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Vocal microphone question

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Vocal microphone question

Postby gsc1ugs » Tue Jul 16, 2019 4:40 pm

Whats the best vocal microphone under £150 please? As in feedback control quality etc.
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Re: Vocal microphone question

Postby AlecSp » Tue Jul 16, 2019 6:22 pm

gsc1ugs wrote:Whats the best vocal microphone under £150 please? As in feedback control quality etc.
If you look, you'll see that this question is asked regularly on every forum, and gains a plethora of responses, each with a favourite. Whilst "etc" is hardly a greatly quantifiable quality of a microphone, you've at least given an upper budget.

Decide first whether you want a cardoid response (more forgiving of poor technique) or a super/hyper-cardoid response (less forgiving of poor technique) - both with different performance characteristics. For general purpose use, I prefer cardoid - this also minimises the risk of being caught out by the HF response spike at the rear of the mic when using monitors.

Also, there's a big difference between a good mic for general purpose house use compared with a personal mic. With a personal mic, all bets are off, as a lot depends on your voice, your mic technique, your breathing, your handling, your monitoring solution. In the end, for a personal mic, there is no substitute to trying out a load of different mics.

Many will recommend the old faithful Shure SM58. They do a job, are relatively bullet-proof, but in my view, don't sound fantastic. They are at least ubiquitous.

I've settled on Sennheiser e935 as my go-to vocal mic, and have 5 of them. At the top end of your budget but, in my view, a pretty instant decent sound on most singers, need little EQ, pretty feedback resistant. A little sensitive to popping - but that's an issue with only some singers, and well worth it for me.

I spent some time with the AKG D5, which many love. I didn't. Issues with popping, slightly more severe than the e935. My biggest problem was that the super-cardoid response didn't work with a lot of people. Great when using in-ears and/or if your singer has great mic technique, though.

I've heard great things of the Lewitt MTP 550. There are a few people, who play inthe big boy world, who rave about them. I've never heard/used one, though.

Sennheiser e835 is not bad, but I'd prefer to spend the extra and get the e935.

You'll still never find a "best" mic, though. There's no such thing.
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Re: Vocal microphone question

Postby CS70 » Tue Jul 16, 2019 7:12 pm

gsc1ugs wrote:Whats the best vocal microphone under £150 please? As in feedback control quality etc.

One that costs $50 and comes with $100 worth of room treatment. :)
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Re: Vocal microphone question

Postby AlecSp » Tue Jul 16, 2019 7:33 pm

CS70 wrote:One that costs $50 and comes with $100 worth of room treatment. :)
Which, of course, begs the next question - live/studio/both? (I assumed live)
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Re: Vocal microphone question

Postby CS70 » Tue Jul 16, 2019 7:47 pm

AlecSp wrote:
CS70 wrote:One that costs $50 and comes with $100 worth of room treatment. :)
Which, of course, begs the next question - live/studio/both? (I assumed live)

Very good point, I automatically thought studio! :D
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Re: Vocal microphone question

Postby James Perrett » Tue Jul 16, 2019 8:35 pm

CS70 wrote:Very good point, I automatically thought studio! :D

Well this is the live sound section of the forum...
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Re: Vocal microphone question

Postby Bob Bickerton » Tue Jul 16, 2019 9:29 pm

He’s often asking questions about live sound applications, so let’s assume that.

I have had many types of live vocal microphones in the locker over the years. The one which excels at feedback rejection is the Audix OM7, plus its a rather good sounding mic too which suits many different vocalists. BUT you have to eat it - literally have your lips up against the grill - no working of the mic as the control required to do this is beyond most people, so you need to deliver the vocal performance you want. It’s also a little beyond your budget but that’s your choice.

I believe the OM6 is similar, so might be worth a try and is cheaper.

Of course, these mics are no substitute for sensible speaker placement, reasonable on stage sound levels and projected vocal performance - all of which should be determined before mic selection.

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Re: Vocal microphone question

Postby Dave B » Tue Jul 16, 2019 10:10 pm

gsc1ugs wrote: As in feedback control

So I'm guessing that you are moving about close to the PA and are getting feedback - yes?

If that's the case, then you have to try and decide whether you use a standard cardioid or a hyper. Both have pros and cons. If your mic technique isn't great, then a standard gives you a little more leeway and a hyper means you really have to be on-mic. But a hyper will give you a little more feedback rejection.

The good old faithful Shure SM58 (and 57 if you want a slightly less bright voicing) come in 'Beta' versions which are hyper. I tend to use these when we are in smaller venues and people are close to the PA. If you like the sound, but want a tad more rejection, they may do the trick.

(I have a strange love of the 57Beta ever since I heard a guide vocal done in a recording session with one. Sounded great and we could have lived with that.)

If you want a slightly 'fuller' voiced mic, the AKG D range are excellent vfm. We use D5s quite often for standard cardioid mics and I have a D7 as I tend to be stuck at the back where there are more drums and amps around. The D7 is really quite nice and my current favourite.

On the other hand, if you are trying to sort out feedback from on-stage wedges, then I'd be looking at other solutions than the mic first.
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Re: Vocal microphone question

Postby AlecSp » Tue Jul 16, 2019 10:10 pm

Bob Bickerton wrote:He’s often asking questions
True that!
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Re: Vocal microphone question

Postby CS70 » Tue Jul 16, 2019 10:18 pm

James Perrett wrote:
CS70 wrote:Very good point, I automatically thought studio! :D

Well this is the live sound section of the forum...

Indeed - I browse the "unread post" function so seldom have an idea which section it is. My bad :)
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Re: Vocal microphone question

Postby Mike Stranks » Tue Jul 16, 2019 10:59 pm

Until I know:

Male/female singer?
How many other vocalists?
Is this for lead or backing vocals?
Genre of music?
How good is the singer's mic technique?
On-stage levels?

... the 'best' question is impossible to answer.

So get yourself an SM58 from a proper shop (not EBay) and you'll have covered most bases to an adequate standard.
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Re: Vocal microphone question

Postby AlecSp » Wed Jul 17, 2019 1:59 am

Mike Stranks wrote:Until I know: [all these things]
... the 'best' question is impossible to answer.
And even then, there's still no "right" answer.
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Re: Vocal microphone question

Postby ef37a » Wed Jul 17, 2019 6:50 am

Been a looong time since I did PA work but I would say if you cannot get good voice projection with a 58, assuming sensible speaker placement, the rest of the band is too loud!

No matter the mic or what electronic tricks you pull, there is a limit to the "gain before ring" that you can achieve in any particular venue..THAT is your baseline band loudness. The rest of the guys cannot simply bang/widdle away with impunity!

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Re: Vocal microphone question

Postby shufflebeat » Wed Jul 17, 2019 9:24 am

Mike Stranks wrote:Until I know:

Male/female singer?
How many other vocalists?
Is this for lead or backing vocals?
Genre of music?
How good is the singer's mic technique?
On-stage levels?

... the 'best' question is impossible to answer.

So get yourself an SM58 from a proper shop (not EBay) and you'll have covered most bases to an adequate standard.

I'd add to that list, "describe your usual monitor setup". I did a band not so long ago where the vocalist was using a Laney (I think) powered 10" wedge which was massively overdriven and distorting. I had something more useful in the car but the vocalist was determined to use this horror. I explained it was going to be a choice between sounding bad or sounding worse.

Eventually the singer said the monitor was often abandoned at some point during during the gig because of feedback and asked if I could recommend a better mic.

As far as mics go I would suggest only a real world audition will answer your question to your own satisfaction but from my own collection I would put on the list:

Shure sm58, (regular and beta)
Shure sm57 (beta) - not in my collection any more. Regular 57s have to be treated with respect on modern vocal duties and few people have the skill/patience.
Audix om3/5/7 (varying degrees of trade-off, I like them all in the right scenario)
Lewitt 550 (still haven't made my mind up on this one but definitely worth a listen in gig conditions)
Senn e935 (or e835 if you missed the price-drop)
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Re: Vocal microphone question

Postby TheChorltonWheelie » Wed Jul 17, 2019 1:51 pm

shufflebeat wrote:Shure sm58, (regular and beta)
Shure sm57 (beta) - not in my collection any more. Regular 57s have to be treated with respect on modern vocal duties and few people have the skill/patience.
Audix om3/5/7 (varying degrees of trade-off, I like them all in the right scenario)
Lewitt 550 (still haven't made my mind up on this one but definitely worth a listen in gig conditions)
Senn e935 (or e835 if you missed the price-drop)

I cannot fathom why people STILL recommend an SM58; it doesn't offer any better feedback rejection than most other mics, so that's a red herring. It's no better made than other mics, most will pass the drop test that Shure do, so that's another red herring. It doesn't have a more predictable sound than other mics, so yet another red herring.

Any FOH engineer that says "Oh, I know how to better EQ the SM58 compared to <any other decent mic>" shouldn't be in the job. Another red herring.

It's less flattering than the other mics in your list, it doesn't have the body that even the cheapest Audix's have, it doesn't have the clarity than the Senns have, and when you wanted into the upper model ranges of the Audix/Senn/Rodes the SM58 is embarrassingly poor by comparison.
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Re: Vocal microphone question

Postby The Korff » Wed Jul 17, 2019 2:11 pm

Agreed! The AKG D5 is my favourite budget alternative, and is IMO just a much better-sounding mic.
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Re: Vocal microphone question

Postby AlecSp » Wed Jul 17, 2019 2:38 pm

And already, you can see that everyone (including me) has an opinion, without even knowing all the details of the application, and that you'll never get agreement.

We could all save our time and point you at the 150+ posts in this identical thread.
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Re: Vocal microphone question

Postby gsc1ugs » Wed Jul 17, 2019 2:39 pm

I could put a twist on it, what is the best live vocal microphone cost no object?
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Re: Vocal microphone question

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Jul 17, 2019 2:41 pm

TheChorltonWheelie wrote:I cannot fathom why people STILL recommend an SM58

It's probably for the same reason people claim PT is 'the industry standard', or you have to mix on NS10s.

It's just instantly recognisable and familiar, and does an acceptably competent job. For many, it's 'better the devil you know' -- and while there are undoubtedly better options today, no one ever lost a gig because they used SM58s.
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Re: Vocal microphone question

Postby blinddrew » Wed Jul 17, 2019 3:29 pm

gsc1ugs wrote:I could put a twist on it, what is the best live vocal microphone cost no object?
All the same factors apply, except cost. Even more reason to try them out.
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