Austin, TX – March 2016… When you play saxophone and flute in a 10-piece reggae group with a 4-man horn section, ‘blending in’ with the band can be easy. But what happens when you can’t clearly hear yourself and, hence, have difficulty articulating musical phrasing? This is precisely the challenge flute and saxophone player Donny Silverman used to experience routinely—due in large part to his inability to ‘crank up the volume’ like guitar and keyboard players routinely do. You can only play so loud before musicality is lost, but Silverman found the solution to this issue in the form of the ISOMAX 2 instrument microphone from Menlo Park, CA-based Countryman Associates.
“As a player of flute, alto, and tenor saxophones,” Silverman explained, “I first encountered volume issues when I began playing in blues, funk, Brazilian, Reggae, West African, and other types of bands. I grew tired of battling with people whose instruments had volume knobs; because all I could do was try to blow harder. Then one day—fed up with the frustration of not being able to play with nuance because of volume considerations—I bought the Countryman ISOMAX 2 and that solved the problem!”
“The ISOMAX helps level the playing field,” Silverman continued. “Being able to hear myself with clarity and precision not only makes playing music that much more fun, but it has made me a better player as well. At a very basic level, one might think the ISOMAX 2 is just a microphone—a tool of the trade. For me, however, it’s the channel through which the audience gets to experience my musical concept of beauty and emotional expression.”
As musicians and most music enthusiasts readily know, the saxophone can be quite loud, so finding a microphone that can handle high SPLs in close proximity and still convey the nuances of the instrument can be a daunting task. “I’ve experimented with several of the flute/saxophone microphones on the market and, regardless of price and regardless of the bells and whistles, the sound I heard and the sound I like was never faithfully conveyed until I found the ISOMAX 2. My Countryman mic captures my horn’s true sound—transparently—and doesn’t feed back. This makes it perfect for loud bands where an omnidirectional mic would feed back. The mic’s most musical quality is its colorless transparency. With the ISOMAX 2, the sound is all me, only louder.”
Silverman purchased his ISOMAX 2 roughly thirty-five years ago and he’s been a Countryman enthusiast ever since. “When I received the mic, I initially wondered about the thin little cable it comes with and if it would be strong enough to withstand the rigors of the road. Now—all these years later—I don’t wonder anymore. This setup has been rock solid. I also find the battery life of the BPM Battery Power Module to be very good. My ISOMAX 2 has proven itself to be extremely reliable. It’s a comfort to have equipment that I know I can rely on.”
Before turning his attention to his upcoming gig, Silverman offered these final comments about his experience with the Countryman ISOMAX 2, “Since I have the Hypercardioid ISOMAX 2, I use Phantom power if the sound system has it. Otherwise, or if I’m using effects, I’ll use my BPM Battery Power Module. Either way, this mic is a solid performer. In 1984, I played the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco with Townes Van Zandt, and used my Countryman mic. Well over a year later—maybe two—we played there again. The first thing the sound man asked me was, ‘Do you still have that little microphone? It sounded great.’ What better compliment could one possibly get than that of a sound tech’s memory!”
To learn more about Donny Silverman, contact him via email at [email protected].
About Countryman Associates
For more than 30 years, Countryman has focused on developing microphones and accessories that deliver maximum gain before feedback, with the highest possible rejection of wind, vibration, interference, and other unwanted sounds. The result is warm, clear vocals in speaking and singing applications, delivering natural audio reinforcement that requires almost no attention from the sound engineer or the performer. For additional information about Countryman Associates, visit the company online at www.countryman.com.
Photo Information: Donny Silverman