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Vocal microphone question

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Re: Vocal microphone question

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

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
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.

I don't know many major producers/engineers that still use NS10s, even for reference purposes on their meter bridge. The vast majority of podcasts that I watch, from people like CLA, Pensado, Clearmountain etc., rarely mention the NS10 other than to say people don't use them any more.

"Better the devil you know" is another way of saying reluctance to move onwards and upwards, to the point I'd seriously question the credentials of a live engineer that believed that an SM58 was the only or even preferred option. Once again, I refer people to the fact that most microphones in this price bracket are as good, if not better at feedback rejection, they're equally as easy to ring, and almost all of them sit better in the mix than the dynamically flat SM58.

Working on large festival and indoor stages, thankfully those engineers that laud the SM58 are gradually disappearing, presumably to the 70s whence they came! :D
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Re: Vocal microphone question

Postby TheChorltonWheelie » Wed Jul 17, 2019 3:35 pm

gsc1ugs wrote:I could put a twist on it, what is the best live vocal microphone cost no object?

Well, my choice would be the KMS105; fantastic prescence/air but almost impossible to make it feedback.

Given that microphones last almost indefinitely, and given how much other musicians spend on their kit, it's very, very bizarre that singers are entrenched in the view that they only need to spend £100-£150 on their revenue-earning work tool.

Would the same singer sound better on a KMS105 compared to a 58 or OM3; absolutely, and they're be easier to mix, require far less EQ, and still present a more natural and open sound. Are singers rushing to buy the KMS105? No............. :D
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Re: Vocal microphone question

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Jul 17, 2019 3:43 pm

TheChorltonWheelie wrote:I don't know many major producers/engineers that still use NS10s...

Nor me -- but I fear you missed my point.

You asked why people still recommend the SM58. I'm suggesting that it's not that it (or PT or NS10s or whatever else...) is/are better than the alternatives, or even particularly good when compared against more modern offerings.

It's just that they have acquired a (entirely justified) reputation in the past and remain instantly familiar to everyone -- particularly those that have little current experience and so know no better.

Recommending the SM58 is not particularly inspired, and there are better, more modern options out there -- I agree with you completely on that -- but it's not exactly a terrible suggestion either since it will get the job done entirely adequately.

H
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Re: Vocal microphone question

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Jul 17, 2019 3:47 pm

FWIW the OP is a Suggs/Madness tribute act working to backing tracks and has DXR15s for FOH, not sure what his monitor is though.

Gsc1ugs? what is the issue you are trying to address? Do you hand hold your mic and how animated are you on stage? I suspect you move/dance around a lot with will make it harder to use a super/hyper cardioid mic effectively, they are better at rejecting feedback but that's no good to you if you need it to be forgiving of too much movement around the mic.
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Re: Vocal microphone question

Postby blinddrew » Wed Jul 17, 2019 3:47 pm

Responding to TheChorltonWheelie:
It's a funny one that isn't it? Seems to be quite common for singers to want to skimp on kit. You'll rarely get a 'serious' guitarist turning up with a single, cheapest-that-will-get-the-job-done guitar, no pedals and an underpowered own-brand amplifier. And pity the drummers and bass players who don't have the access to the economies of scale that a guitarist has...
But singers?
Still, it's not like most of the audience are primarily listening to the vocal melody and the lyrics... oh, wait,

P.S. I do have a bit of sympathy for singing guitarists who have two lots of kit to fund.
P.P.S. Looking at my own kit for a typical gig, and doing some rough calculations, my guitar set-up is about £3000 and my vocal set-up is about £1000 (including the PA, mixer etc), so clearly I'm guilty as charged. In my defence though, the guitar set up has built up over a much greater time period, and for most gigs I'm not actually providing anything in the vocal chain. :)
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Re: Vocal microphone question

Postby TheChorltonWheelie » Wed Jul 17, 2019 3:49 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
TheChorltonWheelie wrote:I don't know many major producers/engineers that still use NS10s...

Nor me -- but I fear you missed my point.
H

I don't think I have, or rather I probably didn't make my point well enough.

Those "old school" views are disappearing, that's what I was trying to say, so the default choice of SM58/NS10 is also disappearing as those coming through have happened across far, far better alternatives.

Those, in my experience, that still hold a torch for the SM58 do so not because they can't work with other equipment, but perhaps through stubbornness or reluctance to move with the times. 10-20 years ago, people recommended the SM58 because there wasn't much competition, so it was an easy choice.
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Re: Vocal microphone question

Postby TheChorltonWheelie » Wed Jul 17, 2019 3:53 pm

blinddrew wrote:Responding to TheChorltonWheelie:
It's a funny one that isn't it? Seems to be quite common for singers to want to skimp on kit...

But singers?
Still, it's not like most of the audience are primarily listening to the vocal melody and the lyrics... oh, wait,

What's very odd is that a mic that suits your voice can move you up several notches in terms of how the audience perceive you, and more importantly then how you perceive yourself, but still the vast majority of singers will skimp and present themselves with something of quite poor quality.

I know plenty of solo tribute acts, on £500+ per show upwards, that'll turn up with cheap wireless kit that has 4 possible frequencies, instead of investing in something that's top-notch that'll never give them problems as well as showcasing their voice. It's as though at "Tribute school" rule #1 is "Never, ever, ever, spend any more than £100 on your main working tool".

On the other scale, I'll gig with named acts that'll only use their own mics, and they're almost always top-notch pieces of kit specifically chosen for their voice.
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Re: Vocal microphone question

Postby Moroccomoose » Wed Jul 17, 2019 4:21 pm

I don't think it is that odd. if you consider influencing artists.

Everyone knows Clapton plays a fender; Slash, a Les paul; Dave Stewart a white falcon; Carlos Santana PRS etc. The guitar looks 'cool', aesthetically pleasing, its part of the image. Who knows (or more importantly cares about) what mic Freddie Mercury, Robert Plant, Aretha Franklin or Ceelo Green used, even less so what PA/monitors.

The point is that the mic does not make up part of the 'image' of the performer, it is very much just a tool. If possible, they wouldn't have one at all, hence the lack of attention to the whys and wherefores of any particular mic over another.

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Re: Vocal microphone question

Postby TheChorltonWheelie » Wed Jul 17, 2019 4:30 pm

Moroccomoose wrote:I don't think it is that odd. if you consider influencing artists.

Who knows (or more importantly cares about) what mic Freddie Mercury, Robert Plant, Aretha Franklin or Ceelo Green used, even less so what PA/monitors.

Freddie, Robert, Aretha all know what mics they used, they'd all have a very specific choice that they would normally always stick to.

Just because people don't know which mic their favourite artist uses, it doesn't equate that they shouldn't therefore care what mic they use, or whether in fact they're using a mic that suits their voice.

Moroccomoose wrote:The point is that the mic does not make up part of the 'image' of the performer

And that's not the attitude of most professionals, i.e. choosing something on image alone, or whether their favourite artist uses. A bedroom/home musician, possibly, but someone that's earning their living from their equipment would be basing their decisions on that.

I like Hank Marvin. I play a fiesta red Strat. Hank plays a fiesta red Strat. However, I don't play a fiesta Strat because Hank plays one, I play a Strat because it's very versatile.
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Re: Vocal microphone question

Postby blinddrew » Wed Jul 17, 2019 4:34 pm

I think I'd agree to that as an audience member, but as a performer? Especially if your only instrument is your voice?
A, ahem, few years ago, when I was gigging a lot more (and with a lot more purpose) I went and tried out a few vocal mics that were a cut above an SM58 (I ended up with a Beta87). It's not so much about influencing artists (I have no idea what microphones Paul Simon or Tom McRae use :) ) but I recognised that there were better bits of kit out there than I was using.

But thinking back on that experience actually brings me full circle to answer TheChorltonWheelie's question about why one might buy an SM58, and my answer would be that if you're at the bottom of the bill, there's a good chance that anywhere you turn up to play, that will be what you're presented with. And good luck arguing with the sound man about swapping in your own mic.
So if you know you're most likely to be performing with one, may as well have one to practise with.
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Re: Vocal microphone question

Postby TheChorltonWheelie » Wed Jul 17, 2019 4:38 pm

blinddrew wrote:And good luck arguing with the sound man about swapping in your own mic.

That's the REAL issue in this thread; many a time a FOH engineer has had conniptions because I've had the temerity to use a microphone, that I've notified them of in advance via my technical spec, that doesn't match what they're expecting.

I dare not use my real name, or the tributes that I'm in, as I know a few of those FOH engineers frequent this forum!! :D
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Re: Vocal microphone question

Postby N i g e l » Wed Jul 17, 2019 7:51 pm

Moroccomoose wrote:The point is that the mic does not make up part of the 'image' of the performer, it is very much just a tool.

I would disagree with that. The mic may be used to emphasise the era of a performance.
The Shure 55, SM58 or one of those 1930s BBC (ribbon?) presenter mics, all present a different image, even if they are clones with modern electronics.
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Re: Vocal microphone question

Postby Moroccomoose » Wed Jul 17, 2019 8:36 pm

You're quite right , of course it's not cut and dry. But I'd still maintain that as gear gets more utilitarian, performers will be less enthused about detail and technicalities. I'd put mics and PAs further up the utilitarian scale than guitars and guitar amps.

I suppose it's because, arguably, the mic is not the instrument, it's the means to capture the performance. I'd bet the problem is equally prevalent when instrument sound re enforcement is required.

I did a bit of backing vocals in my old band. I had a knock off Chinese SM 58...It was crap! But at least all the spit in it was my own! :headbang: :beamup:
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Re: Vocal microphone question

Postby James Perrett » Wed Jul 17, 2019 9:05 pm

The thing about the SM58 is that it works acceptably in more situations than any of the other alternatives. This may not be so relevant these days when the quality of the rest of the PA system is generally better but in the 70's and 80's you had to be pretty sure of the quality your system if you wanted to use an alternative. I also tend to find that the alternatives work well on certain voices but not so well on others - again the SM58 wins out by working reasonably well on just about any voice. That's why it is popular with venues and PA companies that deal with a wide variety of voices.
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Re: Vocal microphone question

Postby Bob Bickerton » Wed Jul 17, 2019 10:54 pm

I think one reason the SM58 is still considered industry standard - and it is - is because it was established as such when there wasn't much else in the way of competition, sound companies always had them available, and then there was an explosion of alternative options, which meant sound companies either had to have a myriad range of mics, or stick to what was still being specified on technical riders (because most musicians knew most sound companies would have SM58s available).

It's a reverse chicken and egg situation - the SM58 came first, became widely known and is still sitting on its perch.

There was a time when we had around 10 or 12 different vocal microphones in the collection and on vocalists who were 'unspecified' we'd try and match the mic to the voice and/or environment. Without question the OM7 was the most feedback resistant - but was very reliant on being eaten.

e945 cuts like mad - but sometimes that's what you need. KMS105 - closest to a studio sound on stage. Beyer TGv70d warm with a lovely top end

More often than not I'd put up a Beyer M69, a very underrated microphone. Hopeless handling noise, so not for cabaret, but a mic that worked on most voices well. Another favourite the e840 - Sennheiser's equivalent to the SM58 and IMHO far better in every respect!

BUT, if you have a rock and roller who is going to swing the mic on the end of the cable they get a 58 - end of story.

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Re: Vocal microphone question

Postby Mike Stranks » Wed Jul 17, 2019 11:04 pm

Just as an alternative to the downbeat tone of some posts...

I was/am (usually) delighted when an act turns up with their own vocal mic(s). Shows they take an interest in their sound... However, if it was a 58 I'd often try and persuade them to use something different after I'd heard them sing. They'd often be pleased to accept my suggestion.

However, I remember when a vocalist turned up with a battered beta 58. I did my usual 'persuasion' act to no avail. Politely insistent about the beta 58... He was right; he sounded superb through the system; he knew his mic and how to get the best from it.
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Re: Vocal microphone question

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Jul 18, 2019 12:11 am

:clap: :clap: :clap:

IME there are two reasons for a performer bringing their own mic* :-

1, They like the sound of it,

2, They don't want to catch bugs of your mic. (this is much more likely)

* I'd forgotten #three actually, sometime they like what they have because the salesman told them they sounded fantastic through it.......

But, if a performer comes and says, "I like to use this mic/reverb/eq/WHY then give them a chance and if they clearly know what they are about you have an easy day. My job as a sound engineer is twofold, to make them sound good, and, to keep them happy, the audience didn't come to watch the sound guy.
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Re: Vocal microphone question

Postby shufflebeat » Thu Jul 18, 2019 3:26 am

All interesting and valid opinions but I have a slightly different take on this.

You will notice that I didn't suggest the OP buy a '58, I suggested he audition it. I don't feel I (or anyone else) am qualified to make a definitive recommendation until we've heard it and (this is the important bit) the OP has a chance to hear/feel how the mic reacts to their voice.

All the mics on my list are ones I use regularly. The band I regularly do live sound for all started off with '58s, now, on my recommendation they are on a mix of Audix, Sennheiser and EV. Depping guests get the chance to use their own but if it's bobbins they will be told. I wouldn't lose any friends over it but they generally take the advice well.

As a singer I've used a variety of stage mics. My favourite for years (always welcomed by old school FOH guys) was a Beyer Soundstar II which I found made me sing better. It wasn't a "detail" or "air" thing or just being able to hear myself over the din, it just reacted in a way that encouraged me to experiment and stretch myself. It died when some crazy dancers got tangled in the mic lead and whipped it across the room where it disintegrated under 100 stamping feet.

Nowadays I have my choice of the above, and others, including Beyers and EV. I find they make me sing differently. The OM-7 is a good mic to turn up loud and sing gently into, as is the e935. This is not something normally associated with the OM-7. I didn't like the kms105 because, although it sounded silky and beautifully detailed (and retailed) it didn't give me any particular "angle" to work with, it was soul-less. The woman who came after me whose mic it was made it sound sublime.

If you have the right voice the '58 makes you sing from either your throat or your resonant chest cavities. If you choose the former you will have a permanent sore throat, if the latter you can sing forever without strain and fill the room with strong and melodic, if not very detailed, richness. It's a bit lo-res, but so am I.
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Re: Vocal microphone question

Postby awjoe » Thu Jul 18, 2019 4:25 am

shufflebeat wrote:
As a singer I've used a variety of stage mics. My favourite for years (always welcomed by old school FOH guys) was a Beyer Soundstar II which I found made me sing better. It wasn't a "detail" or "air" thing or just being able to hear myself over the din, it just reacted in a way that encouraged me to experiment and stretch myself.

That's very interesting. And would you say the same is true of studio mics - that some make you sing better? And why? Because they sound good on your voice?
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Re: Vocal microphone question

Postby ef37a » Thu Jul 18, 2019 7:11 am

Madness tribute band?

We had the real thing two weeks ago at Franklins Gardens (NN5 5BG) and I could hear Suggs and drums very clearly over half a click away at NN5 5P# .

No idea what mic or PA rig he runs but I could hear every word and I am deaf! The sound quality was also excellent with no trace of distortion.
My daughter was at the concert and said the band was not unduly loud. She has been to many punk gigs that were ear melting! (I actually have some of the concert captured on my hedgehog recording setup. Rubbish mics mind since they have to handle the rain!)

BTW, my mention of the SM58 was just an example. Yes there are better mics (however you judge that) but my point was, the laws of physics have not changed and getting adequte level and avoiding acoustic feedback is not just a property of the microphone and even "the best in the world" is only going to gain you a few dBs over a 58 unless you go for special noise cancelling types (or gaffer two together OOP) .

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