Thursday, September 1, 2011

Porta-Blog Paris Sept 1 2011

The attention to detail that occurs in prepping a rock show on this level can be mind boggling. There are complex rituals that the backline techs go through from polishing frets, waterproofing against sweat and to bullet proof against a myriad of potential failure points.
So for this blog I thought I would discuss the nuances of setting up Anthony's vocal mic. You are most likely thinking "how hard can it be? Mic, stand, clip and cable, no biggie, right?
So here is a description of just one of the myriad of adventures we address:
1). The mic. Anthony has been using an Audix om-7 for probably about 20 years now. These mic have a very high feedback stability and pick up very little room sound. This allows me out front to get a real 'up close and personal' vocal sound and if I need more air or space, it's easy to add with a vocal reverb. Also, the om's are really durable and the grills don't dent when they are dropped. Conversely, the drawbacks are that the mic falls off in volume quickly if you are not really close to it. Also, they tend to be susceptible to 'spitting out' faster than other mics. Since Anthony stays on the mic and we swap out the vocal mic mid show and again before encore, the drawbacks are not issues for us.
2) The stand. The mic stand is integral to the performance so it must be exact. Straight stand, no boom Atlas MS12. The 12 stands for '12 pounds' and that is the weight he is used to swinging around. The Atlas has a larger diameter tube than the Euro manufactured metric stands and is less likely to bend. The metal clutch is more durable and the larger diameter cast metal base makes it less likely to tip over as well.
3) The cable. Belden 8412 has been around for decades and is amazingly durable. With it's real rubber jacketing, (not plastic), braid shield, multiple fiber wraps and twine filler, it has minimal stretch and a withstands more abuse and tangles less than any other cable we have found.
4) The clip. Even though the mic is an Audix, we use a Shure SM58 mic clip as the Audix clip is too rubbery. It is the older version clip that is not flared up top. This clip requires the mic to be slid in and not popped in and the mic won't jump out when the stand is swung or bounced on the ground. Oh, also, if the clip is new, we heat it up with a lighter and bend it open to get the proper grip on the mic that is not to tight or loose.
5) Taping the cable. The mic cable is taped to the mic preventing AK from accidentally unplugging the mic. This is done with a single non overlapping layer of black gaff. It is critical that the mic and tape will slide out of the clip, not too easily but also not jamming either.
6) Taping the stand. A ring of gaff tape is wrapped around the inner pole to prevent the stand from getting shorter, should he bang the stand on the ground downward. Each stand is measured to be exactly 55 3/4" in height, base to thread ring. There is always at least 2 spare built and measured stands in case one breaks during the show. We go through dozens over the course of a tour.
7) Boring the clip. The stock old school Shure clip has a sharpish edge that prevents the mic to slide out with the tape on it. To solve this, the rear sharp of each mic clip is beveled and rounded out with a Leatherman tool or any sharp knife and checked for 'slide'.
8) Clip tension. The clip need to hold the mic firmly at an angle and not loosen to floppy, easily. Cheaper imitation clips do not have the tension washer stacks inside and will loosen when repeatedly moved.
9) Cable length. The mic cable is 50 feet long and plugged into a stagebox located center stage.
10) Spare mic. An identical spare taped vocal mic is figure 8 coiled center stage. The spare mic, main mic and a wireless mic all are plugged into a 3 way switcher located at monitor position. This allows Anthony to grab any of the three mics and have it instantly switched in line to both mons and house.
And so ya have it and now ya know how to prep snake channel 24!
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile


  1. 50' cable? Wow. I totally agree with the Audix clips. I only use them for folks that never take the mic off the stand. One issue I've run into with my Atlas straight stands is that the rubber feet on the base come off from time to time. Their combo of glue and lock washer on the center metal dimple don't hold up very well over time. Any advice on that? P.S. That's a lot of typing on a Blackberry!

  2. just remember, Chris totally deserves that beer...