I am part of a group who use bicycle bells and we would like to mic up the bells for live performances. What kind of mic would be suitable for this?
Virtually any microphone generally sold for live stage use will suffice. You're not, after all, capturing the sound of a "Stradivarius" here. Any mic you'd use to capture a trash can lid being struck will also be good for bicycle bells.
Not meaning to be snarky here. You've got an intentionally low-fidelity audio source, and using $2000 microphones on stage would be silly.
I expect that you would be best with renting a PA system that come with mikes and a skilled operator, then seeing what works well for you.
The first question is do you put mikes on a stand pointing at each handle bar
- This may lets a single mike pick up all the bells on the bike depending how far the mike is from the bike.
- You have to setup the stands
- You can use normal mikes .e.g SM58/SM57 if you have access to them (not a recommendation for buying them if your only use is this application).
Or you can fix a clip mike to the bike handle bar pointing at the bell (like is done for violins)
- This is the setup that is often use if background noise or feedback is an issue
- The mike will pick up some none audio vibrations, as you move the bike etc.
- You may need a mike for each bell
- Getting an mike with enough base may be an issue – (most cheap clip mike are designed for speak)
- Could use a radio link and be able to move the bikes about.
- The sound will be a bit “dead” as you will not pickup any reverbs from the room
You may even find that one or two cardioid mikes on stands 10 feet from the bikes may be enough to pick up all the bells, so try it as it is cheap if it works. (Cardioid mikes don't pick up much sound from behind them, so depending where the background noise is coming from.)
(I expect you may find also a compressor on the mixing desk useful.)
They do actually use bicycle bells in modern compositions for orchestra. And there it is not necessary to amplify the bell at all. Like a triangle because of its frequency range will always be heard. Even 'Glockenspiel' and 'Celesta' are used to double up strings (that are already arranged in octaves for enforcement) and give them the certain 'ping' on the high end to 'shine'...
So it strongly depends on the kind of music you are performing, what the other setting is and the environment you're in. Infact indoors all the bells and whistles could rather get annoying without being amplified at all.
Maybe you could be a little more precise in your question.
EDIT: Actually there is a 'Concerto for trolley/shopping cart and bicycle bell' - I forgot by whom, sorry, but I am sure you can find out - it's contemporary - 90's - continental IIRC!
Well, take a solid sampling of your bells to a music store and try out mics. Make sure to playback through good equipment both on earphone and loudspeaker.
I could imagine ribbon mics to work nicely for that because of good impulse response and an organic tapering off at "noise" frequencies. I've made disappointing experiences with picking off a nice three-reed tremolo with pretty good large diaphragm condenser mics: I suspect some susceptibility to partial vibrations of the large diaphragm that can be triggered by several very close frequencies. I'd expect multible bells to be somewhat similar in character. Bicycle bells admittedly have a different sound spectrum with quite fewer overtones so this hunch might not be on-spot for your use case.
At any rate, there is probably no good way around checking out several options. Even the same kind of microphone might behave differently when using products from different manufacturers or models.