Guidance for picking up vocals on stage
When choosing microphones for vocal performances, sound engineers usually tend to choose the models they have seen on stage for many years. Once the excellent ice-cream cone-shaped microphone was launched, it became what many people thought of a vocal microphone.
But in fact, there are many parameters that are more important than the shape of the microphone. Which characteristic microphone should we choose? How should it sound? Can it pick up the details of the human voice? Should we choose monitor speakers or in-ear monitor systems? Use wireless or wired microphones? In addition to the shape, we have many parameters to pay attention to.
Why do vocal microphones usually look like ice cream cones?
There are historical reasons for the shape of the handheld vocal microphone, but also because it can meet certain audio needs-the most important thing is a stable handle that can suppress wind and popping sounds. These basic requirements require a corresponding space in the microphone device, so the microphone is ergonomically designed to fit the average palm size. To suppress wind and blasting sound most effectively, it is better that the greater the distance between the inner diaphragm and the mouth, the better, which requires a certain mesh cover size. At the same time, the overall size of the microphone must be larger than that of small-diaphragm condenser microphones and recording microphones, and smaller than the cylindrical "birdcage" studio microphones with large diaphragms. For the performers, it must be large enough for them to "hide" behind (just like an instrument), but small enough for the performer to move back and forth on the stage and be seen by the audience.
From the perspective of a professional singer, the timbre and response of the microphone must be as close to his/her voice as possible. The human voice is a primitive instrument and should not be changed by the microphone. Knowledge and experience tell us that it is better to use a condenser microphone head to achieve this, because it can provide faster and finer dynamics, and has a more linear response and higher resolution. Although this principle can be used for stage performances, the challenge on stage is to avoid noise and interference caused by other sources of sound picked up by the microphone. It is usually impossible to control both the human voice and the band sound, let alone other live factors. Compared with dynamic microphones, condenser microphones have their own unique characteristics: condenser microphones can linearly restore the natural sound pressure level of the sound source at a certain distance, while dynamic microphones usually only respond to nearby sound sources.
The psychological factors of performers should not be underestimated on any occasion, especially in live performances. From the perspective of artists' perception, the vocal microphone is their musical instrument, so it is a precious and valuable tool-of course it is very important emotionally. The microphone must correctly convey the perceived value-how it feels, how much weight, what color-all these details are very important for choosing a vocal microphone. After all, it is very important for most artists to find a microphone that is easy to use or perform in order to help them in their artistic creation. There are many excellent vocal microphones on the market to choose from, but they are usually determined by personal preference.
When discussing the use of vocal microphones for live performances, one of the most commonly referred technical parameters is the directivity of the microphone. Since only a few users choose omnidirectional handheld microphones on stage, audio technicians will choose the most suitable directivity pattern for each project. The main choices are cardioid, supercardioid and hypercardioid. They can also choose a headset microphone, which can be placed near the mouth and does not necessarily require a narrower direction. Graphics. Let us define each kind of pointing figure below.
Cardioid-also known as first-order cardioid pointing-has approximately 6 dB rejection at ±90°, with a larger rejection at 180° (back side). Super-cardioid-high suppression on the side, about 9 dB, there will be a small lobe at 180° (back axis), which will pick up most of the frequencies. This mode is reminiscent of the overlay graphics that it derived from the Bazi pointing to the microphone. Users should pay attention: "Super" is not necessarily better; it just has a higher lateral attenuation. Its higher control is about ±125°. In addition, be careful not to confuse supercardioid with subcardioid (also called wide cardioid), which is somewhere between cardioid and omnidirectional.
Narrow cardioid-more similar to a figure-8 microphone. It has higher side rejection, about 12dB, and a wider back, about 6dB rejection.
All directivity has its advantages and disadvantages. The most important thing for a live sound engineer to consider when choosing a microphone is the different suppression properties of each microphone. Understanding these properties and being able to integrate them is the key to using a microphone to obtain better audio.
The gain feedback ratio is the most important parameter to be considered in a live performance. If the sound pressure level ratio of the human voice is as high as all other sounds around, we will have no problem. In fact, vocals cannot compete with stage monitors or loud instruments such as drums and guitars. When creating excellent sound pressure levels, it is important to remember that supercardioid microphones are more sensitive to back-axis (180°) sound than cardioid, so this angle should be avoided when using supercardioid microphones. In addition, the side control of the super-cardioid is higher.
More complicated is that the microphone will change its characteristics when used by the singer, because the human head becomes an acoustic reflector that affects certain frequencies. This will cause a significant change in directivity. Usually, the microphone becomes less directional. In this case, the most important worry is not to choose cardioid or supercardioid, but to avoid the sound pressure level of external noise.
At this time, it is necessary to consider whether to use stage monitor speakers or in-ear monitor system. This is not the scope of this article, but if you only encounter difficulties from the microphone gain to the feedback ratio, the in-ear monitor system is the preferred option.
Proximity effect-how close can you get?
Everything has cause and effect. For vocal stage microphones, the following is a typical situation: because it needs to be isolated from other sound sources, a directional (cardioid, supercardioid or narrow cardioid) microphone will be selected.
The directional microphone is a pressure gradient mode, and the diaphragm used is relatively soft. Because it is more flexible, it produces some unwanted sounds that are not derived from human voices, such as popping and wind. This is why most stage microphones need to use a foam windshield and a blowout filter. Users should pay attention: the foam windshield may change the high frequency response and directivity characteristics of the microphone. In many cases, since the softer diaphragm material has higher diffraction, it is necessary to adopt shock absorption measures.
In this case, to obtain higher output or create a more intimate performance atmosphere, singers often put their lips close to the microphone's grille. However, their mouths being too close to the microphone can cause annoying acoustic distortions, which can sound a little clicking (try talking with a finger in front of the lips and you can hear it). Therefore, pay attention to the microphone's ability to handle high sound pressure levels. It is not uncommon for a singer to sing with his lips against the microphone and peak sound pressure levels exceeding 150dB. Experienced singers will reserve a short distance between their mouth and the microphone to perform, which will affect the bass part of the cardioid (pressure gradient) microphone.
Either way, the fact remains that when using a pointed microphone, the sound pressure level of the bass will depend on the distance between the microphone and the singer's mouth. A good vocal microphone will optimize its close-talking effect to suit this application. It also has a reasonable distance tolerance for it to function.
Wireless or wired
It is certainly tempting to be able to move freely without cables, but compared to the wired version, the wireless system is still quite expensive, and noise and distortion cannot be completely avoided. Usually the vocal microphone you choose can be wireless or wired. One of DPA’s vocal microphones, the vocal microphone, can be supplied as a wired version, but it can be turned into a customized wireless microphone by simply unscrewing the microphone head and attaching it to the wireless handle. When you buy the 2028 vocal microphone, you can choose the wired version or one of the two wireless versions.
Well-known DPA sound
Natural vocals-from folk songs to metal bands
Reduce howling problems
Rugged and durable enough to cope with live sound reinforcement
Consistent supercardioid pointing
Super high SPL processing capacity
In the live sound reinforcement stage, 2028 can provide the same open and transparent sound as other DPA microphones. In fact, it doesn't need (or only very little) to add EQ to the sound, and it feels like standing next to the singer and listening to their performance. This allows singers to sing as if there is no microphone present, reducing their stress. In addition, it allows the sound engineer to spend time on providing a better sound experience instead of erasing the vocal traces. Excellent transparency is a unique feature of DPA vocal microphones!