I’ve been in the voice, music, tuition & writing business for almost 4 decades now and I’m glad I can still say that I truly love my job. Singing, music, theatre, coaching, writing and the media business is not only what I do, it’s who I am ! On such a long journey one comes across lots of special situations: nice ones, difficult ones and the ones that challenge us, question us to make us learn and grow and keep us sharp. I talk about them here.
« Why On Earth Would You Need Your Own Mic ? »
Lots of vocalists don’t bother buying any equipment other than a music stand, stage outfits and make up. But an own mic ? Let’s be clear: at each venue or rehearsal room someone pushes you a SM58 in your hand, so why on earth would you need your own mic ?
Well, there are a couple of reasons for it :
The mics that we run into at venues or rehearsal rooms are hardly ever maintained and have been kicked off their mic stand and/or fell down to the ground many times: and every time they fall again they receive a new shock, until they’re finally damaged (whilst they still seem to function, so at times you may be singing with a dysfunctional mic without knowing it).
But the issue here is that … everybody has been using them ! Your predecessors on a festival sound check or rehearsal room with their flu, persistant cold or herpes lip. A genuine party of viruses ! Yummy !
Do I need to say more ?
It’s kinda weird many vocalists don’t make an issue of it and accept to work in these conditions, whilst guitarists don’t bother whining when finding out on a festival they’ll have to play through a Peavey amplifier instead of the requested Fender. Btw, isn’t it about time to have some #MeToo uprising here as well, women ? 🙂
The voice is the signature of every vocalist, band or project (think about Sting, Piaf, Beth Hart, Chris Cornell etc). A voice is unique, never universal ! So forget about universal mics (bullshit !) There’s a mic for every voice, it’s a matter of exploring to find yours. Never believe a sales guy asking you « what music style do you sing ? » in order to determine what you need (and then he’ll recommend an SM58 anyway 🙄). Also never forget that sales guys are rarely vocalists, meaning, they miss ‘flying hours’ (experience).
It took me years before finding the mic matching my voice particularities (lots of natural overtones combined with darkish sound colour), in my case a Beyerdynamic TG V96c (♥). I’ve been working with a Shure SM 58 (forget it), Beta 58a (ok’ish), Neumann KMS 105 (not for me), Beyer M88c (love the vintage one) and a Beyer Opus 69 (not bad) in order to find what my voice needed. And that’s individual for every vocalist (or speaker).
A professional mic doesn’t have to be expensive, much more important is that it has to match your voice. Alicia Keys uses a € 160,- mic on stage (without calculating the transmitter) and Steven Tyler a $ 99,- instrument mic in- and outside the studio, whilst Diana Krall would rather go for a condenser mic on stage. You can make it as expensive or sophisticated as you want.
Guess I kind of made my point about having your own mic !
In next Blog posts I’ll talk about other stuff to know about mics, different types of mics (condenser or dynamic, cabled or wired etc), mic technique, mic performance outside, inside or in the studio and … practice 🙂
And … don’t miss out on my future Blog post about in-ear monitoring, a determining issue if you care about your vocal signature, artistic identity, stage performance and … if don’t want to be deaf at age 40 !