You are here

Seeking Advice on Old-School (50's & 60's) Mic'ing Techniques

For performing musicians and engineers: stagecraft, engineering and gear.

Re: Seeking Advice on Old-School (50's & 60's) Mic'ing Techniques

Postby John Egan » Mon Nov 09, 2020 8:19 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
John Egan wrote:A lot of bands did use ribbon mikes. Among semi-pro bands, the Reslos were very popular and probably outnumbered anything else.

Ah yes... the Reslo! You're quite right, of course, from the historical perspective...

I was thinking more of trying to use the various modern Ribbon mic options, in an effort to create a vintage stage look.

I'll ignore the Beyer ribbon mics (which look more like conventional dynamic stage mics). Most (although certainly not all) of the current 'vintage style' ribbons tend don't lend themselves well to on-stage vocals IMHO. They typically lack adequate plosive or wind-proofing for close-up use, and tend to have heavy proximity effects, so get very bassy very quickly.

Also, the pickup lobe of a ribbon is inherently quite narrow, so trying to get several people to share the mic means having to get pretty cosy... Moreover, if going for a more distant mic placement approach which is inherent if you want people to share mics -- the rear lobe becomes problematic with stage monitoring and reduces the gain-before-feedback margin on the FOH system too.

In contrast, the vintage Reslo was well protected from blasting and had an early bass roll-off which supported close-in use. It also had quite a prominent presence peak around 4kHz which helped it cut through on the PA speakers of the day.

I know Xaudia refurbish old Reslos, and also perform a number of alterations developed by the BBC (for better performance at distant placements) to improve their suitability for quality recording (flattening the HF and LF responses at the expense of the wind/blast-proofing).

That's very interesting, Hugh. We just regarded Reslos as cheap and not particularly cheerful. Ribbon mikes (or at least my M260) certainly didn't seem to find much favour with vocalists with strong bassy voices. My voice was quite light, so it suited me pretty well - much better that most of the then current offerings.
I cant remember what mode or spec the Sure mic of the day was. It was an end-address pencil jobby.

Regards, John
User avatar
John Egan
Posts: 431
Joined: Wed Nov 27, 2002 1:00 am
Location: Staffordshire, England

Re: Seeking Advice on Old-School (50's & 60's) Mic'ing Techniques

Postby Tomás Mulcahy » Tue Nov 10, 2020 1:57 pm

guildguy516 wrote:
Mike Stranks wrote:

Good vids, but the O/P is interested in the techniques used for performance audio in the 50s/60s rather than how studios worked...

So O/P... you're on the right track. Oh! and welcome! :thumbup:

Typically an audiotorium would have one mic and that would be connected to a fairly basic valve amp through (typically) 100-volt line column speakers each containing several fairly modestly sized speakers. The reason you see multiple people using one mic is because there was only one mic!

Band PA systems as we know them today didn't really start to arrive until the second half of the '60s and the first ones were pretty crude affairs. I recall reading something about the Beatles at Shea Stadium. The sound was appalling - not that you could hear the sound because of the screams - because it was basically the public-address/safety system with a couple of simple mixers lashed onto the front end.

I've just used a well-know search engine and entered 'History of Live Sound'... loads of articles etc.

What's funny is when I posted this I thought to myself "I hope no one links me these SOS videos because they aren't on live sound"... well guess what happened...

Thank you for the warm welcome and good information. My dad saw the Beatles at old Comisky Park back in the day, he said that you could see the four guys bopping around but all you heard was screaming.
Oops :lol: :lol: glad you feel welcomed, we try our best :) Hope you can stick around :thumbup:
User avatar
Tomás Mulcahy
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1819
Joined: Wed Apr 25, 2001 12:00 am
Location: Cork, Ireland.

Re: Seeking Advice on Old-School (50's & 60's) Mic'ing Techniques

Postby AlecSp » Tue Nov 10, 2020 5:08 pm

James Perrett wrote:
ore_terra wrote:Expectations were totally different in those days and I'm not sure that a modern audience would be happy with the sound of a 50's/60's setup.
This - completely.

You'd probably have far more success with sensitive micing (definitely including bass/kick) and then making sure any vocal mics look suitably period. Maybe use aShure 55SH or even something older from the 30s/40s. Better still, use a vintage body as a prop with a decent transducer in it. Punters will be quite convinced by the look, but appreciate that it doesn't sound gash.

Remember, there's nothing wrong with smoke and mirrors in our game...
Posts: 476
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2004 1:00 am

Re: Seeking Advice on Old-School (50's & 60's) Mic'ing Techniques

Postby Dan LB » Tue Nov 10, 2020 6:48 pm

With regard to AlecSp’s post above, check out the offerings from Ear Trumpet Labs.

I’ve used some of their mics in the past and they were great. I can’t remember what models I’ve used though as the artists brought them along themselves but I had no trouble with them. They look old but sound very good.
User avatar
Dan LB
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1468
Joined: Sat Jan 28, 2006 1:00 am
Location: Wicklow, Ireland

Re: Seeking Advice on Old-School (50's & 60's) Mic'ing Techniques

Postby CS70 » Tue Nov 10, 2020 10:56 pm

AlecSp wrote:Remember, there's nothing wrong with smoke and mirrors in our game...

Sometimes the smokes and mirrors aren't even meant. :) I told the story already, but with the band I have a lyric video which simply shows the lyrics over a rotating vinyl record. There was absolutely no intention of implying anything, we simply decided that the rotating record was the best option for a background, far less expensive than a proper animation but still much better than a static image.

You would not believe how many comments I've received since by people stating "love the sound, you cannot get that sound without vinyl". Needless to say, the actual recording is entirely digital...
User avatar
Jedi Poster
Posts: 6542
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:00 am
Location: Oslo, Norway
Silver Spoon - Check out our latest video and the FB page

Re: Seeking Advice on Old-School (50's & 60's) Mic'ing Techniques

Postby zenguitar » Tue Nov 10, 2020 11:14 pm

Smoke & Mirrors for all.

Several times in the 90's I was local crew for Status Quo and helped build the wall of Marshall stacks across the back of the stage. Not a single one of the many 4x12 cabinets had a driver fitted. And behind that massive wall of Marshalls were a couple of mic'd 1x12 Marshall combos for Ric and Francis.

On anther occasion a band was using a small Orange combo, but it was behind a mock 4x12 that was just an orange painted wooden frame with Orange speaker cloth and an Orange badge propped up against a flight case.

Andy :beamup:
User avatar
Posts: 10838
Joined: Thu Dec 05, 2002 1:00 am
Location: Devon
liberté, frivolité et vanité

Re: Seeking Advice on Old-School (50's & 60's) Mic'ing Techniques

Postby Mike Stranks » Wed Nov 11, 2020 12:28 am

Exhibit A m'lud:

Mike Stranks
Jedi Poster
Posts: 7682
Joined: Fri Jan 03, 2003 1:00 am

Re: Seeking Advice on Old-School (50's & 60's) Mic'ing Techniques

Postby AlecSp » Wed Nov 11, 2020 12:37 am

Mike Stranks wrote:Exhibit A m'lud:
These are one of the few types of cab that I don't mind lending a hand to hump...
Posts: 476
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2004 1:00 am

Re: Seeking Advice on Old-School (50's & 60's) Mic'ing Techniques

Postby MarkPAman » Wed Nov 11, 2020 9:39 am

I remember getting a huge bol*****g while working as local crew. Picking up two of the support band's 4x12 cabs at once to carry them off stage spoiled the illusion. :blush:
User avatar
Frequent Poster
Posts: 980
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 12:00 am
Location: Somewhere between Portsmouth & Chichester