microphone preferences

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Mike Anderson
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microphone preferences

Post by Mike Anderson »

I recently picked up a Clarke Sweetone and last night I played for a contra dance, which was lots of fun. I eagerly await my next whistle, an Oz Whistles Vambrace D, which I expect will be somewhat louder. The other musicians--playing concertina, fiddles, and rhythm guitar--could hear me well enough in my second octave, but the dancers couldn't hear me very distinctly. So I'd like to help the sound guy help me by figuring out a good configuration for microphone placement. The same sound guy somehow allowed uilleann pipes to get lost in the muddle a few days ago, so he needs lots of help.

Has anyone out there found a microphone configuration that works well when playing in close quarters with other musicians? How far from the instrument? Attached to the instrument? Where should a directional mic be pointed? Dynamic or condenser, or any particularly good microphones for whistles?
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Feadoggie
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Re: microphone preferences

Post by Feadoggie »

You might want to do a search on the whistle forum. We've discussed this there several times. Live performance is quite different from studio use in my experieence.

I will summarize my preferences as quickly as I can.

The most common setup is to use an SM58 or 57 placed above the whistle's voicing window. You'll need to stay tethered around the mic stand though. You can also choose a good cardioid condenser with the same placement. Kind of like this.

I've used an Audio-Technica lavelier velcroed on a foam block to low whistles (not high D's) just below the window. I don't like that solution, you can pick up a lot of handling noise. But you can be mobile.

I've used an Audio-Technica headset mics (ATM-73 and ATM-75) which worked well and lets you move around too.

I've also used a micro headset which is more comfortable but the sound was not as open as the larger headworn mics.

And you should be playing a Brad Anderson whistle. :)

Hope that helps.

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highland-piper
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Re: microphone preferences

Post by highland-piper »

In addition to what Feadoggie said, you can search youtube for videos of your favorite performers to see how they whistle into the mic.
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MTGuru
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Re: microphone preferences

Post by MTGuru »

A good condenser beats a good dynamic mike. But with whistles you often want to roll off some of the top end anyway, which negates the advantages. A dynamic mike like a SM57/58 or Beta57 works well, and the somewhat slower response can actually help to smooth out the whistle sound.

A fixed mike attached to the instrument or headset is convenient. But whistle octaves are inherently unbalanced, with a 20-30 dB range between the lowest and highest notes. This really requires judicious use of compression, which ideally should be under the player's control in the form of a pedal or rack mount between the mike and the mixer. Leaving this up to the board engineer is likely to be frustrating for both the player and the engineer. And you're left with blanded-out whistle dynamics, which may sound artificial.

IMO, the good old mike-on-a-stand is still by far the better arrangement. "Play the mike" by adjusting distance to overcome the whistle's inherent dynamic limitations, and you have a much more aesthetic solution under the player's control.
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Mike Anderson
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Re: microphone preferences

Post by Mike Anderson »

Some useful responses here, thanks! Sounds like a dynamic mic on a stand may be a better solution than I thought.

Brad Anderson whistles, eh? Too many options! I'm already resisting the urge to get a Goldie while I wait for my Oz Vambrace.
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Re: microphone preferences

Post by highland-piper »

If they can hear you in the 2nd octave but not the first, compression will fix that.
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