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How to manage several mics as a performer

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How to manage several mics as a performer

Postby andy-q » Sun Mar 17, 2019 5:17 pm

This is my 1st post, hello, I am an amateur musician (percussion) wanting to gear up for live performances. I don’t know a lot about mics and devices but have been reading up and would like to ask your advice about micing/routing a drum such as a djembe.
I’ve gathered that I should use two mics, one for the top catching the higher pitch sounds, and one at the bottom opening for the bass. These could be SM57 and AKG D112 / Beta52. I would of course like to exclude sound from other players and it seems the Shures are good in this respect.

My main question is what do I plug the mics into? I need to at least adjust the relative levels (I think that’s my job?) and feel I should be sending one output to the gig sound guy, the mix of both mics.

I want to repeat this setup for a second drum. (So another send to the sound guy)

I’ve realised from experimenting that two mics interacting damage the sound, phase issues I suppose. Changing phase slightly in a DAW makes a big improvement. So achieving this live is a further factor. Use EQ on a small “personal” mixer to remove the top end from the bass mic? But maybe there are other devices that will do this and have suitable in/out connections?

I suppose I could manage without condenser mics and therefore phantom power. Also no need for line inputs and FX – but need to cut the top end off the lower mic (and perhaps the low end off the top mic). All this for up to 200 UK £ if possible (excluding mics of course).

So that’s the question – what to connect the mics to. Thanks for reading.
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Re: How to manage several mics as a performer

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Mar 17, 2019 6:06 pm

If you have a sound guy you would be better off letting him take care of this (and TBF most sound guys would prefer to take your separate mic feeds and deal with eq and mixing at FOH). A 'proper' FOH desk will have much more sophisticated eq than the small desk you might use to sub-mix the drum mics and do a much better job of shaping the sound.

If you don't have a FOH guy then you are much on the right lines with your thoughts. A small mixer with 4 x mic inputs, suitable mics, cables and stands or some means of attaching them to the drums. A Behringer XR12 will give you the 4 mic inputs and much better eq than a small analogue mixer could possibly have. The only downside is no physical mute buttons which would be convenient in this instance.

WRT choice of mics, D112 is a big lump and not especially cheap, if it's going on a stand no worries (and you would only need one) if it's mounting on the drum I'd probably be looking at something lighter. I did do PA for a Bangrha band who had a Dohlak with a mic built in and an XLR socket in the shell, saved a lot of time.......
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Re: How to manage several mics as a performer

Postby Wonks » Sun Mar 17, 2019 6:12 pm

Hi and welcome.

Do you have your own FOH sound guy, or will you be playing in venues with in-house PA and their own sound guy?

Is this a solo performance or part of a group performance, and if so, how many other instruments?

It's not that normal for a performer to mic up their own instruments through their own mixer and then give a feed (or two) to the FOH. The FOH mixer really wants full control of the sound, so he can EQ it to sound good out front in that particular venue, and also to adjust EQ or individual levels in the event of feedback. They'd have less concerns about you providing your own mics and even setting up the positions on less common instruments. But what you might think a good sound if you set up at home, may not be the right sound for a live setting, and the ability to balance between the two mics per djembe would be important to the FOH mixer.

But if part of a large group, you may find that live miking can be very different from studio miking. Each extra mic on stage lowers the available gain before feedback, so if you can get away with two mics instead of four, then it really is better to use two. Unless it really is a top-class PA system, then a lot of the subtleties of the sound you get when recording get lost in live sound. If you are using in-ear monitoring, then the gain before-feedback issue is eased considerably, but using conventional monitors, it's a big issue.

Ignoring all that; if you've got a tablet/iPad, then the mixer with the most options for you is probably the Behinger XR12. 4 mic preamps, lots of digital EQ and other plug-in style effects. Certainly the ability for a channel's polarity to be reversed. Phantom power available per channel. It's just over £200 new (so you might find one used under £200, though it is a fairly new product). Drawback is its interface is tablet only (or a program on a laptop), so if you lose connectivity or tablet power, you can't alter anything (though the mixer still does what it does).

You can get analogue mixers for less money that will offer basic functionality and EQ, but polarity inversion tends to be on the bigger mixers only - which means that you'd then need to carry around some XLR polarity inversion adapters.
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Re: How to manage several mics as a performer

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Mar 17, 2019 6:15 pm

XR12 does at least offer wired connection, and has 4 outputs (L/R and two aux) so it would be possible to send the FOH 4 separate feeds if they weren't needed for personal monitoring.
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Re: How to manage several mics as a performer

Postby MarkPAman » Sun Mar 17, 2019 7:59 pm

I’ve worked with a few djembes. On their own, or with little else on stage, 2 mics each can be useful, though probably not a condenser of any sort.

If they’re part of a band setup, then something like an SM57 over the top is a good choice - a mic underneath tends to pick up as much other stuff as it does the drum, unless you stick it right inside, and that just sounds odd.

Whatever you choose, if I were doing your sound, I’d want direct control of the mics from my desk, unless the band huge and I’ve run out of channels!
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Re: How to manage several mics as a performer

Postby Bob Bickerton » Sun Mar 17, 2019 8:09 pm

Agreed that I would want full control of the mix and so would require individual mic sends out front. I would also question the worth of a second mic below the instrument as, depending on how busy the mix is, this would be providing minimal information.

A very good dynamic microphone positioned correctly would be my preference and I would also prefer a Beyer M201 over an SM57 for this application.

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Re: How to manage several mics as a performer

Postby Ramirez » Sun Mar 17, 2019 10:25 pm

Bob Bickerton wrote:A very good dynamic microphone positioned correctly would be my preference and I would also prefer a Beyer M201 over an SM57 for this application.

Bob

The M201 was my first thought too.
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Re: How to manage several mics as a performer

Postby andy-q » Mon Mar 18, 2019 8:37 pm

Many thanks for all the replies - this is a good forum!
I will certainly take on board the comments about leaving things up to the FOH. However we are only a minor band and will probably be somewhat involved in setup most of the time.

We are three. Besides me on percussion we have electric bass and a male singer playing acoustic guitar.

Where you say a mic inside sounds odd MarkPAman, I agree, at least for the higher freqs, but the bass seems pretty reasonable and that's all I would want from a bottom mic. @Bob B, I'm including a trace showing how only the bottom mic (lower trace) captures the bass, so I really want this for our band.

Thanks also for the tip about monitoring "in ear" rather than via a speaker. And the XR12 looks interesting.

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Re: How to manage several mics as a performer

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Mar 19, 2019 12:21 am

With that line up you may not need monitors, I perform with an 'acoustic' band, we do run a PA and have an electric bass (with his own small bass combo) me on acoustic guitar (through an AER Compact 60), cajon plus percussion, and we all sing. We mic or DI everything but run the stage sound at a level that means we can all hear each other. In bigger/noisier venues we can and do run monitors but if we're doing it all ourselves simple is the rule.
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