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  #1  
Old 06-29-2010, 10:50 AM
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Naigewron Naigewron is offline
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Default Experiences with AKG C520 headset microphone? Other recommendations or comments?

It seems I'm going to be singing a lot more backing vocals in my band than I have been up until now, so I'm going to need a good microphone setup.

Now, I've been using the old boom stand setup, with the boom on my left side and me trying my best to either lean over to the mic, or trying to position the microphone in a comfortable singing position without it being in the way of my hands... In short: It doesn't work. The main problem is obviously that it's in the way no matter where I put it. I could probably minimise this if I placed the stand behind me and had the boom come over my head (with some sort of gooseneck design), but when thinking about the stages we play on I realise that I'm usually pushed more or less completely against the back wall most of the time, so that's not going to work.

So, I'm looking at headset microphones. I don't really like the look of them, but anything is better than trying to comfortably hit everything on my kit while leaning over to sing into a microphone that's off to my left. Drumming first, singing second and looks dead last, eh?

The most promising one so far seems to be the AKG C520 / C520 L, so I was wondering if anyone had any experience with this one? I'd love to get one that's a little more descreet, but those generally seem to be omnidirectional, which I'm pretty sure will be a bad thing for a singing drummer. I'm guessing I will definitely need a unidirectional mic to avoid picking up more drums than voice.

Also, since I've got absolutely no idea how these electronic gizmos work: Headset microphones seem to generally be condenser mics (whatever that means), and from what I've read they'll need phantom power. Is this something I can rely on the mixing desk supplying, or will I need to have my own phantom power supply?

Cheers guys! Appreciate any help you can give me!

Last edited by Naigewron; 06-29-2010 at 11:14 AM.
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  #2  
Old 06-29-2010, 11:34 AM
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Default Re: Experiences with AKG C520 headset microphone? Other recommendations or comments?

I had that mic and I was a little mixed by it.

Unlike you, I prefer a stand with a mic on it to sing into. I've learned too much vocal technique in that I want to be able to vary the distance I am from the mic depending on what I'm doing. So, I use a boom with a short gooseneck and it's been over 20 years now that I've been doing it this way.

When I tried the C520, the biggest problem is going to be actually plugging it into the console. Most headset mics now assume you'll be plugging into a wireless pack for wireless performance. As a drummer, you don't need that and believe me, you don't want to deal with it if you don't have to.

So, usually these headset mics, if they're cabled, will terminate in a small xlr plug. You'll have to get AKG's adapter to bring it up to a regular mic cable with regular XLR connectors. This adapter costs about $70. Phantom power means the mic needs power to work and this is supplied at the mixing console. If the mixing console doesn't have it (it should, it 's rare these days when one doesn't have phantom power), then you need AKG's battery-powered adapter for that. Another $70.

What mixed me up about the mic is that mine had a tendency to distort. I'm running a fairly good-sized PA with a nice mixing console (just for me) so the distortion problem was inherent in the mic because none of my other mics or sources do that. I ended up returning it. There are more expensive headset mics out there, so I would recommend going to the shop and testing them out if they have them.

I just like the physicality of a bigger mic. The bigger the element to sing into, like a Shure Sm57 or 58, the better it'll handle loud signals. I also didn't like having this band going across the back of my neck.

And my attitude is different: I tend to sing for the song FIRST. The drumming is secondary because your audience is interested in hearing good vocals with the song. In fact, I started working more because I could sing (go figure, eh?) - why hire another singer when the drummer can sing? Singing is great, you're now at least a double-threat on stage, and if you can't play drums, you cana at least get up there and sing a song. Sure beats watching the band and sipping beer, doesn't it?
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Old 06-29-2010, 03:03 PM
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Naigewron Naigewron is offline
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Default Re: Experiences with AKG C520 headset microphone? Other recommendations or comments?

Thanks mate, nice post!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bo Eder View Post
And my attitude is different: I tend to sing for the song FIRST. The drumming is secondary because your audience is interested in hearing good vocals with the song. In fact, I started working more because I could sing (go figure, eh?) - why hire another singer when the drummer can sing? Singing is great, you're now at least a double-threat on stage, and if you can't play drums, you cana at least get up there and sing a song. Sure beats watching the band and sipping beer, doesn't it?
Well, I'm not singing lead at all, it's all backing vocals. My primary job is definitely playing the drums, and playing them to the best of my ability, so that will always come first for me. I'd rather miss a vocal line than lose my groove.

I think my drumming style is very dependant on watching what I'm doing at any given time, which means that if I have to turn my head and sing into a fixed microphone, I can't see what I'm doing any longer. This is just seriously uncomfortable for me, and it really throws me off my groove. This is why I want to go for a headset mic; it means I can move my head around freely and my playing won't suffer. In addition, my arm movements tend to be fairly big, and even more so when we play live, so I keep hitting the microphone and mic stand no matter where I place it.

This one intrigues me; it's Matt Sorum and his headset mic. Very discreet, and in addition it's skin-coloured. I never understood why headset mics are always black... Surely it's better to have them match your skin somewhat, so they don't stand out so much?

Does anyone know what mic this is? Might be a custom job, I don't know.

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Old 06-29-2010, 06:30 PM
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Default Re: Experiences with AKG C520 headset microphone? Other recommendations or comments?

You're welcome! That's just my take on the whole singing-drumming thing.

Anyway, I believe the mic Matt is wearing is made by Nady. Thanks to companies like Countryman, everyone is beginning to crank out skin colored headset mics. In fact, the Countryman E6 is one of the smallest and lightest in the business, but it's probably the most expensive. We use those here at Disneyland for our performers, cost about $400 for just the mic. But like I said, they all terminate into a connector for some kind of wireless beltpack, so you'll need a way to get it to the console, and lots of mic tape to tape it securely to your face. But they're very unobtrusive and fragile, too.

I think the last time I searched around on Musiciansfriend they were selling the Nady mic that Matt uses. Good luck!
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Old 06-29-2010, 09:11 PM
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Default Re: Experiences with AKG C520 headset microphone? Other recommendations or comments?

I think my drumming style is very dependant on watching what I'm doing at any given time, which means that if I have to turn my head and sing into a fixed microphone, I can't see what I'm doing any longer.

Unless you're band is working with pro level PA and sound people, a headset mic will probably just be a passing fad for you. In a small band situation its more of a hassle than what its worth. I have an AKG C420 and never use it on a small stage with a band, too many feedback issues.

Condensers 'are' more sensitive and being behind the drum set creates problems, hi frequency problems. Wearing a head set is also no fun, especially if only sing back-up on a few tunes, its uncomfortable and when your not singing you ask yourself why you have to endure wearing the damn thing.

Feedback is a nightmare, you're always tipping your head side to side, back and forth, cymbals move into different angles while being played, they act as sound reflectors, its doubtful anything less than a top level touring band has the processing and people to make it work well. Even with a on/off stomp box its a loosing battle.

With a fixed dynamic vocal mic, once you find a workable position on the stand that mic doesn't move... big plus for fighting feedback. Songs over, simply move it (the boom) out of the way----boom stand over goose neck for this reason. You shouldn't have to 'turn your head to sing in a mic behind the drum set, on a boom stand the mic can be positioned in front of your face with only a slight twist needed to be on center.

If you're a good enough drummer to sing over fills around the set, move around while you're singing, you shouldn't have a need to 'see what you're doing', you should be able to play without looking.

On small stages dynamic mic's play better with each other, throw one condenser into the mix and feedback will be a problem, if its the drummers mic (and on all the time) even bigger problem.

Your best bet IMO is a simple dynamic (like an SM 58) with a switch and turn the mic off when your not singing.
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Old 06-29-2010, 09:20 PM
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Default Re: Experiences with AKG C520 headset microphone? Other recommendations or comments?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Les Ismore View Post
If you're a good enough drummer to sing over fills around the set, move around while you're singing, you shouldn't have a need to 'see what you're doing', you should be able to play without looking.
Seriously? I'm not a good drummer because I prefer to look at what I'm doing? Can I play blindfolded? Sure! I just feel a whole lot better if I can follow my hands with my eyes when I feel like it. Are you seriously saying that makes me "not good enough"?

Thanks for your the rest of your post though. I haven't given up on boom stands yet, and your points on condenser vs dynamic mics clarified some stuff I never knew about. My knowledge of microphones and electronics is pretty limited.
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Old 06-29-2010, 10:09 PM
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Les Ismore Les Ismore is offline
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Default Re: Experiences with AKG C520 headset microphone? Other recommendations or comments?

Seriously? I'm not a good drummer because I prefer to look at what I'm doing? Can I play blindfolded? Sure! I just feel a whole lot better if I can follow my hands with my eyes when I feel like it. Are you seriously saying that makes me "not good enough"?


I'm sure you as a drummer are as good as you need to be for what you're currently doing now.

Might want to ponder a few key words in my post- "If" and "should".

I don't know if you can sing over your drum fill's.

"Should be able to" does not imply that 'you have to'.

"If" you are able to sing over drum fills, using a mic on a boom stand wouldn't be a monkey wrench in your choice to look at what you're doing... its not one or the other, you can be comfortable with both.

When you sing behind the drums, as someone said above, the singing 'is' first. Singing a drumming (for me) is 5 way coordination, not 3 way, not 4 way... 5 way. I could argue 6 way- the vocal being 5 and the mind recalling lyrics 6, but that may be a bit too sublime.

Behind the drums the voice is the lead, its what you focus on, everything else follows.
The last thing "I" want to do while singing and playing is twist my neck/vocal chords side to side. When I sing/play my limbs are on auto pilot, controlled by the subconscious mind, my concentration is on singing, remembering the lyrics.

5 way coordination... its a wonderful, somewhat undescribable feeling that can't be imagined, it has to be experienced.
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Old 06-29-2010, 11:42 PM
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Default Re: Experiences with AKG C520 headset microphone? Other recommendations or comments?

Hey Les,

Thanks for bringing up the whole "mic always on and potential for feedback" issue. I forgot all about that. Probably just because I'm a sound guy and I'm used to having a sound man mixing the band when I play. But yeah, that's a big issue too - shutting off the mic when you're not using it. With a headset mic, that'd be another $70 investment in a "cough" switch for your foot to turn off the headset when you're not using it!

So with the XLR adapter, possible phantom power adapter, and the cough switch, you've spent over $200 before you even got the mic!

Maybe I'd consider it 7-way coordination. I once played in a community theatre musical where they wanted specific band members to shout out things during songs. Well, I'm playing drums, and sight-reading the book (I was subbing that evening), looking forward to my spot in the music where I have to yell my phrases into a mic. Definitely NOT a Tony Award - winning performance but fun times!
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  #9  
Old 07-07-2010, 06:04 AM
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Default Re: Experiences with AKG C520 headset microphone? Other recommendations or comments?

I have used the Shure SM10A for many years and have good luck with it. As long as the pa your using has ample head room it works well. It is not a condenser mic so you do not have to worry about phantom power, and it is pretty tough. The best thing is that it is reasonably priced and you will not have to sell a kidney to buy one.
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