Single mic for band

Discussion in 'Bluegrass [DB]' started by fuzzy beard, Sep 4, 2013.

  1. Did some searching and doesn't look like this has been covered in a few years.

    Any thing new in the world of single micing?

    Also the way I understand it the bass player still runs a separate signal right?

    What mic are you using?

    Pro and cons of this technique?

    Thoughts, comments, or suggestions?
  2. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    My band does this, although we have only played three live gigs doing it, so I'm not exactly an expert. Actually we use two. I've tried a bunch of condenser mics, and believe it or not I ended up going with a cheap MXL 990/991 setup. Our basic setup:

    (1) MXL-990 for the two front men who both sing and play a variety of instruments.
    (1) MXL-991 overhead for our fiddle player. It also covers her vocals.
    - I run them both through a DTAR Solstice Preamp for both phantom power, and an easy way for the band to tweak EQ quickly from the stage (it sits on a stand next to the main condenser mic). The output of the DTAR is run to a Fishman SA220 which serves as our PA. It sounds fantastic for acoustic instrument amplification.

    The biggest draw back is obviously feedback. The sound reproduction is great though. Setting up indoors has so far been a crap shoot for me. In my guitar players apartment that was tiny, we could run a lot of volume without feedback. Then we played a bar gig in a much larger room where we fought gain vs feedback the entire gig. Some of that was due to the guys crowding the mic. It takes practice to break guys of the habit of having to be right on top of a dynamic mic.

    Outdoor setup is much easier to deal with since there usually aren't as many surfaces to reflect sound directly back to the mics. I would recommend using windscreens on condensers outdoors.

    Sorry this is getting long. I run my own bass rig.

    I've also been looking into these mics, as they are supposed to be designed specifically as a live condenser to reject feedback. They are pricey though.

    Edit: Another reason I use the DTAR - for some reason it helps with the gain verse feedback issue when compared to running my mics directly into my PA.
  3. JTL

    JTL Supporting Member

    Feb 21, 2011
    For years my dad, sister & I player with guitar, fiddle an upright around a single Audio Technica 3035. It always worked great for us because we had such a small group we didn't have to move around as much to work it. At that time a had a very loud carved bass and the single mic picked it up fine.
    Since then I've played a lot more with full bands around a single mic, it looks cool to the crowd and sounds good, if the band knows how to work it. Everyone needs to be in sync for stepping up when their part needs to be heard.
    Now I just run my bass amped and just stay out of everyone's way, I like the freedom it gives me.
  4. Raymeous


    Jul 2, 2010
    San Diego
    Recording your band using 1 microphone....

    Whether or not you like the song is irrelevant. This clip simply shows that you can record your entire band using one mic, and shows a bit of a "How To".

    If you're trying to do this live, i.e. everyone playing at the same time, just stick an omni directional mic in the middle of the room and hope for the best.

    Enjoy and I hope this helps.:smug:

    JTL: Rockin' it old school. You know this how it was done originally right? Every one in a circle around the single mic.
  5. Raymeous I was more thinking in the context of live preformance use. But thank you for your post!

    Keep em coming only 2 people using the classic single mic method?
  6. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    Its very difficult to achieve much gain with one hot mic and even more difficult to make a good mix. The one band that I've seen make it work well, Midnight Flight, used in-ear monitors and were a great band, talented and experienced.

    I just returned from the True North BG Festival where the part-time amateur bands insisted on using one mic and consequently sounded awful - weak and thin and peaky. The soundman can't help the band in that situation - better to use more mics and put on a better musical show.

  7. I have only seen it done in person twice. The Tillers do it and sound great. And the other band was so so. So it definitely is a art!

    My band want to experiment with it. Were a 3 piece guitar mandolin and upright. Condenser would be for guitar mandolin and vocals. I plan on running a pickup or mic on the bass.
  8. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    I love the Tillers.

    It can be done well, but it has to be practiced. Monitors are also a big no-no.
  9. JTL

    JTL Supporting Member

    Feb 21, 2011
    It needs to be a decent quality mic also. A lot of people try it with a piece of junk condenser, so it usually sounds like junk...
  10. What are the best mics out right now?
  11. JTL

    JTL Supporting Member

    Feb 21, 2011
    Audio Technica makes good large diaphragm condensers, AKG 414 is my favorite but a little spendy. AKG makes some cheaper models as well that I'm sure are great.
  12. lowEndRick


    Apr 8, 2006
    The best experience I have had is using the a single large condensor along with 2 instrument mics below the large condensor at 45 angles. Still, I run my bass to an AI amp at minimal volume. Gives a much fuller sound and no one gets lost in the mix.
  13. I used to mix house for Del McCoury, Rhonda Vincent, and 3rd Tyme Out fairly frequently back in the late 90's/early 2000s when they were starting the "one mic" thing. Del McCoury Band was one of the first. It can be done well, but a decent parametric eq is pretty much mandatory because there will be two or three "hot spots" that will have to be notched out to get the gain needed while keeping some bottom, and the frequency that those spots fall upon will move depending on the room or stage-top, and even ambient temperature.

    When I was doing this, "everyone" was using an Audio Technica 4033 almost without exception, and as time passed they "all" moved from one mic, to two, to three, or even more. Augmenting the bass, however, was usually the first thing they did to move away from "just one". Using monitors, especially wedges, in these situations, is almost always a really bad idea. The instruments will reflect them right back into the mic(s), and to "mix" themselves, the artists need to listen to the house (and have the chops and pipes to get it there with some meaty assertiveness).

    The Choreography opportunities that brought about Reminiscences of the old days were a big part of the attraction to the artists, and frankly, they believed that it gave sound-persons fewer chances to screw up the mix. Many less experienced bands climbed on the bandwagon before they had the technique and projection to make it work, and that's really when it sounds thin and weak. Think "China-Cabinet being pushed down a flight of stairs".

    Through it all, I still generally preferred close-micing individual voices and instruments... ...but you do what the boss wants.

    I haven't done any mercenary audio work for a few years, but I know fewer of the big acts are using the "one-mic plus plus" method these days, and those that do have mostly moved beyond the venerable AT4033. I see a lot of Shure KSM 32 & 44s (I think) now being used by those that still want to (usually play) through a large diaphragm condenser.

    I hope this makes some sense.
  14. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    Great post H, from the other end of the cable! :)

    These days we're using two vocal condensers along with individual mics (preferably condensers) for the instruments, including the bass. There's an Underwood pickup on the bass that only feeds the bass amp at stage left. No other monitors needed.

    The vocal condensers have enough pattern to allow a third or fourth singer to move in and sing another part/s. Kinda gives us some movement and great sound, too.

    We found that the delay on the DB in the subs was causing us to sag tempo-wise, and the bass amp is just there to keep us in time and help with intonation. It doesn't have to sound great, just fulfill those two needs. The ATM350 works great for the bass in the house.
  15. There a local band! We are pretty lucky in the Cincinnati area alot of good roots bands!
  16. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    I listen to them on spotify all the time. Great band.
  17. Bass Doc

    Bass Doc

    Dec 1, 2010
    Charleston SC
    I play in a four piece in Charleston. We went to single mike about 8 months ago and will never look back. It adds a visual dimenson seeing people move in and out for solos, that really changed things for us. Its all about the choreography. We looked at old videos of one mic bands and figured out how you do this, and make it look really smooth as the band moves around coming in and out. The audiences love it, and we feel more connected, standing closer together. Harmonies are better because we are standing next to each other.

    Maybe you could get a slightly better sound with multi mikes or straight set ups, but we would never consider it. I tape every show, so I listen to what is going out to the house through the mains and it sounds great to me on the playback.

    People watch as well as listen to a Bluegrass band. When it comes to watching, a single mike setup just can't be beat.
    james condino likes this.
  18. What mic are you using?
  19. Another mic I have heard sounds good in the rode nt1a
  20. Bass Doc

    Bass Doc

    Dec 1, 2010
    Charleston SC
    Not sure what mic we are using (I am not the sound/tech guy). I Just know its a fairly expensive (by my standards anyway) condensor mic that is normally used for recording. It cost about $350, and its as fairly delicate so we baby it.