I have done a lot of Live work in the past 2 years, almost entirely with sm58's on the vocals. What has always annoyed me with it is the proximity effect, which is most annoying when singers sing away from the mic but then talk very close to it...
I was watching the John Mayer DVD today and noticed that he was using an sm58 for vocals as well, but the proximity effect is minimal! How has the engineer done this? Could it be multiband compression??
Every time I've seen the display on a 5D or M7, the 58's EQ setting is usually very close to the same... the low end is usually HPF'd around 80Hz and rolled off to taste. Clears up the mud and plosives, and keeps the character pretty much the same up close or with the mic pulled away for a loud passage.
Richard Sterban's channel is, of course, excepted. Most other humans have very little actual tonality going on much below 150Hz or so anyway.
If you can keep the vocal mics completely out of the subs (I do it by subgrouping them, and routing the VOX subgroup only to L/R, but not out to the sub channel) you can likewise keep the unwanted bottom from kludging things up.
Thanks for the info on the EQ. Thats pretty much how i do it as well. I like to take out the peak at around 200-300hz, that the 58 typically has also.
The sub idea is great, often though, you dont have that possibility...
When i take away some of the lows with a shelf, i have the problem, that its fine when the singer is close, but when hes far away, its too shrill.
Thats why i was thinking that some might work with dynamic eqing or mulitband compression... Obviously youd need special tools for that live (spltter...).
I do what Harry recommends when possible. If I have a live situation where the problem shows up after sound check I set the low mid eq to around 150 and ride it. Sounds like a terrible practice to use but it works for me. A multi band eq seems like it would work great but I have noticed that the really pro singers handle this with great mic technique.
Agreed! You work with the singer to have the same placement every time, then set up vocal compression, then increase the HPF to be perfect. I'm shocked that some singers I only use about 120Hz, but some I go up to 300Hz with! (These are the people who get their mouths right up on the mic.) I'm currently mixing RAIN on B'way and I've had the comment many times that the vocals sound just like the record, not like live sound vocals- it's all about consistent, good mic technique on the artist's side paired with good compression and EQ on the mixer's side.
Problem for me is, i work at a location, so the bands always change. I cant work with one singer on mic tech.
Why do you suggest the HPF at 80Hz, if you say the voice has no significance under 150hz?
I normally Cut higher, at 100-130Hz, but then dont low shelf too much anymore because of that. maybe this is the wrong method?
I think you just have to do it by ear. I mean, if it's live and you aren't worried about messing something up to tape, you can play with it a bit and not worry. Find something you like each night and leave it alone. I think if you go up much above 300 though on the HPF you are doing too much.....
That said, if what you're doing sounds good, don't let the math get in your way.
Proximity effect isn't always your enemy, either, so don't cut too much.....
I have always shied away from SM58's for recording and preffered Senny MD 441's and 421's.
However this years Glasto had SM58s a plenty on the Pyramid stage, in all winds and weathers and they sounded truely great with BB King,U2 and Coldplay etc.
MD proximity is greater than SM and vocal breathing technic is vital but I was moved to buy my first SM 58's. (In fact I swopped 2 ECM 77's for 3 SM58 's)
I am contemplating a little Rycote furry material in the SM 58 basket for gagging.
My chum on R1 OBs once did a live gig where a presenter Sky dived into the Atlantic and was picked up by a rescue chopper , he had an SM 58 which survived all of that....
The SM58 is a necessary evil. It's affordable, durable, and its main fault (proximity effect) is shared by other cardiod microphones.
I usually use my mid-low EQ to cut at 150-180 by about 4 dB. Sometimes more, and sometimes much more.
I actually like the SM58 just fine for most female vocals, since the proximity effect isn't much of an issue for most of them (and might actually help).
If a singer is loud, they can be encouraged to come off the mic a couple of inches. Of course this might be contrary to years of experience and a hard habit to break.
There are two microphones I use to combat proximity effect in live situations.
The first was the RE-20, which doesn't exhibit proximity effect. Of course it cannot be hand held, it's not very sensitive, and some consider it large and ugly.
The second is the AKG 535EB. It's hand held, very flat, and its secret weapon is a gentle 4 dB/oct high pass that starts way up at about 500 Hz. It's basically the inverse of the proximity effect. Instant vocal clarity. It's a condenser and obviously more expensive than a 58.
Both mics are very good studio mics, both are not too expensive, but both are too expensive (and the 535 is too delicate) to risk at a smelly rock club with bands you don't know. Both mics should be rung out... don't just show up with your mic without giving time for a sound check.