Wednesday, February 3, 2010

My Front & Center Harp Microphone

After reviewing the Front and Center Mics a few weeks ago I finally ordered one for myself. It arrived today.

Holy Shit! It sounds better than I remember.

First, the feedback rejection: When I compare it directly with my (formerly) favorite gig mic -- a Greg Heumann-modified Peavey Cherry Bomb bullet with Shure CM element -- the F&C mic has the same perceived volume at the same amp settings. BUT... when you crank it up the F&C mic does not start feeding back until you get to stupid levels. Seriously, the Peavey mic starts ringing at 6, while the Front & Center mic didn't ring until 10.

(I used my Mission 5F2H custom harp amp for this test. The volume goes to 12. I didn't use any effects on the amp or on the recording. I did the test in my office at home.)

Next, the tone: My Peavey bullet is a very good sounding harp mic. The problem it has --and which it shares with all Shure CM/CR microphones -- is that it is a feedback magnet and it can be muddy. In A/B tests at the same perceived volume the F&C mic sounds crisper without being brighter. It's more defined. The notes seem to jump out of the amp and spin around the room.

Here is a clip of me noodling around with the mic this afternoon right after it arrived. Here is a clip of Ronnie Shellist playing his Front And Center Mic and Bassman amp when we did the review. As you can see from the photos, the mic is beautifully finished. The wood is Cocobolo, and I selected a semi-gloss finish.

In this photo you can see the on/off button I asked Scott to install on the mic. I can tell by the feel of the button if it is on or off. I use volume controls mostly as on/off switches anyway, so I didn't want one.

These microphones sell for only $165.00, which seems ridiculously low. The performance is truly astonishing. If you are having feedback issues, don't spend a fortune on an expensive, complicated device that robs your tone. Try one of these first.

The Blues Harp Amps Blog gives its highest recommendation to Front & Center Microphones. This is the best blues harp microphone I have ever played.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I received a discount on my purchase of the Front & Center microphone.


Arnenym said...

Hi Rick.
I have a front and center mic but i can't agree with you.
It sound dark and have a strong output but its not as feedbackresistant as you say.
Okey i can hold it in front of the speaker and it dont feedback but as fast as i cup it.... -It starts to send in feedbacktones in my amp and i sound out of tone...
It seems like it is made in a big hurry and the handicraft aint good.

Rick Davis said...

Wow, Arnenym, I am really surprised! The F&C mic I have is beautifully made is the bet mic I have for low feedback.

What amp are you using? What are your settings? Have you compared it to other mics with the same amp?

F&C offers a 14-day return policy if the you don't like the mic, by the way...

Arnenym said...

Yeah, but i bought one who is used. I cant send it back. It must be a mistake somewhere. Its like it done when he was very tired or something.
My amps is:
I use a 5F2H, A special version of a 5E3, a LTD Bassman with a MarkB mod, a Elektrofon PA-Head and 2-3 homemade amps.
My mics:
I have a couple of Shure CM's and CR's and 2-3 Astatic chrystals and ceramic mics. A 545 Ultimate and a Custom blowsmeaway wood mic.
This is not the worst mic i have, but it's certainly dont my best mic.