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Feedback nightmare - a clarinet player needs help!

Feedback in live sound is a problem that doesn't seem ever to go away. And for clarinetists who want to play at rock levels, the problem is worse.


Firstly one ground-rule about feedback. If you're getting feedback, you're in the shit. If you're in the shit and think that using a feedback eliminator will get you out of it, all you have done is to put rubber boots on. Feedback eliminators give you more of a margin when you have already done all you can to defeat the problem.

The essence of defeating feedback is to get more sound from the sound source into the mic, and less from the PA and monitor loudspeakers.

Now, a question from an Audio Masterclass visitor...

"I've been through hell, trying to find a microphone system that allows me to play live with my band - the AMT Setup that is pictured on your site is good for studio recording but a nightmare live!

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"The sound man can not get my tone loud enough without feedback! I have tried a single drum mic just on the bell, it worked a little better, but without the mid-tones. Last show I've played into two vocal mics, which were stationary, and I hoped to solve the problem - I was wrong, the feedback that kept coming through the floor monitors didn't miss a beat!

"There are other companies that make mics like AKG's D409, I have not tested it and before I do is anybody out there who knows how to truly handle my problem...? Something else that makes it more difficult is that I usually play with effects which seem to amplify the feedback.

"My band is made of two guitars and one bass, plus drums. The guitar and bass amps are behind us and due to stage set-ups have to stay there... hope anyone knows a solution to my problem."

- Jens

Thanks Jens for the reminder that it's not all guitars, keyboards and drums out there.

The idea behind the AMT mic is that sound comes from all along the length of the clarinet, not just the bell. Stand close to a clarinetist and you will hear this instantly. So the twin mic AMT system aims to capture the whole of the sound, not just the portion that comes from the bell.

However, although Jens is finding the sound of the system satisfactory, it is too feedback-prone for live use. Of course much will depend on the level. In a lightly-reinforced jazz band, there shouldn't be a problem at all. In a rock band playing at Motorhead levels, then things will be different.

So, over to our ever-resourceful Audio Masterclass visitors... Does anyone have a suggestion for Jens that will help him cut through?

(By the way, we know all about feedback eliminators so we're not looking for that as a suggestion, except if there is some aspect that is particularly relevant to clarinets and other acoustic instruments.)

By David Mellor Thursday November 30, 2006