If you are into folk music, you may have noticed that more and more revival country bands share just one microphone on stage – we witnessed that ourselves when Spirit Family Reunion (pictured) played our NYC B.E.A.F. at Brooklyn Bowl last June.
This is an old-fashioned technique that still works wonderfully (also visually) for a genre as communal as folk music, with the added bonus of allowing musicians to control their voices (and the lead instruments’) volumes by moving closer or farther from the mic.
To pull this off you’ll need a quality, large diaphragm cardioid condenser with good feedback rejection, placed at chin height in the middle of the musicians, facing them. Careful mic positioning is necessary to avoid feedback, while a slight boost of the lower frequency will compensate for the proximity effect typical of cardioid mics – where the farther the source, the thinner it sounds through the mic. Singing/playing at an angle will also allow for some natural EQ, since these mics filter out some high frequencies if you don’t sing right in front of them.
The one mic technique requires some learning though: Musicians should record their rehearsals through the mic to get an idea of what placement and distance they should have from the mic – not only in each song, but also in each song section.