Standard & Unusual
My mic complement is very traditional – Shure SM58s for vocals and SM57s for toms and most instruments, along with a pair of Sennheiser e609s for guitar, and an AKG D 112 for kick, as well as a Shure SM91. I also have a pair of Audio-Technica PRO 37s for condensers.
The oddball mics in my collection would be three Shure SM78s and an EV 635a and RE16. I like old mics, and I find that the SM78s sound fantastic on female vocalists and saxophones. They don’t have a transformer in them, so they have a more open and airy top end. (They’re not very monitor-friendly however.)
The RE16 works well for snare top. It has a great “pop” to it and sounds really beefy in the low mids, without being too muddy. The 635a is there because everyone needs an omni dynamic mic. I’ve tried it on all sorts of instruments and it always seems to make me smile.
To save some weight and space in my trailer, I’ve made it a point to use different ways to hold a mic without using a stand. I have LP claws, Shure A56D mounts, a Mic-Eze for the drums, and a few home-built Z-bars for guitar and bass cabinets.
I built a case that has an open top. One side of the case has eight holes that hold DR Pro tall tripod stands, while the other side is open and holds two Pelican 1500 cases – one for mics and the other for the aforementioned clamps, claws, Z-bars, clips, etc.
Shure SM78. (click to enlarge)
The rest of the gear is pretty standard, including Yamaha SM15IV monitors, chosen because they’re robust, loud, and priced right. The issue of poor off-axis response is not a big problem with floor monitors. The performers generally stand in one spot so you tune the wedge to sound good in that spot.
When I need it, a Peavey split snake with 36 channels and 12 returns can run a 200-foot trunk to front of house and a 50-foot trunk to monitors. It’s fully multi-pinned as well. The snake was acquired in trade for building an in-ear system for a band. I also have two 8-channel and three 4-channel sub-snakes of various lengths.
The stage box on the front end of the 36-channel snake. (click to enlarge)
The End Result
In perspective, it’s an efficient and cost-effective little rig, and one that packs in its entirety into my little 5 x 10 Wells Cargo trailer. It loads in and is ready for sound check within an hour, and loads out in about 45 minutes.
I can comfortably provide quality audio for crowds up to about 500 indoors, and have been in situations where 1,000 or so people have shown up and I got through the gig without damage (although I was pinned against the limiters all night). And, I can easily do multi-track recordings of any show.
The system in action at an event in Texas. (click to enlarge)
The system has been in constant operation for more than three years now, and I’ve only managed to burn up one of the 12-inch drivers in a main. (At an outdoor gig for a motorcycle rally.) Other than that it’s been flawless, even when I’ve really flogged it.
Tim Weaver is the owner of Weaver Imaging (www.weaverimaging.com), an audio, lighting, and projection provider based in College Station, TX. He has been a professional sound engineer for 20 years, working across all genres.