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Jeannie Deva’s Mic Shoot-Out
This vocal coach to the stars urges all singers to be quick on the draw.
Jeannie Deva’s career is impressive: she’s active as an international celebrity voice and performance coach, published author, clinician, recording studio vocal producer, and teacher of teachers.
She’s also incredibly tech savvy.
Recently Jeannie entered into an intensive stage of microphone research in preparation for her latest book Singer’s Guide to Powerful Performances.
In this exclusive interview, we asked Jeannie to tell us why mic choice is so critical for all singers – and to reflect on the qualities of TC-Helicon’s MP-70 and 75 Mics.
What’s a mic shoot-out?
It’s where you put up several mics and sing the same portion of a song on each of them. When you do a mic shoot-out through a PA, you’ll hear and FEEL how your voice responds as you sing on each mic; your band mates and manager will instantly recognize which mic best supports your voice and style.
Is this something all singers should do?
Absolutely – not all mics are right for all singers. In addition to mics helping or hindering the tonal qualities you want, the wrong mic can cause a singer to muscularly overcompensate in attempting to create the sound they want. I want to say – loud and clear – to all singers: test out mics.
Have you seen singers get their mic choice completely wrong?
Absolutely – all the time. Some singers (and this goes for recording studios as well) choose a mic based on what someone else has on hand or because it has a high sticker price, so they think must be a great mic. But these factors don’t mean it’s the right mic for you! When moving from a more generic mic to the one that’s a perfect fit, the singer will always FEEL the difference. It’s like your voice suddenly opens up and it’s easier to sing.
Take us behind closed doors and tell us about a mic disaster.
I was coaching two pre-teen singers who were already performing in stadiums and opening for big name acts. They sounded great when singing in our lessons and in their studio recordings but were having a lot of trouble singing live. So I listened to some of the videos and recordings of performances they had done. I could hear and see how they were struggling to sing songs that I knew they had no problem with otherwise.
Did this all boil down to the mic?
No – there were a number of factors. I found out they had inadequate monitors and the vocal effects used on their voice were being left up to the engineer who put too much reverb on their voice (this can make a singer’s vocal get lost in the mix when singing on a stadium stage). But their choice of mic was one of the biggest factors.
I’m curious, of course, about what mic they were using…
Let’s just say it was a “top of the line”, very expensive mic. Their father had chosen it for them because of its high price. In fact, the mic was making them sound younger than anyone wanted them to sound and did not reflect how they really sounded when singing off mic. I recommended a different mic and specific TC-Helicon pedals. Their next gig was a huge success with reactions from surprise to relief by their high profile manager as well as the two singers and their parents.
Are the best mics for men and the best for women always different?
No, not always. This depends on the amount of range used by the singer and their basic tonality. For example: The tonality of Geddy Lee, the lead singer of RUSH, is high pitched and the tonality of Barry White is very deep. Barry would need a mic that permits the depth in his voice to still sound warm but that would also present the upper mid-range of his voice so that it comes through clear and clean, not muddy. Geddy needs a mic that won’t make him sound shrill like Minnie Mouse yet still lets his voice sound bright while simultaneously capturing the warmer mid-range tones of his voice giving him a three dimensional presence.
How did TC-Helicon’s mics do in your recent shoot-out?
Once again, TC-Helicon demonstrates their expertise and devotion to vocalists by designing a fabulous hand-held vocal mic. The MP-70 and MP-75 share the same mic design, save one remarkable element – the MP-75 has a control button which will turn on and off any of the TC-H effects pedals you have linked-up with the mic – very cool!
How would you characterize their sound?
They have a fabulous clean, present tone that promotes a true representation of the voice by providing good presence across the lows, mids, and highs. As you sing close-up on either mic, they deliver a beautiful treatment of the timber of the voice while maintaining clarity; and they never sound muddy. They also provide a good amount of power which makes it easier to sing and not feel like you have to push. Consonants are well defined and it captures the details of stylization and pronunciation. The mics promote a smooth vocal performance.
But is this mic for all vocalists?
In my testing, I’ve found that this mic can handle many types of voices both male and female. With its sensitivity to detail, it could be particularly well paired to singer-songwriters, acoustic groups, as well as Rock, R&B and jazz singers. If you’re a singer who wants a really dark grunge sound, this may not be the mic for you. Then again, as the mic is designed to help put your voice up front and center and cut through the band, you may find its versatility will fit whatever style you sing, especially when used with some of the TC-H effects pedals.
OK Jeannie: give us a final word of wisdom on mics for singers.
Know that there ARE choices when it comes to your mic. Test and compare many – and keep testing. We singers, like anyone else, need to be empowered with the knowledge that will permit you to know what to look for that will support and contribute your talent and vision.
Jeannie is teaching students at her new interactive Online Vocal School by ArtistWorks. Students can access to her entire vocal method in HD streaming video, submit videos of their practice and get personalized video feedback from Jeannie. To learn more, click here.
Jeannie Deva is a celebrity voice and performance coach and recording studio vocal specialist with a list of impressive clients and endorsements. Jeannie is located in Los Angeles and teaches an international clientele. Visit her new singer’s performance development channel: www.YouTube.com/PowerfulPerformances and explore her singing enhancement method: for vocalists: “The Contemporary Vocalist” series and “The Deva Method® Vocal Warm-Ups and Cool-Downs” CD at: www.JeannieDeva.com. Jeannie has penned over 400 published feature articles in a wide variety of music magazines and web-zines. See her contributions on VoiceCouncil Magazine and Music Connection Magazine. Follow Jeannie on Twitter and Facebook