The Open Mic Guide Part IV - Microphones

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Open mics aren't the place to bring your high-end gear.
You don't need $1,000 microphones to succeed in setting up an open mic show.
You just need some sturdy dynamic microphones for vocals, and maybe the occasional condenser mic for everything else.
Two different ways of miking up an open mic.
The Traditional Way The traditional way consists of dynamic vocal microphones for the vocals while you plug your instruments into a different channel of the mixer.
Everything goes into the mixing board and out of the speakers.
The engineer has individual control over each instrument, giving him more options to work with.
The Bluegrass Way This is the old, let's-all-get-behind-one-mic-and-play method.
It consists of one condenser microphone that everybody gathers around to play.
Bluegrass bands work the microphone perfectly, moving closer and farther from the microphone depending on whose turn it is to solo.
In an open mic situation, where you only have one singer with a guitar it's easy to just place it around chest height facing towards the face.
This is sound reinforcement at its most basic.
Since there is only one microphone used, its function is to basically amplify the sound of the musician in general.
Standards and other ideas Here are a few suggestions for relatively cheap, but quality dynamic microphones.
  • The Shure Sm58 is a pretty common standard to see at live shows.
  • The AKG D5 is my personal favorite when it come to live vocal microphones.
  • The Audix OM2 is also a good alternative.
For more ideas, check out The Essential Microphones for Live Sound Situations.
Now, these are not expensive microphones in the grand scheme of things.
They all cost around $100 so they won't break the bank.
But if you need to buy a few of them you can shop around and see if you can't find cheaper models.
Another alternative is to buy a nice "lead vocal" microphone, and then buy a cheaper one for the occasional backup vocals.
Remember the accessories! Getting a good microphone is important, but it's useless if you forget to buy all the things that make it work.
Make sure you grab a microphone stand and an extra cable.
Imagine if you were super excited, setting up for your first small gig, and when you plug in the microphone you realize that you forgot to buy a mic stand.
What are you going to do then? Hold it up for them? Be smart, don't forget the mic stand.
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