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Tech: Which amp and mic to buy for singers?

Suegorgeous 30 Jan 09 - 01:32 PM
Zen 30 Jan 09 - 02:17 PM
Timo_Tuokkola 30 Jan 09 - 02:19 PM
Darowyn 30 Jan 09 - 02:20 PM
Stewart 30 Jan 09 - 02:27 PM
Richard Bridge 30 Jan 09 - 02:39 PM
Leadfingers 30 Jan 09 - 02:51 PM
GUEST,Jonny Sunshine 30 Jan 09 - 02:54 PM
Stringsinger 30 Jan 09 - 03:40 PM
The Vulgar Boatman 30 Jan 09 - 04:15 PM
Clifton53 30 Jan 09 - 04:30 PM
Richard Bridge 30 Jan 09 - 05:40 PM
Suegorgeous 30 Jan 09 - 08:38 PM
M.Ted 31 Jan 09 - 12:34 AM
Richard Bridge 31 Jan 09 - 04:45 AM
mandotim 31 Jan 09 - 06:43 AM
treewind 31 Jan 09 - 07:07 AM
Clifton53 31 Jan 09 - 09:16 AM
Nick 31 Jan 09 - 09:47 AM
Richard Bridge 31 Jan 09 - 10:00 AM
wysiwyg 31 Jan 09 - 10:03 AM
Tattie Bogle 31 Jan 09 - 10:16 AM
wysiwyg 31 Jan 09 - 12:04 PM
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Subject: Tech: Which amp and mic to buy for singers?
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 30 Jan 09 - 01:32 PM

I'm thinking of buying my own mic and small amp, so that I can be more self-sufficient and in control of my sound - at, for example, an informal/low-key/background performance at a smaller venue (as I'm doing next week), which may not have a PA (or have a bad one!).

So - can you recommend a mid-cost good quality mic and amp?

I sing mostly unaccompanied, occasionally with another musician (guitar or fiddle), so I'd like something they could also plug into if necessary, if that's possible. I don't want to spend a fortune, but I'd like to get something decent.

Ideally it could also be used at home for practice too.

Please don't just advise me I should perform unamplified. Sometimes I do - and sometimes that's not possible (for various reasons).

I know very little about sound, so please also keep it simple for my little brain! :)

Many thanks.
Sue


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Subject: RE: Tech: Which amp and mic to buy for singers?
From: Zen
Date: 30 Jan 09 - 02:17 PM

If it's a small amp capable of taking a mic and instrument input you're after I could recommend the Ashdown Engineering Acoustic Radiator 1 which is a small 100W so-called "acoustic instrument" amp. I have one, as well as a Yamaha StagePas 300W mini PA, and it does a good job. There are other excellent small amps like the AER but this is much more expensive. The Ashdown is available at a good price from a number of dealers such as Dolphin Music.

As for a mic, the ubiquitous Shure SM58 is still a good standard for vocals.

Zen


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Subject: RE: Tech: Which amp and mic to buy for singers?
From: Timo_Tuokkola
Date: 30 Jan 09 - 02:19 PM

For the mic, I'd recommend a Shure SM58. It's pretty much the gold standard for live performance. Cost is a little over $100.00, and it's virtually indestructible. Don't know much about a vocal amp though.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Which amp and mic to buy for singers?
From: Darowyn
Date: 30 Jan 09 - 02:20 PM

Your best solution would probably be one of the trolley-bag systems like the Yamaha Stagepas or equivalent like the Peavey Messenger.
They can be taken into the gig in one trip.
Here are a few
You would find it hard to beat a Shure SM58 mic for general use and unbreakableness.
Cheers
Dave


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Subject: RE: Tech: Which amp and mic to buy for singers?
From: Stewart
Date: 30 Jan 09 - 02:27 PM

I'd recommend a small powered speaker. That way you don't need a separate amp. I have a JBL Eon10 which is just perfect for a smaller venue, and fairly light weight to carry around. You can buy one new for about $400, but try Craig's List or EBay - I picked one up for half price, in very good condition.

Then get a good quality mic. The standard is the Shure SM58 for $99 - the price never goes below that. But for a little more try the Audix OM5. I just got one for $139 (before the price went up) and it's very nice, a step up from the SM58.

With the JBL powered speaker you can input a condenser mic directly with it's own gain control and preamp. But if you want to use two or more mics, a small mixing board would be a good investment. And that's about all you need.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Tech: Which amp and mic to buy for singers?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 30 Jan 09 - 02:39 PM

I hesitate to approve of any of the "PA in a suitcase" things as usually they sound TERRIBLE. Possibly the worst is the Fender Passport, and the least bad the Peavey Escort. I used one of the Phonics box amps at the Tolpuddle festival one year and was agreeably surprised by it, and it had more punch than any of the suitcase things. Then you will need speakers and unless you are prepared to build your own I think Carslbro are a good bet - but I tried some Altos the other night and was quite impressed since they are usually cheap.

If you use an acoustic guitarist, fine, just plug him into one of the HIGH impedance inputs on the box amp, but if he is a plank player with distortion pedals make him bring his own amp as the distortion pedals will destroy the tweeters (little high frequency speakers) in the PA speakers.

Shure SM58 are a viable option in the USA but in the UK are way overpriced and AKG (NOT the D3800) are often way better, pound for pound, mellower and more articulate.   I tried a Sennheiser last week and it was pretty good. However, even if a Shure soulds like dogpoo (which usually they don't) you will never get any flak for using them, because they are the standard.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Which amp and mic to buy for singers?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 30 Jan 09 - 02:51 PM

I have too much PA already , but IF I wanted another fairly small set up I would look at the Yamaha set up - The Mixer/amp fits inside one of the speaker cases , and there is space in the other for leads and mics . As Richard said , the SM58s though very good are over priced here in UK , though there are good deal on E Bay .


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Subject: RE: Tech: Which amp and mic to buy for singers?
From: GUEST,Jonny Sunshine
Date: 30 Jan 09 - 02:54 PM

If you only need to plug in one mic and one instrument, there are lots of choices of "acoustic amps" though they tend to be aimed at the guitarist-singer. The AER amps Zen mentioned before are excellent and extremely light & portable- but also very expensive.

You can't go wrong with an SM58. They're designed for live vocals and are virtualyl indestructible. The 58 Beta is even better (I love mine) but might be a bit expensive for something you only use occasionally.

Just one thing to add- if you'll need a mic-stand, DON'T BUY "STAGG". I bought six and four have broken. Buy cheap, buy again...


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Subject: RE: Tech: Which amp and mic to buy for singers?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 30 Jan 09 - 03:40 PM

Look into the new Fishman amp for guitar and singer. It's a cylinder which spreads sound around well. It has a 1/4 imput as well as XLR. You can play and sing through it and it does the job.

Stsr


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Subject: RE: Tech: Which amp and mic to buy for singers?
From: The Vulgar Boatman
Date: 30 Jan 09 - 04:15 PM

I've found Peavey mixer amps to be good and reliable, and you'll already have got the message about Shure mics.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Which amp and mic to buy for singers?
From: Clifton53
Date: 30 Jan 09 - 04:30 PM

I use a Marshall AS50 amp and an SM 58 as well. The amp goes for about $390 U.S., and has 3 inputs as well as RCA inputs so you can use it at home for CD's. Reverb and chorus too. Best of luck in your search


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Subject: RE: Tech: Which amp and mic to buy for singers?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 30 Jan 09 - 05:40 PM

Be VERY careful of ebay SM58s. I bought two from different sellers. I didn't like the look of them when they arrived. I sent them off to Shure in London who confirmed that both were hookey. I got virtually all of my money back via ebay/paypal so I now have a couple of spare cheap mics that LOOK like Shures!


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Subject: RE: Tech: Which amp and mic to buy for singers?
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 30 Jan 09 - 08:38 PM

This is great, thanks so much to all! I'm in the UK, by the way. It's clear Shure is the way to go with mics, but how to choose from all these amps etc....

Another query: please forgive what is probably a very naive question (I'm very ignorant about all this!) - but I thought an amp acted as a kind of speaker, so why does one need both an amp AND a speaker? (as Richard says above).

I'm now thinking also that I should maybe allow for 2 mics plus instrument input (may be doing some harmony singing) - so does that change any of your suggestions above? (sorry to chop n change!).

Grateful thanks
Sue


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Subject: RE: Tech: Which amp and mic to buy for singers?
From: M.Ted
Date: 31 Jan 09 - 12:34 AM

An amp is the electronic part of the sound system--the speaker turns the electronic signal into sound--so you always have to have speakers of some kind--sometimes they are both in the same box, like a guitar amp, and sometimes the speakers and amp are seperate--

I know that this is a US company, but this will give you a fair idea of Pretty Much the full range of All-in-One PA's, in all the different price ranges.   Many of these are probably available in the UK, if not, they are pretty similar to what you'll find there.

You'll have to figure out what you need in the situations that you'll be playing in. Some units will work on battery power, some have wheels and handles and such to allow you to move them around with one hand--

The Fishman Solo, which Stringsinger mentions, sets up almost instantaneously--and has a great sound. In Santa Monica, last summer, I saw a woman get off the bus with a guitar over one shoulder, towing the Fishman behind--she staked out a little place on the mall,
and was plugged in and playing in less than 5 minutes.

In sharp contrast, there was a guy down the block with a small pa, guitar and amp that spent the better part of an hour running wires and moving boxes. She'd finished a set and was signing photos and selling CDs before he'd even played a note.

Also, since you're new to this, you should practice with your pa as if it was an instrument. That way, you should be as comfortable with it as possible before you take it out in public--and always have a backup mike.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Which amp and mic to buy for singers?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 31 Jan 09 - 04:45 AM

If you are going to be singing in a room of people (typically, a pub) it is VITAL to have the speakers up on stands, above head level, or most of the sound disappears and gets soaked up into legs and clothes and what reaches the ears of your adoring public is a woolly mess.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Which amp and mic to buy for singers?
From: mandotim
Date: 31 Jan 09 - 06:43 AM

The Marshall AS50R mentioned above is pretty good, and very versatile. It has decent reverb and chorus effects, a DI out socket so you can link it to a bigger PA where necessary (and use the Marshall as a personal monitor),two channels including a balanced XLR input for a microphone, a notch filter for dialling out feedback and a basic but effective EQ setup. Cheap as chips second hand, a lot of them about, and tough as old boots. If anything does go wrong, lots of places will repair them at reasonable cost. The AS50R is 50 watt, but they also come in 80 and 100 watt sizes. Ultimately not as good as things like the Schertlers, AERs and Fishmans of this world, but in my experience better than all the 'PA in a suitcase' things like the Peavey Passport and Carlsbro Traveller. Nowhere near as expensive as those things either. I've used them a lot over the years, and they've never let me down.
If you are looking to go up a fair bit in cost and go for real quality, I'd recommend looking for one of the HK LUCAS active systems second hand. You'll need a small mixer with that, but they really are wonderful sounding PA's for solo and duo performers. Up another notch in price, and you get to the Bose L1 system, which is designed for the exact purpose you describe. These things even allow you to dial in the make and model of the microphone you are using, and the system automatically adjusts itself to the mike characteristics to give optimum sound. Clever, but pricey.
I've used all of the systems I've mentioned, but for a simple, affordable bit of kit to give 'presence' to a voice in slightly bigger venues, I'd use the Marshall.
One final point; Richard is right about fake Shure microphones, and not just on Ebay; I was sold a fake from a music shop on line. I wouldn't use a Shure anyway; they tend to work best with male, 'rock' type voices. Sennheiser and Audix make some good stuff for your purpose, and I'd think about the E845s, or better still the Audix OM5, my current mike of choice.
Hope this helps.
Tim


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Subject: RE: Tech: Which amp and mic to buy for singers?
From: treewind
Date: 31 Jan 09 - 07:07 AM

"2 mics plus instrument input (may be doing some harmony singing)"
Amplifiers with three inputs are much more rare than with two.
The next step up is a combination of:
- small mixer
- power amplifier
- speakers on stands

To save space and complexity, you can get either a powered mixer which has the amplifier and mixer in the same box, or get powered speakers, also known as "active speakers" which put the amplifiers in the speaker boxes.

For a really small and portable rig, I've found the JBL Control 1 amazingly capable. They're tiny and you won't get heavy bass out of them, but for clear vocals and sound reinforcement of acoustic instruments they're fine. I have home-made adapters to put them on mic stands (they're light enough to do this) but you can buy a bracket to do the same.

The Behringer PMP518M might do for a powered mixer.

Yamaha StagePAS was a good suggestion too - very light to carry. You'll still need speaker stands.

For suppliers, look at Thomann or Digital Village

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Tech: Which amp and mic to buy for singers?
From: Clifton53
Date: 31 Jan 09 - 09:16 AM

Great advice all, is there any obvious clues to detecting these fake Shure mikes?? I think I'm okay with my two as they are a bit older. But what to look for to buy a new one??


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Subject: RE: Tech: Which amp and mic to buy for singers?
From: Nick
Date: 31 Jan 09 - 09:47 AM

Fake Shures - there is an article on ebay about it. Price is also often a giveaway!


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Subject: RE: Tech: Which amp and mic to buy for singers?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 31 Jan 09 - 10:00 AM

The thing that made me suspicious of the two fake Shures I got was the weight. I weighed them gainst a genuine one I had. One fake was too light. The other was too heavy.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Which amp and mic to buy for singers?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 31 Jan 09 - 10:03 AM

Both Hardi and I love our Crates. Both amps, tho made in different years, were designed to reproduce and flatter acoustic-quality sound. My Shure mic is my faithful and rugged partner. (Hardi uses a different mic, and I dunno what it is at the moment.)

At one concert in the park, someone came up to me afterwards and said, dreamily, "I wish I could sing like you...." I commiserated, "Me tooooo....." because I know the difference my sound setup makes and how much better I sound amped than not-amped. :~) Oh, I know all the voice work I could to to get better projection and support, but it's just not in the cards to make that investment of time or money. The amp lets me sing less forcefully than I would need to, and thus saves my voice for a few more years of confident songleading.

Crates are heavy. For less important gigs we use little Vox amps-- instrument and mic jacks. BIG band and big sound for the buck, and very portable.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Tech: Which amp and mic to buy for singers?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 31 Jan 09 - 10:16 AM

I have a Roland Cube Street amp, which will run on batteries if you want to busk (as well as mains power)Various special effects too. It has both voice and instrument inputs. Got the Shure SM58 mike on my son's recommendation.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Which amp and mic to buy for singers?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 31 Jan 09 - 12:04 PM

Oh yeh, I forgot to say-- the Vox runs on batteries or powered line and includes effects.

And the Shure I use is SM58. 57 I believe is for instrument mics.

~S~


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