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Live and Loud - Feedback Please

Mr Mark

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To summarize my accordion microphone adventures in getting myself to a satisfactorily functioning state in a very loud rock/folk band I present to you the following;

I began by cannibalizing a working SM58 for the mic capsule and affixed it to the interior of the accordion at a suitable location; using a combination of screws, hot glue and bits of 30 gauge sheet metal fashioned into custom brackets. In terms of positioning I found it best to have it at the bass end of the treble side of the accordion - it really did give the best overall sound quality and has the added bonus of being able to disassemble the accordion without disassembling the microphone setup. I used an appropriate gauge of wire (I don't recall the gauge exactly but...it works!) and wired the capsule to a 1/4" female jack (a sealed jack - a lot of these jacks are not sealed and will allow air to pass through). All of the parts and supplies to do this are under $20 except for the microphone capsule. Total time to do the work is under an hour.

The rest of the system is all gear with no assembly required.

I use an Amoon guitar wireless system that cost about $80 https://www.ammoon.com/p-i4092.html

From here depending upon the situation the signal chain changes, but there are two basic scenarios I am prepared for.

1). If I am playing by myself I plug the receiver portion of the Amoon system into a 1/4" to XLR adapter (@10$) and then the adapter plugs into a TritonAudio FEThead ($115) inline microphone preamp ( https://www.tritonaudio.com/fethead) . This I plug directly into the first channel on an EXM Mobile ($650 new but much less used ;) ) ( http://yorkville.com/loudspeakers/excursion/product/exm-mobile/ ).

2). If I am playing with a band I insert a small mixer (@$100) into the chain before the EXM Mobile so I can better sculpt the sound to adapt to the other instruments, particularly bass. If a bass is present I cut my bass a lot - alternatively if one is not present I will boost the bass quite a bit.

The EXM Mobile is nice because it is lightweight to pack around, is loud enough to function as a stage monitor and has a XLR In/Out Link system which I effectively use as a DI for the soundman. The other thing that the EXM comes with is phantom power on all channels, which is required for the FEThead to function.

Total spent was about $750. Very minimal soldering and hole drilling was required. This is a very simple thing that anyone should be able to do with minimal tools and knowledge. The only issue I have encountered with this method is a lot of hiss due to the gain required for the 58 to pick up adequately all notes in the accordion. I am looking to see if there is such a thing as a more sensitive dynamic mic capsule out there, as well as adding a noise gate or mute switch for those times I am not playing to cut the hiss. But in a very loud band, this actually does not really matter!

The only other issues a person might face with this setup is finding enough room inside the accordion to actually fit the capsule and 1/4" jack.

Pictures for posterity, feel free to add any corrections or suggestions. For example there are only two wires coming from the capsule, when normally there are three - perhaps this should be done differently!? Dislcaimer - I am not a professional - attempt at your own peril and enlightenment!
 

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Mr Mark

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Bruce, feel free to add the above post, my pleasure!

JIMD - Great, why did I not think of that! I've definitely found multiple tapes leave multiple residues...

Jozz - I'll have to root around in storage where most of my things are next time and let you know what the length is, otherwise the treble side is still good to go. Thanks for all of your input on this topic!
 

AccordionUprising

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That's a great summary Mark. Funny that the ending was bare-bones after the long struggle. Notable I think is that the goal is to play loud in a loud band, not to perfectly project the richness of an acoustic accordion sound. Those seem to me to be almost contradictory. Neither is bad (to taste), but the answers for one don't serve the other.

If anybody compiles a resource on accordion amplification, the end goals should probably be one of the first questions.

So glad you got a good set up. I hope there's an answer for the hiss. Do they have automatic noise gates that cut off when the sound gets below the level where the hiss is audible? Not sure how that would impact things for rapid (quiet/loud) percussive playing.

Great work all.
 

jozz

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Pictures for posterity, feel free to add any corrections or suggestions. For example there are only two wires coming from the capsule, when normally there are three - perhaps this should be done differently!? Dislcaimer - I am not a professional - attempt at your own peril and enlightenment!

Two or three wire depends on the type of capsule/system you use. It's one or the other, more or less.

system 1: 2 pin capsule, 2 wire system --> signal is 'extracted' from the circuit
system 2: 3 pin capsule, 3 wire system --> signal travels on it's own wire

System 2 is preferred by many, and more expensive usually (eg. Musitech MT-04 (3 pin) vs. Musitech MT-06 (2-pin). I have used both but never found a lot of difference. Maybe when you really push the gain. In theory 3-pin is a cleaner signal.

For your dynamic capsule the 2 wires mean unbalanced signal. 3 wires out would be balanced. I guess you could wire it so but you would need a XLR chassis plug instead of the jack. Not really useful, because your wire out will not run more than a couple of metres (I guess).
 

Mr Mark

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UPDATE!!!

I have done some further digging and discovered at least one (of the three) wires sheered of at the (transformer?)...so I reconnected that wire, changed the chassis plug from a 1/4" to an XLR - and thus also have replaced my Amoon Guitar Wireless system with an Xvive U3 Wireless XLR system. The third wire has made all the difference. No more hum, much more clean signal gain! It would have been good to know sooner but apparently I was destined to learn some things the hard and slow way :cautious: .

Basically what I ended up with was a whole SM58 glued into the accordion with an XLR cable where one end became a chassis plug. And an XLR wireless system. This part of the operation if all components were purchased new would cost approximately 450$.

The XLR wireless system was a two way win for me as I am also using that in conjunction with another SM58 and my Tuba so I can freely wander about while playing that instrument as well. I think this is actually the end of the road for this - although again it would be nice to be able to have a low cut switch somewhere as the bass does usually overpower the treble...one thing I have thought to experiment with is different thicknesses of treble key bumper felt to hopefully add more volume by allowing the keys to open further allowing more flow of air - although I do realize that is a lot to ask and a lot of work rebending rods. I do know that adding bumper felt thickness made for a lot less key travel but too much reduction in volume. Perhaps I can similarly apply this to the bass side. Funny how all this sounds good mic'd with the mic in position but is different acoustically. A lot of balancing scales here.

I played one gig and it sounded good, although I did run into the problem of the wireless system not physically connecting very well with either the accordion or pa, so these items literally fell out later at some times during the set, doh! But simple fixes are the remedy soon enough (in he meantime it was ducktape)!

And so after all of that my bellows are really starting to fail and I need a replacement before I can use this accordion anymore...which leaves me with the issue of how to fit an entire SM58 inside my Lucia IVP...because to me this seems the way to go, definitely. The sound quality is really great for my needs, and really loud. Challenge accepted.
 

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Mr Mark

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Do you have one intact Midifisa system with 3 capsules? That is, not destroyed by a bad soldering job... ;) How long is the treble strip exactly? I might take it off your hands to replace my 2 capsule treble strip. Hopefully it is a direct replacement.

let me know

I don't know if you are still interested but yes, I do have one of these intact - but it is a 4 capsule version. All soldering connections are good. The strip itself is 11" but I would allow for at least 12" - preferably 13" as the wires come straight off the ends and will need space to curve in place.
 

AccordionUprising

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First I've seen a whole mic installed like that! Do you think it would work better/worse to just use the capsule from inside the mic? Maybe you tried that? I assume it would take some padding or something to equal the surroundings of being in a whole mic body?
 

Mr Mark

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First I've seen a whole mic installed like that! Do you think it would work better/worse to just use the capsule from inside the mic? Maybe you tried that? I assume it would take some padding or something to equal the surroundings of being in a whole mic body?

For simplicities sake and to protect fragile solder connections while glueing the whole ridiculous thing in I just found it easier to do this. Actually moreso the fact that the transformer appears to be heavily glued into the handle portion of the microphone and I didn't want to damage it trying to get it out. It also facilitated an easy connection with the XLR cable. The hard part was soldering onto the chassis plug but I am actually getting better at that so it wasn't too bad! If I ever want to restore the cable it will also be easy to do so.


In the very near future I will be sourcing a capsule small enough (and without the transformer) to fit in my Lucia - so will probably have to scour the pawnshops for mics with a set of calipers to measure (mic dimensions are hard to find online!)...it is perhaps possible to do this with another 58 but the margins of being able to fit one between treble and bass blocks when bellows closed are literally within a millimetre from what I can tell - I'll probably find this out tomorrow.

I have been wondering about the effectiveness of a hyper cardioid patterned mic instead of the 58 due to the fact it is centrally located. I also wonder that this might be a better way to go in the Lucia because of the fact there is so little room to fit a mic that a lot of reeds might suffer being drowned out by others...but I see by the this video it doesn't seem to effect things too badly so maybe I'm overthinking this...I have also noted the change in mic position of my latest glue job doesn't seem to be effecting the balance of sound...The high and low notes all come through well enough...

I have also thought if there isn't enough room I can possibly add room by expanding the bellows - the Lucia is a different setup that way and it may be possible...another thing to look into tomorrow seeing as how I'm already down this rabbit hole o_O
 

jozz

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I don't know if you are still interested but yes, I do have one of these intact - but it is a 4 capsule version. All soldering connections are good. The strip itself is 11" but I would allow for at least 12" - preferably 13" as the wires come straight off the ends and will need space to curve in place.

I am interested but I have only around 10 inch space in that small Unisella. SO no dice I guess.

I think I am simply going to solder in a third capsule on a tiny mount (hoping the circuit allows for that).
 

Mr Mark

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I have now managed to squeeze another entire microphone into another accordion - my Hohner Lucia IVP. This time I used a new Apex 775, and I can't tell a difference between it and the sm58 - except the price.
I did have to go back in and install a small rubber dampener between the mic grill and reed block to cut down some excess volume from a couple of the localized reeds, but it seems to have worked well enough for what I need. Balancing appropriate volume for all the reeds seems to be a largely impossible task anyway so I am learning to live with it...to that end these cheap dynamics do seem to do a better job than the other mic systems I have experimented with.

All told this setup cost me 50$ for the mic - 3$ for the chassis plug and money already invested for screws, sheet metal (step flashing for roofing from home depot for custom brackets - one piece has served me for three years at 55 cents) and hot glue. And a ton of time measuring to be sure it would fit - I have exactly 1 mm of clearance between treble and bass reed blocks at the end of the day. Again, this mic comes with a transformer glued inside so I found it easier to use the entire thing. Only gripe will be if I have a problem with one of the reeds...
 

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Mr Mark

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Forgot to add...this has been well tested in a very loud, small environment with success. I was able to run it through my EXM Mobile and then out into the PA alongside the rest of the Loud People and had to actually manage being TOO LOUD for once! YAY!
 

AccordionUprising

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I watched the video posted above again and the guy in it used the thumb of a leather gardening glove as a dampener. :) Just inserted the mic capsule into the thumb there, not the whole mic. He ordered the capsule somewhere cheap and soldered it up himself. It does seem like this is a pretty good setup for loud settings when you don't need perfect reproduction of quality handmade reeds or such.

Hey look (if it works here) the Accordion Emoji came out! 🪗
 

Ventura

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since this has popped up..

may i add that you can order the internal element from the famous
Green Bullet Shure Microphone, used by Harmonica players, directly
from SHURE parts dept.

this is a large diaphram, dynamic Mic (so it handles high pressure quite well)
and is very shallow in design (much easier to fit in an application like this)

i usually take an old rubber Innertube and make an envelope around such Mic element
so there is some vibration dampening, as you can then affix the rubber while
leaving the element floating, yet held in place

ciao

Ventura
 
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