Go Walkabout – Wireless Microphones

Four our final article in the Harmonica Microphones series, let’s ditch that cumbersome mic cable. Many players want to go wireless – fun, because you can go out in the audience and play, dance up on the bar, or simply have more freedom to roam around on stage. Here’s how:

A wireless system always consists of two parts. The transmitter stays with you, connects to your microphone and sends the signal out into the air using radio waves. The receiver is located near and connected to your amp. There are many types of wireless systems available to us. As a rule, you usually get what you pay for. But there are some practical considerations. (more…)

Hey There, What’s That Sound? – Microphone Feedback

We continue with the Harmonica Microphones series with some thoughts on the knotty problem of microphone feedback: what it is and how to minimise it.

Feedback is that awful loud screeching, humming and/or whistling sound a system makes when a microphone picks up the sound from the amplifier’s speaker and sends it back to the amplifier for further amplification. Every system (in this case a microphone plus amplifier) has a feedback threshold. Turn the volume up loud enough and feedback occurs. Keep the volume below that point and it doesn’t. Unfortunately we often need to have our volume very close to the feedback threshold in order to be loud enough, and so feedback can come and go as conditions change. But some setups are less prone to feedback than others, and some microphones are less prone than others. (more…)

There’s No Place Like Ohm – Microphone Impedance

Our previous article in the Harmonica Microphones series mentioned impedance. Here we describe not so much what it is, but what it means to harp players wielding microphones.

The Harmonica Microphone Series beginsThe microphones we are talking about in this series of articles are referred to as either “high impedance” or “low impedance.” In general, a vintage bullet mic is a high impedance device and a modern vocal mic is a low impedance one. This is not always the case, however. (more…)

Cupping Technique 101

In his latest article in the Harmonica Microphone series, Greg explains what happens when your cup overfloweth. The secret is getting a good seal.

The Harmonica Microphone Series beginsGood amplified tone starts with the player’s tone, and is accentuated by microphone technique. Cupping is an art; a learned skill that is neither obvious nor easy in practice. Properly done at its extreme, no air you suck or blow can escape “the seal” and therefore no sound at all comes out of the harp. Your goal is to visualize that all your breath must enter and exit through the microphone itself. In reality it is very hard to do this, and it is hard to even come close at first.

When the seal with a microphone is very good, the air pressure changes are effectively “coupled” to the microphone’s diaphragm in a way that is very, very different from the normal “free air” mode in which mics were designed to operate. The result is a very distorted signal sent to the amp. (more…)