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Discussion Starter #41
Fader, you said that the ATM 35 had a MINI XLR connection. I guess that means I would have to find an adapter to regular-size XLR before I could plug it into my mixer?
 

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Leave it to Fader to save the day. Whatever I'm looking for, he's always got one at home for me to go and try out. Ha. Thank you. I hadn't thought to ask your advice on this subject, to be honest.

By the way, Fader, you say that you have the Shure Beta 98, but I see LOTS of different versions of 98 on the Shure website. Are you talking about the 98H/C?

Styles, thank you for the very, very good information. So, then, the AT 35 has the option of using the battery. Question answered. Thank you.

Yes, guys, thank you for reminding me of the differences between a clip-on and a regular stand mic. Tough call, there.

Styles, thanks again. By the way, to date I have never used or had need of phantom power. I have my mp3 player (a separate, dedicated cell phone, really) plugged into one of the main four XLR channels (see diagram above) by means of an 1/8" to XLR cable, only because I can't get enough volume out of it otherwise using the remaining channels 5-10. Channels 1-4 have a "boosted" signal (pre-amps), whereas channels 5-10 do not, so, even with the mp3 player at full volume, and with individual channel volume set high, I cannot get enough sound from channels 5-10. You say that I should not use this set-up? (I suppose I could also use an 1/8" to 1/4" cable to accomplish the same thing, but only through the boosted channels 1-4, which brings me back to square one anyway.)
Phantom power only goes through an XLR input, and all XLR inputs have a pre-amp in them. If you go into a 1/4 inch input, the phantom power does not go through there. The mixer should have a phono input, and that is the correct impedance for your mp3 player, and is where it should be wired. If you do not have that, then a 1/4 will do, even if it is on the same channel because phantom power only goes through an XLR input.
You also need to take into consideration the polar pattern of the mic in relation to a monitor. A SM57 has the highest rejection of feedback because it is a cardioid pattern, a hypercardiod is different, and you get more feedback, and have to place the monitor at the side a bit, but the feedback will still increase. Cardioid means heart shaped pattern. There is more involved than just phantom power, dynamic or condenser, but also the pickup pattern which involves the monitor placement, and the amount of feedback you get, and if the mic is on a stand or mounted on the bell. My advice, educate yourself first on all of these terms so you can make an intelligent choice when purchasing a microphone. Also understand how phantom power works, even if you have never used it before. In a recording studio, almost all of the quality mics for vocals or wind instruments are condenser, and required phantom power. Education is a beautiful things, and should involve more than what the guy at the music store told you to use, or just wired or wireless. All mics are not created equal, and there are different mics for different jobs.
One note: If you do use a stand or clip on mic with phantom power, make sure you mute the channel before you turn the mic off. Phantom power takes around 30 seconds to dissipate. Otherwise you get a really big BOOM, Spend the time and learn about microphones, and all these terms before you buy another mic. And yes, the Beta 98 or the ATM35 both require a transformer/power pack in order to connect to an XLR cord so you can plug that into your mixer.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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I was unaware that the whole wireless format introduced negative issues regarding sound quality.
Sound quality is one of those often misunderstood (or rather ambiguous) phrases. Some people want it to mean that the mic (or other equipment) is as close to an original signal as possible (high fidelity). Another interpretation is that the equipment makes it sound good, or better (ie enhances or flatters the sound). The latter is purely subjective.

So thinking about fidelity. This can mean lack of distortion, no loss or increase in specific frequencies, no or low introduced noise (hum hiss etc.)

It's anyone's choice what they prefer - some performers (especially when working without a good sound engineer) may want a mic that enhances or flatters, sound engineers may prefer fidelity in a mic so that they have control at the desk over what enhancements they may want to make.

So you should think about this when choosing a mic. It could be argued that when working with a decent out front mixer, the engineer may prefer to decide on the mic.

Another issue is the polar pattern. (Unless we go off on the red herring of ribbon mics) your main choices are omni, cardioid or hyper cardioid and there are pros and cons to consider.

  • Omni picks up everything equally
  • cardioid is directional in that it picks up to a great extend what is directly in front of it
  • Hypercardioid is the same but more so, ie a more focussed directionality.
Here are the pros and cons:

ProCon
OmniOften a more faithful reproduction (better quality)Will pick up more of the other instruments and ambience (off-axis sound), hence may be more difficult to rebalance the intended signal within a mix. Can be more prone to feedback due to ,picking up more off-axis signal.
CardioidMakes mixing easier as it focusses more on the specific signal it is being used forCan be less faithful reproduction, because of the slight issues introduced by the method of filtering out off-axis sounds
HypercardioidAs above but more soAs above but more so

My preference with a clip is for omni, I find a directional clip often doesn't pick up the entire range as evenly because the sound doesn't come evenly out of the bell or any one position that close to the instrument. I use a very cheap omni, not because it's cheap but just because it sounds better than any other clip on I've tried. (less relevant in this thread as it is wired)
 

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Sound quality is one of those often misunderstood (or rather ambiguous) phrases. Some people want it to mean that the mic (or other equipment) is as close to an original signal as possible (high fidelity). Another interpretation is that the equipment makes it sound good, or better (ie enhances or flatters the sound). The latter is purely subjective.

So thinking about fidelity. This can mean lack of distortion, no loss or increase in specific frequencies, no or low introduced noise (hum hiss etc.)

It's anyone's choice what they prefer - some performers (especially when working without a good sound engineer) may want a mic that enhances or flatters, sound engineers may prefer fidelity in a mic so that they have control at the desk over what enhancements they may want to make.

So you should think about this when choosing a mic. It could be argued that when working with a decent out front mixer, the engineer may prefer to decide on the mic.

Another issue is the polar pattern. (Unless we go off on the red herring of ribbon mics) your main choices are omni, cardioid or hyper cardioid and there are pros and cons to consider.

  • Omni picks up everything equally
  • cardioid is directional in that it picks up to a great extend what is directly in front of it
  • Hypercardioid is the same but more so, ie a more focussed directionality.
Here are the pros and cons:

ProCon
OmniOften a more faithful reproduction (better quality)Will pick up more of the other instruments and ambience (off-axis sound), hence may be more difficult to rebalance the intended signal within a mix. Can be more prone to feedback due to ,picking up more off-axis signal.
CardioidMakes mixing easier as it focusses more on the specific signal it is being used forCan be less faithful reproduction, because of the slight issues introduced by the method of filtering out off-axis sounds
HypercardioidAs above but more soAs above but more so

My preference with a clip is for omni, I find a directional clip often doesn't pick up the entire range as evenly because the sound doesn't come evenly out of the bell or any one position that close to the instrument. I use a very cheap omni, not because it's cheap but just because it sounds better than any other clip on I've tried. (less relevant in this thread as it is wired)
Pete, ya gotta be kidding me with your microphone information. In a recording studio, an omni picks up sound from the front and back, and rejects it from the side, and is rarely used, especially for sax. In live sound reinforcement, a cardioid picks up sound from the front, but the heart shaped pattern has virtually no pickup, which makes it great if you have a monitor in front of you. Maximum feedback rejection. A hypercardioid can be used for a clip on mic, but it does have some pickup to the rear, so some feedback can occur from a monitor there. A hyper can work well in live sound, but it needs to be a clip on mic like an ATM 35. Where you clip the mic on the bell makes a huge difference. I prefer clipping it from the top, but some people do it from the side or bottom. It depends on personal taste.

An omni does NOT pick up everything equally, only from the front and back. Nothing from the sides. It is a nightmare if you are using one with a monitor on stage. Never seen any sound man use one. Cardioid only pickes up in a heart shaped pattern, and has the most feedback rejection because nothing is being picked up behind it.
Hypercardioid is NOT more of the same, because a hyper also picks up sound from the rear, just not as much from the front, so "as above but more so" was written by someone who does not understand microphone pickup patterns.

In a clip on mic, a hyper will work, and mine is a hyper, but it is a miniature condenser mic with a hyper pattern, and since it clips on to the bell, it does not require as much volume on the pre-amp, but it does have some pickup from the rear. Best to just look at pictures of mic patterns. If you are in a studio you never want to use a clip on mic, because it picks up the key noise. Many high quality condenser mics can be set to a cardioid, hyper, or omni pattern, but that is normally for a recording studio which is a very different application since no monitors are involved. I am not sure where you got your information, but it is wrong.
 

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Correction, just waking up here, and I misspoke on an omni, was thinking of figure eight. Here are the mic patterns which give you a visual of the patterns. Live sound with a monitor, and recording in a studio are two completely different things. Also, where the mic is placed affects things. If you want to capture the acoustics of a room or hall, and the distance is far away, it is quite different from close up mic technique, and live vs. studio are vastly different. In a studio, a cardioid may work great, and I usually use a Neumann U87 set to cardioid pattern, but maybe 8-10 feet away from the sax to pick things up. Sometimes an engineer will close mic it mere inches if sound from the others players is bleeding over. Depends on the usage, and if it live or studio. I hope these diagrams help.
102855
 

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On another note: Going wireless takes a bit of getting used to. You have some control over dynamic with a mic on a stand vs one that’s clipped on, and you can even turn away from it completely to adjust tuning (or find the key in a walk-on situation). When you’re wireless you’re at the mercy of the person behind the mixer.
The pure wireless ATM I've got has a mute switch for tuning and such.
 

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Discussion Starter #47
Wow. You guys are the greatest. Fascinating information.

O.K. So, the so-called "pre-amp" seems to be a misnomer for an XLR adapter, in a sense. Now I understand. So the Shure Beta, nice as it looks, would also require an inline phantom-power supply, or else special accommodations on my console to apply phantom power there, while also preventing applying that power to my mp3 player. (I will find a less ignorant way to connect my mp3 player--Thanks) I think I like the idea of having a separate, inline phantom-power supply, for now, (or else, one built in to the system, as in the ATM35) because I am also trying to come up with a simpler solution for performing without a mixer at all, (speaker+mic+sax) leaving me without that option of phantom power, unless I buy a unit like the ATM35 with its own phantom-power supply. (I think I'll start a separate thread on reverb options)

And, as I've said before, leave it to Pete Thomas to provide a "practical" solution to every problem, even when it is contrary to prevailing popular opinions. I wish I had that kind of guts sometimes, and the talent to back it up, to prove that I was right.

(And I wish I could play like him, too -- he he)

Back to the subject...

What a keen observation about how folks define "sound quality."

Yes, even though it is off the subject of the original post, I am now leaning toward a wired clip-on, for the sake of higher-fidelity sound and fewer issues, such as interference, that I had been unaware of originally.

"Mute button?" Problem solved, Grumps. Thanks

You know, I never thought about the monitor issue. With a clip-on microphone, the angle of the mic will be directed a little more toward the monitor (or even toward my speakers). I guess I am in for a few surprises regarding feedback. Probably the best way to understand the difference between a stand mic and a clip-on, is to delve in and experiment.

I appreciate Styles' fantastic input on this whole subject from the very beginning, and his pointing out technical issues to take into consideration when greater technical playback and recording precision is required, and probably when I get to the degree of skill in which those issues become more relevant to my needs. For the moment, I might be satisfied to get the same sound as I have on the SM57, but without fading in and out as I move, and without having to boost the gain on the mixer so much, and without any new feedback issues.

It seems that Fader's Shure Beta mic requires phantom power also, so I assume that I would have to buy a separate, inline power supply, or else take along my mixing console, every time.
 

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On the higher end of things AMT makes amazing mics and wireless systems that are compact. Both mic and transmitter are one unit, which I prefer as well. They also have a unique mic for soprano and bari.

AMT Saxophone Microphones

I had an old Samson that had this AMT design and loved it until the useable wireless frequencies made it obsolete.
AMT all the way. I've been using them on soprano and tenor since 2009, mostly touring. The company also has great customer service. Small U.S. company, products are worth the price.
 

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The pure wireless ATM I've got has a mute switch for tuning and such.
[/QUOTE
Yes - The body pack for the Shure transmitter has one too, but it's fiddly in the dark and the green / amber indicator light looks the same color under stage lights sometimes. I used a "Cough Drop" for a while until I became more confident. (The Cough Drop is a floor switch you can step on to mute your mic, but it's also more piece of gear to keep up with) None of those let you 'back off' the mic however.

Eric - I'll answer your other questions later - I'm on a deadline today - Cheers!
 

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Discussion Starter #51
Thanks, guys.
 

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The pure wireless ATM I've got has a mute switch for tuning and such.
I always used my ear to tell what key we played in, but usually the key was quite clear before the song began. Kind of amateur hour to start a song, and the sax player does not know the key. I had my tenor tuned at the factory.
 

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Wow. You guys are the greatest. Fascinating information.

O.K. So, the so-called "pre-amp" seems to be a misnomer for an XLR adapter, in a sense. Now I understand. So the Shure Beta, nice as it looks, would also require an inline phantom-power supply, or else special accommodations on my console to apply phantom power there, while also preventing applying that power to my mp3 player. (I will find a less ignorant way to connect my mp3 player--Thanks) I think I like the idea of having a separate, inline phantom-power supply, for now, (or else, one built in to the system, as in the ATM35) because I am also trying to come up with a simpler solution for performing without a mixer at all, (speaker+mic+sax) leaving me without that option of phantom power, unless I buy a unit like the ATM35 with its own phantom-power supply. (I think I'll start a separate thread on reverb options)

And, as I've said before, leave it to Pete Thomas to provide a "practical" solution to every problem, even when it is contrary to prevailing popular opinions. I wish I had that kind of guts sometimes, and the talent to back it up, to prove that I was right.

(And I wish I could play like him, too -- he he)

Back to the subject...

What a keen observation about how folks define "sound quality."

Yes, even though it is off the subject of the original post, I am now leaning toward a wired clip-on, for the sake of higher-fidelity sound and fewer issues, such as interference, that I had been unaware of originally.

"Mute button?" Problem solved, Grumps. Thanks

You know, I never thought about the monitor issue. With a clip-on microphone, the angle of the mic will be directed a little more toward the monitor (or even toward my speakers). I guess I am in for a few surprises regarding feedback. Probably the best way to understand the difference between a stand mic and a clip-on, is to delve in and experiment.

I appreciate Styles' fantastic input on this whole subject from the very beginning, and his pointing out technical issues to take into consideration when greater technical playback and recording precision is required, and probably when I get to the degree of skill in which those issues become more relevant to my needs. For the moment, I might be satisfied to get the same sound as I have on the SM57, but without fading in and out as I move, and without having to boost the gain on the mixer so much, and without any new feedback issues.

It seems that Fader's Shure Beta mic requires phantom power also, so I assume that I would have to buy a separate, inline power supply, or else take along my mixing console, every time.
You need more than a speaker+mic+sax. You need a mixer, and the XLR input for the mic need a pre-amp to bring it up to line level signal. There is a knob for adjusting the pre-amp level, and also the volume level on that channel, and you also have a master volume control. You also need an amplifier to amplify the signal coming out of the mixer. Some mixers have reverb built in, but I always used a Lexicon reverb that was rack mounted. I guess you could mount a megaphone on a mic stand and use that for a true 1920's sound.
 

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O.K. So, the so-called "pre-amp" seems to be a misnomer for an XLR adapter, in a sense.
Not really. You Amy be getting quite a lot of misinformation in this thread. A pre-amp (in this case aka a mic amp) brings the level of the microphone up to line level for the mixer. An adaptor purely changes the type of plug or reroutes the wiring so you could plug a jack plug into XLR or vice versa. Some desk/interface inputs have a combo input so you can plug in either a (stereo) jack or XLR. Looks like this:

 

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You need more than a speaker+mic+sax. You need a mixer, and the XLR input for the mic need a pre-amp to bring it up to line level signal. There is a knob for adjusting the pre-amp level, and also the volume level on that channel, and you also have a master volume control. You also need an amplifier to amplify the signal coming out of the mixer. Some mixers have reverb built in, but I always used a Lexicon reverb that was rack mounted. I guess you could mount a megaphone on a mic stand and use that for a true 1920's sound.
For most solo gigs there are quite a few "all in one" options (Powered Speaker / mixer / FX) that are more than suitable. The Roland BA 330 comes to mind as well as several of the Bose units.
For more power, the newest versions of the QSC K series powered speakers have a pair of XLR inputs and a mini phone plug. It would be easy to run as a solo sax player with backing tracks without the added hassle of a mixer. Not cheap but 2000 watts of clean power. Our band uses them as stage monitors and I occasionally use them as a small PA on a Guitar/Vox gig.

As to the wireless component, I reccoment the Shure BLX / Beta 98 combo or the PGXD 14 / Beta 98.
I hear good things about the AMT stuff but that one I haven't used. I have over 1000 gigs on the Beta 98 combo and everything still works seamlessly.

Shure make the RMP 626 inline preamp for the beta stuff eliminating the need for a mixer with phantom power...They're about $80. Or there's the Mackie M48 power supply for around $50 that would do it. Phantom power won't harm most dynamic mics though so if you have a mixer with phantom power that's all-on or all-off don't sweat it. (Unless you're using a ribbon mic)

Finally - 90+% of live rooms sound better if you leave the reverb at home. It's invaluable in the studio, but 20' out from most stages reverb just tends to wash out your sound. By the time it get to the back of the room it's just mud. A good FOH guy (or gal) can use effects (sparingly) and get away with it, but anyone mixing themselves tends to make a mess of it.
 

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Discussion Starter #56
Thank you, guys. I understand.

Yes, I have the XLR/quarter-inch combo jacks on my console.

On the other point, what I meant was that I was (also) trying to figure out a way to minimize my equipment for gigs at smaller settings, such as by using an external, inline reverb (guitar) foot pedal, so as to plug my mic into that, on one end, and have an output cable going to the speaker directly. Then I control my accomp volume with the mp3 player, and the reverb effect with the pedal, and the balance between the two, with the controls on the back of the speaker (2 channels). So far, this special set-up is a bit complicated, because it does not allow me to adjust my individual channel volume easily while playing, or even between songs, without walking over to the speaker, spinning it around, making adjustments, walking back to evaluate the improvement, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #57
I guess what Grumps meant was that a mic stand set-up allows the musician to do impromptu play tests off stage, or to quickly play-test to find the right key, by giving him the freedom to walk away without a clip-on attached to his horn that might otherwise amplify that noise for the audience, or even make it complicated for him to walk away. At my low level of skill, I often have to test the key like that before playing.

In fact, I used to attach the key to the title of the soundtrack, when I was playing tenor and soprano alone, but when I started playing alto, I debated whether just to use "concert key" in the title, requiring me to go back and re-name about 500 mp3 files (and their respective folders), or whether to lengthen the title by typing something like, "Tenor F, Alto C" on each mp3 file.

Sometimes I have a soundtrack that I loaded in a hurry, that has no key listed at all, or else concert key, if downloaded from the Internet. So, when I am in a hurry to find a song, and I see the key, I like to double-check off mic, to make sure that it is the key that I think it is.

Eventually I will re-title all soundtracks to include concert key only, but for the moment, as I get new ones, I write it like this: "Rock Around the Clock (PartyTyme Tenor B, Alto F#).mp3" That instantly tells me the source, and the key for each instrument, and then I write that file name onto the score, as well, always in the same left corner of the page, so that I can check the one against the other, before playing. But I still have a hundred scores and soundtracks that are not yet labeled correctly (and another hundred folders), requiring me to still test the key off mic before playing.

(I keep each mp3 file in a separate folder of the same name, to keep the mp3 player from playing any song in the queue automatically without my permission)

By the way, any suggestions on that issue are also welcome, but I know it's off the subject.
 

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Discussion Starter #58
Oh yeah, Fader. That's a good point about the reverb overkill. Thanks.

I guess I was thinking of some smaller settings with wall-to-wall carpeting, that seems to make it sound a bit better with a little reverb.

And thanks for the scoop on the other wireless set-up. That one does not seem to use a rechargeable body pack, which is a relief.
 

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Discussion Starter #59 (Edited)
And, by the way, Fader, one minor issue is that I already have three fairly-new Mackie Thump speakers, so I was looking for a way to get by with the equipment that I already have, without investing too much more, for the time being. But thanks for the info about Roland and QSC, which cost almost double what mine cost. One day I will upgrade to something like that. The Roland looks perfect, for less money than the QSC.

It's just that, when I bought the speakers that I have, I assumed that I would use them only in conjunction with my mixing console, and since the console had its own effects, I did not think to buy a speaker with integrated effects. In fact, I was new to active speakers anyway, having used an amplified console with passive speakers previously, so I was wary of the new set-up.
 

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If you want a truly wireless mic that just clips onto the bell of your horn, whiteout any wires, you should consider the Rode Wireless Go mic. It's a tiny mic/transmitter combo about the size of a match book with no wires on the transmitter. The receiver has an 1/8" output. They are meant for using on video cameras but there is an 1/8" to XLR adapter that you can get to plug in to an XLR input. No phantom power needed for the mic since it's all internal battery operated. It's also an omni directional mic so it will be less prone to proximity effect. at that close range to your bell. Though I'm not sure how well the clip will stay attached to the bell of your horn. I hope to have one soon here and test it out.

But, for my money, the better solution is a DPA 4099S with a Sennheiser or Lectrosonics wireless pack and a short cable from the mic to the transmitter pack.
 
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