JAZZWISE: "The advantages are so obvious one must ask why nobody has done this before!"
While there’s an increasing number of cabinet simulators to help guitarists achieve fairly realistic mic’d up sounds for live or studio use, a real microphone is still the most popular and effective method of extracting a guitar amplifier’s tone and transferring it to a PA or a DAW.
In the studio, if time allows, guitarists and engineers often experiment with different mic types and placement. However, for live work, time is a luxury and those rare, expensive studio microphones are kept in the safety of their flight case while sound engineers often deploy tried, tested and expendable standbys in front of guitar amps - usually a battered SM57 that’s done a few gigs too many.
At close range, microphone placement is a big variable to consider, with audible differences from a centimetre or two of movement, so all it takes is a small nudge to turn a great guitar sound into one that’s mediocre. It’s something that can easily be fixed in a recording studio, but on a live stage it’s a last-minute repair at the desk, leaving the guitarist with an onstage tone that’s less than ideal and resulting in a less involved performance.
So consistency from one night to the next is very desirable and now there’s a way to achieve it with the new IM integral microphone system from SamSystems.
The IM is a circular band of high-quality engineering plastic with a central moulding incorporating a high-quality super cardioid dynamic microphone capsule, designed to point at the right part of a guitar loudspeaker cone.
Installation is simple: the circular support has holes to fit nearly all standard loudspeakers, it’s just a case of removing the bolts holding the speaker to the cabinet baffle, fitting the IM over the cone and replacing the bolts.
The IM’s microphone terminates in a flush-mounted plate with an XLR chassis plug that can be fitted on the rear of any speaker cabinet.
We tried out the IM12 model ready-fitted to an Orange valve combo into a house PA system with impressive results: a clean and clear signal, with almost zero overspill and movement noise. While it works equally well in the studio, the stage advantages are so obvious one must ask why nobody has done this before!
A consistent sound, night after night, makes a FOH engineer’s job so much easier - if you travel with the same PA your channel will never need to be touched and all your crew need to do is plug in a lead. It also means one less stand to trip over, making a stage look cleaner and less cluttered.
If your cab has two or more speakers, you can fit two IMs and go stereo without running out of microphones.
Currently available for 10- and 12-inch loudspeakers for about the same cost as a decent mic, SamSystems’ IM is a no-brainer for any working guitar player, offering fit-and-forget peace of mind and great value for money.