To anyone with a passing interest in country music, British guitarist Albert Lee needs absolutely no introduction. From his early days with Chris Farlowe and the Thunderbirds, Lee has gone on to work with Eric Clapton, Emmylou Harris, Joe Cocker, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Everly Brothers and Bill Wyman – picking up a Grammy in 2002 for his performance on 'Earl Scruggs and Friends', and winning friends and admirers along the way for his breath-taking playing and self-effacing personality.
Lee is now fronting his own band Albert Lee and Hogan’s Heroes – and we caught up with the band’s FOH engineer Jim Williams, who describes touring with Lee’s new vocal microphones, the RØDE M1 and M2 models.
“On Albert’s voice we’d originally been using a well-known dynamic mic for some time, but it hadn’t really been doing his voice justice. He needs a lot of level in his monitors as he likes to sing off-mic at times and work the mic in a studio style, and we were struggling to get enough gain before feedback. We tried a number of alternatives without any real success until I bumped into a RØDE rep and described my problem to him – and he suggested trying the M1 and the M2.”
“The RØDE M2 is a handheld condenser mic and we’ve used that quite a few times when we have a nice theatre with really good monitors, and that allows him to sing off-mic a little bit. We can still get a very respectable amount of monitor level before feedback begins to creep in, and we get really nice clarity which suits his voice. Albert likes to hear a bit of upper-mid and top through the monitors because it helps him to pitch. So for venues with a particularly good rig the M2 is definitely the mic we put out, given the chance.”
Having got his hands on both models, Williams was keen to compare and contrast the pair:
But for most venues, it’s the RØDE M1 that tends to triumph - as Williams explains:
“I’d say for 75% of the gigs we use the M1. It’s got a nice warm, thick sound particularly in the midrange, and its frequency response is relatively flat over that critical midrange area. It just has a slight lift at the top end which gives it a lovely sheen. Essentially I’ll normally aim to run the mic flat, just occasionally pulling out a little bit around 250Hz, and a fractional lift at 10kHz through the FOH – nothing major. It’s always our go-to mic for Albert’s vocals now!”
The band are as ever touring tirelessly through Europe in 2012 – or if you can’t make it to a gig, check out their 2011 double live album ‘On The Town Tonight’.