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Do I Need New Microphones?

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Do I Need New Microphones?

Postby mpsjazz » Fri May 03, 2019 10:28 am

Right now, I'm not too happy with any of my microphones. So have they become too insensitive, or have I become too sensitive? Perhaps they were never good enough for my application in the first place. I wonder if there is a scientific way to test their performance?

My main mics are:-
Sennheiser e845S
Sennheiser e815S
Shure Unisphere dual impedance
AKG clip mic

I'd like to settle on a mic for my trumpet and a mic for vocals, mainly for small gigs. In the last few years I've used the e845S for both applications, mixing the mic for my voice and then playing the trumpet into it from some tricky angles to make the sound darker and softer. I don't think it's a very professional solution, and having worked very hard on my trumpet sound recently, I want to get the technical side right too.

I read in forums and reviews that the e845S is great for vocals (as good or better than the SM58) and not bad for brass, but mine sounds dull and lacking in power. Before singing, I always need to whack up the treble and volume on any mixer and reduce the mids. Maybe it's my voice or my ears, or maybe it's my mic begging for retirement. Any opinions? Suggestions for alternative mics are welcome. I do need robust stage mics, and I'm reluctant to spend more than €200 on a single mic at the moment, particularly since I'll probably have to purchase online without testing many mics. I hope I can keep using my e845S a bit longer for one of the two applications.

For trumpet I'm considering Audix iE, Sennheiser E 602 II and Shure Beta 57A. Supposedly, all of these are good for brass and have an SPL of at least >140dB. Or maybe I can use my e845S (>150dB) for my trumpet, just mixing it better, and only buy a new vocal mic.

For vocals I'm considering the Shure Beta 57A and the Shure SM58. Looking at reviews, the former might be better for my voice, which is not very loud and seems to need plenty of treble, but the warmth of the SM58 is so appealing. It's funny how I keep hearing that everything else is better than the SM58, and yet it always sounds so friendly to me. Maybe it's because it shelters mediocre singers like me!

Advice would be appreciated.
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Re: Do I Need New Microphones?

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri May 03, 2019 12:33 pm

Where do you live? If there is a dealer not too far away it really would be worth making an appointment to try several mics as the ones you have are decent mics. Only you can decide what works for you. On the plus side £200 (or less) should get you something first class.

Alternatively, if a visit too a dealer really is impossible, buying mail order means you can return the ones that don't work for you.
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Re: Do I Need New Microphones?

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Fri May 03, 2019 1:25 pm

Unless there's something physically broken with a mic, the chances are it's more to do with how you're using it. The differences between a very expensive mic and an OK one (eg around £100, say) are not normally so great that you'll need to make huge eq changes on a mixer as you describe. If you know what you're doing you can get very pleasing results with quite basic mics. Similarly, the differences between an sm57 and sm58 are very small in practice. The term 'warmth' is mostly marketing bollocks, and both will work excellently on most sources, especially live.

I trust you have your gain staging organised on your mixer? ie you have correctly set the input level before 'whacking up the treble' etc? And don't forget what they call the proximity effect. With cardioid pickup mics (and I note the 845s0 is hyper cardioid) you get a lot of extra bass if you get too close. Perhaps this is part of your problem when singing?

And of course using the same mic for vocals and trumpet at the same time is bound to cause massive issues simply because of the sheer volume the trumpet puts out in comparison to your voice. No single mic can solve this problem, you need to use one mic set up for your voice, another set up for the trumpet.
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Re: Do I Need New Microphones?

Postby djangodeadman » Fri May 03, 2019 4:57 pm

Of the mics you mention, both the e845s and the Beta 57 have super-cardioid polar patterns and are pretty good at rejecting off-axis sound, which may have an impact on how you would use them with a trumpet, although it doesn't necessarily mean that they are not suitable for the job.

The e602 ii is designed for bass instruments. I really like it as a kick drum mic and it is apparently very good on bass guitar and tuba too. The tuba aside, I'm not sure how good it would be on other brass instruments, including trumpet.

I don't know of the Audix iE, but if you mean the i5, it is often used in similar applications to the Shure SM57 and, in my experience, both work perfectly adequately on trumpets. Both are also well within your budget and are robust (the i5 a little more so than the 57, I would say), although wiser heads than mine, with more experience of trumpets in live applications, will no doubt be able to offer better alternatives.

I must say, I'm a little surprised that you find yourself having to add lots of top to your e845s. That's not a criticism, merely an observation based on my experience of the e845.
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Re: Do I Need New Microphones?

Postby djangodeadman » Fri May 03, 2019 4:59 pm

Dr Huge Longjohns wrote:And of course using the same mic for vocals and trumpet at the same time is bound to cause massive issues simply because of the sheer volume the trumpet puts out in comparison to your voice. No single mic can solve this problem, you need to use one mic set up for your voice, another set up for the trumpet.

Or stand well back from the mic when playing trumpet, of course.
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Re: Do I Need New Microphones?

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri May 03, 2019 6:03 pm

The problem with that is the change in timbre caused by the difference in proximity effect, little in the case of the trumpet and lots when singing close up. If, coincidentally, the trumpet needs a lot less bottom than the voice then it may work but my gut feeling is that the opposite would be more likely.
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Re: Do I Need New Microphones?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Fri May 03, 2019 9:39 pm

Given the situation you describe you would be better to run two separate and optimised channels, one for voice and one for trumpet. I’d avoid a clip-on microphone for the trumpet, as that gives you options to work the trumpet microphone.

I prefer a good dynamic on trumpet like the Beyer M201 - a little over your budget. In your budget range I’d go for the Audix i5.

Regarding vocals you may find the e845 fine if you spend time eqing it to your voice. There’s a huge range of stage vocal mics out there and whilst the SM58 may be the perfect mic for your voice it rarely sees light of day here. Selection of polar pattern is dependent on factors such as bleed from other sources on stage and monitor levels and placement. If you’re happy to ‘eat’ the mic and stage levels are high the Audix OM7 could be a good choice. My go to stage vocal mic these days is the Beyer M69.

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Re: Do I Need New Microphones?

Postby Tim Gillett » Sat May 04, 2019 4:51 am

Sam Spoons wrote:The problem with that is the change in timbre caused by the difference in proximity effect, little in the case of the trumpet and lots when singing close up. If, coincidentally, the trumpet needs a lot less bottom than the voice then it may work but my gut feeling is that the opposite would be more likely.

Yes, the combination of the close miced quiet voice and the distant miced loud trumpet, already bright, used on the same stage vocal mic is going to be very difficult to balance tonally. Proximity effect strikes yet again? I agree with Huge the particular stage vocal mic make and model is not really the issue here but the incompatibility of the two "instruments" on the one mic.

I would consider a clip on mic for the trumpet. The fact that the mic cant be "worked" is balanced by the fact that the trumpet is always "on mic" and the player is now free to move around and wave the trumpet in whatever direction he chooses, without any change in amplified tone, but that's a choice of course.
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Re: Do I Need New Microphones?

Postby John Willett » Sat May 04, 2019 12:30 pm

The Sennheiser MD 421 is excellent for brass instruments (and the Sax) and is also a very good vocal mic. :thumbup:
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Re: Do I Need New Microphones?

Postby John Willett » Sun May 05, 2019 9:54 am

mpsjazz wrote:Do I Need New Microphones?

Yes - you always need more microphones. ;)
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Re: Do I Need New Microphones?

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun May 05, 2019 10:43 am

Spoken like a true microphone salesman :bouncy:
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Re: Do I Need New Microphones?

Postby John Willett » Sun May 05, 2019 11:22 am

Sam Spoons wrote:Spoken like a true microphone salesman :bouncy:

Hence the winky :D

But - on microphones - as microphones are a mature techno;logy, you should always get the very best you can afford.

Buy wisely and you should never have to buy again.

I have done this from when I started and I still have every microphone I ever bought (except my very first pair) and would happily use any of them.

Buy cheap and you will have to buy again at a later date.

Same with loudspeakers.

What you have to be very careful with is software and anything that is based on computer technology - with these you have to buy carefully as in a very few years time you will be able to get something "twice as good at half the price" so your payback time is very short.

With a microphone or loudspeaker, the payback time is decades.

EG: I have microphones I bought in the mid 1980s when they were about £350 each - they are still current microphones that you can buy today, but now the price is approaching £2k each. I could sell mine s/h for vastly more than I paid for them.
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Re: Do I Need New Microphones?

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun May 05, 2019 11:40 am

No criticism intended JW (hence the :bouncy: )

All the above is excellent advice, as always. I too still have almost all of the decent mics I have owned (including a couple of AKG C451/CK1s and a Calrec) and have only ever sold budget ones when upgrading.
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Re: Do I Need New Microphones?

Postby Arpangel » Tue May 07, 2019 6:49 am

John Willett wrote:The Sennheiser MD 421 is excellent for brass instruments (and the Sax) and is also a very good vocal mic. :thumbup:

I'll second that John, in fact, it's my number one all time desert island microphone, you can get endless "different" mic's, but this will do most of the time, it's especially good for female vocals.
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Re: Do I Need New Microphones?

Postby Mike Stranks » Tue May 07, 2019 2:59 pm

John Willett wrote:... I still have every microphone I ever bought (except my very first pair)...

... and the one you sold to me...
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Re: Do I Need New Microphones?

Postby Watchmaker » Tue May 07, 2019 3:32 pm

John Willett wrote:
mpsjazz wrote:Do I Need New Microphones?

Yes - you always need more microphones. ;)

Indeed. In fact I can think of 5 right off the bat that I need.
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Re: Do I Need New Microphones?

Postby Aural Reject » Tue May 07, 2019 3:33 pm

Watchmaker wrote:
John Willett wrote:
mpsjazz wrote:Do I Need New Microphones?

Yes - you always need more microphones. ;)

Indeed. In fact I can think of 5 right off the bat that I need.

Only 5? :p
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Re: Do I Need New Microphones?

Postby John Willett » Wed May 08, 2019 4:29 pm

Mike Stranks wrote:
John Willett wrote:... I still have every microphone I ever bought (except my very first pair)...

... and the one you sold to me...

Oh yes - but I won that one in a competition, so didn't actually buy it ;)

I never used it - It was an excellent mic. for the price, but I didn't need it.
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Re: Do I Need New Microphones?

Postby ConcertinaChap » Wed May 08, 2019 5:11 pm

John Willett wrote:Oh yes - but I won that one in a competition, so didn't actually buy it

Winning a mic in a competition? I thought that was illegal under the Small Desirable Items - Unrealistic Expectations Act of 1932!

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Re: Do I Need New Microphones?

Postby blinddrew » Wed May 08, 2019 5:23 pm

Actually I won a mic in a song-writing competition a couple of years ago - an AKG D5 in my case. Nothing fancy but better than the previous mic our drummer was using. :)
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