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May 20, 2022 - 4:30:31 PM

leehar

USA

94 posts since 2/18/2018

I have put together a five piece bluegrass band. We have an electric bass but everything else is acoustic. My wife says when we play it’s sometimes hard to hear the vocals. What equipment would I need, at a minimum, to make the vocals a bit louder without getting into eight mics, stands, mixing board, etc. I should add that four of us share in the singing.

May 20, 2022 - 5:21:28 PM
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349 posts since 11/9/2021

2 high quality mics, one high, the other low, mixed into a 4 channel Mackie board into a powered speaker placed in front of the stands. About as basic as you can get. Dont waste the time on those Fender fold up systems, they are crap. Gather round the mics, who ever is playing lead steps in closer, as do vocalists.

May 20, 2022 - 5:39:38 PM

leehar

USA

94 posts since 2/18/2018

I have a little bass amp and a 4 or 6 channel board. My nephew has plenty of mics. Do you think that would be enough to do the job?

May 20, 2022 - 5:49:26 PM
Players Union Member

Foote

USA

577 posts since 3/25/2009

I bought this Peavey self contained unit that works great for small gigs.
sweetwater.com/store/detail/Es...pa-system

May 20, 2022 - 7:26:09 PM
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Alex Z

USA

4861 posts since 12/7/2006

"make the vocals a bit louder without getting into eight mics, stands, mixing board, etc. I should add that four of us share in the singing."

If the instruments are OK, then you don't need to amplify the instruments, so no individual mics for them.

One omnidirectional mic, one stand.  The mic will handle solo voice and group singing, as it will pick up from a couple feet away.  It will also handle an instrumental solo, and you don't need to be on top of it -- a couple feet away.

 Work the mic.  "Working close," as they say, with one mic.

Amplifying the sound is a different issue.  Depends on how loud you want to be, the area to be covered, how much you want to pay, and how much work you want to do in toting around equipment and setting up and tearing down.  For simplicity -- since non-amplified works well for you except for vocals -- I'd recommend looking into the Fishman Loudbox equipment, and maybe up to the Fishman SA330 sound pole, depending on how much you want to spend.

May 20, 2022 - 8:06:42 PM
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3382 posts since 10/17/2009

quote:
Originally posted by leehar

I have a little bass amp and a 4 or 6 channel board. My nephew has plenty of mics. Do you think that would be enough to do the job?


Depending on the setup, mic needs of the group, and place (and how loud you need to get)... you might only need one or two shared mics. The mixer is probably fine, and the accessible mics should be able to work for you to do the job you describe.

For most part won't want to run mics/mixer thru little bass amp, so need something like a powered speaker/monitor. How big and powerful, depends on how loud need to get; and a bit about full frequencies, esp needing to deal with having enough low end.

Edited by - banjoak on 05/20/2022 20:12:06

May 20, 2022 - 8:59:33 PM
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Players Union Member

rvrose

USA

867 posts since 6/29/2007

For small gigs we use a Pignose Hog 30 amp with a small preamp (with phantom power) to power a condenser mic such as an AT2020. The Pignose is battery powered so you don't have to plug in if you are somewhere without power. The vocalist can sing into it and whoever is taking a break can step up closer to the mic. It will pick up most everything within 3 ft. Can set up in 5 minutes.

Rick

May 20, 2022 - 9:42:53 PM

13304 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by leehar

I have a little bass amp and a 4 or 6 channel board. My nephew has plenty of mics. Do you think that would be enough to do the job?


Your board will probably do for starters.

To effectively mic 4 instruments and voices with only a few shared mics, I believe they have to be condensers, which can be worked from a distance. Those will actually do a good job of picking up band members playing backup several feet off-mic. Multiple people singing at once can gather around the mic but don't have to be right on top of it to be picked up. They do have to sing loudly.

I agree that the small bass amp will probably not do. If it's all you have for now, I suppose give it a try. But only if you have a way to raise it up to ear level. Vocal speakers on the floor don't cut it.

Since electric bass is going through its own amp, you can get by with 12-inch speakers. I used that size with a 300-watt amp for years in both electric and acoustic groups playing in small restaurants, noisy bars, large social halls and outdoor gigs.

Before the pandemic, I played a farm market gig in a 5-piece pickup band. Our PA was a single Ear Trumpet microphone going into a Bose line array, pole type, speaker system.  We were under a canopy in a booth space. The setup worked great.  Lead vocalists sang right into the mic then stepped back to let harmony voices or instrumental soloists come forward.

Good luck.

May 21, 2022 - 5:27:33 AM

3111 posts since 9/5/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Foote

I bought this Peavey self contained unit that works great for small gigs.
sweetwater.com/store/detail/Es...pa-system


I'll second Foote's recommendation, We have been using a Peavey system for several years and while it is starting to show some scuffs it works great and sounds great and is easy to transport. There is plenty of power as we use it in a large hotel conference room at least once a year and it is plenty loud for that hall, which is actually several large rooms opened up for a big event.  We use it with omni mics, and also with instruments plugged into it and use a monitor in noisy situations (but not with omnidirecitonal mics). It is fairly easy to get rid of feedback and set up to a room. A lot lighter and smaller than systems we used in the 70's and 80's.

May 21, 2022 - 8:26:07 AM

2446 posts since 9/25/2006

Could it be done without amplification?

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May 21, 2022 - 8:55:11 AM

13304 posts since 6/2/2008

Monoprice is a great source for low-cost musical electronics.

Here's their page of PA speakers.

1200-watt (300W RMS) powered 12-inch speaker, $180.

800-watt (200W RMS) powered 10-inch speaker, $149.

Speaker stands, $60.

Edited to add: As long as your 4- or 6-channel mixing board can send phantom power to condenser mics, get one of these speakers and a stand and you're good to go. 

This is really no more complex than having the power in the mixer and using passive speakers.

Edited by - Old Hickory on 05/21/2022 09:03:03

May 21, 2022 - 9:06:05 AM

349 posts since 11/9/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Old Hickory

Monoprice is a great source for low-cost musical electronics.

Here's their page of PA speakers.

1200-watt (300W RMS) powered 12-inch speaker, $180.

800-watt (200W RMS) powered 10-inch speaker, $149.

Speaker stands, $60.

Edited to add: As long as your 4- or 6-channel mixing board can send phantom power to condenser mics, get one of these speakers and a stand and you're good to go. 

This is really no more complex than having the power in the mixer and using passive speakers.


Either powered speakers above,  use this 4 channel Mackie ( built like a tank) $129   https://www.bing.com/th?id=OP.osFmihx9pWYbZw474C474&o=5&pid=21.1&bw=0&bc=FFFFFF&w=140&h=140&qlt=100&dpr=1.5&c=17

then its the cost of 2 mics and stands.  Bet you could bring this in for < $750.   I'd spend most on the 2 microphones. 

Edited by - wrench13 on 05/21/2022 09:13:39

May 21, 2022 - 10:14:14 AM
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585 posts since 5/29/2015

No recommendations but the quality of sound you want is Smooooth sounding. Amplifiers and microphones that sound harsh or brittle create listening fatigue and results in audience members leaving--and they dont seem to know why they left. Cheap equipment is more likely to have this undesirable quality. Having way too much power so that the amplifier is not turned up much at all also helps with having a smooth sound.

May 21, 2022 - 11:53:42 AM

13304 posts since 6/2/2008

EQ is good for adjusting the sound to the space.

Agreed on the value of "headroom." You never want a power amp you have to turn almost all the way up.

So send high enough output from the mixer to give the power amp plenty to work with.

Also, be sure you know how to use channel input gain or trim on the mixer so that the individual channel volume control - fader - has enough signal to work with. Gain too low or too high is a leading contributor to bad sound and feedback.

May 22, 2022 - 6:07:57 AM

Fathand

Canada

12012 posts since 2/7/2008

One large diaphragm condensor mic, plugged into a guitar amp or preferably an acoustic amp. You may need a phantom power box if your amp does not have it built in.

Everyone but electric bass stands about 2 ft back of mic. Take a step forward during a break or singing and back when done.

You don't need monitors (less feedback) because you are not individually mixed. The one mic picks it all up.

Simple and cost effective.

Edited by - Fathand on 05/22/2022 06:08:42

May 22, 2022 - 9:11:18 AM

leehar

USA

94 posts since 2/18/2018

Thanks all for the suggestions! You’ve given me a LOT of great ideas. A couple of my guys informed me that they have an Omni directional mic. I think if I can acquire a decent amp with phantom power we’ll be good to go.

May 22, 2022 - 11:56:22 AM
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15476 posts since 12/2/2005

quote:
Originally posted by leehar

Thanks all for the suggestions! You’ve given me a LOT of great ideas. A couple of my guys informed me that they have an Omni directional mic. I think if I can acquire a decent amp with phantom power we’ll be good to go.


You do NOT want an omnidirectional mic, unless you also want to pick up the noise the audience makes. And trust me, you don't.

If you haven't already done so, you might want to read the sticky thread at the top of this particular forum entitled "PA 101." It explains pretty much everything you need to know about PAs and their components.

May 22, 2022 - 1:52:24 PM
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Players Union Member

rvrose

USA

867 posts since 6/29/2007

Yes - what Skip said - don't get an omni directional condenser, but DO get a cardioid pattern condenser. The Audio Technica AT2020's are less than $100 on ebay. Make sure the name brand on the mic "Audio Technica" is facing you and not the audience. (things you learn the hard way ;-)

Rick

May 24, 2022 - 4:59:16 AM

3382 posts since 10/17/2009

Valid point... but one thing should mention... a lot of recommendations what to use, while valid... often has to do with making it loud (and gain before feedback) and/or controls in great mix. Which might not be issue in user's case... really just need a little bump over pure acoustic sound, or for some (as mentioned) just vocals over essentially acoustic instruments.

In contexts with low level situations, the mic and setup is bit less critical... probably not going to run into feedback issues. Pretty much any mic might work, dynamic mics like SM58 type, condenser, and even omni pattern might be fine.

There is a bit of issue of how many need to gather round, and how (sitting, standing one spot, moving around). How horizontally close to each other and distance to mic can or want to get, and degree of off-axis. For typical cardioid, two people is generally easy, four can get a little harder, require more distance to mic; in some cases 2 mics might be better solution.

-------------

Just to point out that many when see all of those folks play around side addressed mics assume they are:  omni, and large diaphragm condensers... and assume that's what they need. A bit misunderstanding of terminology and equipment. Omni refers to polar pattern. Most mics folks use are fixed or set to cardioid pattern... which in many cases on stage is preferred.  As well end addressed vs side addressed doesn't define much; and not all side addressed are large diameter. Just pointing out can't tell much by how a mic looks.

Edited by - banjoak on 05/24/2022 05:03:58

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