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If most musicians have their guitars and drums, a singer just got his or her voice. But wait, don’t say ‘just.’ Having a great voice comes with many perks. Imagine going around the world just with your voice! Drummers and guitarists always have to worry about their instruments when traveling while a singer carries nothing – just his or her voice.
However, you will need some of the essential gigging equipment that able to amplify your singing voice to the audience. It means needing more than a great voice. As a treat, here are ten of the best and most useful music equipment that a singer needs to have a great gig.
But do you really need technical stuff for your music if you are already endowed with a great voice? Indeed! You will need a PA system and an acoustic-electric guitar or keyboard among others, to make tour gig much better. Are you ready to complete your must -gave gig equipment?
Must-have Live Sound Equipment & Tools for Gig Singers
1) PA Systems
A PA or Public Address Systems works as a speaker. It amplifies, connects, and distribute your sound to the public. It allows you to be heard. It is having a speaker but produces better sound. It is a complete set of speakers, phones, cables, mixers, and amplifiers in a smaller tool that you can easily bring around. There are different options and brands when it comes to a PA System that you can choose from.
Having a PA system is a great investment primarily to solo performers. If you have an unused room in the house, you can use it to set your PA system. It feels like having your own concert venue once you got it setup.
How do you usually set it up? It is pretty easy! Just plug your mic and instrument to a PA speaker. Add two regular speakers and a mixer, and now you got a setup that can give you great sound.
You might need a complete setup of the PA system for an on-stage or larger events. And you can use the portable PA systems for busking or gigging events.
Amps or amplifiers can make your sound stronger and better. It is often used in small venues where a full PA system is too much to setup. In choosing an amp, find a brand that comes with a tilt-back stand. That way, you can position the amp upward. This will allow you to hear yourself better while playing on stage.
For outdoor entertainment, choose a portable amp that can run on electricity and battery. This way, you can still use your amp even if you suddenly lose power during a gig. However, most of the standalone portable PA systems have a built-in amp with it. For smaller gig or busking, a small combo amp would be more than enough to cover the small ground of audience.
3) Wireless vs. Wired Microphone
If you love interacting with your audience by moving around and going down the stage, you need a wired microphone with a long cable or a wireless mic. With a wireless mic, you don’t have to worry about tangling cables and getting tripped on those cables while moving around. It will also look much cleaner and nicer if your stage doesn’t have cables lying around. It means total freedom on the stage if you have a wireless mic.
What is the downside? Of course, a wireless mic costs more, and if you have a number of wireless mics on the stage, it can cause interference with your in-ear monitoring.
As for some experts, wireless microphones can affect the quality of your sound and voice, especially when playing live. There are wireless systems that sound great with a 2nd tenor singer but don’t sound great with a soprano singer. With this in mind, it is best to test a mic first with your voice and instrument before paying for it.
Microphones play an essential role when you are recording or singing live. The quality of your voice that your audience will catch depends on the quality of your mic. A great mic with great quality will cost you more, yet its effect on your performance would definitely give you a great advantage.
4) Mic Stands
A mic stand is a great stage accessory. It can also give you the freedom to use your hands freely, such as to sing and play an instrument at the same time. You might think that mic stands are just simple stand, but there are varieties of mic stands out there too.
Consider the height design and materials it is made of. You might want to pick a stand with a steady base. Something that won’t go down when you start jumping on the stage.
5) Mixing Desk
A mixing desk serves as the central hub. It receives all the sound you make, and it is the place where you record, mix your sounds and tunes, process, and produce your live music.
The mixing desk is the place where you can set the volume level of your music, the tone, and where to make equalizer adjustments. It is important in making dynamic changes and routing as well. Newer mixer desks even come with built-in effects so you can do a live recording. All you need to do is connect your mixing desk to a computer.
The mixer desk or soundboard is connected to your mic. Whenever you sing, the sound will be sent to the mixer then to your speakers. When setting up, check the acceptable distance between your mixer and mic. The distance between your mixer and mic can affect the vocal style and volume you want to produce.
As you get to know your mixing desk and how to take advantage of its features, you should also play around with the different equalizers that come with it. Use and mix it to get the right match for your voice. Learning and understanding how these EQ settings can affect your voice are very important, especially if you will do a live performance.
6) Power Amplifiers
A power amplifier can make your sound stronger and more powerful. It amplifies the noise before it reaches your speakers. You can use an amplifier alone or with speakers. There are mixing desks with built-in amplifiers or speakers with built-in amps. Smaller venues often use speakers with built-in amps, while bigger concert venues use standalone amplifiers for added power.
7) In-Ear Monitors
During gigs, people get noisy and rowdy, and you might find it hard to hear yourself. One common solution is the use of floor monitors, while others prefer an IEM machine.
When performing, you need to be able to hear everything. You cannot perform blindly and just hope that you are doing the best thing. Floor monitors at the edge of the stage are okay, but you might find it distracting because it is another equipment in front of you. This is the advantage of in-ear monitoring.
If you love moving around while performing, an in-ear monitor can help you stay in line. If you use the in-ear monitor, you no longer have to worry about extra equipment on your stage such as floor monitors, there is less equipment on the stage, and it frees some space. However, the downside of using an in-ear monitor is the risk of interference and feedback, especially if you are using a wireless mic.
8) Floor Monitors
You can see floor monitors on the edge of every stage. It is always pointing towards the band, visible to the singer who often stands in the middle of the stage. This gives the band and the singer an idea of how they sound and how they are doing so far—having floors help performers and band with their pitching.
Setting up floor monitors is easy. Just connect it to your mixer or amplifier. Make sure to test the sound and that it won’t interfere with your other equipment like a mic. It shouldn’t give off feedback too.
9) Equalizer and other Rack Effects
Equalizers help you fine-tune your overall sound. You can connect your PA system and your monitors with your equalizer so you can easily make tweaks and changes in your sound. With this setup, you can tweak your sound, depending on your venue. This single connection will also allow you to fix problems easily, such as feedback issues and match frequencies.
For better sound effects, rack effects can be used to add effects like reverb, compression, or delay. Your rack effect can also be used to tune your guitars, drums, vocals, and other instruments.
10) Speaker / Instrument / Mic Cables
Most equipment such as microphones, piano keyboard, guitarist, mixer, loop pedals, and other music equipment are connected to PA systems via direct connections or cables. It is straightforward, easier, and provides a more stable connection. Cables should be checked regularly for damages to ensure glitch-free gigs. There are two major types of cable that you should know: balanced cable and unbalanced cable.
11) Media Players
The use of media players has improved in the last few decades. Nobody uses tapes and CDs anymore; hence newer media players no longer have a CD player or tape deck. Newer media players can now use laptops, tablets, or smartphones as song sources.
Always check your personal device and make sure that your music is saved ultimately. Some even use music apps like Spotify as their media source, which is very convenient because of the thousands of songs available for use.
12) Loop Station
A loop station is a device that allows you to cut and save a specific part of a song and play it in a loop or on repeat. You can record a song or a part of a song and use it in your loop station.
There are loop stations that can be used for overdubbing. Overdubbing is the process of adding a layer of sound to an original or recorded sound. You can also speed up a recorded sound or slow it down. Another common feature of a loop station is adding sound effects. You can also bend the pitch or change the tempo of a recorded song.
13) Mic Looper
A mixing desk has built-in effects that you can use, but having a Mic-Looper is also interesting if you want to produce a professional sound. It is easy and fun to use. With a Mic-Looper, you can suddenly find more things to improve when it comes to your vocal presentation. Just like the loop station, they are both the most helpful music equipment for the one-man-band singer or performer.
For example, a mic looper can allow you to record the chorus first of your song with a guitar. Now you can play that part on the background on repeat while recording the vocals.
14) Voice effects
Despite how good you sound, you should still try using a vocal effects processor. It comes with a plug for a mic and uses an XLR cable to connect the two pieces of equipment.
A vocal processor can help you add color to your vocals such as a subtle reverb or chorus or loop your voice. You can also add some special effects like hard tuning or robotic sound.
Modern musicians can alter their voices with different types of vocal effects such as delay, reverb, echo, and more. Knowing how to use voice effects can help a performer give a bad-ass performance!