Live Vocal Microphone

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Live sound is also part of my sound engineer activity. Here I want to talk about the relationship between the microphone and the live singer. I have usually to work with singers who have good microphone handling, which makes it easier and helps to achieve a live sound quality result. But in other occasions I had to deal with those who doesn’t know how a microphone works.

Microphones have some features that we need to know: transducer type, sensitivity, directionality, and frequency response.

Transducer

The most used: dynamic and condenser microphones. Dynamic ones are less sensitive and of frequency response more reduced than condenser mics.

Sensitivity

The sensitivity is how much sound pressure the microphone must receive to transduce the required voltage to excite the mic preamp.

Frequency response

The frequency response is the output level or sensitivity of a microphone throughout its operating range, from the lowest frequency to the highest.

Directionality (polar pattern)

Is the microphone's pickup angle. The directional pattern keeps direct relation to the sensitivity and frequency response of the microphone. The best pickup is on the microphone axis. It is the position where you get the best frequency response and the greatest sensitivity. The live vocal microphones, are typically cardioid, this means that they capture main and ideally by the front of the capsule. By varying the position on the axis, the sensitivity is diminishing.

What problem can we find handling the microphone?

The mic capsule is designed so that when you bring it close enough to the sound source, (in this case the voice), this one does the work for which it was created. Any element that does not allow the free movement of the air particles that move the microphone diaphragm, will make it change the characteristics specified by the manufacturer. That means that you can vary your frequency response and by hand-covering the grid, its original sound changes its frequency response and becomes omni-directional, making it easier for the sound coming from the amplifiers and instruments above the stage, to strain into the microphone, and even the sound that comes out of the monitoring system and the room, causing feedback.

How to handle the microphone well?

The microphone must be taken by the body, between the grid and the xlr connector, without touching the grid covering the capsule, and positioned as close as possible to the singer's mouth with the microphone axis pointing to the throat. Thus the microphone captures the voice correctly and the possibility of equalizing is to improve the sonority and not to solve technical problems that the bad handling causes.

 


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