Emily Saliers (left) and Amy Ray
Photo: Jeremy Cowart
The Indigo Girls (Amy Ray and Emily Saliers) are back out on tour with front-of-house engineer Brian Speiser, who discusses the challenges of miking the duo’s instruments.
Front-of-house engineer Brian Speiser
“The Indigo Girls play some of the most beautiful-sounding Martin and Gibson acoustic guitars. The problem I faced was making the pickups in their guitars sound like the front of their guitars. I experimented with placing different boutique condenser mics in front of their instruments—clamped to their mic stands—but this was quite unsightly from an audience perspective. Even worse, I rarely had enough gain before feedback that would enable me to get the warm wood sound I was looking for.
“The [band] did a show in Alaska a couple years back and the house had a pair of Earthworks SR30s. While they were too big for our purposes, I tried them and was absolutely blown away by their capabilities. Their cardioid pattern provided so much headroom that I could turn the mics up louder without picking up as much crowd noise or much of the sound from the stage monitors. This discovery led me to investigate what Earthworks options might exist that would deliver comparable performance, but with a low-profile form factor, and this led me to the Earthworks P30/Cs.
“With the tight pattern and full range sound of the P30/C, I’m able to get a lot of clean guitar sound with very little bleed from other stage or crowd noise. These mics can barely be seen, and with their goosenecks I’m able to position them closer to the instruments than I’ve ever been able to in the past. I then blend the sound acquired with the P30/C with the sound coming from the guitar pickups. By combining them, I’m able to achieve a guitar sound comparable to those on their recordings.”