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Live Performance - Vocal Microphones

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by therealting, Apr 29, 2006.

  1. I'm looking to get a high-quality vocal mic for singing live, and am finding it difficult to figure out what I should go for.

    SM58s are of course the industry standard, but I've never been bowled over by how they sound. I currently use an inexpensive retro-style side-address microphone mainly because it looks cool (and even that sounds better than the SM58!).

    I've tried the new Beta 57 and it sounded considerably better, I've also tried a high-end Sennheiser and it too was an improvement - both were like someone had removed a blanket from over the microphone.

    There are also some relatively inexpensive handheld condenser mics available nowadays, but the whole phantom power thing has me thinking they're more trouble than they're worth. Having said that, I've heard a few singers using them recently (through good FOH systems), and the clarity is just unbelievable.

    So I'm just wondering what you other singing types have gone for, and what you've found to be good. I'm looking for something that will stand me in good stead for all the singing I will be doing in the next 5-10 years.

  2. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    I'd say that while 58s are everywhere, they're not really industry standard for vocalists anymore. The Shure Beta 87 (condensers) are what nearly everyone seems to be using now. Great gain before feedback, nice clarity and beautiful top end.
  3. I have been using the Sennheiser E855 for several years. It has a "dark" tone quality. By that I mean the tone color of an orchestral trumpet.

    I suggest you try several mics with your setup to see what you like. Your voice and what sound you want from it are unique to you.

    There is a definite difference in the sound of different mics. The Sennheiser is fairly inexpensive. I have not tried many other mics so I can't compare - didn't need to because the Sennheiser E855 gave me the tone quality I wanted.

    Good luck!

  4. Thanks for the advice so far.

    I wish I could try lots of mics but I don't have access to them, and I doubt many shops would let you take mics out of their packaging to let you sing into them, and even if they would, it would be a good idea to know which ones you are interested in.

    Of the two suggested, I think the Beta 87a would suit my voice better - I have a natural warm vocal quality, and extra crispy mic is ideal, and I like super-cardioid pattern mics better anyway. Perhaps I need to take a look at the frequency charts of various mics.

    My one concern is the phantom power issue - at a lot of venues I play at, they don't necessarily have phantom power, or may be reluctant to use it (because the on switch controls 16 channels which may have incompatible mics on them).

    At such venues, here in London at least, 58s are definitely the standard issue - however I agree they are certainly not the best option.
  5. WalterBush


    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    Full disclosure, I'm a certified Fender technician working in a music store that carries Fender, Yamaha, and Ibanez products among others.
    The Audix OM-2 and OM-5 have both given me good results over the last couple of years. Plenty of signal, plenty of gain before feedback and off-axis rejection, plenty of clarity in higher frequency ranges.
  6. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I use a Beta 87C, but I'm fine with pretty much any of the Betas. I like the Beta 57A, too. I have a Neumann KMS-105 I bought on blowout at GC for $300. Great mic, but a tad pricey.
  7. The KMS-105 is regarded by many as the ultimate handheld mic... and well out of my price range. For the price I could pick up two Beta 87 mics.

    Have you tried the 57A vs the 58A, I gather they use the same capsule, but have a different grille mesh design, so the proximity effect is more pronounced - I actually find this a pain as I tend to kiss the mic when hitting notes at the bottom of my range, and the boominess can make words indistinguishable. But then perhaps I could back off a bit because of the capsule proximity...

    Will definitely check out the Audix series, the reviews seem to suggest they have a warm response, but as you have pointed out they have good high-end clarity so worth a look.

    A couple of other things - these microphones generally have different mic clip sizes, don't they... have you ever found it a pain swapping the house germ-collector / mic for yours in a gig situation, like open mics etc?

    Thanks again, this is good and very useful stuff... looks like I might end up getting one condenser and one dynamic mic to take to gigs.
  8. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    I always carried a Sennheiser e835 for that reason. Always did backup vocals and HATED the SM58 that always got put in front of me.
  9. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    IIRC, we have a bunch of sm87s at our church, but no phantom power. We have an external phantom box, but that could be more trouble than it's worth. So we end up using 58s.
  10. Walked into a music shop today... the shop owner also runs a rehearsal studio where we have rehearsed before, so he kindly let me try several mics out for about half an hour.

    We set the EQ to flat and I started with the SM58, as it is the usual reference point. Nothing special, but comfortingly predictable.

    Also tried a Carlsbro mic, less than half the price of the SM58 and I actually marginally preferred it. Better clarity, less proximity effect, nice tight polar pattern.

    One interesting mic on display was a JTS NX-7. Looked an awful lot like the Beta 57A, was half the price, and I wasn't able to differentiate between them in a blind test (the manager claims they share components with Shure, and apparently in the US Shure has stopped them selling some models). Very impressive and I imagine I'll be picking one up at some point.

    However... I am now the proud owner of a brand new Samson C05. Handheld condenser mic, cardioid pattern, etc. Amazing clarity, comfortable in the hand, good construction. The lack of proximity effect compared to a dynamic is very different, and I find myself singing slightly differently with it. About 2/3rds the price of the SM58 and, for me anyway, a much much much better mic.
  11. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    I've become a big fan of Audix mics, especially those two models.

    I should've bought a few Sennheiser mics when I worked there but just never got around to it.
  12. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    As far as cheap mics, I've had great results with EV Cobalt Co5 and Co9 for live use.
  13. Jerry Ziarko

    Jerry Ziarko Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Rochester, NY
    I have come to love Audix vocal mics. I use a OM6 myself for it's very flat response which I prefer for my IEM mix. The OM2 is a fine mic for it's price but I find the OM3xb is a huge bang for the buck. Two of my band mates use the OM3xb after using them in a house install situation. It was love at first word, so to speak. If you're not in any great hurry, do youself a favor and keep watching e-bay. You can continually find them new or barely used for $60-$70. One of my buds got his for $46 in absolutely flawless shape. The Om5 is a great mic, but I have done an A/B and to tell you the truth for half the price you couldn't tell me which was which. You might say they sound different, but one doesn't far out shine the other.
  14. bassjus


    Mar 30, 2004
    Audix has grown more and more on me, as of now the only audix's I have are two i5's, but they are great microphones. I can use the more bass cabs, guitar cabs, tom-toms, and they weren't even a 100 bucks a piece. I'll have to check out more audix stuff.

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