A word from
HOW IT ALL STARTED
For me, listening to a recording of jazz, and listen to a live jazz performance, have been widely different experiences, when it comes to the double bass.
In recordings in general, the natural sound of the bass has been recorded
and mixed with the other instruments to produce a good balance in
the sound picture.
In live performances, however, the challenge has been to make the double
bass audible at all. Different solutions have been used, from electric pickups where the string vibrates in a magnetic field, to pickups that react to the vibrations of the body of the bass. To get the most signal out of those
pickups, the bridge has been the most favorable place to apply them.
Out of the sound characteristics of different pickups, different styles of bass playing have grown. The pickups made it worth developing a very technical
way to play the bass. They also became a part of the bass player’s artistic identity. So, to close the circle, many bass players go to recording with the sound of their amplified bass, as this is how they are used to hear themselves.
All this is how it should be, and there is a dedicated society of musicians and engineers who constantly work with developing the ways to amplify the
double bass. Different pickups sound different, as basses sound different,
and bass players play differently.
However, in the last few years, there has been a movement back to a more natural bass sound. The use of so called “blending microphones”, where an acoustic microphone is mixed with the pickup, has been more and more common. And there are great microphones out there for this purpose, as well as mics that work well alone in recording situations.
But on stage, the limits of the acoustic microphone are set by its ability to suppress acoustic feedback.
The bass player often has to lower the acoustic blending microphone to a level where it almost doesn’t
matter if it is in use or not, or channel it through the PA system. But even then, the acoustic bass microphone
brings a lot of leakage into the PA, disturbing the clarity of the mix.
Musicians do all kinds of stuff, and I am not an exception. Through my experience as a recording engineer,
I have experimented a lot with different microphone characteristics, and I decided to try and combine these
experiences into one microphone, that would be able to avoid feedback, and record the natural sound of the bass.
A microphone that can function as a blending microphone with your pickup of choice, or work alone, in your bass combo, through the PA-system or both.
With the help of, and in close collaboration with, Pearl Microphones, an experienced microphone laboratory in
Sweden, I finally got a prototype – and I think it is safe to say that the capabilities of the microphone by far
exceeded my expectations.Not only can it work as a blending microphone, or a stand-alone microphone to your
bass on the stage, it also makes it possible to reverse the functions and use the pickup as the blending unit instead,
to add character to your bass sound, should that be your preference.
In the work with this microphone, I have had the sound of Chuck Israels as a reference and inspiration. His clear and percussive bass sound is powerful, yet transparent, and the microphone would have to be able to present the lowest notes without being blurred by interactions between the speaker and the microphone.
It was a great day for me when Chuck tried my microphone through his Acoustic Image bass combo,
and said: “Right now, I can’t tell the sound of my bass from the sound of the combo!”
When putting the microphone to the test, it does not only seem to be able to present the sound of a double
bass with sufficient volume on stage, it also seems to be able to present the unique sound of YOUR double bass.
All acoustic microphones feed back at a certain volume, and this microphone is no exception.
The important thing is if you can get a volume that makes the microphone work as intended,
and also in what frequencies feedback occurs. And I am honestly very pleased with the way
our microphone handles both volume, leakage and feedback.
As end words, I just want to say, that to hit the low notes with the Chuck Israels
signature microphone, is a treat that I wish every bass player to experience.
/Peter Axelsson, bass player and inventor