Our Equipment

From time to time, we receive questions about the sound equipment we use and the instruments Robert uses.  If you begin doing “gigs” on your own, you’ll want to be aware of what kind of PA works for certain environments.

Here is the equipment we are currently using along with the instruments Robert uses on our “gigs.”  Each piece would be worth considering depending on your needs.

The critiques and notes, by the way, are by Ed (with some influence by Anthony)



MICROPHONES

Shure SLX-Beta 58 wireless (UHF)

Shure SLX-Beta 58 wireless (UHF)

We use two of these for our vocalists. Both are in separate packs. I auditioned a few wireless mic systems but these were the best by far. They have very nice “high end” on them and they respond extremely well to both male and female voices as they have enough “bottom” for the burliest baritone yet have lots of nice “high end” on them for the purest and clearest female voice. I recommend these highly. They also works at great distances. You can get quite far from the receivers (the box under the mic in the photo above) and they’ll still work beautifully. They even work through walls. Lastly, the “power” and “mute” switches are recessed and hard to trip unless one makes a concerted effort – a definite advantage. These run on AA batteries (2 of them.)

Shure SM-58s Wired

Shure SM-58s Wired

This is used by Robert as both a vocal mic and for his trumpet. This mic sounds almost exactly the same as the one above, though I find it to be slightly “darker”-sounding than our Beta 58’s. Also, this one has a “power” switch on the body of the mic. Robert likes the switch because it gives him control and, for this reason, it works quite well for the applications Robert uses it for. This mic is available with or without a switch and the switch doesn’t compromise it’s sound in the least bit. Without question, this is the “gold standard” for vocal mics.  If you are a singer, this is the only mic you’ll ever need.

Shure GLX-D w/ PG30 Headset Microphone

shureglxdGiven that your audio engineers are now doing the announcing and there’s absolutely no room for a mic stand, this is a great solution.  The receiver (the box with the antennas) fits into a foam case that’s just like the ones that hold our mics.  The body pack (the box seen here above the receiver) attaches to your belt or goes into your pocket and it runs on a supplied rechargeable battery pack.  It has an on/off switch that’s easy to operate and not easy to accidentally trip.  The battery pack will get you 15 hours of uninterrupted operation.  When you’re done for the night, simply take the battery pack out of the body pack and insert it into the right side of the receiver to be charged.  The headset attaches to the body pack and fits comfortably over the ears.  The mic itself is on a gooseneck so it easily moves out of the way if desired.  The PG30 headset is, in truth, the least of the headsets you can purchase for this unit but for talking, it’s perfectly fine.  It comes with a mini windscreen that fits over the mic.  The windscreen comes off very easily so you have to be careful when taking the headset off as not to lose it.  Once it’s on your head, the windscreen will stay put fairly well, though, so it’s a minor inconvenience.  Beyond that minor design hiccup, it’s an excellent unit and we’re happy to have it.

Shure Super 55

Shure Super 55

We used this very briefly as our main mic because of it’s uniqueness. We figured it’d be much fun but it proved a bit too cumbersome for this application. It has since surfaced for special occasions. On top of it’s unique “old school” look, it should also be noted that it sounds amazing. It gives a very rich, full sound that many mics can’t get near. Highly recommended if you want to make a statement and still get great sound.


MIXERS

Yamaha MGP16X

I absolutely love this mixer.  I have recently gone back to using it as I just can’t go without it.  I ran into it when Mackie CFX-12 started having trouble and made the horrible discovery that Mackie was discontinuing it in favor of the drastically inferior Pro-FX series.  I needed an alternative and gave this a test drive at a local music store.  WOW!  My issue with mixers like this is always the cheapness of the reverb.  I love a full, natural-sounding reverb and most mixers of this type can’t cut it.  This one absolutely can.  It features 16 channels, 4-band EQ for each channel, two groups, and two channels of reverb.  This is great when you want your vocalist to have both a reverb and a delay at the same time.  I use that setup on Robert’s trumpet constantly and get great results.  The reverb is full and rich – making the vocals come through clean and beautiful.  Our Beta 58 mics love this board!  It isn’t even that expensive – topping out at $500.00.  I cannot possibly recommend this board highly enough and have purchased two of them just to be safe.

Allen & Heath ZED 10FX Stereo Mixer

Allen & Heath ZED 10FX Stereo Mixer

This mixer is now an alternate.  It has 4 XLR inputs and a couple of stereo line inputs.  The reverb is not quite as full as the Yamaha but it’s pretty darned good and I’ve decided I can live with it in a pinch.  It’s about half the size of the Yamaha unit we’ve been using which can be helpful when space is an issue.  On the down side, there is no “mute” button on the individual channels. That’s a slight inconvenience but not insurmountable. It even has a USB output for use with digital audio workstations, though that’s not something we’ll ever use.  Most units this size don’t have the best sound but this one does quite well.  As time has passed, I very much like the sound I get from this little unit.  From a utilitarian perspective, we’ve had this unit for almost two years now and it’s never given us any trouble. It can also be knocked around quite a bit and still function well.


SPEAKERS

Mackie MR8 Powered Speakers

Mackie MR8 Powered Speakers

These speakers are now used at Sommerset and for when we need something that packs a little more punch. I auditioned several different speakers on the day I picked these up and these sounded far more rich and warm than any of the others I heard. It was love at first hear and they were a steal so I thought “why not?” A great addition to anyone’s medium-sized PA setup. We all fell in love with these quickly for different reasons (Anthony likes the fact that they aren’t particularly heavy in spite of their size.) Highly recommended!

Mackie SRM150 Personal Monitor

This is another of the speakers we use for various smaller applications.  It was the very first speaker we used when we began doing “open mic” years ago.  Then, we only used one.  In smaller spaces, two are necessary to cover the space and they work surprisingly well!  The sound is quite decent and provides what’s required.  There’s a nice midrange boost in them given their construction which is nice for vocalists.  Anyone who’s visited us knows how small they are which is great for those who set them up.  Each one comes with an attachment that will allow you to set them up on a mic stand which makes set up a breeze.  They can be used all by themselves or with a mixer.  They’re relatively inexpensive given what they’re capable of too.


WIRELESS SPEAKER SYSTEM

Alto Stealth Wireless Speaker System

This has certainly been a long time coming!  The trouble this saves us cannot be put into words.  We use it at Sommerset and at larger venues where we cannot run cables.  The transmitter sits by the mixer and the little boxes attach to the speakers via velcro.  Each of those transmitters has a small power adapter (not battery powered…yet) and the whole thing allows us to run speakers without having to run cables to them.  Couple that with wireless mics for Bob, Robert, and Robert’s guitar amp and we can be completely out of the way at Sommerset.  The sound is practically dead perfect.  Our troubles with this unit have been very few and, even then, the system “learns” what the problem is and avoids it after a few minutes.  Beyond that, the signal is totally clean (no discernible hiss) and the results are fantastic.  A great unit overall and I highly recommend it.


INSTRUMENTS

 steinbergerguitar

Steinberger Spirit headless guitar

Ah, the ’80’s are back!  This was a very popular electric guitar during the heyday of the MTV era and it’s become Robert’s main guitar.  He had been using an acoustic but switched to this when space became an issue.  Robert has fallen in love with the headlessness of it because it gives him more room to work without worrying about hitting anyone or anything while he plays.  He also likes the fact that the tuning is on the bottom of the instrument.  It requires the use of strings specially constructed for guitars with no headstock but those strings are relatively commonplace at most music stores and the pickups are pretty good for the price point.  The instrument has volume, tone, and bass controls to contour the sound to the space in which you’re playing and there’s a lap stabilizer built into the bottom of the instrument, though it works poorly so you’ll need a strap for the instrument.

fishmanamp

Fishman LoudBox 100 guitar amplifier

This is an unusually good guitar amp for the price point.  It has three inputs:  Channel 1 is for a guitar and Channel 2 has both an XLR and ¼ inch connection.  An XLR connection is great for a mic.  The various sound controls you’d expect to find are here – a set of three for each channel.  There’s also unexpectedly nice reverb which we’ve used and been quite happy with when it was needed.  There’s even a headphone jack if you need it.  Overall, a nice amp and one that won’t break the bank.

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