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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: 3 instruments one mic

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josephryanevans - Posted - 04/06/2020:  17:09:34

Hey folks,

I play mandolin and two different banjos in a little acoustic trio. We play small gigs and do our own sound(we're pretty amateur). Right now I play all three instruments through a small diaphragm condenser (se5). But I'm not amazed with the sound. It sounds amazing for my mandolin. But the banjos aren't great. One sounds alright but the other is acoustically more low and tubby or plunky. It sounds like mud coming through the system.

So, is there a way to deal with this short of buying three pick-ups and completely ditching the mic?

I've wondered about programmable EQ, but can't find one that supports phantom power and all that jazz that I barely understand. I also thought about some of those mutli-effect vocal pedals. But they're focused on pitch correction, harmonies, and mimicking famous sounds.

So I'm kind of stuck. Any ideas?

All the best,


Edited by - Texasbanjo on 04/07/2020 04:36:09

banjukebox - Posted - 04/06/2020:  17:18:05

I'm not a sound guy, but you might think of looking into Mics made by Ear Trumpet in Portland. I've heard a few groups singing and playing around one of their mics and the sound has been uniformly good. Ear Trumpet

rcc56 - Posted - 04/06/2020:  21:45:55

Some might think I'm nuts [and they might be right], but when in doubt, try old reliable-- Shure SM57.

You can buy one new for just over a hundred bucks, and if it doesn't suit you for your mandolin and banjos, it'll come in useful somewhere else. Narrow pattern, no phantom required, idiot proof, and darn near musician proof.

Edited by - rcc56 on 04/06/2020 21:47:39

banjonz - Posted - 04/06/2020:  22:07:09

When I was playing in an acoustic band, we all used AKG C1000's. They worked really well. On another note, a mic is only as good as its setting through a sound desk/mixer.

rvrose - Posted - 04/07/2020:  12:20:32

What are you running the condenser mic into currently? Powered mixer/amp? I've never used the Se5 but condensers are usually pretty flat and do great for instruments. We have used AudioTechnica and MXLs for years.


banjoak - Posted - 04/07/2020:  15:01:53

So, is there a way to deal with this short of buying three pick-ups and completely ditching the mic?

If all you need is different eq and perhaps levels for the mic, might think about simple XLR A/B switch pedal... single input, but which then gets routed to different channels on main mixer, or small sub mixer. So you can switch from channel 1 to channel 2 on mixer, each with different eq and volume, effects settings.

This is an inexpensive example

But might look into different ones, that have other features of quality DI boxes.

I've wondered about programmable EQ, but can't find one that supports phantom power

Programmable EQ is found on many modern mixer boards, in that different setups and settings can stored and recalled... and the mixers can be ran/adjusted wirelessly via ipad. They might be overkill, but nice. They also are quite useful for individual in ear monitoriing, each person can control their monitor mix from phone.

Edited by - banjoak on 04/07/2020 15:09:38

josephryanevans - Posted - 04/07/2020:  16:00:39

Thanks for your suggestions everyone.

I think being more conscious of mic placement is a great suggestion.

As is an a/b splitter. Would phantom power still run through that?

To answer an above question, I’m rubbing my condenser mic straight into a basic mixer. No frills like programmable eq.

banjoak - Posted - 04/08/2020:  03:38:24

Phantom power is just carried on the 2 and 3 pin of XLR, with the 1 pin as ground, the A/B shouldn't disable any of that.

FWIW, I found in playing dances where I switch between instruments, fiddle, mando, tenor banjo, CH banjo, guitar, banjo uke... sometimes other various instruments... while one mic set up (and EQ) is perhaps not the most ideal for best sound, it is usually works just fine sound wise, much better in ease and not having to deal with extra stuff.

Keep in mind, while the musician might notice fine tone details between setup and mics;, most audiences are not as persnickety about small details of tone when listening to live music. The old SM57, perhaps not the "best" for a specific instrument; but seems not work reasonably well for about any instrument... for the listening audience.

Edited by - banjoak on 04/08/2020 03:54:14

KD Banjer - Posted - 04/09/2020:  20:06:27

As Pat recommended, I would suggest one of Ear Trumpet Labs’ wide pattern condenser mics.

Many top bluegrass musicians (including Jerry Douglas) use Ear Trumpet Labs mics for both live performances and studio recordings.

And, they have one mic specifically made for bluegrass ensembles called the “Louise,” which is about $640.

I have an ETLabs “Edwina,” and they are fantastic for a nice honest classic bluegrass tone.

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