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Need mic advice

Admittedly I come from a professional musical theater background where mics were not an issue as they were attatched under our wigs. now,a newcomer of 4 months with an established 3-piece band, and I have been getting comments from one particular follower that I am not close enough to the mic and that I cannot be heard in the back of the room. Okay, so next time I get so close to the mic that I almost break my teeth against it, and then I hear that people in the back of the room could not hear my words on some parts of the songs, but then I almost blasted their ear drums at the parts I belted. So the band members said I should be moving away from the mic when I am going to sing louder. Other people at these same events had nothing but great things to say about my performance.

I am confused and getting discouraged!In my monitor I sounded perfectly normal and could hear myself well. Does this not correspond to what the people in the room are hearing? Do I get close to the mic? Move back and forth? Quit the band because maybe I just don't get it and I'm not cut out for it?

Thanks for any advice you might share


  • Klaus_TKlaus_T Moderator, 2.0 PRO Posts: 2,360
    Hi @Lina , it's hard to give the right answer without having been there to judge for myself, but there are some things that come to mind as to what might have been the case. first of all, don't quit the band, all of this can surely be addressed somehow.

    yes, it might be that you aren't "handling" the mic in an ideal way. your bandmates are right when they say you should be backing off for loud belting parts, and get close to the mic for softer parts. was the mic in a stand, or did you hold it? which type of mic was it? you normally should not need to back off more than 10-15 inches (as a ballpark figure, but I'd say that would already be rather far in a live situation), and being close could be as close as touching the mic's grill with your lips ("eating the mic"). it does depend on a lot of things, for example, the type of microphone in use, the type of processing on the vocals (if any), the volume of the PA, your monitors, the band behind you, what is the style/loudness of your singing, etc. you can find some pointers by googling "live performance microphone technique" or something along the line. also, I'd recommend watching live videos of singers that have a similar style.

    what strikes me as a bit strange is that you heard it fine through the monitors, I am assuming they were wedges or sidefills (i.e. some kind of speakers on stage), and not in-ears?

    normally, extreme dynamics can be ironed out by using a compressor, which is a processor that caps the loudest peaks, thus evening out the signal. There is a possibility that you had one on the monitors, but there wasn't one on the PA. it is very unlikely though, and you said that a lot of people had nothing to complain about. so there is the chance of this one person just being a troll, and then you should just ignore them completely.

    I would think that when you practiced with the band in a rehearsal space (I am assuming you did), such dramatic changes in volume would have somehow been an issue for your bandmates before you hit the stage, and they would have pointed it out then. if they did not, it kind of supports the "troll theory".

    on a different note, I think as long as there are live shows, there will be sound issues, even big productions with seasoned professionals (musicians as well as technicians) and top-notch equipment can't pull it off every single time, so maybe a part of being in the "show business" is coming to terms with those things and accept them as part of the game. no excuse for blowing people's eardrums though ;)

    again, knowing the type of mic, and the signal chain on the vocals would be a great help to narrow down the potential issues. of course, talking to your bandmates, or someone who is experienced in these things in person and on location would be a much easier solution than trying to figure this out here. but I will do my best to help, and I am sure some others might have an idea as to what might be the issue here.

    best wishes, Klaus

  • Klause is right. It's really hard to diagnose an audio problem without hearing it, and not knowing the specifics.

    Who runs your sound for the band? Usually if it sounds good in the monitors, and bad out front, it's the sound guy.
    Do you just have a band member mix the sound, and then walk away type situation?
    A lot of times if a band member is doing sound he will concentrate more on what he/she will hear rather than the room mix.

    Working a mic can be tricky sometimes. You just have to get used to it.

  • LinaLina 2.0 PRO Posts: 77
    Dear Klause and Videoace--THANK YOU so much!!

    I will definitely google mic techniques. We play dance music for an older crowd--in Italian, English & Spanish--ballroom, disco, salsa, tango, etc. We are three pieces drummer and piano , plus they use backtracking software for a fuller sound. The drummer is the one who does the sound control and he agreed with the complainer, and added that he had to keep "adjusting" the volume control for me because my singing volume wasn't consistent. BUT SOME SONGS REQUIRE SOME BELTING AND SOME ARE SOFTER, MORE ROMANTIC SONGS--so arent' dynamics just part of the interpretation??

    I use an EV ND76 mic and I use Shure in-ear monitors. The mic is not wireless. Do you think I should get another type of mic?
    Also, I am going to talk to the band members about a compressor, as I have no idea if they use one.

    Thank you again for such detailed insight
  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,346
    There are a lot of unknowns to be able to give you a direct answer.

    What is in your monitor is not necessarily what is in the house sound system. If you could hear yourself fine in the monitors, then it is probably a problem with the sound person not paying sufficient attention to your mic in the main sound system. It is correct that if you are at a comfortable listening level with your average volume, if you bring it up to belt, your voice will peel the paint off the walls, so you may need to turn your head away from the mic slightly or move the mic away a couple of inches. Not too much, but use your ears to try to maintain only a small rise in volume when you belt loudly.

    If there is a way to record the sound in the room, you might learn a little bit about how much your voice varies and thereby use that as a basis to decide how much volume to add or control on those belting parts.
  • LinaLina 2.0 PRO Posts: 77
    Thank you Bob!
  • Maximus3000Maximus3000 2.0 ENROLLED Posts: 82
    Hello Lina,
    I am beside my singing journey a sound engineer at a local pub where we have 1 liveband per week. In my experience it is ALWAYS a problem that the vocals fit right in the mix all the time. I guess this is not what you want to hear but when your drummer sets the sound and then you start performing and no one is adjusting it you won´t have a chance that it is good all the time. It is absolutely normal that you as a singer have dynamic. The problem is that the rest of the band also has dynamics. When you sing at lower levels and the drummer is going crazy, you will be lost. When the drummer is playing softly and you are belting, you will be way too loud. A compressor is a great tool to control the average sound but I really recommend you someone who is mixing you live from front of stage.

    I suppose that when you sung in theatre, you always had a soundengineer who adjusted the volume levels of each instrument in every second of the song.

    Even if I do a perfect soundcheck before the beginning of a gig: I always have to make huge fader movements to control the dynamic of the band if it is not controlled enough by the band

    I always say to the singers:
    get the Mic as close as you can that I get good levels to work with, Especially when speaking or singing quietly. When it gets loud: just move a little bit back. Too much movement is also dangerous. When you overdo it, you will be lost in the mix even when you belt.

  • Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 1,421
    @Lina , also as a (sometimes) gigging musician, wireless systems are a godsend, because you can venture our into the seating area and hear exactly what is getting projected during sound check... also I might recommend the use of a compressor. This will help to bring your softer notes up and you belting ones down; but it also helps to learn mic dynamics, as in,, backing off maybe an inch or so when you belt, and closing back in when you're doing the softer parts.



    ~ "Its not the kill, its the thrill of the chase" Deep Purple
  • LinaLina 2.0 PRO Posts: 77
    I am going to ask about a compressor and also do my part! Because we already make very little, I don't think suggesting a professional sound person will fly, but that would seem like the best option to me! Thanks, Guys!
  • Klaus_TKlaus_T Moderator, 2.0 PRO Posts: 2,360
    Hi @Lina , if you get the chance to test one of those things here, I think this could be an affordable & easy solution which you could operate without too much technical background: TC-Helicon Mic Mechanic 2.

    I am using a TC Helicon Play Acoustic, and I believe the adaptive processing would be the same as in this unit.

    It does all sorts of processing in the background, you can't set anything regarding compressing/EQ/limiting/gate, it does it automatically. I haven't used it live as of now, but in the practice room, it sounds fine.

    @Furious_Phil , I think you also use one of the TC thingies, do you have any live experience with them, especially in regards of the compression/adaptive stuff?
  • doc_ramadanidoc_ramadani Administrator, 2.0 PRO, Facility Management Posts: 3,978
    OMG, when I read what Klaus mentions I feel that GAS tries to grab me. :fearful: Doc
  • Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 1,421
    @Klaus_T @Lina , good catch!
    I do in fact use the TC Helicon VoiceLive Play when performing live. :smiley:
    It does indeed have an 'Adaptive Processing" feature that includes compression, and it does it very well.
    I picked mine up used for about $200, mainly because I got tired of soundmen missing cues and botching levels / tone.
  • Klaus_TKlaus_T Moderator, 2.0 PRO Posts: 2,360
    @Furious_Phil , cool thanks, so you also think it might be helpful in Lina 's live sound issues. @Lina, I think it might be the way to go. For non-engineers, compressors are not so easy to set correctly, and in a performance, you have so much other things to think about. You might be able to buy one in a store and return it if it doesn't do what you were hoping for. Or return it either way and get a used one ;)

    I will play a little show on March 2, and will be able to figure out myself how it performs, we also won't have a sound engineer (well, 3 out of 5 in our band ARE actually sound engineers, but no one has free hands).

    @doc_ramadani , that made me laugh, be careful, it is as dangerous as you make it sound :)
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