Performing Mic - PAs and feedback

Any live performers have any thoughts on mic setup.

I have been using a large diaphragm condenser for the online open mics and home recording. But as I’m using headphones, there is no feedback. If I ever want to play live and hook up into a PA, am I likely to run into feedback issues? Bearing in mind I like to whack the gain up on the vocal mic.

I have a dynamic mic, but prefers the vocal tone through the condenser. Should I start and practice with the dynamic mic now?

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Personal experience is it’s rare ( if at all ) for a condenser to be used at an open mic. Feedback would be a nightmare. You might get it on some acoustic only stuff but It’ll almost certainly be a dynamic mic.

You won’t have control over the sound at an OM other what you get as feedback on the monitors ( where most running the OM will do as you ask… but in all honesty my personal experience is it’s highly variable). The sound out to the audience is for the person running it to set. Some are great and others constantly adjusting it.

If you do a full gig you have a lot more control.

The key at an OM for me is that monitors are loud enough so I can hear what I’m singing. Sounds like what you like as well. You will get it sometimes but not always.

My advice is go to some open mics ( not to take part ) so you can get a feel for how they run, how the guy running it sets things up and how things sound.

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Cheers Jason, will get myself out and about :+1:

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I agree with Jason: I have done live sound for some bands and we never use anything except dynamic mics. A condenser mic would be a no-no due to the feedback.

It’s usually hard enough to control feedback even with dynamic mics.



Thanks Keith, I was also wondering about the guitar amp.

For open mic with electric guitar do you take your own, or is a stock one usually set up?

If taking your own, do you also have to take extra mic and cables to plug into the PA/desk?

I know, I know, get along to a few :smile:

Yeah go along. No hard and fast rules. I will say that many many OMs by me are still mainly setup for acoustic so you’d need to take your own amp. If the venue is small no need to mic it. The person running it will tell you. They will almost certainly mic it for you. If they have a bit of a “backline” then you’ll be able to plug-in but will then be playing with something you’ve not used before.

My bass player always takes his own amp. I plug my multifx straight into the PA.

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As @Rossco01 says, most OMs seem to be set up for Acoustic.

The few I have been at usually have a mic already set up, and may also have a cable to plug into an electro-acoustic.

Anything else and you need to bring yourself and work with the sound guy (or gal).

For instance, if you want to use a vocal processor, you will need to connect that up.

If you want to use electric, I would suggest a multifx unit is better than an amp. Amps can be problematic as they can be very loud on stage and this causes issues for the sound guy.

Also, not all amps have a line out for the desk, and ones that do often aren’t that great. In a typical OM, the sound guy isn’t going to want to mic up the amp.

Note that the line out on pretty much every amp is an “emulated” (aka “modelled”) output. In my experience, valve amps with a line out don’t tend to sound much like the amp. Modelling amps with a line out sound much more like the amp, which makes sense as the same modelling is used for both.

But, in general, it doesn’t make sense to be precious about using your favourite valve amp as, in practice, the sound out of the PA won’t be the sound of the amp.

And, frankly, the only person who cares about your fancy amp is you. The audience don’t care. And, in a typical OM where you have only a few minutes to set up and do a brief sound check, you probably aren’t going to get it working well anyway.

So, if you are planning to do lots of OMs, do yourself a favour and get a multi FX unit or a pedal-board setup with a pre-amp pedal and give a line out to the sound guy. He (or she) will appreciate it and it will save you a load of hassle.

Another tip if you are buying stuff like multifx units or vocal processors: try to get ones that will work off batteries. Take a power supply too but, often, getting power to plug stuff in can be an issue. If you can run off batteries, issue avoided!

Battery powered units can also be a life-saver in cases where you get loads of mains hum.

In general, I would suggest going to an OM to watch first so you know what to expect. You can also approach the sound guy and ask questions.

Note I haven’t been to an OM since Covid. I have heard that some OMs are being fussy about hygiene and asking people to bring their own mics. That might be worth checking on.



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All good points @Majik the key is to find out what OMs run in your area. In mine most are run by 2-3 guys and they have three or four pubs they run them from. So the setup tends to be the same for each guy and whichever pub they run them. Most of the OMs where I live are advertised on Facebook, usually in local music groups or on pub fb pages. Obviously this is UK and different approaches apply in other countries.

Unfortunately as Keith has said the “quality” of the sound is in their gift. Indeed that has to a degree dictated which ones we attend. If you listen to those I’ve posted on the forum or my YT channel the sound is very variable. It doesn’t ever seem to matter to the audience.

Part of the “skill” at an OM is being able to plug your gear in quickly and get a half decent soundcheck done… all in about 5 mins. Then you do your 2-3 songs and then you are off as quickly. That will play well with the organiser too.

Odd times you’ll find a quiet one and will either get another opportunity later OR be asked to play 4-5 songs ( if you can). I think the longest we had was 45 minutes once and it was a very quiet night… good for practice though.

As Keith said immediately after Covid most OMs insisted you use your own mics. It seems to be up to you now. I always take mine as I know it’s a decent quality one.

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Thanks both for the feedback, lots of options and unknowns answered.

Yeah, the amp I have has a pretty decent line out / cab emulation which I use a lot in the house so might be useful for the posher venues without worrying about being too loud.

I do have my old multifx pedal which would probably be easier to manage (and set up in a hurry). Like you say won’t be needing a Marshal stack any time soon :roll_eyes:

I’ll maybe look into running my small mixer via battery power then all I would need to do is hook up the output of that to where the mic goes to the desk. Save the sound tech a job.

I have found a local Facebook group with a few potential dos so will start there and then hopefully get some more craic once I’ve been to a few.

Sounds like a plan. I wouldn’t bother with the mixer. The OM organiser will just hand you a quarter inch to plug in to what you’ve got instrument wise. He’ll expect you to use his mic or just unplug it and use yours…. Last thing he/she will want is you trying to balance things.

The good ones - generally - have good gear and can get the levels right pretty quickly.


@Majik @Rossco01

Keith & Jason

Thanks for the great advice, found a local open mic night so popped along. It’s a few towns over but right in the touristy Keswick so plenty going on there.

The standard there was extraordinarily high so at first I felt a bit intimidated. Stuck around to the end though introduced myself and the organiser happens to run another more beginner friendly night in a quieter part of town, along with another guy who runs a separate night in another venue. I even got craicing with a local busker, so plenty to go at.

They do jam nights too, so I guess I will have to start seriously looking back at the coursework rather than just learning new songs. Long term……

I’ll post a how it went and how I got started once I’ve had a go!

I thought I would struggle to find any kind of musical community locally but didn’t have to travel very far at all. There did seem to be one or two ‘egos’ knocking around, I’ll have to work through that. All in all a positive experience, cheers again :slightly_smiling_face:


Great news Dave and glad you got out there and found your local music scene. You’ll soon find your feet and the first is always the hardest. There are always one or two “egos” around and unfortunately things can be a bit clicky at times but in all honesty we’ve always found that in the long term people are pretty good and encouraging. Chatting with others is a great way to find other opportunities and sometimes leads to meet ups etc. and performing together.

Now you just need a few well worked songs and off you go! although to be honest they don’t need to be highly polished…it’s just about how confident you are getting through them.

I have to admit whilst there are odd jams here and there by us it’s not something I’ve done. We’ve formed an adhoc band for a song or two before where the guy has provisioned us with some chords (which makes it easy) and off we go but thats about it for me.

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