I have spent almost a month with the Chuck Israels Mic, and even though I didn’t want to let it go I am anxious to hear Ric Vices impressions as well so it’s off to Missouri (the ‘Show Me’ state). I have used the mic in my home studio as well as on a number of gigs. I think I have finally gotten an answer to the question I have been asking myself for quite a while now: CAN I GET STUDIO RECORDING QUALITY SOUND ON THE STAGE? Using this mic, the answer for me is YES, sort of. Here’s what I mean by that: SOUND QUALITY. The sound quality of this mic is wonderful. After all the discussions I have been a part of regarding MBOL (My Bass Only Louder), this is the closest I have come. In fact, I would have to say it is more than ‘close’. I truly doubt that I could tell the difference if I compared this mic in a studio to one of the usual boutique ‘studio mics’. Granted, I haven’t tried that, but perhaps Ric Vice can speak to that shortly. Specifically, this mic provides nice clear high notes with ‘air’ as well as full, rich low notes that sound like rich Belgian Chocolate. Also, regarding sound quality, I have heard the new (as yet unreleased) Chuck Israels album recorded with his mic and WITHOUT SOUND BAFFLING, and it sounds GREAT. ATTACK-DECAY, OR NOTE ‘ENVELOPE’: Along with the sound quality, this may be the most important feature of the mic (and perhaps true for most, if not all other good ‘air mics’ as well). I noticed immediately once I plugged the mic in and started playing that my bass ‘JUST FELT DIFFERENT’. At various times, using different pickups, I have felt fairly good about the sound I was getting but there was something about playing through a pickup that never FELT the same as just playing unamplified. (Perhaps some of the ‘no-amp’ crowd would like to weigh-in on this). Playing through the ‘Chuck’ I felt that my playing had kind of a ‘bounce’. Like there was spring in my step. Whatever it was it put a smile on my face that wouldn’t go away. It was as if my sound AND the feeling were telling me ‘THIS is why I play the bass’. PIZZICATO AND ARCO: Some other transducers I have used were pretty effective pizzicato, but tended to fall-down sound-wise when I pulled out the bow. The ‘Chuck’ is different in that regard. I found, that to my ears’, it sounded every bit as good with the bow as pizz. And that is even when I am coming straight out of the DI without mixing in any ‘air’ the speaker provides. BLEED: I have discussed this in the other thread regarding this mic, but to recap: NO AIR MIC CAN TOTALLY ELIMINATE BLEED. To make a mic usable on stage you have to get significantly more Bass Signal than ‘bleed’ of extraneous sounds (such as the other instruments with you on stage). I can tell you that this mic produces a LOT more bass signal than bleed. With several other air mics I have used in the past, I could only get a reasonably isolated bass track if I was well separated or shielded from the rest of the band. With the ‘Chuck’ I have sat right next to the drums and piano and gotten a very good bass track on my recorder. (See the ‘Pennies From Heaven clip below). FEEDBACK: This may arguably be the most challenging aspect of using a microphone in a live setting. The treble control on my Genzler amp is a shelving control with a corner frequency of 7.5 kHz. I turn this knob completely off. The ONLY time I have experienced feedback on a gig was once when I turned around and attempted to adjust my sweepable mid-range during a tune. I grabbed the treble control by accident and when I spun it clockwise I immediately go a loud screeching feedback, which stopped as soon as I turned the knob back to zero. EASE OF USE, MOUNTING: The mic was sent to me with an H-Clamp by Explore Audio. This ingenious mic-mount provides a very stable mounting while allowing for all the placement flexibility you would want. I found (on both my carved basses) that I really liked the sound I got with the mic just below the G bridge foot - nearly above the soundpost. The placement didn’t strike me as ‘finicky’, I had it on and off my basses each time I played a gig and I always got the same predictable great sound. Peter is also sending me an On-Stage mic mount which attaches to the tailpiece. I am really looking forward to trying that, I like that it may be a bit less visibly obtrusive than the H-Clamp. I’ll let you know how it works when I get it. ‘REALITY CHECKS’ 1. THIS IS NOT YOUR ‘TWO-BUCK CHUCK’. If you’re familiar with Trader Joes and their cheap ‘house wine’ of this name you’ll know what I’m referring to. This mic is a rather expensive piece of kit, hand built and imported from Sweden. There are certainly much cheaper ways to amplify your bass (as well as some a good deal more expensive). Whether it is ‘worth it’ to you is something only you can answer. At about the same price as a Grace Felix it’s not for the ‘faint of heart’ or ‘thin of wallet’. As with most things, there is a wide continuum from extremely inexpensive to ‘absurdly expensive’. There are very good products that don’t cost much (I would count my KNA piezo pickup as one, for example - but I won’t be using that nearly as much now except for occasional blending with the ‘Chuck’). A big part of this depends on why you play bass, for whose benefit, and what do you have to do to get ‘The Sound’ that you hear in your head. To give you my answers to those questions: I play the bass because I love the sound of it, and how it blends with and supports other acoustic instruments and the human voice. I joke with my wife that perhaps I have finally become ‘an artist’ because I make music primarily for myself. If I’m enjoying it that’s good enough. If the audience is enjoying it too, that’s a plus. If they’re NOT, I’m much more likely to change my venue than to change my playing. I am now able to get the sound I want to hear with the gear I now have: Either of my two ‘decent’ carved basses, a good microphone (the ‘Chuck’) and two ‘semi-boutique’ amplifiers that cover the type of gigs I choose to play. I primarily use my Genzler Acoustic Array - Gollihur Series, which provides the phantom power I need with this mic, as well as very usable and easy to use tone controls that give me everything I need without employing a separate pre-amp (as always, YMMV). 2. DOES THIS MIC DO EVERYTHING WELL? No, but show me anything that does. Whether it’s motorcycles of sailboats, there are ‘cruisers’ and there are ‘racers’. Take one and use it for the wrong purpose and you won’t be happy. A Cruiser’ won’t win you any races and cruising in a ‘racer’ is almost guaranteed to be miserably uncomfortable. This mic, in my opinion, wants to live where you want to sound as acoustic and unamplified as possible, but you want to do so at a volume level that is significantly higher than anything acoustic. I read that Rick Jones of Acoustic Image when asked how to make his (excellent) amplifiers sound the best possible, he answered ‘Turn it off’. I don’t know if that is a true story, but it illustrates nicely what it is that many of us are attempting to capture with all our gear’. Where I think you would be looking for a different solution would be Really LOUD performances, Rockabilly etc. Might be better served with a piezo or even a magnetic pickup. It just doesn’t happen that I choose to play those types of gigs. That said, with good Front-Of-House, I think you could get ridiculously loud using this mic. It’s just that when you get Really Loud the question becomes “Is MBOL even what I want to achieve in this environment”. Also, a major goal of mine is to improve my arco chops. If I am successful in doing that the Chuck Israels Signature Microphone from Xlson Audio is something I can really grow into. I’d be tempted to say the Gear Junkie can retire now, but I expect some wiseacre on TalkBass would forward that to my wife. All the best, Rick Wolff The 'Gear Junkie'