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PA 101: Things to Consider When Buying Your Band's First System

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May 4, 2016 - 5:57:32 AM

14339 posts since 12/2/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Tom Hanway
 

I'm always looking for a good dynamic banjo mic to have as back-up, that I can throw in my case. I have a Shure Beta-57 that I bring to shows in case I get stuck with an old mic that needs its windscreen cleaned, or just a crappy mic. What else is out there, I wonder: is the AT 2020 any good on a banjo?

Thank you in advance.

Best ~ Tom


Tom, the AT 2020 is a very impressive mic for its price. But you should be aware that it's a MDC (medium diaphragm condenser), not a dynamic, and its pickup pattern is fairly wide. If you're looking for a spot mic specifically for the banjo, there are better choices (including the SM and Beta 57s). IMO the 2020 is really better suited to doing a single-mic setup for a band on the cheap.

May 5, 2016 - 7:11:01 AM

Tom Hanway

Ireland

6442 posts since 8/31/2004

Thanks Skip, I remember the mic now. It's preferable to the Rode NT-2 and NT-2A, isn't it?  I like the Beta 57 because of the bump. I like its warmth and that growl when I'm raking down with my thumb.

What about clip-on mics for a banjo in either condenser or dynamic?  Are there any drum mics that are particularly worthy?

Edited by - Tom Hanway on 05/05/2016 07:11:22

May 5, 2016 - 10:38:27 AM

14339 posts since 12/2/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Tom Hanway
 

Thanks Skip, I remember the mic now. It's preferable to the Rode NT-2 and NT-2A, isn't it?  I like the Beta 57 because of the bump. I like its warmth and that growl when I'm raking down with my thumb.

What about clip-on mics for a banjo in either condenser or dynamic?  Are there any drum mics that are particularly worthy?


We're bumping hard against my limits of usefulness now, Tom - I have no experience with the Rode mics and do not feel comfortable making a recommendation for or against.

I'm personally not a big fan of clip ons for the banjo. I used to use a small condenser clipped on the edge of the sound hole when I was gigging with my guitar, but in that the guitar was really just there to accompany vocals, the dynamic range required of the instrument was minimal. Banjo, not so much - it needs to be played softly for backup and loud for breaks.

Some of that is controllable with picking pressure, obviously, but I think it's best to use a combination of that and mic proximity to adjust optimal loudness of the banjo in the mix. Clip-ons really can't do that for you.

I know some working pros use them, and there ARE foot switch devices that can boost the output signal by 10 or 15 dB on demand to address that issue. I can offer no guidance on them, either. I'm unlikely to try that type of setup, either, because I try to keep my stage rigs as simple as possible - the less gear I have to schlep and keep track of, the better I like it. I do know that my feet and ears are already permanently attached, and they've done a good job of controlling levels to date.

Aug 20, 2016 - 12:06:31 PM

1303 posts since 10/5/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Tom Hanway
 

I'm always looking for a good dynamic banjo mic to have as back-up, that I can throw in my case. I have a Shure Beta-57 that I bring to shows in case I get stuck with an old mic that needs its windscreen cleaned, or just a crappy mic. What else is out there, I wonder: is the AT 2020 any good on a banjo?

Thank you in advance.

Best ~ Tom


I carry in my banjo case, (and prefer to use) an Electrovoice N/D 468 dynamic.  I was put onto this by a pro soundman years ago.  It is small, gimble-mounted (easily positioned), and has IMHO a very natural sound for banjo and guitar.  The little known secret is that it uses the same element as the E-V 767a - a dynamite vocal mike, so it functions superbly as a vocal when needed - much better than an SM-58.  Price is very reasonable.
It’s more or less like a Sennheiser 441 in pattern and tone, but it’s a whole lot smaller so you can get closer in without worrying so much. It’s also a lot cheaper. 

Jun 25, 2017 - 8:15:40 AM

Budedm

USA

4334 posts since 8/29/2003

I know this is an older thread but I have a question I didn't see addressed here. I have a SM57 that I put on a stand in front of my banjo that works really well. When I do gigs with a guitar player or two, we plug the XLR cord right into the powered speskers. I want to buy a small amp that I can plug into so I can use it when I gig alone. But then when I gig with other guys, I still want to use my amp as a monitor. So I want to plug my mic into the amp, then plug the amp into the powered speakers. I'm sure you guys have recommendations on wheich amp to buy. But my next question is that I want to sing too so it needs an input for a vocal mic. Not sure if this needs to be XLR or 1/4". Then I would still use my amp as a monitor for my banjo and vocals, and then plug the amp into the powered speakers. Any help is appreciated.

Jun 27, 2017 - 1:59:47 PM

Budedm

USA

4334 posts since 8/29/2003

Anyone?

Jun 27, 2017 - 7:51:17 PM

14339 posts since 12/2/2005

I can't speak to brands and specific models - or even if such an amp exists - but in order to do this you need an amp that has a line level output jack... in other words, one that will pass the signal from the amp to the powered speakers without boosting the signal.

Send an amplified signal into a powered speaker, and you'll let all the smoke out of the circuit boards.*

 

 

* As an old friend once told me: "You know what's in all those little gadgets on a circuit board? Smoke. That's all that's in there. And if you do something that lets the smoke escape from them, they're toast."

Jun 28, 2017 - 5:35:02 AM

Budedm

USA

4334 posts since 8/29/2003

Ok. Good info. Thank you
Jul 14, 2018 - 10:12:56 AM

sethb

USA

446 posts since 2/16/2005

Thanks for the very interesting and useful PA information. Our band learned about PA's by trial and error, which can get expensive!

The suggestion that folks should buy as much wattage as they can afford is good; it's always better to have too much than not enough. But one detail that I didn't see discussed was exactly how much wattage to buy, as well as what kind of wattage. The specs for many PA's will simply say "300 watts" without specifying what type of measurement they are using --- and very often, the wattage listed will be the "peak power" capacity, which is basically useless and very misleading. The right spec to look for is the "RMS" wattage, which is a "real-world" measurement and a much more accurate measure of what a PA system or speaker can do. And the RMS wattage is usually at least half or less of the "peak power" measurement.

Through trial and error, our group has found that a single JBL EON610 (1000 watts Peak, 500 watts RMS) works well for us, and at 26 pounds is still manageable. We play public libraries with 150-seat lecture rooms, nursing homes, medium-size banquet rooms in restaurants and hotels, and community rooms in over-55 communities that seat 100-150 people. As a general rule, we don't play outdoors, which would probably require a more powerful system. The JBL is for the vocalist, I use a Fender Acoustasonic 90 amp (90 watts RMS) for my archtop electric guitar and my acoustic plectrum banjo (which takes a shotgun Audio-Technica mic mounted on a mini-boom mic stand and pointed at the banjo resonator).

So I think it would also be helpful if you could give at least a rough idea of how much wattage (specifically "RMS wattage") ought to be purchased, depending on the size and type of venues that the band works in, and the type of music that it plays. Based on your recommendations for using 12" and 15" speakers, my guess is that they would require at least 500 watts RMS if not more. But it would be interesting to see what you and other folks suggest in the watts department. SETH

Edited by - sethb on 07/14/2018 10:18:49

Nov 4, 2019 - 5:15:24 PM

6599 posts since 2/14/2006

One add on to polish the sound is to get a channel (or two channels, depending on if you are panning stereo image to the crowd) of compression.  One unit I highly recommend is in the link below.  It runs about $400 - better than some cheaper models, but cheap compared to the more expensive models that do the same thing.  This will really add punch and smoothness to the mix.  This add on will only work between the mixer and power amp.  

 

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/KT2A--klark-teknik-kt-2a-optical-compressor

Edited by - banjo1971 on 11/04/2019 17:18:04

Nov 4, 2019 - 7:45:08 PM

2483 posts since 4/19/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Budedm

I know this is an older thread but I have a question I didn't see addressed here. I want to buy a small amp that I can plug into so I can use it when I gig alone. But then when I gig with other guys, I still want to use my amp as a monitor.


This is my Swiss Army Knife, you can find them used

https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0476/5297/files/AG100D2003.pdf?12165432673141796133

Nov 5, 2019 - 5:51:49 AM

Budedm

USA

4334 posts since 8/29/2003

Sheesh I guess so. Nice.

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