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I'm going to do PA for a band that consists of piano, guitar, flute, cello and vocals. I don't have much experience amplifying a cello. The cellist brings along her own microphone (don't know what type, it's a very small condenser mic head that's attached to the cello using a foam helix which you screw into the f-hole), which I was unable to get to work the last time. I've experimented with a Shure SM57, which picked up too much background noise for my liking.

Any tips for mic characteristics and placement?

  • I believe you are going to get a lot of subjective answers on this one. Maybe if you could try to set the requirements a bit more strictly, you would get results that suite your needs more. – ZaellixA Oct 15 at 10:47
  • the cello mic might be a Beyerdynamic TG I55c Helix (at least looks very similar). – Hobbes Oct 15 at 12:47
  • Ok if that's the case then my comment around the lavalier definitely applies. It may not be a true lavalier, but this will pretty much be omnidirectional and picking up a lot of ambient acoustic activity. Not a good mic for FOH/PA work. – Mark Oct 15 at 13:27
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Use a clip-on mic attached to the bridge or a similar contact mic. Don't try and use anything acoustic for PA/FOH. SM57 is definitely not suitable for a 'cello under any circumstances.

There are quite a few piezo pickups available. Ideally you want something that is going to get excited only by the vibrations from the instrument and not from any ambient acoustic activity - this will help prevent any feedback. You want the greatest 'gain-before-feedback' ratio possible.

Typical mics that would work well with 'cello in a PA application would be: https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/VC1Pickup--kna-vc-1-portable-piezo-cello-pickup

Sounds to me like the 'cellist is bringing a lavalier mic and using some sort of foam insert to attach the mic to the 'cello. This is not a particularly good idea. as the mic will still be subject to external acoustic activity.

Being a lavalier, it will need both phantom power and a phantom power adapter for the lavalier. Most of the time, this will be provided by an XLR mic adapter that is specific for the lavalier, but you will need to ensure that +48v phantom is provided to the adapter.

From the Beyer specs...

"It delivers extremely natural, true sound reproduction without colouration 
due to the proximity effect. The omni-directional polar pattern ensures even sound - 
regardless of how the capsule is positioned. 
For wired operation at a phantom powering input, the optional CV 18 is necessary."

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