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I am a singer who typically does acoustic guitar type performance, but I've been playing with full 'rock' bands for a little while now and am having a terrible time of getting 'loud' enough to cut over the ruckus. I can hang tight, but I'd like to be louder.

Can anyone make some recommendations for how I can a. improve my own ability to reach sustainable volume and b. equipment that can help give me a boost

I have upgraded to a higher quality mic, do know that I have to basically make mouth-love to it (in terms of being super close) when I sing -- but I'm still struggling...

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3 Answers 3

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When you're singing acoustic songs, you may well be using your head voice, as this lends itself well to that genre. When belting out rock songs, you need to use your chest voice - from the diaphragm - to project.This takes a lot of practice, but will amplify your voice naturally.

Drummers and guitarists can play quietly, it just takes a lot of courage for them and they tend to hide behind their potential volume.

If you have feedback it's God's way of saying turn everything down, it's too loud !! Or - don't stand in front of that speaker with a live mic.In a small room, there should be no need for foldback, as with careful placing of main p.a. speakers,the sound should be audible to the whole band, with the exception maybe of the drummer, at the back, who will then need to stop making such a racket so he CAN hear what's going on. He is, after all a member of a TEAM.

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This was a great answer - thank you! –  Meeka Jun 28 '13 at 16:14

If you've got a microphone, you shouldn't be getting volume from your vocal chords - if you want louder, turn up the amplifier. Consider that the electric guitarist who's drowning you out is making an incredibly quiet sound, until his amp gets hold of it.

If your amplifier doesn't go loud enough, then either you need a more powerful PA, or everyone else needs to go quieter. When inexperienced people play in a rock configuration, there's often a tendency for "everything louder than everything else" - and often turning other things down is the answer (but it's difficult to convince everyone of this).

Make sure your microphone is one designed for live vocals. Typically that means a dynamic mic with a cardioid sensitivity pattern. That means that if you point it at your mouth, it will pick up your voice and not too much of the rest of the on-stage sound. This is a different set of requirements from a studio vocal mic, where normally other sounds are suppressed using other methods.

You shouldn't need to go super-close to the microphone. With a typical dynamic microphone, going closer will result in a more "boomy" sound. You can use that to artistic effect; many singers have a "voice" achieved by practically whispering into a very close mic - then as their voice gets louder, they back away from the microphone to get a more natural tone. The audience might perceive that as going from quiet to loud - but in fact the actual loudness if you measured it, is the same throughout.

It may not be that you're too quiet - it may be that there's not space for your voice in the arrangement. If your voice is occupying the same frequencies as the guitar part, then one will get lost in the other. For parts to stand out, they need to occupy their own slice of the frequency spectrum.

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Slim, Thanks for your response. I think the problem is one that many women face because our frequency of vocals is one that get drowned out very often. The problem with turning myself up is that you can't do much to turn down the drums.. and feedback! we're often crammed into tiny areas so monitors are always on the brink of feeding back. It sounds like, from what you're saying, that I need to understand the PA and how it's set up a lot better and not leave that in the hands of a guitar player! That's very interesting about the guitar and vocals occupying the same frequency spectrum! –  Meeka Jun 13 '13 at 14:55
    
@Meeka, when you're crammed into a tight space, do you need the monitors? Can you see and hear each other well enough without them, thus eliminating the feedback problem? –  Monica Cellio Jun 13 '13 at 16:13
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Drummers typically have a hard time when they're louder than all get out... –  Meeka Jun 13 '13 at 18:34
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Drummers should learn to rein it in... –  slim Jun 14 '13 at 9:14
    
Or tell the drummer to listen to the mix in headphones if he can't tone it down. –  Monica Cellio Jun 14 '13 at 15:50

Alright - I just got back from a class on this in Boston and I think I might have gotten a few answers there and from ya'll :)

First - I did actually ask about the possibility of the guitar and vocal frequencies cancelling each other out and was told that the odds of this and the difference in timbre make it virtually not a concern...

BUT the biggest thing I learned came from discussing this with the sound guy - who told me that when I said I needed to be louder, I was not specific, and he thought I needed to hear myself better in the monitors. We did another gig where I could give specific direction - and asked for a good friend to monitor levels and text me on stage - and we nailed it.

From my class, I found out that my posture isn't great. (Yay to the comments section for diagnosing this!) - so that did help me control the changes and kept me at a steady volume (still working on it) -- and I also learned that I was in SERIOUS danger of having caused myself damage. --- Trying to compete with a hard rock band volume so that the 'show would go on' was a big mistake. -- Got myself a better mic. And I started transposing the beats and giving the drummer cues on what he was playing groovewise, if he should use brushes, and counting him off on songs he didn't know that well. You guys were right in the comments section, once the drummer felt more comfortable and confident he was able to bring the volume down and play with dynamics and groove.

I do still have a lot of work to do on chest singing so that I can be able to safely belt in situations where no matter what I do, the sound guy sucks, the acoustics are terrible, and the drummer is a stranger who's kind of an asshole (it happens.. haha) -- but I appreciate everyone's advice. It really helped me have an honest discussion with sound and the band and get something very simple fixed and move in the right direction!!

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