You need to feel comfortable on stage. And at rehearsals as well. Therefore, the instrument in the hands of a musician should be both convenient and familiar, but not at the expense of reducing the technical characteristics. Almost in the first place, this statement refers to vocal microphones as one of the most personal musical instruments.
At the same time, the microphone is at the greatest risk of mechanical damage on stage: it can be missed from the hands, and it can fall off the stand. In short, the microphone should be a real weapon in the vocalist’s hands. It should not fail at a crucial moment and be reliable all the time.
There are many nuances in the question of how to choose a microphone. Contrary to existing myths, a good microphone for stage work is not worth exorbitant money. We are not talking about custom models created for a specific vocalist. But you should always remember that the microphone, no matter how high quality it is, has a limited lifespan. Another thing is that the developers always try to make sure that this period is as long as possible. And the fact that a number of models of vocal microphones are used not only by ordinary musicians but also by the greatest professionals in their business – the credit is primarily due to certain brands and their acoustic engineers.
What celebrities think
The most famous vocal microphone of the entire rock era, the Shure SM58, has just such widespread consumer fame. The Shure SM57 model is now not only standard worldwide for the sound of instruments. But it is also a microphone that has been used by all U.S. presidents without exception for their performances since 1965.
Both models with cardioid directional pattern use the same microphone cartridge – Unidyne III. Early in his career, Sir Elton John used SM57 as a vocal microphone. And the SM58, now available in the SM58S and SM58-LCE versions, was for many years the main working microphone for stars such as David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, leader of Def Leppard Joe Elliott and frontman Deep Purple Ian Gillan.
The Shure Beta 58A super-cardioid microphone is one of Bon Jovi’s main vocal microphones. Jon Bon Jovi himself believes that the purity of the transmission of vocal nuances on stage puts them beyond the competition.
Another famous Beta 58A user is the late leader Nirvana Kurt Cobain. He seriously claimed that it was the microphone that best suited his somewhat nasal voice.
Other popular microphone models
Pop star Mariah Carey prefers the Shure KSM9HS microphone in a concert setting. Its important feature is the ability to switch the directional pattern between cardioid and super-cardioid. The singer has a microphone cartridge diaphragm that is gold plated. And the presence of a three-layer protective grid facilitates the vocalist and reduces the possibility of distortion of the original acoustic signal.
In turn, the vocal microphone Sennheiser E935 can be safely recommended for musicians who prefer to work with acoustic compositions. Or performing simple musical material without a lot of guitar overload. This microphone is a favorite of pop-rock singer Avril Lavigne. E935, both standard and custom-made (referring exclusively to the appearance of the microphone body), has been used by Avril on all her recent concert tours. It is believed that this microphone outperforms the Shure SM58 in such an important parameter as the lack of coloration. It is also said that the microphone’s purity is exceptional when transmitting the high-frequency range.
With such undoubted advantages E935 – a real concert microphone, resistant to all external influences. Its body is made of casting from a durable alloy based on zinc. It has a specially designed shape that facilitates the fight against vibration and parasitic acoustic signals. And the cartridge itself is additionally protected from similar influences.
And super-popular singer Adele uses the Sennheiser E965 microphone on stage. This microphone is the top model of the entire series of Sennheiser Evolution microphones and allows for switching between cardioid and super-cardioid directional patterns.
The pop-soul diva Beyonce used a vintage AKG C24 condenser microphone to record her album. With two capsules C24 is known as an excellent microphone for singers who move their heads a lot.
Rap singer Eminem is not one of those who likes vintage microphones. Some of the last recordings he made were with the Sony C800. This model has an extremely low noise level and is advertised as the only microphone that boasts an onboard cooling system.
Kurt Cobain used Neumann U67 to record his hit album Nevermind. Neumann is a respected name in the microphone world. According to producer Butch Vig, it was no coincidence that Cobain chose one of their vintage microphones when recording the album, which was destined to become an instant classic.