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What is the best way to mic congas live?


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Can someone please tell me the best way to mic congas.

Should it be at the bottom?

On top? What mic?

This dude comes to our open mic every week(I gotta pay the bills...plus, I'm an idiot)and stuffs a 58 up the hole of his conga, and all I really get is this resonant, distant sound that won't cut through. (That is not saying that it shouldcut through).

Anyhoo, any help is appreciated as always.

:)

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Guest Anonymous

I suggest a Shure 85 at about a 45 deg angle out front of the tops of the congas... pointed toward the heads... at a distance of about 1ft. aimed basically between the two drums... and roll off about 3 to 6 dB in the 200 to 300Hz range... but keep everything else.

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Typically I use either Shure SM98's (without the polar modifiers) or Sennheiser e609's. If I have the inputs, one mic per conga, on the top, a few inches back (making sure to be well out of the way of the player) and angled at about 30 degrees.

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I usually try to mic both top and bottom, to get the "snare" and "kick" parts of the rhythm. Some kind of kick drum mic on the bottom, but not stuffed up inside. Then a 57 or even a condensor on the top, pretty much as described by everybody else.

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The top mic should be the first concern... anything like a 57 or 58 will work very well, about a 45 degree angle between the heads. I like to be aout 4-6" away. My personal preference is either a 421 or an E604 or 609 type mic, just a bit warmer, fatter and in your face but it's not really that critical IMO.

 

The bottom mic is un-necessary for the average rock stage but for latin jazz or acoustic work, it can be used to fill things in a bit. Again, not necessary in the context of most applications, and I do not personally care for the sound generally.

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Guest Anonymous

Originally posted by Anna Log

What is an 85? I haven't heard of this one yet.


No mic under the drum right?

The SM85 is similar to the SM87. The SM85 might be a discontinued model. I believe the SM85 has a little flatter response than the SM87 down to 100Hz, but then drops off steeper than the SM87 below 100Hz. Also, I believe the SM85 doesn't have quite as severe of bump in the 5KHz to 10KHz range that the SM87 has.

 

I prefer the SM85 over the SM87 on congos, but either mic gives good results, which I prefer over mics like 57's, 58's, ATM41's and other common dynamic mics. The SM85's and SM87's are condenser mics and do require phantom power.

 

No, I don't generally bottom mic congos. I've found that with the SM85 (or SM87) about a foot out and at a 45deg angle above and split between the two heads generally picks a good over-all sound with plenty enough low frequency response if the player is on a short stool or sitting cross-legged on the stage. If the congos are mounted on a stand, like 3ft. above the stage, then additional bottom micing might be in-order.

 

That's what I think anyway.

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Originally posted by Audiopile


If the congos are mounted on a stand, like 3ft. above the stage, then additional bottom micing might be in-order.


That's what I think anyway.

 

Wow, those are some tall stands! They would put a 30 inch conga 5 1/2 feet tall at the head. Even then, I wouldn't mike the bottom...the giant's foot would knock the mike over anyway.:) My congas are 28 inchers, and stand 41 inches tall on the stands. That's about 3 1/2 feet at the head...I'm sure that's what you meant.....just kidding with you.

 

I mike two drums with one mike..three drums with two, four with two, and five drums with three. Generally one mike will pickup two when placed between them. I always use at least one boom so I can swing it to the bongos and still cover my tumba with it when needed. It's my vocal mike and I never sing when playing bongos, for some reason. I tried bottom miking early in my playing days...it always muddied up the sound to me. I like them crisp and high. I use shure 58 knock-offs by samson. They sound great live and on recorded tracks.

 

God bless!

 

-Ron

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Guest Anonymous

Originally posted by congaron



Wow, those are some tall stands! They would put a 30 inch conga 5 1/2 feet tall at the head. Even then, I wouldn't mike the bottom...the giant's foot would knock the mike over anyway.
:)
My congas are 28 inchers, and stand 41 inches tall on the stands. That's about 3 1/2 feet at the head...I'm sure that's what you meant.....just kidding with you.

So... I don't know much of nothin about no congas. Most of the ones I've been around were about the size of coffee cans... and I've miced up at least one of those coffee can sized pairs on a stand. Undoubtedly there's different sized conga drums... I suspose ranging in size from the coffee can sized beatnik congas up to the magnum Ricky Ricardo sized. What sizes do they come in and what do they call the different sizes? Piccolo, Soprano, Tenor, Bass, Bassoon?

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A conderser like the 87 works well especially getting the snap from the congas. Usually I'll go with a 57 on an LP claw in between the two about 4-6" back. The rat shack mics I use for drums don't like the mounting rims of a conga so 57's it is. I'd use a condenser but I don't like fishing around for the windscreen, 57's are grab and go...

p

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Originally posted by Audiopile


So... I don't know much of nothin about no congas. Most of the ones I've been around were about the size of coffee cans... and I've miced up at least one of those coffee can sized pairs on a stand. Undoubtedly there's different sized conga drums... I suspose ranging in size from the coffee can sized beatnik congas up to the magnum Ricky Ricardo sized. What sizes do they come in and what do they call the different sizes? Piccolo, Soprano, Tenor, Bass, Bassoon?

 

The coffee-can sized pair are usually called "bongos". Drums with regular-sized metal bodies (overall the size of a big snare, maybe) are called "timbales". Really only the big wooden bodied drums with the swelled shape are called "congas".

 

The most popular hippie drum these days is the "djembe", usually a bit smaller than a conga and with a pinched instead of swelled middle.

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You got my vote on top micing focused between the two drums at a 45 degree angle about 6-8 inches. Mic choice depends on what the drums sound like and how up front you'll be putting them in the mix (If it's latin or really percussive music I'd probably use a condensor for a bit more attack but for background rock a dynamic is fine). The only reason I'd ever consider micing the bottom is just to bleed a bit of resonance into the sound (95% top mic 5% bottom mic). Ive never felt the need.

 

Regarding the side thread. In the conga drum family there are a few different sizes a Quinta, a Conga and a Tumba (and maby another one that I missed on the test :>). These are slight variations but the sizes are very standard. (most people genericly call all of these congas).

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How many mics depends on many factors, how much separation you want, how much monitoring level you need, how the congas are setup, etc. I prefer individual mics, this allows the highest monitor gain, and can (in a stereo PA) create some fantastic imaging with a good conga player, espeically if you have a stereo (in and out) reverb. I love to pan congas hard left and right, with the corresponding reverb sends the opposite, so you get dry on one side, wet on the other. It creates amazing depth.

 

However some days there just aren't the inputs, so I'll be forced to either double up on mics, or Y them. It's all good, it all works. I've even put a single mic (like an AT 4041 SDC) over a small percussion setup and captured the entire setup, congas, tymbales, shakers, etc., with one mic, provided the stage volume is realsonable and the percussionist isn't next to the double marshall stacks!!!!!

:)

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i've been playing for about 20 years and i've tried a lot of different mics but what i have found is that for live sound all you need is some sm57s and a sound guy who knows how to eq them corectly. condencer mics have two much bleed through from the stage sound but is what i use in the studio.

 

as far as puting mics underneath the conga i think unless you have a sound guy who knows about phasing and reverse polarity all you end up whith is mud!!!!

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Actually, only the mid size (~11") drum is a conga. The smaller drum (~10") is a quinto and the larger one (12") is a tumba. The pair of 2 is either a conga and a quinto or a conga and a tumba.

 

I think that because the conga is always part of the set, and the other drum is variable, the drum pair became known as "congas."

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Here's where it can really get muddy. The names actually fall within a size range...I don't know the upper and lower limits of each, before anybody asks. Somebody at congaplace will know it, though. For example, I have two sets of three drums. One set was sold as a set with 10 inch "quinto", 11 inch "conga" and 12 inch "tumba". Still, most pros will tell you my other set is really the standard...11 inch "quinto", 11 3/4 "conga" and 12 1/2 "tumba"...and that my 10 inch drum is technically a "requinto". When I only had the smaller three drum set the functions of the drums were as advertized, regardless of the actual dimensions. I think most guys would agree on that...it's relative to the drums you have and how they relate to each other size-wise. In other words...smallest=requinto (if any), small+quinto, middle=conga, and large =tumba. There is also a possibility of super tumba and "BOOMBA"...who knows how they measure those :eek: . Here's my five drum set for gigging. The three innback are 10, 11, and 12 inch from right to left. The two in froint are 113/4 and 12 1/2 inch...just for a visual reference.

 

Mike em' all on the top, 6 inches to a foot away...can't miss, really.

 

God bless!

 

-Ron

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Excellent point. Really smoothes out the whole mix...congas DO have a tendency to get lost if they aren't tuned high enough, or the sound guy doesn't compress them. That's why I tune them high, and mike them pretty high (6-12 inches, depending on the room) off the head. Helps even out the sound when uncompressed, and the high pitches cut through better. For our band, I'd be kidding myself to think I'd add a big bottom end to what our drummer and bass player do. :)

 

God bless!

 

-Ron

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i had an expirience with this tonight, someone had a djembe, and thinking back to this thread i decided on a 57 at a 45 degree angle right in front of it. the player didnt like it because he said all the bass came from the bottom, being a sceptic i made him play it and i listened to the bottom, and sure enough the good sound came right out of there. so i put a 57 aimed towards it at an angle underneath his chair, and it came out wondefully, used a single channel of presonus acp88 compression, it wasnt set too hot.

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