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BeanoBoy

Shure SM 58 alternative?

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Both my bass player and I have Shure SM58 microphones. We're in a Classic Rock group that is playing mostly small clubs. We have a combo Peavey mixer/power amp that we run the vocals thru. Granted, it's pretty simplistic but my question is, are there better alternatives than the Shure SM58? They sound good but feedback before we can get any appreciable volume out of them. I've read the Sennheiser e835 annd 935 are more feedback resistant and are"louder". I've also read about the Audix OM 5 and 6 as being something we could look at. Any thoughts or suggestions? Thanks

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I personally find OM5s to be a little better with feedback but really it's more about how loud you're playing and the contours of the room you're in and setup you're using. SM58s have been used with great success in small clubs and large venues by all sorts of bands for decades.

 

So many more things to probably consider first​ like what sort of monitors are you using and how do you have them positioned? What is the angle of the mics in relation to the main speakers? What are your EQ settings? If you're in a direct line with any of these speakers, you're going to get feedback and the best mic in the world isn't going to help.

Edited by Vito Corleone

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I personally find OM5s to be a little better with feedback but really it's more about how loud you're playing and the contours of the room you're in and setup you're using. SM58s have been used with great success in small clubs and large venues by all sorts of bands for decades.

 

So many more things to probably consider first​ like what sort of monitors are you using and how do you have them positioned? What is the angle of the mics in relation to the main speakers? What are your EQ settings? If you're in a direct line with any of these speakers, you're going to get feedback and the best mic in the world isn't going to help.

 

Our mains are in front of the mics. My Mackie powered monitor is on the floor, wedge style aimed directly up at the mic. Am I wrong? Thanks

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Our mains are in front of the mics. My Mackie powered monitor is on the floor, wedge style aimed directly up at the mic. Am I wrong? Thanks

 

Well, can't really tell without seeing it. Is the Mackie your only monitor? Is it your mic that is feeding back, or one of the others? Is it the monitor that is feeding back, or the mains? Do you have an EQ on the monitors?

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Set your mains with the monitors off first till you have the proper levels. Then bring your monitors up to where you can just hear the words clearly. If you have a problem doing that without feedback, turn your amp stage volume down. Also move the monitor slightly in front of you aiming up at a 45 degree angle. The closer you get to a 90 degree angle, the more feedback you're going to get. Your body reflects sound back into the mic like the bumpers on a pool table so think angles.

 

Chances are you're just running the monitors too loud. An SM58 (and most other dynamic mics) have a short proximity effect and shouldn't feed back easily.

 

The other thing that might be a problem is gain staging and how you're running your trim pots. Trim gains should always be set lower then the channel gains, and channel gains should always be lower then the main gains. You work back from the power amp running the power amp the highest, Trims the lowest. Channels should wind up being somewhere between the other two. Never above the mains or below the trim.

 

Same thing for your monitors. If you're feeding them too strong a signal and attenuating it at the powered monitor, its much more likely to feed back. Make the monitors the higher gain setting and lower the monitors gain input (if possible). This not only reduces the hot mic gain that can cause feedback but it can also lower noise levels and clean up the sound quality.

Edited by WRGKMC

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If you have tone controls on your monitor, try turning the treble down if the feedback is a high pitched squeal, and if it's a low pitch roar, turn down the bass.

 

I prefer Sennheiser MD421 mics. No proximity effect so you can get closer to the mic and therefore not have them turned up as high (less chance of feedback). They are also rugged. My MD421 has outlasted 3 Sure 58s doing one-nighters. And they sound better. Pro Audio Review rated them the best dynamic mic under $800 (they run about 375) and they are one of the few mics in the technology hall of fame.

 

Not cheap, but in the long run very thrifty. My 421 is almost 40 years old, and sounds as good as a brand new one. And like I said, I do one-nighters, and one-nighters are notoriously hard on gear.

 

Insights and incites by Notes

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We used to use those in my one band. Great mics for live and recording but they are big and cover up half your face when you use them. Not sure how much better they would sound through a Peavey powered mixer either. The portable systems all lack for sound quality and if the Shure isn't making the system sound good, I doubt a better mic would. Plus you have the expense of the mics. I wouldn't mind having one for recording but hauling it around clubs, I'd be worried about it getting damaged.

For that extra 3~4 Bills they could invest in some additional PA gear, maybe a power amp and subs at a good used price. Might get them a bigger bang for the buck.

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I think 58s are great mics for live performance.

 

I went to a JBL seminar a long time ago and the presenter suggested the single most effective way to deal with feedback is microphone and speaker placement.

 

I use 58's and 57s for most of my live stuff and spend quite a bit of time getting the placement to the point where I can run everything fairly flat. I've been in some situations where the monitors have been "rung out" to the point where there is nothing left .

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There is also a chance that if your monitors are feeding back, they might be loud enough to be damaging your ears. You can get a relatively inexpensive Sound Pressure Meter at Radio Shack, Parts Express, Ebay and other outlets, set it on A weighting and Slow response, and if consistently measures over 85db, you are listening at ear damaging levels and should turn the monitors down if you want your ears to last your lifetime.

 

The MD451 is actually smaller than the ball of the Sure, but the mic itself is bigger. The frequency response curve is much more linear giving you a truer representation of your voice. Plus if you have a muddy voice, there is a 5 position low reject filter built in with a twist of the ring.

 

The SM58 is a good mic, the MD421 is a great mic. And in the long run, the MD421 is cheaper, because they last forever.

 

Of course your signal is only as good as the weakest link in the chain. If your mixer, amp or speakers are crap, you are going to sound bad even with the best mic. If your mic is bad, you will sound bad even if you have the best mixer, amp and speakers.

 

I used to have a Peavey 701R mixer and I liked it a lot. It sounded good, had 4 EQ controls, and the low-mid was at the point where it would get the mud out of my voice. I'd still be using it, but in my present situation, I need more channels than the Peavey supplied.

 

Insights and incites by Notes

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I think 58s are great mics for live performance.

 

 

Absolutely. And I have watched numerous videos of concerts where the star of the show was using an SM-58.Two that come to mind are B.B. King and Billy Joel.

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And in the long run, the MD421 is cheaper, because they last forever.

 

I was with you until this. The 421 is a very nice mic and no one is going to argue with you if you like it better than a 58. Those things are largely subjective anyway. But it also costs nearly 4 times as much. Which ISN'T subjective. And, if nothing else, the SM58 is a workhorse. If you're going through 3 or 4 of them during ANYBODY'S lifetime, you're seriously abusing your gear.

 

 

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Not to mention the clips on the original 421's are notoriously prone to breakage. While I like that mic a great deal, I never thought they were particularly great choices for touring because of that issue. YMMV.

 

The SM58's reputation is largely built on two things IMO - its ruggedness, and the fact that it's nearly ubiquitous. You know what to expect from a '58. But that doesn't mean it's the best mic for all applications, or even for every singer. But nearly always usable and serviceable? You betcha. I actually personally prefer to sing into the slightly less rugged SM57, or a 545SD, but again, YMMV.

 

I really can't give you a definitive recommendation for an alternative to the SM58, because I have no idea what your voice sounds like... but if you want something with better gain before feedback, I'd suggest something with hotter magnets / output, and a tighter polar pattern... although as has already been pointed out, the issues may be in the PA system or the way it's being set up as much as the feedback being due to the microphones you're using.

 

 

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What does the acoustic space look like that you are playing in? If you have short ceilings especially combined with a short distance to the back wall your mic choice won't make much difference. Likewise if you played outdoors or on a stage with 30 foot ceilings you probably won't have much trouble with feedback.

 

 

 

Also I should point out that it was mentioned above that gain structure might be causing your problems. It does not. "Gain structure" has nothing to do with it. Where you set your mic trims, channel levels and masters does affect other things it does not cause feedback. Feedback is however related to overall gain. So the best thing you can do is get closer to your mic. Every time you can get twice as close to your mic you can turn the gain down by a factor of 4 which greatly reduces the chances of getting feedback. In other words, moving to 1/2" away from the mic instead of 1" from the mic will increase your gain before feedback by 6dB.

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Many Thanks to everyone. I've been given an education for sure. I put some of your tips into practice and our vocal mix has improved noticeably. I still may get a Sennheiser, Audix or Beta 58 but I feel I'm on the right track. Besides the tips on gain and Eq one simple solution was to turn down our onstage volume a bit. Common sense? Sure, but it's Rock n Roll, not necessarily a lot of common sense in the world of rock n roll! :-) Again, Thanks to all who have commented. You made a difference.

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I have a Beta 58 which I've used live. I really don't know how much better it is over a regular SM58 for my voice. Both have a bump between 4~10K. There's a notch with both within that bump. The SM has that notch higher at 7.5K. The Beta has it at 6~7k.

 

This may not seem like a big difference but it occurs right in the vocal presence range. I grew up singing through an SM57 and though it uses the same cartridge as an SM57, the presence notch its the same as an SM57 due to the head basket shape. Its tapers off more on the highs. This is ideal when using a 58 for vocals and a 57 for guitars because the 58 will have enough upper presence to get in front of the Guitars.

 

I suppose because I trained my voice to sing through a 57, my upper frequencies are strong to compensate and match what a 58 does. When I sing through the beta that upper notch at 6~7K gives my voice a honkey megaphone tone. Its even worse when I use it tracking. Through the PA I'm able to tweak the upper mids and reshape the notch a bit but its still not a great match for my voice.

 

I've switched to using Electrovoice PL84 Cardioid Condenser mics. I searched long and hard to find a mic that works equally well live and recording for my voice. Instead of a notch at 6~8K its got a 5 db peak there and a notch further up at 11K. This made my words intelligible without having to use EQ. Since the mic is a condenser and has a full 50~20K frequency response its susceptible to high frequency feedback if you don't watch the high end.

 

I do use a pair of Sabine Feedback Eliminators in my rack to prevent feedback. The way they work is you set them for setup mode, then crank the PA volume up to near feedback levels. Then as you get real close to the mic and your face in front of the mic attempts to reflect the sound back into the mic and create a feedback loop, the Eliminator will create a EQ notch to prevent feedback at that frequency. then as you turn the gain up it will add up to 10 or 12 more of these notches ay various harmonics that cause feedback.

 

Once the unit detects all the feedback frequencies and notches them, you lock the settings and back the volume down a tad and what you're left with is a powerful mic signal with very little chance of the mic generating any feedback whatsoever when you move around on stage. I do use them in my studio too. I'm able to get the mics louder in the room with without the feedback. It does come at a cost however. These notches are narrow and phase issues are minimal but it does consume some of the frequency response. It would be better to work with mic placement and normal EQ if possible but the trade off of response to have louder volume can be very worthwhile is you create mild notches.

 

Not sure if that Peavey has an effects send/return where you can insert one between the Preamps and the mains. If it does you may want to pick up a used one. They are often being sold for less then $50 and can be a life saver in many environments that create issues your gear just cant compensate for.

Edited by WRGKMC

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I have a Beta 58 which I've used live. I really don't know how much better it is over a regular SM58 for my voice. Both have a bump between 4~10K. There's a notch with both within that bump. The SM has that notch higher at 7.5K. The Beta has it at 6~7k.

 

This may not seem like a big difference but it occurs right in the vocal presence range. I grew up singing through an SM57 and though it uses the same cartridge as an SM57, the presence notch its the same as an SM57 due to the head basket shape. Its tapers off more on the highs. This is ideal when using a 58 for vocals and a 57 for guitars because the 58 will have enough upper presence to get in front of the Guitars.

 

I suppose because I trained my voice to sing through a 57, my upper frequencies are strong to compensate and match what a 58 does. When I sing through the beta that upper notch at 6~7K gives my voice a honkey megaphone tone. Its even worse when I use it tracking. Through the PA I'm able to tweak the upper mids and reshape the notch a bit but its still not a great match for my voice.

 

I've switched to using Electrovoice PL84 Cardioid Condenser mics. I searched long and hard to find a mic that works equally well live and recording for my voice. Instead of a notch at 6~8K its got a 5 db peak there and a notch further up at 11K. This made my words intelligible without having to use EQ. Since the mic is a condenser and has a full 50~20K frequency response its susceptible to high frequency feedback if you don't watch the high end.

 

I do use a pair of Sabine Feedback Eliminators in my rack to prevent feedback. The way they work is you set them for setup mode, then crank the PA volume up to near feedback levels. Then as you get real close to the mic and your face in front of the mic attempts to reflect the sound back into the mic and create a feedback loop, the Eliminator will create a EQ notch to prevent feedback at that frequency. then as you turn the gain up it will add up to 10 or 12 more of these notches ay various harmonics that cause feedback.

 

Once the unit detects all the feedback frequencies and notches them, you lock the settings and back the volume down a tad and what you're left with is a powerful mic signal with very little chance of the mic generating any feedback whatsoever when you move around on stage. I do use them in my studio too. I'm able to get the mics louder in the room with without the feedback. It does come at a cost however. These notches are narrow and phase issues are minimal but it does consume some of the frequency response. It would be better to work with mic placement and normal EQ if possible but the trade off of response to have louder volume can be very worthwhile is you create mild notches.

 

Not sure if that Peavey has an effects send/return where you can insert one between the Preamps and the mains. If it does you may want to pick up a used one. They are often being sold for less then $50 and can be a life saver in many environments that create issues your gear just cant compensate for.

 

The Feedback eliminator sounds pretty interesting.

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The Sabines I've tried work really well. If I was running a PA rig on a regular basis, I'd want to own a couple of them.

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Not to mention the clips on the original 421's are notoriously prone to breakage. <...>

 

 

I've read that a lot, so I'm sure there is some validity to that. However, we run two, my 1980s era and after I outlasted 3 of my partner's SM58s she got one as well. I keep the clips on the stands, toss them into the van (I do one-nighters) and have never had one break.

 

Perhaps the older than 1985 421 clips got that reputation or else I just got lucky.

 

I do keep a spare.

 

I've had an ear of the SM58 type stand break off and always kept a spare of that clip as well.

 

I have found that a little light oil or WD40 on the moving parts of the 421 clip keeps them working well.

 

What I didn't mention because it's a little off topic, the SM made my alto sax sound very clarinet-ish but the MD makes it sound like a sax.

 

But as just about everything in the music business, what's best for one person may not be best for the next.

 

Insights and incites by Notes

 

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IPerhaps the older than 1985 421 clips got that reputation or else I just got lucky.

I do keep a spare.

 

I've had an ear of the SM58 type stand break off and always kept a spare of that clip as well.

 

The thing is that there are plenty of clips that will hold an SM58, but there's only one clip that will hold an MD-421. They don't even hold very well in one of those multiple rubber band against the case kind of shock mount. So if you lose or break a 421 clip, you pretty much can't use the mic until you get another clip, which might be $35 from Sennheiser. You can probably go into a Dollar Store, most music stores, and certainly a Guitar Center, find a clip that will hold an SM58, and it will only cost a few bucks.

 

The other thing about an MD-421 clip is the often undesirable "quick release." I've seen people who don't know how it works grab a mic on a stand to adjust it, inadvertently press the release button, and have the mic fall off. Then they don't know how to put it back on.

 

By the way, I always keep my clips with the mics (for all mics). I'll leave a clip on a stand in the studio sometimes if it's for a mic I use frequently, but if I'm taking the stands out, I remove any clips. One can argue that a clip on the stand protects the threads from getting dinged up, but it's also more prone to breaking when being bashed around by a half a dozen or more solid metal stands rattling around in the trunk of the car. Real SM-58 clips are nearly indestructable, but the lighter clips for some of the smaller mics like the EV 608 or AKG C451 are pretty delicate.

 

 

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I have packed a spare MD421 clip in my gig bag for decades. Haven't needed it yet.

 

When my partner was using an SM58, I kept a spare in my gig bag, and needed it a couple of times.

 

The SM58 is a very good mic, IMHO the MD421 is a better mic.

 

The things I like best about are (1) flatter frequency response [more transparency] (2) no proximity effect (3) ability to handle high SPL levels like those that can come out of my sax (4) rugged - almost bulletproof.

 

And unlike some others, I actually like the clip. It holds the mic securely and is easy to release.

 

When PAR (Professional Audio Review) did a dynamic mic shootout, the MD421 was rated as the best dynamic mic under $800. It came out first in every category except mic-ing a guitar amp, where it was second to a Sony. The SM was pretty much in the middle of the pack.

 

I leave the clip on the mic stands because in our duo we are both multi-instrumentalists and we pack 2 mics, 2 guitars, 1 sax, 2 wind synthesizers, 2 alternative MIDI controllers, 3 footpedals, various stands, speakers, monitors, and PA rack. Every short-cut that speeds set up/tear down and doesn't compromise the music is worth it's weight in gold.

 

Insights and incites by Notes

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