How to Get a Great Live Vocal Sound, On Stage and Off

live sound survival

A reader wrote in with a question about live vocal sound:

My vocalist has a very soft voice, and we are trying to mic her for live performances. We are getting tons of bleed from other stage sounds like drums and guitar amp. We also are right on the edge of feedback, just to bring her up for monitoring.

Great question.

This is a common problem, especially for small gigs.

Use the Right Mic for the Job

You shouldn’t be getting that much bleed from other instruments into your microphone, unless you’re NOT using a dynamic mic? A cardioid, dynamic live vocal microphone should not pick up so much from the other instruments. Especially if the singer is standing in front of it and blocking the rest of the sounds. So I might be wrong, but it sounds like you’re using a condenser microphone for her vocals, which I would not recommend.

Yes, they might make her voice sound a little fuller, but the effect is negligible in live situations such as these. Using a sturdy dynamic microphone should solve your bleed problem.

Managing Feedback

Another problem for vocalists is getting a good monitor sound for them without their microphone feeding back. Here are two simple ways to fix this:

  • Placement – Make sure the microphone is not pointing at the monitors. EVER. If you crank the gain of the mic up and send a bunch of it to the monitor, it will immediately start feeding back as soon as you point it that way. Feedback is produced when the microphone is listening to what’s coming out of the monitor. And if the sound keeps going in circles, again and again, it will start screeching with feedback. That’s why you have to point the microphone away from the monitor, so that it can’t actually hear its own sound.
  • Monitor Mix – Before you start adding more of her vocals in the monitor, first ask if you can take something else out. There is only so much you can add to the monitor mix. Less is more, so decreasing the guitars might sound better than adding more voice. If you’re feeding every instrument into her monitor she won’t hear herself at all because all the other instruments are screaming for her attention.

Live Sound Quick SolutionsIn fact, one of the bonuses I’ve added to my new eBook, Live Sound Survival, tackles these common problems.

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