This is mostly a reinforcement setup, for a four piece bluegrass group, with two lead instruments and four part vocals, with everyone sharing lead vocals and harmonies depending upon the tune.
Room size is variable as all hell - although our weekly gig is in a fairly large bar with decent acoustics, we’re touring through a variety of venues and pa systems.
I went to this setup for multiple reasons, not least of which is that on tour we have found that most engineers do not have a lot of experience mixing acoustic music, let alone bluegrass, and they can’t get it through their heads that the reason the mandolin player is singing soft in this particular song is because he’s backed off the mic to let the harmonies blend better. And so on… We record every show, and it’s ridiculous how much some of these engineers just keep monkeying with the levels throughout the show.
So I decided to eliminate the problem by sending them one (or two) signals. The sound quality is pretty impressive, and the harmonies are much more unified, because we are both hearing the natural acoustics and not being misled by off-kilter monitor mixes etc.
Currently I am using the one mic, at just below chin height, on a boom in front of the carpet we perform on. The soloists (me on guitar/banjo and the mandolin player) are on the outside, with the rhythm guitar and upright are on the inside.
We have set tape marks to delineate best positions relative to the mic for each of us: We each have a mark for singing lead, and one for just playing, and we lean in & out and/or change our vocal dynamics for harmonies. These are all based off of the input gain set at unity on the board, so we’ve got a benchmark for distance. At rehearsals we run through a song and record it, and then adjust our positions and dynamics as needed after hearing the playback.
It works pretty darn well, and the only thing that’s been an issue is that the more reinforcement we need in a room the tighter in we need to be to get acceptable input strength without causing feedback as we crank the output on the power amp.
Anyway, here is the setup we’re currently using, followed by the one I hope to go to.
I can't make the diagram come out even, but we're in a pretty accurate semicircle
What I Want to Do
In this configuration, I’d like have each mic angled out about 20-30 degrees, with overlapping coverage from both mics (dialed to high gain supercardioid) catching the RGuitar and Bass. And that’s where the phase question comes in - will the overlapping areas of coverage cause phase cancellation?
This should give a nice subtle stereo feel, and allow us to spread the stage a little more, so that we’re not all crammed into 1/3 of the useable stage area. This will allow allow myself and the mandolin to face the audience a bit more during solos, rather than the mic.
The mic inputs are going to a little mackie 6 channel, with a compressor inserted on the aux send and a stereo eq patched inline before the power amp. Even though my current setup is a mono signal, I still send it left & right to have independent gain controls to each side.
Bear in mind that in the fall, we’re all going to be using in ears for a mains feed, and later, as I can afford a full time tech I’m going to send line signals for each instrument as well (but only when MY tech is on the board)
Wow - that was long and involved. Many thanks if you can shed a little light on this, or suggest improvements. I just want maximum control of our sound, and the lightest darn touring rig I can come up with.