Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Performing with Your Own Microphones

Audio Technica Microphones will again grace the stage for the 2012 Country Music Awards Show on April 1st.

AE5400 used on CMAs
Nearly every year it has been televised, Audio-Technica's have been the main mics used on the annual Grammys and Country Music Awards Shows.  One of the things musicians depend on is a quality vocal mic.  Surprises on a high budget production like the Grammys Award Show and CMA broadcast is not going to be tolerated.  Take a cue from the pros on this one and check out this Artist Elite Series AE5400 they use on stage.  Why do you think they use them year after year?  I used to just keep the house microphone provided by the venue but quickly learned that can come back to bite you.

Whereas the soundman rules, you can still arrive early and speak with him regarding using your own mic.  I've done this and you'd be surprised at how accommodating they can be.  Besides most sound techs want to try new equipment so if you have a really nice mic or preamp, they are likely going to be interested.

One venue I played, I checked in with the soundman and discussed the equipment I was bringing.  He assured me that he would be able to integrate it into the house sound system.  The day of the gig, I arrived early and helped set everything up.  The result was a smooth, comfortable performance with no mic issues or sound surprises.  In fact, I was one of the first performers to bring and use a condenser mic onstage.  The house mic was a dynamic, you know that good 'ol Shure SM58!  After I finished the set, I took my Audio Technica ATM710 Artist Series condenser microphone with me.  We later stopped by to hear the band that followed but... couldn't!  The house microphones were barely picking up the vocals and instruments.  They were practically shouting into them. 

I knew that feeling.  I don't (want to) remember how many places I've played using the equipment that was there only to have to just about scream into the microphone to be heard, (barely).  Something like that just throws off your whole performance because now you've got to position yourself closer to the mic which may be unnatural to hold.

AT 4081 Ribbon Instrument Mic
The same thing for your instrument and amp mics.  Years ago, bringing something as sweet but fragile as a ribbon mic to a performance was pretty much unheard of.  Ribbon microphones are amazing but dropping one means several hundred dollars down the drain.  Now with new technology, the AT 4081 Ribbon Mic is much more rugged for travel and work outside the recording studio.  In fact if you are using this equipment in the studio, i.e. a drum and bass machine, vocal preamps, guitar pedals, BRING THEM ALONG too.  The familiar will make you more comfortable and confident when facing the crowds.  
The main thing to remember is that YOU are the artist.  Not to get all "Diva" on you but I think you'll find bringing your own microphones and preamps will give you the most control over your sound and performance.  They you can relax and play.

My Voicetone Create vocal mic preamp & DR-3 Drum and Bass Machine powered by a Sanyo Pedal Juice.  A little bit of my studio that goes with me on the road.

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