. They work on the principle that we don't really care what happens to the money as long as it's somebody else's problem.

On a more serious note, I played in a band with quiet vocalists and we failed miserably with 58s and similar mics but did really well with Beyer M201s. I've sworn by them ever since. My own impression re the omni situation is that sound levels are quite a bit higher nowadays and the maths would involve actually swallowing the mic to get it close enough. (Notice I put 'maths' in that last sentence, but before you think I've actually done any, it's a wild guess, really).
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Re: Microphone for live work for soft voice

Postby grab » Thu Mar 22, 2012 3:22 pm

My Senn e835s do/did a nice job. A bit more prone to feedback than an SM58, but much better suited to female and high male voices. (The e840 is also cardioid, sounds almost the same and rejects off-axis noise better.) In comparison to the stage condensers they're a bit grainy, but not bad at all.

These days they get more use for guitar amps - they're really nice when you don't need that extra boost in the high-mids from an SM57's peaky response. Still use them for vocals on gigs where I don't want to risk the condensers though.

I've never had a chance to try Audix vocal mics though, so I couldn't comment on which is better.
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Re: Microphone for live work for soft voice

Postby Bob Bickerton » Thu Mar 22, 2012 9:50 pm

grab wrote:My Senn e835s do/did a nice job. A bit more prone to feedback than an SM58, but much better suited to female and high male voices. (The e840 is also cardioid, sounds almost the same and rejects off-axis noise better.) In comparison to the stage condensers they're a bit grainy, but not bad at all.

These days they get more use for guitar amps - they're really nice when you don't need that extra boost in the high-mids from an SM57's peaky response. Still use them for vocals on gigs where I don't want to risk the condensers though.

I've never had a chance to try Audix vocal mics though, so I couldn't comment on which is better.

Out of the vocal mics I have (sm58, e840, e845, e935, km105, n/d767, n/d967, re410, re510, om7) and those that I've tried (beta58, beta57, e835) the om7 is way ahead of the rest in terms of feedback rejection - no question. However it's not the nicest sounding mic, I'd give that to the km105, but also e845, n/d767, re510, depending on voice.

I think a live vocal mic shoot out by SOS would be a handy thing, given there's so much available these days.

Unfortunately we haven't yet heard back from the OP regarding what the actual problem is: feedback or getting the vocal above stage sound.

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Re: Microphone for live work for soft voice

Postby Mike Stranks » Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:08 pm

Bob: Interesting that you rate the e845 ahead of the e840. I've read some stuff suggesting that overall the e840 is a 'better' mic. I've used the e845 a few times and really liked it, but was thinking of buying an e840 for my own stock of vocal mics because of the good reviews I've read.

So, if you can quantify the differences - apart from the pattern - I'd find that very helpful.

Thanks. M
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Re: Microphone for live work for soft voice

Postby Bob Bickerton » Fri Mar 23, 2012 3:47 am

Mike Stranks wrote:Bob: Interesting that you rate the e845 ahead of the e840. I've read some stuff suggesting that overall the e840 is a 'better' mic. I've used the e845 a few times and really liked it, but was thinking of buying an e840 for my own stock of vocal mics because of the good reviews I've read.

So, if you can quantify the differences - apart from the pattern - I'd find that very helpful.

Thanks. M

I was unsure about the e845 to begin with, it's quite subject to popping, but I solved this by inserting a piece of foam from a spare Rycote studio pop filter behind the grill. Since then I've warmed to it a lot more and on certain voices it sounds fantastic. In fact, it has a resemblance to the km105, so very open up top. The e840 is more of a standard stage mic with reasonable cut, but not as grainy as a beta58. It's all to do with matching to the voice. My latest acquisition is an EV N/D767, which has a studio conderish top end lift, but I need to use it some more before I firm up an opinion. Still like the RE510 on my own voice.

What mics do you have currently as it would be good to complement those.

Too many mics, too little time..............

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Re: Microphone for live work for soft voice

Postby Tristan Jove » Fri Mar 23, 2012 12:49 pm

Thanks for all these responses people.
My problem is both. I want my sound to cut and project better, but if I turn the mic up too much then feedback starts. Making the band play softer is impossible- they're musicians, you know. And if I sing harder, I lose the distinctive sound of my soft airy voice which is why I got the gig in the first place.
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Re: Microphone for live work for soft voice

Postby ef37a » Fri Mar 23, 2012 1:30 pm

Err? Hang on. "Soft, airy voice, loud backing band".

Something of a musicalogical paradox going on there surely?

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Re: Microphone for live work for soft voice

Postby Dave K » Fri Mar 23, 2012 1:31 pm

Tristan Jove wrote: And if I sing harder, I lose the distinctive sound of my soft airy voice which is why I got the gig in the first place.

Then I seroulsy suggest you get some lessons - "sing harder" is not what you need to do - that will cerftainly have effect you are getting. It is perfectly possible (and I speak from experience) to produce more level without losing the soft airy quality if you know the correct technique. Fix the problem at source!
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Re: Microphone for live work for soft voice

Postby Tristan Jove » Fri Mar 23, 2012 1:49 pm

The music is a bit like The Stone Roses- with a distorted guitar and rock drums, and a soft voice. I believe that I sing with good technique- I've had classical and speech level singing training- my natural sound, with good breath control, is a bit like Ian Brown or Art Garfunkel. I just wondered if there was a mic which could help me a bit more than my old SM58.
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Re: Microphone for live work for soft voice

Postby tacitus » Fri Mar 23, 2012 2:07 pm

Just because they're 'musicians' is no reason to accept them playing TOO loud. Some of it might be necessary, but real musicians don't blow heads off at rehearsal and don't go any louder at gigs than they need to to get the result they want. I've been through all this with bands where the vox is struggling to be heard against insensitive players - yes, some things need to be loud, but not all the time, usually not in rehearsal and definitely not to the detriment of overall balance.

As I posted earlier Beyer M201s worked well for us in this general situation, but we gave the vocals a much easier ride as the beginners settled down and began to hear what they were doing a bit better. Also, as this particular band gigged more (it started out as a sort of 'community rock band', more for rehearsing than playing out), players got a bit of the heat out of their systems and we were able to rehearse quieter, and, joy of joys, get a bit of light and shade into the gigs, too.

So it's not all down to the PA, but you obviously need help there. Changing the mic is only one of many things you can do - EQ is there for a reason, so that might help; spending more time tweaking the PA (both for rehearsal and gigs) is time well spent and in my experience doesn't get done enough; it's important to find a way of rehearsing that lets you hear and see each other well but doesn't leave you adrift when you adopt your stage line-up. And I assume you've got the huitar cabs where the guitarists can hear them instead of flapping their trousers with them?

Sorry if all this is obvious stuff you've done already but there's so much more to sounding good than switching gear about, important though that may be. And if you're on board for your light and airy voice, it would be a shame to lose it to guitar thuggery (if thats the case).

Another thing which I've found - and this is more to do with classical type music than rock, but I believe it still applies - is what I call 'The Ratchet'. This is based on the premise that most of us (me included!) are better at getting louder than at getting softer. So if you're doing pieces with actual dynamics, the louder bits get louder faster than the softer bits get softer. Even if you're not playing dynamics much within each song, it still tends to apply to the set as a whole. It's one of the hardest things to deal with and it can get really bad on stage because of the extra adrenalin sloshing about. Given the choice, I program a couple of less frantic pieces about two-thirds of the way through a set, but playing for dancing makes this harder to plan. If I'm conducting classical type music I can stop the band and reset the volume, but this is quite hard for a band to do on its own, although as singer you might be able to notice and then alert the band. Sometimes, often even, bands don't realise what's happening
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Re: Microphone for live work for soft voice

Postby Scramble » Fri Mar 23, 2012 2:08 pm

Kerry Minnear (the keyboardist) had this problem with Gentle Giant when singing his sections live, as he had a soft voice. You won't like the solution though -- the lead singer (Derek Shulman) sang those bits live instead.

I expect your on-stage levels are too loud. But that's the topic of 100 other hair-pulling threads.
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Re: Microphone for live work for soft voice

Postby grab » Fri Mar 23, 2012 2:14 pm

it's important to find a way of rehearsing that lets you hear and see each other well but doesn't leave you adrift when you adopt your stage line-up


Which is why with my band, we always practise lined up as we would be on stage - we only do "everyone-in-a-circle" practises when we have a completely new song which we need to figure out. This came from bitter experience a couple of gigs in, when we found that one of our songs was relying on a cue from the drummer, and of course at the gig we were all facing front and couldn't see the drummer...
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Re: Microphone for live work for soft voice

Postby ef37a » Fri Mar 23, 2012 2:25 pm

grab wrote:
it's important to find a way of rehearsing that lets you hear and see each other well but doesn't leave you adrift when you adopt your stage line-up


Which is why with my band, we always practise lined up as we would be on stage - we only do "everyone-in-a-circle" practises when we have a completely new song which we need to figure out. This came from bitter experience a couple of gigs in, when we found that one of our songs was relying on a cue from the drummer, and of course at the gig we were all facing front and couldn't see the drummer...

Couple of shaving mirrors?

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Re: Microphone for live work for soft voice

Postby James Perrett » Fri Mar 23, 2012 4:04 pm

Scramble wrote:Kerry Minnear (the keyboardist) had this problem with Gentle Giant when singing his sections live, as he had a soft voice. You won't like the solution though -- the lead singer (Derek Shulman) sang those bits live instead.

I expect your on-stage levels are too loud. But that's the topic of 100 other hair-pulling threads.

Since we're talking about old Pompey bands...

Alison Shaw of Cranes has a very quiet voice yet her brother, Jim, pounds the drums pretty hard just behind her on stage. I know their sound engineer fairly well and it was him that introduced me to the Audix mics. He swears by the OM7 on her voice and reckons it is the only mic he's used that gives him sufficient gain before feedback.

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Re: Microphone for live work for soft voice

Postby grab » Fri Mar 23, 2012 5:33 pm

ef37a wrote:Couple of shaving mirrors?

God, I don't want to have to "mirror-signal-manoevre" on stage!
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Re: Microphone for live work for soft voice

Postby Bob Bickerton » Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:11 pm

What they said - but by all means try the OM7, it's the mic that will get you more gain before feedback, but you must work it at the lips!

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Re: Microphone for live work for soft voice

Postby Zan Man » Mon Apr 02, 2012 4:40 pm

Looking at getting a new mic ot two myself, and the OM7 is on the list. However, being "close to the lips" is not always possible, with (for instance) an energetic lead guitarist that is also the lead vocalist that, in pursuit of his art, will move away from the mic whilst playing / singing. Just how close does it have to be to have a sufficient level at the mixer trim pot? Is it because of a low sensitivity that the feedback rejection is as good as they claim? Stages we sometimes provide equipment for are often very reflective (we always ask for those venues to put some dampening material up, and are met with "it will be done by the next time you're here", and invariably never is) so the feedback rejection is paramount. Does anyone have both a Beta 58 and an OM7 for an owners opinion? Or one of the Beyers? We use their TG mics on the drums and have been very happy with the sound out of them. Loud stages are the norm too, despite repeated attempts of asking them to quieten it the backline levels seem to creep up and we do have a few "can I have some more me!" vocalists as well. The OM7 was looking favourite until I read about vocalists having to be close. Just how close?
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