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New Singer Toolbox - Help Me Shop Single-Channel Preamps
Old 4th February 2013
Gear interested

Thread Starter
New Singer Toolbox - Help Me Shop

So I've been playing guitar or drums in my bands for forever, but now I'm singing and I am pretty much starting over with gear. I am interested primarily in getting a good live sound, and I'm willing to lay down some cash but I don't want to waste a lot of money experimenting. So what I'm looking for is a guide to a singer's starter toolbox.

First, here's what I have now:

Shure SM-58 (I imagine some of you will say "that's all you need")
Alesis 3630 Compressor
ART TubeMP Preamp
Koolertron Wireless in-ear monitor

Let's leave out the PA for now, I'm just interested in the stuff leading up to the amplification; someone else owns the PA. So let's say I had $250, $500, or $1000 to spend, what would you upgrade or add first?

My thoughts:
The mic seems passable, I don't have a lot of experience but the sm-58's have a reputation as rock solid. I'm singing rock/metal, somewhere between Rush and AC/DC, with a voice about halfway between Geddy Lee and Bon Scott, is there a mic or brand that might be better suited to that style than others?

The compressor is a bit of a pain to configure but it seems to do its job.

The preamp is obviously bargain-basement, but I'm not sure what I'm missing with the more expensive pre's or where the sweet spot for spending on them would be.

The wireless monitor I have is also basically a toy, but it was $500 less than a Shure system and I can hear myself well enough to stay on pitch without cranking our PA to feedback in our rehearsal space. The earbuds are terrible though, I've been considering just replacing those but again I'm not sure what the best value would be.

Finally, I don't have any sort of effects processing for delay/pitch/etc, the reverb on the PA has been adequate for me but I'm curious to hear if others think that an outboard effects unit is worth the investment. Did I miss anything else that might be useful?

So if you were me and wanted to get the best bang for your buck, what would you pick up?
Old 4th February 2013
Lives for gear
Welcome to the forums.

The SM58 is a great mic - no need to replace it.

ART Tube MP - while there are better preamps, the ART tube series are great bang for the buck. If you're using someone else's PA, you may or may not need this as most mixers you'd just plug in to a mic input.

Alesis 3630 compressor - this is not a good piece of equipment and would be better as a doorstop - it's a weak link in your audio chain. For most live singing, I'd avoid compressors on your vocal chain and learn to control your own dynamics. If you really need a compressor/limiter, a used dbx166 or an FMR RNC would do you well.

Koolertron - I'd ditch this and invest in a real wireless system with molded in-ear phones. This will net you the best improvement as you'll get better sound quality and higher signal to noise with better systems. If you don't move around too much, consider a Rolls PM50s - let's you do wired in-ear monitoring and with a mic thru, you can adjust your mic level in ears with a mix from the board of everyone else - it's your own personal "more me" control. Plus, being that it's wired, it will always work and never drop out. For $75 it's great.

Effects processing - maybe light delay or reverb, but you don't want that in your monitors as it may mess up your timing. I'd say go without effects for now.

Hope that helps.
Old 4th February 2013
Gear Guru
If you can afford it, look closely at a TC Helicon Voicelive2. Sell everthing except the SM58 and just use the TC for everything.

Unless you are running wireless mic, why use a wireless monitor? Keep it simple. The headphone output on the TC could drive whatever in-ear monitors you can afford.

The TC has everything you need and then some. Preamp, EQ, Compression, Gate, FX etc And while you think you may not want the autotune or harmonies or rhythmic stuff or looping etc ... if you have any sense of adventure, this stuff is far too much fun to ignore ...

I have two of them, and just picked up the rack version which is more convenient for what I do.

It's very easy to overdo FX. But there is only one way to learn ...
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