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Thread: Single Mic Bluegrass: This is How It's Done!

  1. #1
    NY Naturalist BradKlein's Avatar
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    Default Single Mic Bluegrass: This is How It's Done!

    The Bluegrass Situation (HERE) premiers a video that I produced. It was a free webcast with some of NYC's best bluegrass players supporting Michael Daves's Kickstarter.

    "He's joined by singer Jen Larson, guitarist Chris "Critter" Eldridge, banjo legend Tony Trischka, Sarah Jarosz on mandolin, Alex Hargreaves and Mike Barnett on twin fiddles, and Larry Cook on bass."

    Besides shameless promotion of my work, I think this is an ideal example of a topic that comes up all the time here at the Cafe, how to work a bluegrass band around a single microphone. This is a casual pick-up band with little rehearsal time. Watch Daves cue the players 'on deck' and the way Sarah Jarosz gets right up on that microphone and out of the way when the singers move in. These guys and gals are the best!

    Last edited by BradKlein; Nov-13-2014 at 7:17pm.
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    Default Re: Single Mic Bluegrass: This is How It's Done!

    thanks, Brad. you do good work!
    I would just say that one must bear in mind that the video highlights the performers' side of it. (and they did admirably.) now as for the sound person's? at least the bass player stayed rooted. nothing worse than the random feedback a bass can generate as it relocates on stage. my point being that with all those instruments moving around it is always a creative adventure at the board. and therein lies the ultimate success or failure of the one mic set up. the two elements (performer and sound reinforcement) must work together. choreography is essential, but not the whole solution. this engineer did a great job as well. do you sound as well for these NYC events Brad?

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    NY Naturalist BradKlein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Single Mic Bluegrass: This is How It's Done!

    Thanks Jon. I don't do the house sound, and after soundcheck, I don't think the sound person hardly touches his set up. The musicians do all the mixing - with their feet!

    But there is substantial audio post-production for the videos. It's never just a recording off the board even if they're doing a fine job for the house. For one thing, you'll notice this is in stereo, and that's a mono mic on stage!
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    Default Re: Single Mic Bluegrass: This is How It's Done!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan Reinhardt View Post
    ...and therein lies the ultimate success or failure of the one mic set up. the two elements (performer and sound reinforcement) must work together. choreography is essential, but not the whole solution. this engineer did a great job as well. do you sound as well for these NYC events Brad?
    I really disagree with this. I have been working with various bands for the past 15 years that all used the one mic set-up. I had been used to multi-micing for years prior to that and was hesitant, at first, to try one mic. However, one of the main reasons that I did was because I was so tired of so-called "sound engineers" that were constantly messing with the mix. Some did a great job, but most just made things much worse. When the single mic is set correctly, the sound man has little to mess with. Keeping a ear open for any feedback issues, which I rarely encountered, but the job of mixing was left up to the band members. On the other hand, if the band members don't do their job correctly, then there is little the sound engineer can do to fix it either. However, that is squarely the blame of the band and not the sound crew. To this day I still much prefer the hassle-free one mic setup and the freedom it allows the band to mix their own sound the way they want it.
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    Default Re: Single Mic Bluegrass: This is How It's Done!

    Having worked on both sides of the microphone, Larry, I would point out that soundmen (or should that be soundpersons) have as many problems with musicians as musicians have with soundmen. Yes, there are bad soundmen just as there are bad musicians but, being behind the microphone, the musician is usually in the worst place to judge how things sound to the audience.

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    Default Re: Single Mic Bluegrass: This is How It's Done!

    larry, you are very right it saying it is up to the performers. and I too am much more in favor of using a single mic, disliking the mixing puzzle and forest of mics in multi mic situations. without the performers doing their part adequately, it becomes much more work for the soundperson, and sometimes a losing battle. my experiences with some larger bands was the reason for me to make the above statement (in post 2). it is very true that a smaller, experienced group dedicated to making it work usually has few problems, and is a joy to work with. the largest problems I used to encounter were variable performer proximity to the mic and the occasional feedback, as in when the bass was moved more than a small distance. it was instrument changes (every song in one of my bands!) and band reconfiguration (not just in and out of the mic choreography) that were challenging for me. I used a set it and leave it alone method, as I was not able to easily or quickly move from mic to board to correct, and I depended on a quality feedback control system (very narrow, initially shallow filters, short duration) and setting a proper initial eq to do the job. WHEN we actually had soundpeople, as you say, many were good and some not. those that were not probably sucked the life out of a performance as evidenced by the position of the eq I would see still in place after a set. when I did the sound, I rarely had to readjust the mic eq, or room eq, after initial set up. I would set up early and ring out and eq the room, but sometimes not get an opportunity to sound check the band (late arrivals, etc.) until the first song. the one mic situation always worked for me as well, but sometimes better than others! once I began using it, I was a firm believer. I never was the most competent of sound people, but learned to make it work better than many of the other options we had.

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    Default Re: Single Mic Bluegrass: This is How It's Done!

    Not to hijack - but I loved the duo fiddles playing a more long bow almost texas swing style.

    I mean everyone was great, of course, more than great - outstanding. But the fiddle style just caught me off guard and I loved it.

    I will start another thread along those lines.

    http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/sh...s-in-bluegrass
    Last edited by JeffD; Nov-14-2014 at 9:53am.
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    NY Naturalist BradKlein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Single Mic Bluegrass: This is How It's Done!

    Is it just that I like to get along, or are we all 'right' here? The Rockwood has one of the best audio systems in town and sound ops who are versatile and really know their rooms. So even with a single mic setup, they're skillfully EQing and adding a bit of compression, et c. And musicians can buy a multitrack recording of the set suitable for their own production needs.

    And these musicians have a lot of experience with working the microphone, and have really 'studied' the subject. I know that at least some have rehearsed wearing headphones to understand the balance between players and between vocals and instruments.

    My recording uses the ADK Hamburg and a pair of overheads. There was also a direct from the bass available.

    And that twin fiddle section really livens things up, makes everyone smile! Those guys are good.
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    Default Re: Single Mic Bluegrass: This is How It's Done!

    Here's the video, one of three from that event. And Kickstarter supporters get the whole show's audio, which is pretty cool.

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    Default Re: Single Mic Bluegrass: This is How It's Done!

    Quote Originally Posted by BradKlein View Post
    For one thing, you'll notice this is in stereo, and that's a mono mic on stage!
    I'm wondering if it's a stereo mic. Some great ones out there.

    Agreed on the post production. With all the filters and compressors out there a decent sounding recording can be elevated to the heavenly status.

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    Default Re: Single Mic Bluegrass: This is How It's Done!

    That's the ADK Hamburg you see on stage. Mono. The stereo image comes from the overheads.
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    Default Re: Single Mic Bluegrass: This is How It's Done!

    I have tried both single mic`s and multiple mic`s and found that when using a single mic the band members must have good sounding instruments because they cannot tweak the mixer to make them sound better than what they really are...I now use a system like the one mic system but I do mic the bass and have an extra mic placed off to the side so the banjo and mandolin can ues to take their breaks, we are using condenser mics and the only problem we ever have is watching for feedback if the monitors are not just right....using a soundman that's likes more bass can be a problem like we had at one festival where we played, the bass sound coming out of the monitors was unbearable and covered up our vocals too....

    Willie

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    Default Re: Single Mic Bluegrass: This is How It's Done!

    How does the ADK compare to the Neumann TLM 103. Seems it's a lot less money.

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    Default Re: Single Mic Bluegrass: This is How It's Done!

    The bluegrass gospel band I play with has used one mic for years,the main reason we went to one mic was to make it hard for a sound man to mess things up(with true one mic it is harder to mess up the sound every mic you add makes it more likely for a sound man to do something that you didn't want done) also a lot of places we play either don't have a sound man or the" sound man" knew nothing about sound ( I can't count the number of churches I've played in that had great, state of the art sound systems that the " sound man" knew how to turn it on and control master volume, any thing else he was in the dark) so I ended up "running sound" from the stage as I sang and played, not good. Now I ring out the system, set volume. And forget the PA we don't even use monitors, makes feedback more likely.

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