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Live vocal microphone/PA system setup

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Ezmar, Sep 25, 2013.

  1. Ezmar


    Jul 8, 2010
    So, I'm planning on trying to be a relatively big-time musician, and I'll have to get started on that once I finish school (or hopefully before). I'm pretty good on bass, but I suffer from a lot of the problems that plague people who play a lot by themselves and not a lot with others, and I'm a little sloppy. Anyway, the point is, I feel like I'm much better off trying to sell myself as a vocalist, since I have an amazing voice (at risk of sounding overconfident), and I'd be able to compete on a much higher level as a singer than as a bass player.

    So my question is this: I should probably get my own vocal microphone, so what should I look at getting? Do I have to be careful about choosing one that will sound good, or is it basically quality of construction and durability? If anyone has specific suggestions or advice, I'd love to hear it.

    If it matters, I am a male, with a high tenor-countertenor range.

  2. Lots of people swear by Shure. SM-58 is a good overall mic. I use a beta 58a but it might nort be good with a tenor range. Some people say it makes them sound tinny.
  3. Ezmar


    Jul 8, 2010
    So if I have a high, bright voice, I want something that doesn't enhance the highs? I'd want something warmer, rather than brighter, then?

    EDIT: Not overly high or bright, just more Freddie Mercury than Johnny Cash.
  4. Hi.

    I did know that quite a few bassplayers (me included) are failed guitarists, but it never occured to me that the singers might be failed bassplayers :D.

    Kidding only of course if the smilie didn't give that away.

    +1 for Shure SM58.

    It sure isn't the "best" vocal mic there is, not even my favourite (MD421 is), but it's an industry standard for live performance for a reason.
    If You're mainly recording, I'd probably look at mid to high quality condensers rather than dynamic mics though.

    You simply can't go wrong with SM58 for live use.
    IME/IMO anyway.

  5. Depends on your preference. If in doubt, the SM-58 has served many, many, many a singer well.

    If you do want to enhance the highs, the beta might work for you. I am told mine can sound "tinny" though.

    Hard to tell with me because I am not a lead singer and do mostly back up vocals. So my volume sits low in the mix.

    If you have a great voice then I think you can make any mic work. An SM-58 is reliable, easy to EQ, and doesn't color the highs one way or another IMHO.
  6. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    Obviously you're young. Not only is the SM58 pretty much the industry standard, but you could drop it off an overpass and it will still work. That's the mic I use and the one I'd recommend.

    Sennheiser e835 or e935 are real good mics too.
  7. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA

    And don't forget us when you're famous!
  8. Dave W

    Dave W

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    I use a Sennheiser e935 for my vocals, and the other guys in my band use SM58's. They both great mics.

    Just keep in mind that having a mic means absolutely nothing without a PA...something the singer should own :ninja:
  9. I'd go to my local retailer and try out a few mics. You may want to start with the SM58 as a reference point. The ones I would try it against would be Beta 58, Sennheiser 935 and/or 945, ElectroVoice 767 and/or 967, Audix 5 and/or 7. The other models are supercardiod microphones which will defeat feedback if used correctly and should have more warmth than the SM58.
  10. Ezmar


    Jul 8, 2010
    Okay, so if I'm going to want to own both a mic and a PA, how would I go about looking for that? I've only ever performed venues with provided vocal equipment, so I don't know what a PA would include. Would it include the Soundboard? Speakers, preamp, etc? I honestly don't know what all would be included in the Singer's expected possession. I don't imagine I could just use any old speaker/amp combo.

    Yes, I am young. And the only music "scene" around where I live is folk and bluegrass, so I haven't had much experience gigging and the like. So after I finish school, I'm getting up, I'm heading out to the city, the Big, Big City.

    And I'll be sure to see if I can hit any local music stores and see if I can try out some mics, although my selection is limited, living about 2 hours away from the nearest major city. There are some Mom and Pop style shops, which are great, but their selection is usually limited.

    Thanks for the advice, it's way quicker than diving in and making mistakes for half a decade before I know what's going on.
  11. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    I am actually more of a fan of the Beta series of the Shure vocal microphones, especially the Beta58. I have both a Beta57 and a Beta58, the 57 for the cab and the 58 for the vocal. Higher suppression, more clarity of tonal spectrum, and more durability.
  12. MonkeyBass


    Mar 22, 2009
    Denver, CO
    SM58. Why? It's what every single PA system in every single venue you'll ever play is set up to use. I do live sound and when someone brings in something other than an SM58 I have to re EQ the monitors and redo my gain structure.

    Some people will try to upsell you to something "better" but the 58 is a workhorse mic and sound just fine. It's the P-Bass of the mic world.
  13. Dave W

    Dave W

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    There are a lot of ways to do it. At a minimum you'd need a powered mixed, a pair of PA cabs, and a couple of speaker stands. A "good" PA would have a mixer, a power amp, a pair of mains, monitors, sub(s), etc. It's not a cheap proposition no matter what way you put it.

    The reason why I say the singer should own it is that I feel it's part of their instrument. If I showed up to a gig without a bass amp it wouldn't go over all that well. If a singer showed up to audition for my band without one (as I don't own a PA) I'm not sure that they'd get the gig.
  14. Tat2dHeart

    Tat2dHeart Only two strings away from an attitude problem.

    Although I prefer Sennheiser mics (e835 wired and ew 365 wireless), the Shure SM58 has been a standard for years and they have a great sound. I'd only caution this with Shure mics - if you decide to buy them off the internet used, be really really careful. There are a lot of knock-offs hitting the marketplace that just don't do the job. I suppose there are counterfeits on most brands, but Shure has really been hit hard with them in recent years, so know what you're getting when you buy.
  15. Ezmar


    Jul 8, 2010
    So the question there is then: How "good" would I need it to be? Would I need to have a nice big setup with all the subs and monitors and the whole 9 yards on hand for any situation, or would I just be expected to have basically my own Amp, just a few speakers and a monitor? This is for just looking around for bands and such. Would that be sufficient, or would I want to drop a whole lot on a big setup right away, rather than starting bare bones and working up until I have a rig that can support the entire band? Keep in mind, I will be fresh out of college, so money will not be a thing I will have in abundance. If I can do just fine with a modest setup, that would be much nicer on the wallet.

    Am I right in thinking that the small PA setups are for situations where the drums are unmiked? Would the singer also be expected to have the Mics for the instrument amps and drums? I don't want to be a singer because it's easy and cheap, but I don't want to have to be responsible for all the band's equipment other than the instruments and amps. I don't have much live band experience, outside a little in high school, and the venues I played back then always had adequate PA support.

    Would I be unable to find bands to play with and/or places to play if I didn't own an extensive PA rig?

    So many questions, but I'm determined to find out what I need to know. This is not something I'm going to give up on because it's "too much work". I'm hoping I can graduate and never have to use my degree, just be a professional musician. But chances are that I'll need a day job for quite a while.
  16. Eric_71


    Jul 22, 2011
    Honestly, I think he just wants you to buy your own PA so that the singer has to spend money on and tote some equipment too. It's not a bad point, but it seems a little premature to me. It would make you a bit more attractive as a singer, but a PA can be very pricey and varies wildly based on what sort of gigs you will be doing. A lot of venues do seem to have their own sound system.

    I would just spend some time learning about it and figuring out what you would want to spend money on if you were to buy a PA. Powered speakers seem to be the way to go these days, but the old powered mixers (big box with mixing stuff on the front) will be cheaper and more available used. I'm no PA expert, but I would think you would want to orient yourself musically first, figure out what the band needs, and then buy some stuff. Keep your eyes open for good deals and slowly build it up.

    I'm not exactly an old pro at gigging or buying sound equipment, but I would take it slow. Don't blow all of your money on a PA that might not end up needing. For now if you need to hear yourself over drums you could get by with a single powered wedge, mic, and cable.
  17. Ezmar


    Jul 8, 2010
    That was sort of what I was feeling, too. I don't have a band yet, I'm hoping to move out after college, which will be a few years yet, but there's no time like the present to start thinking about the future. I don't want to get out there and be caught with my pants down because I don't know what I'll want to have. I feel like I'll at the very least want to have a small something for practice. And I could use the speaker(s) as monitoring in case I need something extra at performances. But I've got plenty of time for research and information-gathering.

    So that said, the main thing that would be useful to me right now would be just getting recommendations on what to look at in terms of a Microphone, and perhaps a small speaker setup just so that I can be self-sufficient when it comes to vocal amplification. I figure even having that much would set me apart from loads of singers who expect to just show up and have a mic and amplification. Shows I'm serious and prepared. (The former is genuine, the latter is just an illusion ;))
  18. Eric_71


    Jul 22, 2011
    For you, probably just a used SM58 and even a used version of something like this (http://www.musiciansfriend.com/pro-audio/harbinger-ha120-portable-pa-system) would work. I have a single 15" version (http://www.musiciansfriend.com/pro-audio/harbinger-aps15-15-powered-pa-speaker) that I found used for $100 and while it doesn't sound fantastic, it's good enough. I used to play covers where the singer had this exact one that he found for like $150 and it worked fine.

    Better stuff would be Mackie, QSC, even Behringer, but those all go up in price quickly. Note that in no way am I saying that this sounds amazing. It's more that it provides enough amplification and can be found for very cheap used, so something like it would suffice until you figure out what you want.
  19. Robert B

    Robert B Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2000
    Hampton, Va USA
    Another vote for SM58. I used one for years. One of the things I liked about this mic is that moving in closer to the SM58 gives a bit more bass presence to your voice. At least, that's how it worked with my voice! :)
  20. Ezmar


    Jul 8, 2010
    If I was hunting around for used deals, what sort of thing would I be looking for for the actual Pre/amp/whatever? Basically the unit between the Microphone and the speaker? Don't know if it's really properly called an Amp, and I'm not entirely sure what I'd be looking for, or how to tell if it's not a piece of crap. The speakers should be easy enough to look for.

    Thanks for all the information, It's very helpful.

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