It is amazing the few amount of information there is out there on the internet about vocals amplification. Most of vocalists and singers go for a set of good PA Speakers or even guitar and keyboard amplifiers to do the trick to overcome the drum set, guitar and bass volume and do the job in a band rehearsal or small live shows. But what exactly are we looking for when it comes to vocals amplification? Let’s get there first before we deal with the equipment
Best Amp for Vocals
Regarding vocals amplification you need to look for an amplifier which will give a good and clear sound with some basic flat frequency response. If it has a sharp frequency response like a guitar amp, your voice will probably not sound as good as possible because of the tendency for the amp to favor high frequency sounds, Hence, it might be unable to get the most of a regular singer’s register. If the amp has peaks on the frequency response, those will be caught by your microphone in the form of noisy feedback. To pick up the mid frequencies are the most important thing to keep in mind since the middle range covers most of the actual vocal work from your singer, so any amp system you are using needs to do this well. Too much bass won’t be needed as it will distort your voice and produce major feedback issues at a high volume operation.
Amps for bass, acoustic and keyboards are designed to work with flat frequency responses, so they will do the trick as a stopgap if you can’t afford better equipment yet. However, you should keep in mind that they were not designed specifically for singing purposes, but for others; so the controls may be just dead wrong for vocals equalization and may have peaks for that may cause feedback problems.
So, where can I get started?
1. The Microphone
Start with a decent microphone for live vocal, simple as that. You have to consider it as a long term investment since you will be using it every time either for live performance or studio recording. Industry’s standard is the well known Shure SM57-58. You may think of it as the Fender Stratocaster for microphones! The versatility and reliability is unpaired.
2. The Amp
The next thing you will need is an amplifier (amp from now on), which for vocals we call it monitor. Its main function, besides projecting your voice, is to provide you the opportunity to hear yourself when you’re performing. PA Speakers are the most popular choice because of their pricing and practical uses as monitors for other instruments.
Now that we got some basic information, we will get to know how the sound will be processed to get to the most optimal level for your studio recordings or live performances.
The preamps fulfill a simple task: to amplify the signal so it can be properly processed and equalized into the final mix or projection through the speaker of your amplification system. The experts agree on how impart this stage is in the signal chain, because of the many tailored benefits you could get from your vocals & microphone combination plus a good preamp system. We said “simple”, but it turns out to be more complex than it seems.
When it comes to recording your vocals, maybe the best option is to go for a single-channel preamp. One premium channel to do the best work possible for your vocals to shine is your best budget-wise choice to achieve a great sound for the right price. Even the audio experts agree on this one with this adage: Budget gear will typically do many jobs decently…but a high-end gear do ONE job exceptionally well
So here are six recommendations for you on high-end and single channel preamps that will surely get the most out of your vocals and microphones!
2.1: Best amp for vocals
- Grace Design’s m101 (See pricing on Amazon): Michael Grace’s company is out there since 1990, when he started with just a couple of high-end mic preamps it didn’t take long to become one of the great names of the industry. Improved from the popular Model 101 preamp, the m101 is built with the best components of the market. Besides the characteristic pristine sound, it also offers the “ribbon mode”, designed to protect the ribbon mics and make them perform at the top of their capacity.
- API’s 3124+ (See pricing on Amazon): When it comes to high-end preamps, you won’t find as many features as some budget models. In the front panel of the API 3124+ you will see 4 channels, with 4 DI inputs and all the standard buttons…and the great legendary sound you can only find in classic API consoles. This model will deliver an unmatched level of quality! If you can afford it, go for it!
- Solid State Logic’s Alpha VHD: This great company has expanded their line to include small products which offer the same quality they have always delivered since 1969. The Alpha VHD features the same preamp circuit found in their most known Duality console model. The controls include the Variable Harmonic Drive (VHD); adding a 2nd and 3rd order harmonic distortion to get a “tube” sound for the second one and a “transistor” tone for the third one, allowing you to blend it anyway you want it.
- True System’s Precision 8 (See pricing on Amazon): The best you will get in a money/quality relationship for an 8 channel console. Besides the incredible sound it can provide, it also offers a DB-25 output which allows you to send all the channels of analog audio through one single snake cable; mid/side encoding, allowing you to perform mid/side stereo recording on channels 1 and 2 without routing within your DAW; and a wide frequency range going from 1.5 Hz to 500k Hz.
- Universal Audio’s SOLO/610 (See pricing on Amazon): This little wonder features the same preamps we saw in the Putnam 610 console. The simple design holds just two connections: 1 XLR input and 1 XLR output, also featuring a standalone portable design.
- Avalon’s VT -737sp (See pricing on Amazon): The cavalry has arrived! More than just a mic preamp, the VT-737sp is a tube amp with sweepable EQ, opto-compressor, 3 inputs (mic, line, instrument), 4 input mode switches (hi gain, +48v, phase and filter), vintage VU meter, a bunch of EQ controls (4 bands, Q control, hi/low shelves) and 4 compressor controls (threshold, compression, attack and release). For the ultimate single channel preamp, this is the one to go for!