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Can you use condenser mics for live performance?
Old 15th February 2015
  #1
Gear Maniac
 

Can you use condenser mics for live performance?

I think I read that cardioid mics are for live performances and condenser mics are for recording. Is it true?
Old 15th February 2015
  #2
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esldude's Avatar
I suppose in general dynamics are for live and recording is for condensers. But there are no lines in the sand. They both get used both places. A long time live sound guy referred to me as the guy with the fancy condensers and shock mounts while recording a live performance. However, it worked the recording was pretty nice. Of course it was a one off, and I don't use them on an ongoing and continuous basis in a live situation.
Old 15th February 2015
  #3
Gear Nut
 
JTrue's Avatar
 

I use condensers for live shows all the time. They are better than dynamic mics for higher frequency transients like cymbals and some drums.
Many stage style vocal mics are condensers, like: Shure SM87 and the Neumann KMS104 and 105. I've used both the SM87 and KMS104 on stage with great results especially with quieter singers.

On the flip side cardioid dynamics like the Sennheiser MD421 and Shure SM7 and SM57 are used in my studio on most large projects.
But in general, yes the large condenser mics are more typical of the studio as they can be more fragile, sensitive to the elements and are usually more expensive.

Dynamic mics are more forgiving on tour.
Old 15th February 2015
  #4
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Joeywhat's Avatar
 

Well, first we need to clarify that "cardioid" and "condenser" mics are NOT mutually exclusive. There are plenty of cardioid condenser microphones out there. Also, there isn't any set "thing" for live performances (or for studio recording, for that matter). Yes, cardioid mics often work well for live sound, for a variety of reasons. However there are also plenty of reasons to use other patterns as well. I've used figure 8 mics at many of my band's gigs.

It all boils down to using whatever works for the specific situation at hand. Having the knowledge about the various types of microphones and how they work in a variety of environments is how you choose the right mic for the right time. Plus, "cardioid" patterns aren't all identical. There are cardioid mics with super tight patterns, and cardioids with very big patterns (that may not work well in a live setting).

So in short, no that is not true.
Old 8th December 2019
  #5
Here for the gear
 

Hey!

This is great. I have the same question. I have a rode nt1 that I use for recording and I have a XU-1648 phantom power usb device.

But the output is only USB. Is there a way to use this condenser microphone, with phantom power, and use it for live performances?

Thank you!!
Old 8th December 2019
  #6
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Papanate's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Griw View Post
I think I read that cardioid mics are for live performances and condenser mics are for recording. Is it true?
I've seen AKG C414s and Shure's KSM44s used as drum overheads for quite a while now.
Old 8th December 2019
  #7
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by dolivo View Post
Hey!

This is great. I have the same question. I have a rode nt1 that I use for recording and I have a XU-1648 phantom power usb device.

But the output is only USB. Is there a way to use this condenser microphone, with phantom power, and use it for live performances?

Thank you!!
The Rode NT1 can be connected straight to a PA mixer with Phantom power and be used for live performance. The XU-1648 is a red herring for live performance.

You can use condensers for live performance, I personally use SDC's as a live instrument microphone all the time. You want to know WHY you intend to use a condenser for live performance, and its not something you can just spring on the sound engineer at the last second.

I'm a one man band and use very little or even no foldback and it works for me. If your a loud band then using a condenser mic becomes more difficult.
Old 10th December 2019
  #8
Gear Head
At a recent show I used the following:

Piano—>Spaced SDCs (Pro-37s)
Keyboard (synths/pads)—>DI
Violin—>Clip-on condenser (Pro-35)
A.Guitar—>SM57
Voice—>SM86 condenser
Drums—>dynamics kick/snare, Pro-37 for mono OH

Bandleader brought his own SM86 condenser for vocals. New to me - I think I quite like it.

Had a momentary issue with the bandleader’s monitor and his quiet playing/singing. Took a moment to point the nulls of SM57 and SM86 directly at the centre of monitor cone without totally sacrificing the mic positions, and that solved the issue: Plenty of headroom in the monitor and didn’t have to de-ring/EQ to prevent feedback.

I like SDCs best on the venue’s in-house piano. Feedback-wise, occasionally they get a little close for comfort on louder shows.

Not strictly condenser-related, but you can really open up a lot of headroom-before-feedback just with the stage plot and monitor layout, but also respecting the risk-factors like sending piano mics to a piano wedge.

As was mentioned earlier, condensers offer some serious possibilities in the treble/transient range. I think they’re great for acoustic-based live music (or a not-quite-rock hybrid) which makes up the lion’s share of shows I work. A lot of clip-on condensers sound great and offer incredible convenience on many fronts.
Old 10th December 2019
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by esldude View Post
I suppose in general dynamics are for live and recording is for condensers. But there are no lines in the sand. They both get used both places. A long time live sound guy referred to me as the guy with the fancy condensers and shock mounts while recording a live performance. However, it worked the recording was pretty nice. Of course it was a one off, and I don't use them on an ongoing and continuous basis in a live situation.

The reason that dynamic mics are often preferred for live use is their ruggedness. But, if the venue isn't a grungy bar where bad things happen to fragile gear and better sound isn't appreciated, there's no reason not to use a condenser for a performance.

Sometimes, the dynamic mic will actually sound better, though.




-tINY

Old 13th December 2019
  #10
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vernier's Avatar
Audix VX10 is another ...it sometimes outshines the dynamic mics on vocals.
Old 13th December 2019
  #11
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condenser mics are mostly more sensitive and have higher output than dynamic mics; both come in various (or some condensers with variable) patterns.

on very loud stages, one may prefer to use dynamic mics as they pick up less spill; however, the more detailed sound and the broader choice of patterns are criteria for using condensers - at a recent gig (including a fully miked up orchestra), i used ca. 80 condensers (mostly sdc's and clips and ca. 6 ldc's) plus ca. a dozen dynamics and ribbons - and it was loud (and had about 18 wedges on stage)!
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