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Author Topic: Seeking Pick-Up Advice.....  (Read 9479 times)

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Offline Rivers

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Re: Seeking Pick-Up Advice.....
« Reply #30 on: November 05, 2010, 08:30:39 PM »
Just thought I'd bump this thread, Mike I was wondering which way you went with pickups versus mics.

Offline Mike Brosnan

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Re: Seeking Pick-Up Advice.....
« Reply #31 on: November 06, 2010, 04:45:08 PM »
Hey Rivers,
Well... I definitely prefer the sound of a good mic, but I'm also incredibly impatient with feedback and such.  So I'm pretty much all pick ups all the time.  Every time I've messed around with mics, I get more feedback.  I'm sure I could get better at that, but...  That whole patience thing. 
I haven't played out since July and have been dragging my feet about getting out there and marketing myself... But the last time I played out was my first real solo show (we're not gonna count that Applebee's thing).  My favorite part was being able to just plug in and go.  Brief vocal mic sound check and that was it.  I tweaked the rest with my L.R.Baggs preamp as I changed guitars. 
Sound checking with my old band always included more feedback and more time and more of me sitting there chomping at the bit.  I definitely DON'T miss that!
Assuming I do stop procrastinating and I actually start booking some gigs...  I'll still be using my K & K's and my National Hot Plate.  If I get good enough to book shows at places that aren't crappy sports bars...  Maybe I'll try to get better with the mic/feedback stuff.
In the meantime... I just need to get out there!

Offline Rivers

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Re: Seeking Pick-Up Advice.....
« Reply #32 on: November 06, 2010, 06:35:04 PM »
I know what you mean. There always seems to be so much else going on that I forget my instrument mic'ing technique, such as it is. Would sooner just plug & play, less stress all round.

However my current #1, a Guild F3R, is pickup-less and is staying that way since it sounds so great I would never risk impacting the tone with a transducer under the saddle. I'll take my other Guild when I play plugged-in.

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Seeking Pick-Up Advice.....
« Reply #33 on: November 06, 2010, 08:14:56 PM »
Forgive my ignorance but why is feed back STILL a problem? I mean ...Man on the Moon, Artificial hearts, Pengys on the Tele and STILL Bleeping feedback?
It stands to reason that there's gotta be a way, no?
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Offline Rivers

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Re: Seeking Pick-Up Advice.....
« Reply #34 on: November 06, 2010, 08:44:08 PM »
Well there are digital f/b eliminators that auto-sense and attenuate ringing frequencies, like a notch filter with a sensor on the front end. I tried an early incarnation that had a built-in mic if I recall correctly. It sort of worked but not before everyone had gotten an earful. I imagine they have improved, but to sense the ringing freq it had to sound, which would be OK for a soundcheck, and if you are the only one using it, unless it had storeable profiles you could recall.

So then the room fills with people (or "water bags" as Mr. Dave calls them) and the room response changes utterly, and your previously dialed-in notch filter is probably set in entirely the wrong place.

Researching this I see DBX among others have what looks to be a pretty sophisticated unit that sits in the signal chain after the house board and all other processing, detects peaks occurring as they happen within very narrow freq bands and attenuates on the fly. http://www.americanmusical.com/Item--i-DBX-AFS224-LIST

Sounds good if it works and doesn't adversely impact the sound. It would all be down to fine tuning, quality DSP chips and speed I guess. Feedback is sneakier than a Benares temple monkey.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2010, 09:09:41 PM by Rivers »

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Seeking Pick-Up Advice.....
« Reply #35 on: November 06, 2010, 09:17:36 PM »
Forgive my ignorance but why is feed back STILL a problem? I mean ...Man on the Moon, Artificial hearts, Pengys on the Tele and STILL Bleeping feedback?
It stands to reason that there's gotta be a way, no?

I think this may be part of the problem:

Well there are digital f/b eliminators that auto-sense and attenuate ringing frequencies, like a notch filter with a sensor on the front end.
Researching this I see DBX among others have what looks to be a pretty sophisticated unit that sits in the signal chain after the house board and all other processing, detects peaks occurring as they happen within very narrow freq bands and attenuates on the fly.

 :D

I think the above is probably excellent advice. But god knows what it means.  :P :P

Offline Rivers

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Re: Seeking Pick-Up Advice.....
« Reply #36 on: November 06, 2010, 09:30:59 PM »
Or to put it another way, "why do we still need sound engineers???" :P

We've come 360 degrees, that's why I use a pickup. I can control my guitar, can't control the room boosting certain frequencies. Would always prefer to mic it though if the room and sound person were right. BTW kudos to the sound guys in Austin, live music capital of Travis County, they are generally amazing I have to say, best I've ever seen.

Also wanted to add that venues can analyze and treat their rooms physically. Basically involves playing pink noise (equal energy in each freq band) through the PA and listening to the room using an audio spectrum analyzer. The resulting frequency response curve (graph) would theoretically be flat in a 'perfect' room. Never is flat of course, there are places where it drops and places where it peaks. Find the problem freqs (the biggest peaks) and install various types of acoustic treatments (not egg cartons!) designed to absorb, trap or diffuse that band. Test again, repeat until line is flat enough that a single freq does not tend to ring.

If the room still sounds like shit, get a bulldozer.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2010, 09:47:18 PM by Rivers »

Offline frankie

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Re: Seeking Pick-Up Advice.....
« Reply #37 on: November 07, 2010, 07:35:28 AM »
I'm not sure what I'm doing differently than you guys with mics (or maybe my standards and expectations are just that much lower!), but while feedback is always a potential problem, it never seems to totally prevent us from getting a decent sound with enough volume for the venue...  when I have my own PA (nothing fancy - just an old peavey combo mixer/poweramp with built in reverb that's going progressively more microphonic  :( ), I just make sure the mains are placed so they aren't putting a signal back into the mics...  for mics, it's a beta-58 for my vocal and sm57s for everything else (and kim sings through the fiddle mic)...  it all works out.  there are occasional feedback moments, but it's usually just a moment and is usually caused by proximity.

Large diaphragm condenser mics make performance a little more natural feeling, but you can't treat them like dynamic mics at all, either from a performance or setup perspective.  I can perform using a lg diaphragm condenser, but I'm not as confident setting up the whole PA with them in mind, so when I'm on my own to do the setup, I'd rather work with dynamic mics....  if there's a soundman at a venue and they have LD condensers that they're used to working with, I'll go with those and defer to the soundman.

All this is not to say that our live sound couldn't be better than it is - I'm sure it could, but we do the best we can with what we got.  I like the sound we get from mics, even if it means we have less control in some situations.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2010, 09:48:15 AM by frankie »

Offline Rivers

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Re: Seeking Pick-Up Advice.....
« Reply #38 on: November 07, 2010, 10:24:28 AM »
Experience counts for a lot, and knowledge of the gear. When you're playing out regularly, in rooms you've played before, which I'm not, you get to be able to anticipate the problems and solutions. In my case understanding the theory helps but I simply don't do it often enough to be much good at it.

So I play the percentages, I know I can reduce the odds of feedback a good deal by reducing the number of open mics, since theory states that "gain before feedback" reduces by 3 db for each open mic. That may not sound like a lot but actually it's very significant, especially to the poor sound guy/gal. Without going into the math don't forget decibels are an exponential / logarithmic unit of measure.

Hence the pickup. Works for an amateur like me. There was a trend a couple of years back for bluegrass bands etc to work with only one LD mic, the soloists / lead singers stepping forward and back into the sweet spot. The few acts I've seen doing this looked great and sounded great. Why does it sound so great? Because the house can really crank the board, which increases the dynamic range, since the gain before feedback level is so high. Plus you can get a better mic, if you only need one you can spend more money on a Neumann or something.

I realize this single-mic configuration would not work for a string band playing our kind of music, generally speaking. I mentioned it to illustrate the issues with having multiple open mics - less headroom, less available dynamic range, less available gain, lower feedback threshold. Which are basically related or even the same thing. It all adds up to a system that is harder to run and capable of getting away more easily on a single loud note.

Another reason the single mic thing sounds good is that you are using only one primary channel, and maybe another couple of channels for effect returns, on the board, thereby also lowering the noise floor = more dynamic range, pristine sound.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2010, 10:57:47 AM by Rivers »

Offline Mike Brosnan

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Re: Seeking Pick-Up Advice.....
« Reply #39 on: November 07, 2010, 01:26:05 PM »
The more I think about it, the more I have to admit....  If I could start all over again, I'd buy a good mic and try to be more patient.  But since I got all these pickups now...

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