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I am a female Hard Bluesy Rock singer covering everything Led Zeppelin to Alice In Chains, Godsmack and then softer rock such as Fleetwood Mac and Journey, have always been told I have a lot of power and tone and range..

However, recently while rehearsing and auditioning for a new band (building my own vs joining existing, weighing these options out), I have not sounded anything like I do when singing w/o sound reinforcement (singing either alone running a CD and Microphone thru PA or just singing w/o a microphone along with instrumental tracks practicing on my own!. I was advised to get my own PA and just invested in a new Harbinger V2115 600 watt PA and have been using a used AKG Acoustics D3800 corded microphone, the PA only has 2 input channels with lines for a Mic and guitar, etc but no vocal effects other than 2 Equalizers, input gains and master volume, can run a CD player thru it, etc.

When I tested with my microphone and singing along to CD tracks in the large music store where I bought it, everyone said I sounded really good (covered from FMac, Godsmack, Journey, etc all very different) However, I have had all kinds of issues in 3 live band rehearsals in a very small spaces with different players, the first 2 with my PA and microphone and the last with just my mic lined into their PA.

On the first 2 sessions with PA and Mic, I was getting all kinds of mic feedback even though standing as far away as possible from speakers, the initial session was just with a me singing thru PA with my AKG microphone instrumental wth a bass player jamming along with me, this wasn't so bad...the studio told me to invest in some vocal effects to boost and refine the sound.

The second session was with a rhythm guitarist and drummer at his outdoor shed/studio, the feedback between the mic and PA was so bad I had to stand as far as possible from the PA and then they had trouble hearing me unless really boosted the gain and volume of PA which distorted my voice on the lower range, upper not as bad. Despite all these issues all of the players still want to work with me because they could still some idea of how my voice sounds.

Last night, I went to a meeting which turned into a rehearsal with a Hard Rock band, not knowing we were going to rehearse I only brought my microphone. They had tremendous power packed into a very small room, thousands of watts between lead guitar, drummer and key board player, I plugged my microphone into their PA and had trouble being heard over them plus my speaker was at the front of the room and I literally had to stand in the hallway outside of the room to avoid mic feedback and from sounding too echoing, I literally had to scream/belt as hard as I could to be heard when they were going full blast, which is not good for my voice. When I was only singing along with guitar player with little or no drum, outside in the hallway to a soft rock FMac to a cover of Bad Company Five Finger Death Punch (for this I came back in the room and stood in the middle of room in front of lead guitar and in front of drums and keys), and they could finally hear some of my power vocals!

Supposedly they had reverb and other effects on their high end equipment, but I left there extremely frustrated (not to mention fact that they told me they knew most of the songs on my song list, but when I got there they wanted me to sing songs I have never performed before and had never heard or had only heard thru radio some!) In spite of all this, they still expressed an interest in me afterwards.

I need a solutions to fix these issues ASAP, I am going back to where I bought the PA from and I don't know if my solutions should be to add the vocal effects mixer and replace my microphone, which I suspect is not designed for Hard Rock sound, maybe the mic cable as well or what to do. I don't have much $$ to budget because of just buying the PA (which I exchanged up to from a 60 watt system to 600 watt), good news is I do have a bunch of Amazon gift cards to use to spend towards whatever I need. But I also think part of the issue is the players have not been able to figure out how to set me up properly and I am kind of hardware dumb! Help me please!! Thank you so very much for reading this!

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Looked up your mic! Good news is that the pickup pattern is very narrow so you should get a lot out of just making sure it doesn't point towards the speakers - then again, in tiny spaces like this, the sound reflects so much that that's clearly not enough.

The frequency response for your mic is also available online - it appears to have a rather large peak at 4K which is to make the vocal sound bright and clear, however it could also be causing your feedback! If you search for "Graphic Equalizer" you can find hardware models under 100$ (probably significantly cheaper ones are around used at your local music stores..) which you can use to target the specific frequencies that are ringing.

Other random ideas: try putting your speakers on the ground to rehearse, the reflections might be reduced. Make sure that they aren't pointed right at you, especially not behind you - then they are directly in the path of your microphone's pick-up. See if you can get a local sound engineer to come in and consult! And last but not least, reverb sounds great but for this purpose, it will make feedback worse not better!

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How are you holding the microphone? Microphone technique is highly critical to getting good sound out of it. My "rule of thumb" is that you should be able to wrap your hand around the handle of the mic, just below the ball, stick out your thumb and touch your chin. It should be pointed towards your mouth and you should be standing behind the main speakers. Monitors should be in front of you and facing towards you so that sound comes at the microphone from directly behind, which is where it will pick up the least.

The combination of a cardioid mic (which you have) with good mic placement (to give strong signal) and pointed away from speakers (to minimize sound from the speakers) should be a pretty effective way to reduce and prevent feedback.

If you are still getting feedback, it is probably from sound reflecting around the space. You should try using a parametric or semi-parametric EQ to sweep for the frequency of the feedback and apply a cut to whatever tone is feeding back. In really small spaces playing at really loud levels, this may take some work to get right and may require more than one cut.

Don't add more vocal processing yet. Reverb and such are only likely to cause more issues. Fix your feedback and EQing issues first, then worry about refining your sound once you have a clean and stable signal without noise and feedback.

If you have the ability to record a sample of the problem and post it on Soundcloud and link it here, that would also be helpful for further diagnostics.

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as an engineer and overall sound obsessed musician, I have some tips for you... First off, microphone technique is the most underrated component of good vocal sound. I do countless events for people who do not know how to speak into a microphone. I often struggle with combating gain, master and feedback levels. As a singer and performer, this is a critical consideration. Microphone should be just away from your lips, and sung directly and robustly into. Microphone selection is also very important. All other advice and cost regarding EQ, processing and effects can be disregarded with one simple acquisition: get a Shure SM58. Every other stage mic is not going to achieve the result which this can achieve. With my advice, I am sure that you will achieve the desired sound. Good luck!

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    Welcome to sound.SE. Have some rep to start with... though I don't quite agree with what you say. Sure, (or Shure?) the SM58 is pretty much unbeatable in terms of reliability, but there are now plenty of mics available which can give just as good results live (and some of them indeed sound just better, with qualities that used to be unachievable outside of the studio). And, although mic quality and technique are indeed very important, that doesn't mean it's not important what happens to the signal at the mixing desk. (But again I agree that you shouldn't rely on EQ to much.) – leftaroundabout Jul 31 '15 at 18:30
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Thank you so much to everyone who viewed or answered my question. I went down to Guitar Center last night and told my audio pro all the issues I have been having between the microphone feedback, PA and overall the poor sound quality I have been getting with these small room studios/outdoor shed/2000 plus watt power packed small room, etc. He set me up with the identical PA I have, but put it up on a stand and then hooked me up with the TC Helicon Mic Mechanic, which has lots of vocal effects and then hooked me up with a really powerful dynamic microphone I had read excellent reviews of, Sennheiser e935, new cables and connectors and the results were magical! I was set up in their audio area and sang about 10 songs along to instrumental tracks played thru the PA and customers and staff kept coming over to hear me sing everything from 3 Led Zeppelin songs (Whole Lotta Love, Dancing Days, Stairway to Heaven), Godsmack (Voodoo, would have done I stand alone, but no backing track yet) to lighter stuff such as Journey (Lights), House of the Rising Sun, Fleetwood Mac (Dreams, Gold Dust Woman) , Desperado and Let it Be...then closed with a vocal only (no backing track as I just learned at a jam the night before) of Five Finger Death Punch version of Bad Company..So at least at Guitar Center things apparently are sounding really good!! And some of the guys there want to come out and hear me at a gig somewhere! Hopefully this will carry through when I am in a much smaller space/studio which hasa lot of power! More on this to follow, when I next practice in a small space I guess! But any and all feedback is certainly appreciated, thanks so much!

  • Thanks so much AJ, actually it was my idea to replace the cables and they gave me 1 for free plus the connectors and only paid $6 for other cable, since I have bought a lot from them, they give me "39% pro discount" and it was way cheaper than online, so I feel I got a good deal. The big test will be when I set up in a small space with these loud bands, I feel have at least equal fire power now at least, lol! :) – TT2 Oct 13 '14 at 20:32
  • ah, in that case never mind. That's not a bad price for cable. – AJ Henderson Oct 13 '14 at 20:54
  • It seems AJ Henderson posted a comment about how cord quality has nothing whatsoever to do with the problem. Just putting it back, so nobody takes that as advice from this answer (in particularly, "high end microphone cables" are utter nonsense – there's good cords and faulty cords, nothing else). – leftaroundabout Oct 15 '14 at 8:17

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