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Old 12-13-2019, 06:20 AM
imsharris imsharris is offline
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Default Live sound and mixing....need help!

I am hoping that some people here may have some better experience than I have and can make some suggestions. I have an upcoming solo acoustic gig and I am trying to put together a new setup. I recently got a new acoustic that I am really wanting to use but for several reasons, I would rather mic it for the performance. In the past I have always used a K&K and Red-Eye DI straight into the mixer and it has been awesome, but I am not wanting to add any pickups to this new guitar. I have searched YouTube for tips on live micing, but all I am finding is videos on recording.

For the gig I will be using a Mackie 1202VLZ4 board with a Lexicon rack effects unit for a little reverb on vocals. My vocal mic is a Shure Beta 58. I will also be using a single QSC K10.2 for sound. The room is a smaller "tasting room" for a microbrewery. Unfortunately, brick walls, cement floor, you know the place. I don't really want to be loud, just heard. I believe it will be more a more laid-back, listening-room type of vibe. I will be using a stool to sit on, so moving around is really not an issue.

For my guitar I will be using a Martin 00-21 that has very good sound projection. Great guitar. I have several mic's to choose from (Shure SM57, Beta 57, Rode NT1, Rode M3, Shure SM58). If there are any other mic suggestions, especially those that are easily available at a local music store, please let me know!

What I am looking for advice on is what mic would be best for a live setting and what I need to do on the mixer as far as gain versus volume, should I add a little reverb, etc. If you were a soundman, how would you set this up? Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated!
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Old 12-13-2019, 06:37 AM
MikeBmusic MikeBmusic is offline
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Because every room is different, no one can tell you 'set the gain at___, set reverb to____' - it's all a guess until you get there and work the sound.

Quite honestly, I would bring a guitar that I could plug in (not mic) for this first gig. Trying to balance 2 mics, adjust EQ, reverb and volumes without a helper (who knows what to listen for) is a tough thing to do.

At a recent venue (small brew room), the sound was pretty bad - tall ceiling, hard surfaces meant NO reverb used at all on my mixer, the room's reverb overwhelmed the sound.
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Old 12-13-2019, 06:52 AM
guitarman68 guitarman68 is offline
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activate the low cut in the instrument channel on your board. mic placement towards the sound hole (what nobody will do when recording in the studio), some significant bass roll off in the instrument channel on your board.
perfect mic choice would be Neumann KM85 for its low freqeny roll off. They are rare and expensive. Next mic I would use is Shure KSM 137 for its effective low cut or any small condenser with flat response (no hyped trebles) and decent low cut.
And yes, it is possible to amplify a guitar that way in the environment described. And K10 is a perfect choice.
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Old 12-13-2019, 07:26 AM
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Though I have no real experience with it, another consideration would be to go with an Ear Trumpet mic that picks up your voice AND guitar. That would likely simplify things a bit for you. I've seen The Milk Carton Kids live several times and they are both singing and playing directly into a single Ear Trumpet mic. They are expensive mics but I've considered going this route a couple times but have yet to give it a go. I'd love to hear from any others with experience micing this way for performance from those that have.
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Old 12-13-2019, 07:37 AM
B. Adams B. Adams is offline
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I would also recommend plugging in, assuming you have a decent DI for it.

However, if you don't want to plug it in, the best mic in your inventory for this is going to be the SM57. It will sound decent and be less prone to feedback than your condensers. It might not sound quite as good, but it'll be very similar and you won't have to fight it all night.

Place it about 6 inches from the joint where the neck meets the body, and angle it slightly towards the sound hole. Try to maintain consistent distance from the mic while you're playing. Small movements can make a big difference.

Are you running your Lexicon processor on an aux? If so, you could use that for reverb on your vocal and guitar mics. Only turn it up as loud as you need to.

If I were you, I would absolutely be setting this up and playing through it (several times) in advance of the gig. If you have a good friend or partner with a halfway decent ear have them out front during the show so they can let you know if anything needs to change (it will, and you'll have no idea otherwise).

Spend some time, in advance, learning how the EQ on your mixer responds to changes, as well as the other controls. That's a small mixer and there's not a whole lot you can do with it, but even small EQ changes can make a big difference. Over time you'll learn what to listen for. Feel free to message me if you have any specific questions.
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Old 12-13-2019, 07:41 AM
B. Adams B. Adams is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Methos1979 View Post
Though I have no real experience with it, another consideration would be to go with an Ear Trumpet mic that picks up your voice AND guitar. That would likely simplify things a bit for you. I've seen The Milk Carton Kids live several times and they are both singing and playing directly into a single Ear Trumpet mic. They are expensive mics but I've considered going this route a couple times but have yet to give it a go. I'd love to hear from any others with experience micing this way for performance from those that have.
I have an ETL Louise, which I use for bluegrass sets (for other artists, not me). It's a great mic (sounds good and looks great), but a single mic requires specific technique and gives you a different sound. It's also a little trickier to get higher levels out of than individual close mics, and probably not something I'd recommend for a beginner. If that's the look and sound you want though, an ETL mic is a great way to get it!
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Old 12-13-2019, 08:15 AM
GmanJeff GmanJeff is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by B. Adams View Post
I would also recommend plugging in, assuming you have a decent DI for it.

If I were you, I would absolutely be setting this up and playing through it (several times) in advance of the gig. If you have a good friend or partner with a halfway decent ear have them out front during the show so they can let you know if anything needs to change (it will, and you'll have no idea otherwise).
This. Using a mic for live instrument amplification is tricky for a lot of reasons, and introduces challenges which may take time to work out on site if you want to sound your best. Professionals using this technique have an engineer making gain and other adjustments as needed along with sophisticated EQ tools, which you don't see on TV or from the audience, and often are performing in acoustically designed/treated performance spaces.

If you don't want to permanently install a pickup in your guitar, a soundhole unit might make things much easier for you. One less mic, mic stand, and mic cable to deal with, too. The audience is not going to care, certainly.
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Last edited by GmanJeff; 12-13-2019 at 08:25 AM.
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Old 12-13-2019, 09:15 AM
imsharris imsharris is offline
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This is all great advice! I am definitely one who sets up and "practices" my setup before a gig anywhere and I usually tailor my setup to the venue. I do have a little time to try different things. The nice thing is I comfortable with my mixer and will actually be able to set it right next to me. I usually use the K10.2 on a stand, about 6 feet up, set right behind me when I am plugged in, but I am guessing in this situation I want the speaker in front of my position.

As far as setting the mic, are dynamic and condensers the same as far as setting the gain (initial setup using the "solo" button) and then making other adjustments simply using the volume? Get the vocal and guitar set where you want then make overall changes with the main volume?

So much appreciation for all the advice and suggestions! Keep them coming!
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Old 12-13-2019, 12:04 PM
B. Adams B. Adams is offline
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Dynamics and condensers are still just mics, so yes, they'll work very similarly in those terms. However, condensers can be a lot more finicky. They're more sensitive, which some people take to meaning that they have more "range" and feed back easier, but that's not really the case. They do pick up better at a distance and do feed back easier, but that's mostly due to the wider frequency response and better transient response, as well as the polar pattern. Many condensers also have a large boost in the high frequencies, which certainly doesn't help with feedback.

Good condenser mics have a very smooth frequency response, so better mics will typically give you better results.

You might be able to get away with having the speaker behind you, but that's less likely if you use a condenser. You can use the master volume for major changes, but you may need to make changes to individual channels (including level and EQ) over the course of the night. The sound will change a little over time depending on the number of people, their proximity to you, the varying temperature and humidity of the room, and anything else that changes over the course of the night. Whether these changes in the room will require changes to your mix is part of why you'd benefit from a pair of ears in the audience, although you might be able to hear some of it if the speaker is behind you.
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Old 12-13-2019, 12:24 PM
gfa gfa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imsharris View Post
...

As far as setting the mic, are dynamic and condensers the same as far as setting the gain (initial setup using the "solo" button) and then making other adjustments simply using the volume? Get the vocal and guitar set where you want then make overall changes with the main volume?

So much appreciation for all the advice and suggestions! Keep them coming!
The basic gain/volume concept is the same for both types of mic, it'll be different due to the characteristics of the mic. Make sure you have phantom power for your condenser mic (built into some boards).

Methos: My band uses an ETL Josephine. I love it. I'd be happy to share more of my experience, but PM me so we don't hijack this thread.
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Old 12-13-2019, 01:05 PM
imsharris imsharris is offline
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Don't worry about hijacking the thread! I would love to know more about those mics. They may be close to what I am looking for. I went and watched some videos of Milk Carton Kids and saw what they were using. I know they are a little expensive but if it is going to be a good way to go, it might just be worth it.
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Old 12-13-2019, 01:53 PM
keith.rogers keith.rogers is offline
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I would use a dynamic like the venerable SM57. It's going to need more gain than the condensers, but it might force you to use a closer mic technique which might be a good thing. If you have time, you can certainly try the M3, but when the place gets busy, just be aware that it will pick up more room noise than the SM57, and anything/everything that goes into it will get amplified. So, it might test Ok, but problems can arise in small places once the acoustics change. You can leave the NT1 at home IMO.

The other thing that might make me lean to the SM57 is that you're now going to have the vocal also bleeding a bit into the guitar mic. So, try to test it while singing with the SM58 off and see how you can adjust the position to reduce that, especially since you'll be sending the vocal mic through some processing.

If there's a hard surface behind you, that will make micing more challenging, since all the room noise and your own sound will be bouncing back off that, unless it's a particularly long or dead room, otherwise. Anything you can do to reduce the extraneous sound from entering the mics will help.

On the ETL mics, and, really, any medium/large condenser where you have to turn the gain up to capture multiple voices or voice+instrument, a tight noisy space is going to be a problem IME. It's one thing if it's a good room and the audience is sitting in rapt attention, or if it's a large stage with heavy drapes or even open in the back and sides (outdoors), but tight & noisy is not where I pull out a condenser. (I'd definitely contact ETL about your use cases for mic suggestions. They may have something on their site about this kind of thing - seems like I read something there once.)
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Old 12-14-2019, 09:20 AM
lschwart lschwart is offline
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As you consider which mic to buy for this, remember that in a room like that with the room's reflections and people talking, you will not get much audible benefit from the extra sensitivity and frequency response of an expensive condenser mic. It's just not a context in which people (or you) are likely to be able to hear the difference. Management of feedback and your basic mix will be more important.

Get a decent workhorse sort of dynamic mic like an SM57 or for better side-rejection, if that's what you need in the room, a supercardioid like a Beta 57, etc.. Remember that you will want to get close to the guitar, but that as you do get closer, proximity effect will increase the bass frequencies and lower your gain before feedback threshold. As others have noted, engage the high pass filters on your mixer for both of your mics. You might also experiment with the settings on your K10.2, which might offer you more low cut than your Mackie, which I think only goes up to 75 Hz. You might want to be able to cut the lows on a slope starting around 100 Hz or even a bit higher.

Remember, also, that with the speaker behind and over your head, your body will help block the direct sound to the mics, which will allow you more gain before feedback than you might imagine you could get, or even need, for this sort of gig. I would be careful about--maybe more careful about--sound reflecting back at you from the room as you turn up and about low frequencies from your speaker resonating in the stage area--especially if you're in a corner or if you have a hard surface behind you and/or above you, and/or a hard reflective floor under you (bringing a small area rug can help with the latter, and it looks nice, too).

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Last edited by lschwart; 12-14-2019 at 12:15 PM.
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Old 12-14-2019, 10:34 AM
Shredmaster007 Shredmaster007 is offline
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I like my KSM137 way more than my NT1 or SM57 for guitar - you get more signal before feedback and it sounds absolutely fantastic. I had an SM81 and an AT2021 before that and didn't like them at all.
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Old 12-14-2019, 11:56 AM
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Great info on the ETL mics and pretty much what I thought. Great for large stages with built-in sound dampening, a rapt audience and dedicated sound person. Not so great for the average gig we play with small, packed places and a ton of background noise! Maybe someday when we transition to an all-original act and win that first Grammy!!

As for cost, yes, they are pricey but if one ETL takes the place of two vocal mics AND guitar pickup systems and cables, well then it's a wash, right?
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