“Microphone X is prone to feedback”

Something I’ve read rather often on music gear forums is that a particular mic (doesn’t seem to matter which one, call it Mic X) is prone to feedback, or picking up noise. I don’t buy that for a second. What this tells me is that “I always use these particular settings for whatever I attach to my mixer board, and this mic doesn’t sound right and gives feedback.” In other words the person doesn’t really understand that each mic is different and needs to be set up on the mixer separately. It can also mean that the person doesn’t know about proper placement of stage monitors or speakers.

I posted a while back about how to choose a mic, and about well-meaning people that should not ever touch a mixer board because they really don’t understand what they are doing, and who tend to go with “I’ve done it this way for years – everyone knows you’re supposed to do it this way – you’re stupid for not knowing that”.

EVERY MIC MODEL IS DIFFERENT AND REQUIRES YOU TO KNOW WHAT THE KNOBS ON THE MIXER DO TO GET THE BEST SOUND FOR THAT MIC AND FOR THAT SINGER FOR THAT VENUE!

Read that over and over again.

1. For a basic mic/mixer/powered-speaker setup that most singers use, start each mic with gain set to mid-way or less, all EQ knobs in the neutral position.
2. Most of the time, you should engage the “low-cut” filter on that channel to remove the very low sounds that make a singer sound “boomy” or muddy.
3. Have a singer actually sing normally into the mic and start adjusting the volume slider. Then adjust the EQ knobs to get a nice clear sound, typically adding a bit of treble and seeing if that helps, perhaps cutting or adding a bit of the low EQ.

At a recent outdoor gig, one mic needed rather a lot of low EQ added to give the singer presence, while another mic needed quite a bit of treble added to prevent a muddy sound.

It is always best to do your sound check prior to the public showing up (by actually singing normally), but being able to tweak the settings during a performance is also critical as more bodies in the room change the sound.

Speakers should almost always be placed in front of the singers and facing forward to avoid feedback. I did a gig last night where the speaker had to be placed behind and to the left of me and the keyboard, so I aimed the speaker over the head of the keyboard player so it wouldn’t be facing my mic. This made the speaker act as a monitor for us as well, since the venue was small. But remember where the speaker is located so you don’t wander in front of it with the mic.

Monitors are typically on the floor aimed towards the singers, but not necessarily directly at the singers. Some mics like the Shure Beta 58 (super-cardioid) have a small rear-lobe instead of rear-rejection and may pick up the monitor and create feed-back if the monitor is aimed directly at the singer. Aim them a bit off-axis for best results. Usually a standard cardioid mic won’t have that issue.

Singers may be used to a particular model of mic, and other models will be different. Different isn’t necessarily BAD. But if someone has been using a Shure Beta 58 for many years, handing that singer a Heil PR35 is a bad idea since the Heil is a lot more sensitive and has a completely different proximity effect. But just because that singer won’t handle that mic well does not mean the mic has a problem, it is simply different than the singer’s expectations. I’ve had to fend off a LOT of comments and suggestions about mic technique when using my Heil because the other singers are used to their Shure mics.

Firefox: Facebook comments missing from news sites

Minor issue, but after installing FF 59 (due to constant crashing of 61 and 61.0.1) and making some changes to settings, I noticed that comments had disappeared from the two news sites I frequent. I tried turning off Ublock Origin, but no change. Then I checked my FF settings page.

In settings, Privacy and Security, if you have set Tracking Protection to Always – Always, FB comment sections on news sites will not appear (at least that is the case for me in FF 59). Set these to Only in private windows and Only when using Tracking Protection. Comment sections are back.

Firefox 61 and later on Ubuntu Linux sucks like a neutron star

I’ve been using Firefox mostly happily up until today. Site after site gives me the damn “Gah! Your tab just crashed” error. If I disable that feature, it crashes FF. Also, Facebook videos stopped working. No, it isn’t an add-on. Even a totally new install with no add-ons does the same thing. Completely useless, Mozilla. Thank you.

I have an older version of FF installed concurrently and it works perfectly, demonstrating that the issue is in the programming of the new FF 61 (and 61.0.1 which I also tried). Mozilla is on a campaign to purge information about how to even install older versions. They say this is because it will leave the user open to malware. Sure, I if I were using the browser for general purposes instead of specific. But the whole nanny attitude of “we know what’s best for you” is infuriating. I’m back to using version 59. Chrome for everything else.

By the way, if you want to install an older version of Firefox on Linux, I found these steps to be necessary to keep it from updating itself automatically after install:
1. Unplug your network connection or disable it from the user interface
2. In terminal, specify “./firefox” from the folder where you put the older version, otherwise the system will use the globally installed version.
3. Install from terminal using the “-P” option in terminal when you do the install. This makes it use the Profile Manager which lets you specify a new profile just for the older version. Give it an obvious name.
4. When you create a shortcut (launcher) on your desktop, you can also specify that it not talk to other installed versions of Firefox. This line also specifies that it use the profile I just created:
/home/(...)/Downloads/Firefox/firefox59/firefox-bin -P -no-remote FiftyNine (FiftyNine is the Profile name I gave it when installing)

-P says to use a certain profile
-no-remote says to not talk to any existing FF installed on the system
FiftyNine is what I named the profile during install

5. Keep the network connection down
6. Use the new shortcut to start FF, then click Edit, Preferences, Turn off the option to check for updates, and set any other options you like.
7. That should stop it from trying to update in most cases. But be aware that if you ever click Help, About to check the version, doing so will cause it to look for the newest version and silently install it. Bastards.

Update: GAH! FF keeps finding ways to update even when I tell it not to. I’m beginning to really despise the developers. Dudes, I honestly don’t care what you want. I want my browser to work with all the sites I normally visit. FF 61 crashes consistently and you seem fine with that.
Update: Still crashes on 67.