Attached microphone for solo performance
Hi guys - I'm looking for an outstanding clip-on microphone for solo classical performance. Fidelity, tone and dynamics are a must. Bluetooth would be convenient but the above is more important. Phantom power is no problem.
I noticed David Garett using one that clips onto his strad in this video (perhaps someone recognizes it):
I'm glad you asked this. I can't help, but I have been wondering if a clip-on has value. Yes, I guess it gives you a lot of mobility. I'd also like to know how much you should spend on one - no point having a bad one. I assume a clip-on picks up all the scratching and noise that you hear but the audience can't. Do you then have to filter this all out in a recording?
That's a worry Gordon - but I'm trying to find an alternative to playing with a microphone - its so easy to hit it or to forget and wander off! Garett seems to pull it off...
Yes, and then there's the lead trailing all over the floor. What you really want is a radio mic tied to your waist (or is that what bluetooth means?)!
When I've heard Garrett amplified, it's been in his crossover performances, where he's truly playing electric violin. Similarly, some years ago, Karen Bentley played a concerto with my community orchestra that was intended to be played on an electric violin, for which she used a clip-on on an acoustic. The pickup does affect the sound that the audience hears. It's not like a violin that just has more projection.
I’ve heard good things about the DPA 4099.
Lydia - I played at our local market last Saturday, classical pieces but mostly kinda wedding fare (with a few for me and also folk songs and old cinema or hits for the elder set). I bought a battery-powered three channel amp and used a (non-condenser) microphone. The sound was pretty good but positioning the mike so you don't knock it is tricky and then you have to stand in one place in order to keep the sound reasonably constant. I don't want an electric violin sound and I don't need a lot of volume really, just an enhancement of what the instrument normally sounds like.
Sean - thanks, I'll check the DPA 4099 out.
Sean - thanks, I'll check the DPA 4099 out.
Hmm. For that scenario, a clip-on microphone makes a lot of sense. There's publicity material out there that says that Garrett uses a DPA, but the microphone in that video does not look like a DPA. Audio-Technica makes a clip-on mike for violin (but it also does not look like that), which requires phantom power.
Check with Jan Purat-this guy:
I have used several mics and piezo elements. I use the DPA 4099 now and its by far the best mic for the most natural sound (and also the most expensive...) It does need phantom power. However, the mic is just one element for the sound. At least as important for the sound is what you use as amplifier. And of course if there is a sound engineer what effects he uses. A lot of the unnatural sounds in recordings is made by the amplifier or the sound effects, not the mic.
My amp has phantom power so I'm good to go with the condenser mike. The DPA looks like a great investment.
I have a dpa 4099, and can recommend it. Certainly the mounting system is the best, and it gets the microphone up and out of the path of my breathing, which I find to be essential. (I noticed that David Garrett's mic is right in the line of fire of his breath, and I have to wonder how he gets away with that.)
Don't entire orchestras use microphones for certain types of work? If you have a company locally that specializes in PA systems and outfitting performance venues, they might have something you can try out.
Elise, can you tell us about the amp you are using?
Dimitri - I just bought this 'Yorkville Excursion Mini Battery Powered PA'. Its a twin 6.5" speakers with a dome tweeter. It claims 5+ hrs at full power (60 wt, not the 100 I said above). I've only used it once in the field thus - but the response was terrific and what I love is that there is virtually no speaker hum.
Hi Elise -- This is definitely not my area of expertise, but it looks like the Yorkville supplies 12v of phantom power; the DPA requires 48v to work most effectively -- so you might need additional.
Thanks for that insight Sean - I would not have thought of checking.
A lot of players use DPA. I have used Accusound: https://accusound-shop.com/instrument-microphones/Violin which are good but any microphone has its limits for feedback. Some players are using a combination of pickup and microphone so that you get the best of both (and blend them) Ithaca Strings does a good one: https://ithacastring.com/isi-pickup/
Maybe a pre-amp can deliver your phantom power. There is the Sound Devices MP-1 or MM-1
This is one of the cheapest ways to get phantom power:
Christopher - definitely cheap - but the reviews are mixed, several say do not use for vocals which might be a warning for violin. Do you use it?
Elise, vocals are typically the most closely guarded part of any production or recording. As it stands your signal is going into a battery-powered mini-PA system, right? Then I don't think you have cause to be persnickety about your preamp. What I've learned about all this, having electrified my violin a few years ago with a Fishman V-200 pickup, is that you just have to start somewhere so that you can learn what you have to tweak to get the sound you want, and then you upgrade. There's really no once-and-done in this business, especially if you don't have a store nearby where you can choose things from among a large display inventory just to try. Reviews on a $70 item are always going to mixed even if it's a $70 chocolate bar. Also just think for a minute how well a device powered by a 9-volt battery is going to perform in its task of providing 48-V phantom power to a microphone. Of course that's possible and not all that difficult, but still probably not ideal. So, I would just go for it and see how it works for you. PS the idea that such a device needs vacuum tubes inside it to function properly is a total joke.
Elise, yes I've used it once or twice for live performance with an Accusound microphone and it seemed fine. I was using it more for phantom power than as a preamp. I picked one up second hand for about $25. I'm not saying it's the best thing, just a place to start. You can upgrade the tube inside but then you may as well buy something more expensive. There are better options. For a little more you could buy a small mixer with phantom power:
I don't think the Mackie mixer is battery-powered. I'm guessing Elise went with a battery-powered mini-PA system for a reason...
I don't know if it's too late, or if it's already been written:
Notch filter (anti feedback) and eq are nice features but you can get those on a powered speaker too. The headway preamp weighs 500 g, that's a bit to carry on your belt. Lots of choices out there.
Who said that the preamp has to be attached to a belt?........
Probably has been answered already, but David Garrett is using a DPA.
Belt-mounting is very convenient -- if you wear belts! My pre-amp clips to my belt or my music stand. There is no point having a volume knob on your pre-amp if you can't reach it while you are playing. Well you can have a volume pedal too I guess.
Mr Deck, so you judge a belt-attached device as more confortable ?
I've NEVER used a mic (attached to the violin). I've been miced many times.
Mr. Turner, maybe sometimes (very often in my case) someone has to provide sound reinforcement for his own ensemble, especially in small venues.
Malcom - perhaps you should try playing when most of the audience is talking or moving carts or groceries :D
Here's the feedback from the manufacturer of the DPA on phantom power for those interested:
What's a few volts? LOL
Marco, the notch filter, the ease of mounting the pre-amp on a mic stand, etc., I agree with you. The fact is, there's lot of these devices to choose from and they all have pros and cons. The Fishman Platinum Stage has a selectable low-cut and an adjustable-frequency mid tone control (the same as a notch filter in principle but the width of the band may differ). Remember this whole discussion was originated by someone who bought a battery-powered amplifier. That suggests wanting to travel light and have as few things "on stage" to deal with as possible. But women don't usually wear belts nearly as often as men, that's true too! And I didn't say belt-mounting was comfortable, I said it was convenient. And I said it would be certainly less comfortable with a 500-g preamp compared to something lighter (mine weighs around 150 g). Because it's light, mine also clips easily to my folding music stand, that's really the ideal configuration for me, since usually I'm using a fake book or a gig book anyway.
Bought the DPA!
I got a DPA 4099 last year, and it's great. You can position the mic higher away from the violin to get a more natural sound, or put it closer if you're in a situation more prone to feedback. I find angling it at 45 degrees to the violin top gives a better sound that pointing it straight down. I see a lot of performers using this mic. I saw Jean Luc Ponty use one, but it looked a little different. Turns out it's the DPA 4011, which costs about three times as much as the 4099. Not sure how much difference in sound quality there is, although the DPA website says the 4011 has the most natural sound.
Thanks Michael - in particular for the placement video link. I have to fool around with that a bit. Later I'll try it with my gig amp....
Elise, there's a misunderstanding somewhere in your communication with dpa about required phantom power voltages. The 4099 for phantom powering comes with a preamp/impedance matching device that's built into the XLR plug, and that does require 48+/-4 volts to operate at full performance specifications. I don't doubt that it will "work" at 9 volts, but you won't get anywhere near full design performance.
I should also point out that I corresponded with an engineer rep from Remic violin microphones (another Danish company) and asked this very question, would their mics work with the 24 volts my Fishman amp provides, and he was adamant that it would not yield full design performance, but it would work if I was willing to accept a slightly reduced performance. And he furthermore said that that will be true for ALL condenser microphones, regardless of the manufacturer. Reducing the phantom power voltage will compromise the performance, and reducing it more will compromise the performance even more.
I have a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB preamp, and it provides 48V of phantom power.