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Microphone - Does it matter what kind?


ATVRacer

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I bought 2 cheapo's from Guitar Center. I think they were buy one for $29 and get one free.

 

After testing them out, it seems that I have to hold them very close to my mouth and almost scream to get the sound up. I have all my levels up pretty high too, but I'm sure I could go higher.

 

Just wondering if buying better microphones would improve the mic volume and clarity. Does it really matter what type of mic I use?

 

Any recommendations on which mic I should look at?

 

I have a Mackie DFX6 mixer that I'm plugging into.

 

Thanks!!!

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I'm not a mic expert but mics are made for all kinds of purposes ... and you've learned that you only get what you pay for.

 

Sound On Sound, a British sound magazine, just had a feature issue all about mics. Go to your library and check that issue out. I always bring along a Shure SM58 as a general purpose vocal\announcing mic. (I always wished I would have bought a SM58 with its own on\off switch as it gets to be a pain to use the mixer for that purpose.)

 

If you buy a condenser mic that uses phantom power, you have to be sure that your mixer can supply that power. The field of microphones is probably more open and complex than all of our discussions of the best digital piano.

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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The lecturer on the studio production course I did told us that SM58 is great for male vocals and SM57 are primarily for instrument miking but also work well with female vocals, as they have a higher top end response.

 

Steve Tyler uses a '58 for his screaming vocals as the expensive studio mics are too clinical!

 

Your cheap mics are relying on the bass proximity effect to get any sort of volume out. Sm57/58s cost around 60/70 GBP and are well worth investing in IMO.

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SM58's and 57's rule because they use don't use (I think) neodymium magnets, and also have larger coils. Neodymium magnets are used in all the cheaper mics, because they are much smaller in mass for the same amount of magnetic flux (?), and the associated coil needs less number of winds to generate the same voltage.
Hammond T-582A, Casio WK6600, Behringer D
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Originally posted by Hammodel AV:

SM58's and 57's rule because they use don't use (I think) neodymium magnets, and also have larger coils. Neodymium magnets are used in all the cheaper mics, because they are much smaller in mass for the same amount of magnetic flux (?), and the associated coil needs less number of winds to generate the same voltage.

?????

The Neodym mikes are not always cheaper mikes. I use an ElectroVoice-ND/767. Costs about twice that of am SM58, and has a 10db hotter output. IMO it's a cleaner sounding mike with better response. In fact, the frequency response of my mike is nearly identical to that of the Sennheiser 441 that I used to have.

 

That said, the SM58 IS a good mike. One of the primary differences between the 58 and the 57 is the 58 has a built in pop filter (the ball) so it's a bit smoother for vocals.

 

ATVRacer, have you checked the trim on the Mackie? They might be set incorrectly. Most Mackie's I've dealt with have a way to set the trim easily. Hit the SOLO button for the channel. Then, while speaking into the mike, adjust the trim until the meter reads 0db. Once you turn off the SOLO, the channel will be set correctly. That should get you enough gain.

 

Another thing to look at is the impedence of the mike. If it's a high impedence mike and you go into a low impedence input, you'll get a very weak signal.

Even at that price, they should work through the Mackie. Check the settings on the board before giving up on the mikes. If they don't work, take them back.

"In the beginning, Adam had the blues, 'cause he was lonesome.

So God helped him and created woman.

 

Now everybody's got the blues."

 

Willie Dixon

 

 

 

 

 

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There are good knockoffs of Shure SM58's, or so I've heard -- literally: I've mixed tracks recorded with these mikes, but didn't see the mikes themselves so can't say what brand. Superpower recommends the Sampson, so they'd be worth a try. The SM58 design is not complex, so it should be easy for a quality Chinese manufacturer to knock them off at very low cost. (Any patents expired long, long ago, so it's not even illegal or immoral.)

 

The ones you have were probably priced so low because they're not much use. You probably won't be able to return them, so consider it a $30 lesson.

 

Another option to consider is the low-cost version(s) of the SM58; I forget the model numbers but you can find it on Shure's website -- I think they're the SM48 or perhaps SM58LC or something like that.

 

Neodymium magnets aren't bad or cheap. The Shure Beta-58 has a Neodymium magnet and I think it sounds even better than the SM58. Costs $50 more, too.

 

The SM58 is a dynamic mike and with quieter sources like fingerpicked acoustic guitar, it's hard to get a solid level out of without using premium mike preamp (e.g., Studio Projects VTB-1). But in now way are they "have to scream" to get a level. Yes, you do have to be right on top of the mike for best results, but even relatively quiet vocals would deliver a good strong signal, and you shouldn't have to crank up the gain pot all the way up on the Mackie.

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I should have qualified my statement to say that neodymium magnet techology allows cheaper mics to be made and sold, versus the more robust design of the SM58. Just like the differences in the mic cases (some plastic, some die-cast metals of varying types). Neodymium is also used for speaker magnets, especially for high-power where you don't want a huge rear magnet.

 

It is not entirely a short-cut and can be used in more precise designs, like the EV and Beta-58 examples above, where I'll bet close attention is given to the coil design.

 

The PG series is the cheaper Shure mics.

Hammond T-582A, Casio WK6600, Behringer D
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I've got a couple of the Shure PG series mikes, and they're not too bad. The frequency response is not as good as the SM series, but used in the correct environment, they do a good job.

I used to run a 147 Leslie, and I used a pair of PG series mikes on the Leslie. Worked like a charm.

 

I had a problem with a very old EV N/D 357 mike, where the element broke loose and it quit working. I used a PG58 for a while, and it did a decent job, until I called my cousin that works for EV and he helped me replace the EV for free.

"In the beginning, Adam had the blues, 'cause he was lonesome.

So God helped him and created woman.

 

Now everybody's got the blues."

 

Willie Dixon

 

 

 

 

 

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No reason to get a mic that isn't the SM58 if you're looking for a good all purpose mic. People will suggest other mics, but in the $100 range, you won't find better, and you can definitely find a lot worse. We use 57s/58s for everything except recording and they do wonders. Okay, that's a lie, we use them to record snare and bass drum too, and guitar cabs. Seriously, amazing bang for the buck.

 

As far as the volume, what are you using to power the mic as far as PAs or whatnot?

"...Keytar in a heavy metal band is nothing more than window dressing" - Sven Golly

 

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FWIW... the only difference in a 57/58 is the body and the wind screen period...same capsule...and though i dont have the parts list to check it ive been told that the betas are the same capsules too JUST different magnet material... so it's doubtful that all the cheap mics use neodynium for cost issuses when shure gets $50 more for it... YMMV
"style is determined not by what you can play but what you cant...." dave brubeck
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I just picked up a nearly new SM58 off Ebay.

I was using an Audio-Technica headset mic, but I got tired of hearing my self breathe through the PA when I wasn't singing. Besides, you can use the grill on the 58 to grate cheese for the salsa dip at jams.

What we record in life, echoes in eternity.

 

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atvracer

 

although a SM58 / 57 is a good mike dont just go out willy nilly and buy one.

Like keyboards a mic is an instrument that sounds different to every player.

You should go out and try many mics at your local shops and compare the tone.

 

Every mic / PA / mixer will effect and affect your tone.

 

For example my father and I both went shopping together for a mic.Both decided to check out an SM58 as it always was touted as the industry standard.[yes we listened to the crowd back then]

Each of us tried an SM58 and the then new Shure beta range.

 

As we are related by blood there is a high chance our voices are very similar being that everyone has said my talking voice reminds them of my dad and also as my father is a singing teacher Ive seen him teach many students and had a few lessons off him so that i may have picked up some similarities in tone.

 

First my dad tries an SM 58 and sounds great...then the Beta green 2 and sounds not so great.

Next I try the SM 58 and sound so so.. but try the Beta 2 and sound great.

Both mikes from shure...one an industry standard another a new technology for shure.I was also lucky the Beta sounded better as it was $30 cheaper than the SM58.

 

So there you go two mikes, two people [ perhaps with similar voices ] and the outcome was different...so it goes to prove that every mic sounds different..next time I buy I will spread the testing farther afield.

 

You must start your hunt for a new mic at your local music shop...yes I know its embarrassing to sing in a shop...but hey if you want to be an entertainer...get used to it.

 

Try your mics firstly pure with no backing music.Try to pick a PA system that might equate to what you think you may be using most often.I know the PA will influence the sound but its a chance youll have to take.

 

Without using any effects try this simple method.

For good singing / mic technique try firstly using the mic about 1" to 2" in front of your mouth.

Listen for the tone,also the volume that it can produce when held this far infront.

Next try the almost eating it approach...yes I know this is bad technique,,,but invariably in a live band situation you will do this as you'll want to boost the bass response/tone that this technique creates...yes I use this often live to reduce any harshness in my voice..it tends to give a rounder sound for soflty sung passages but i pull back to often up to a foot away when Im blasting out some high energy vocals.[sometimes in a small gig I will pull totally away from the mike as I am often to powerful in a small gig situation]You will know when to to this after a bit of experience singing live.Always listening to the tone...do you like it? and the volume at all distances. Does it distort.does eating it muffle the sound...

 

Ok so thats the simple test with no backing music...next do the same with backing tracks,,ie your favourite midifile song played at a decent volume [preferably small gig level at least] and try those tests again.

Look for distortion / muffling when swallowing the mic [ie singing with mic touching lips] and look for volume drop out when holding the mic at the correct distance...both should still give you good tone..if not try the next mic.

 

you deffinately have to take into account the swallowing technique if you play rock...sorry but its a necessary evil...you cant resist its use it is the apple in the garden of eden..it may be bad technique but I challenge you to resist it... I call it the new technique.lol

although my dad can resist it..he hates it but he comes from a different era and frowns upon it...mind you he is 81 and still singing live occasionally.He is right...but it can work to your advantage.I think it came from people using mikes like you have that just had to be sung that close or you couldnt heasr them..but when they tried it on a good mike they found there was some benefits to it.

 

I know this is a simplified version of testing a mike but it will give you a good feel for the mic that sounds the best to match your tone.

 

If you are too scared to make a fool of yourself in a shop...well then you'll be "trial an erroring" your mics for years,..so you may as well do as everyone else said and buy the SM58 as its an industry standard thru folklore..yes a damn good mike but there are heaps more good mikes out there that remain unknown because we are brain washed or too scared to try them in a shop.Thats why shure keeps it going its the golden goose.

 

My next purchase will be even further afield after finding a mike by this method that really works for me...but at this stage I have no need to change it other than its done a lot of work and may soon become my sacrificial spare that I hand out to wannabe audience singers...as I hate to use other peoples mikes.I keep one mike dedicated to handing to others to sing/annonce as I dont like to hand over mine.Presently its a cheap shure that looks like an SM57

i hate when someone making anouncements steps up to my mike and uses it.

 

hope this helps ps the damn computer locked up and I had to rewrite this I hiope it makes sence.

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Dan

I have wanted to go back to a headset mic...but have been dissapointed with the previous one I had...it was so long ago [over 20 years] I cant remenber the brand,but it wasnt a cheapy.

I remember the embarrassing time at my first big auditorium gig I did with my band when the soundman told me to lose the headset mike as it didnt have enough gain and set me up with a normal mike.

Maybe next mike search Ill use my testing method on a headset mike and try to see if I could get one with good tone...I know the previous one had a terrible tone for my voice ratherr muffled and continually slid down my head....I imagine that 20 odd years down the track they are good now....but it still must come down to the size of the mic head [not mine]...well I should try it out in a shop next time.

But like your trouble with breathing you also couldnt talk to band members easily as the audience heard every word you said.

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Wow!!! This place is bursting with knowledge and experience. I really do apprecite everyone's input. I am going to take your advice and head down to the shop and just try them out.

 

My purpose for needing a mic is I am setting up a PA system for announcing and playing MP3 music. No singing! Thank God!

 

I have another post on here about this gig in a field for ATV racing. Check it out if you know anything about monitors. I had a few questions I needed help with.

 

I'll be using 2 or 4 Mackie SRM450, depending on what advice I get from the other folks on the other post.

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The best advice on this thread (amongst a lot of great comments) was Dave Horne's in the second post; make sure you get a mic with an on/off switch. This is not standard on many mics, but in your situation where it is being used as an announcing tool, you'll find it's critical to have a switch. It's a a pain to always go to the mixer to turn the channel down. In the case of an SM58, I think the verison with the switch is called the SM58S.
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Even if you have a mic without an on\off switch, you can buy a mic cable that has one. (I don't own one but I have seen them listed in catalogues.)

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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What are you using the mic for? Depending on the use, you could consider a condenser microphone, which typically have extended frequency response and respond faster to transient peaks, resulting in a sound that most people perceive as "clearer". There are a lot more choices in the sub-$200 range for condenser microphones, with quite a number of them under $100 (including the Audio-Technica AT2020 large diaphragm condenser, which has gotten several good reviews).

 

For general purpose use, I like SM 57s. They're cheap, rugged, and don't have that foam element that 58s have. However, I believe they are slightly more directional than 58s, so consider the 58s if that is a consideration.

 

I have an old EV ND-257A (yes, a neodyn), which has a hotter output than my 57. Sounds fine. A better mic than a 57 if you have a really lispy or shrill singer, as it does not have as noticeable of a rise in the mid frequencies as a 57, and seems to have a little more girth in the bottom end, if memory serves.

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For most musicians, I generally recommend against the switch, and if you already have one with the switch, open it up and short out the switch.

 

1) I hate the huge pop you get when you use the switch. Can't be good for speakers! Far better to hit the mute switch on the board, if you can.

 

2) Occasionally the switch gets pushed off by accident.

 

3) Occasionally the switch gets pushed off by accident, when putting the mike back in the stand and not using it, or when getting it out. So it's not noticed. And the mike isn't hot, so the sound guy spends minutes verifying everything's OK until someone finally figures out or remembers that the mike has a switch. This happened just last week at practice, and killed 5 minutes or so.

 

Dave, you may not mind the big POP, and given you're not near the mixer, it may be a good solution for you. For a speech-only PA like ATVRacer's case, it's probably a good idea.

 

But for most folks, just say "no" to the switch.

 

ATVRacer, are you sure you're using the "Gain" knob on your mixer (possibly labeled "Trim")? If that's turned all the way up and you still have this problem, then toss the cheapo mikes and try different cheap ones. Go for mikes that look and feel like the rugged SM58, which take a lot of abuse. (They don't exactly sound the same after being dropped a few times, but they don't suffer terribly from it, unlike many others.)

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Learjeff, from what you've written re the switch on the mic and the resulting pop, it then would seem to make sense to buy the cable with the built in on\off switch. Turning the mic on and off from the cable wouldn't result in the same pop right?

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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My EV has a switch. But, it's very small, hard to find, and works sideways so it doesn't get shut off accidentally. In the year or so I've had the mike, I've never used the switch. In a live band situation, sitting on a keyboardist's boom stand, there's no need for one.

 

But, in ATVRacer's situation, a switch is absolutely imperative. With the noise level he'll be dealing with, you want the mike off when not in use.

 

I agree with Learjeff. Go with the 58 or similar. You can almost drive nails with them, and you need something that can stand up to abuse in that environment.

"In the beginning, Adam had the blues, 'cause he was lonesome.

So God helped him and created woman.

 

Now everybody's got the blues."

 

Willie Dixon

 

 

 

 

 

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Originally posted by Dave Horne:

Learjeff, from what you've written re the switch on the mic and the resulting pop, it then would seem to make sense to buy the cable with the built in on\off switch. Turning the mic on and off from the cable wouldn't result in the same pop right?

I've used cables with the switch, and they pop the same as a regular switch. If you're in a situation where you don't really need one, don't use it.

 

In a normal stage situation the only real use I've found for a switch is feedback locating. If you have 5 live mikes, and one's feeding back, you can find which one by turning it off. Otherwise, there's no need.

"In the beginning, Adam had the blues, 'cause he was lonesome.

So God helped him and created woman.

 

Now everybody's got the blues."

 

Willie Dixon

 

 

 

 

 

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I like the Audix OM2 for a little over $100 its a great mike. Some people swear by the OM5 but its more money.

 

I am a bass and I sing close in. Most cheap mics I can overload. The SPL level a mic will take is one of the most important differences between the el-cheapo mics and the better ones.

 

If you don't want to sing close in you want a hypercardoid mic. Take a look at the Sennheiser 855 or similar.

 

The SM58 is a standard mic and very robust. Nobody will ever look at you sideways for sticking an SM58 in front of them.

 

BTW, I'm with learjeff on mics with switches. I won't put one on stage - its too easy to have someone switch one of accidentally. Next thing you know, you try to bring them up in the mix and when you have them wide open and are starting to wonder what's gone wrong, they turn the bloody thing back on with the expected results. Of course its always the sound guy that looks like the idiot.

 

The SM57 does not really work for vocals live because of the lack of a pop filter. Its a stock mic for micing amps and I prefer it to a lot of bass drum mics because you get more snap.

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I say go for the Sampson Q7. For announcements only you don't need the Neodymium magnets of the Q8. If you like the Q8 and the price is right, many folks including me prefer the beta-58 for singing. But it's just "not necessary", and it isn't necessarily a better mike overall. For example, it might be more likely to feed back since it's a bit livelier and crisper.
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