Portable voice amplifiers?

rreffner

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I play with an ukulele group, anywhere from 6 to 20, with 16 players on average. We play different venues. Retirement homes, Assisted Living facilities, and more upscale events. Often our voices are overpowered by the ukuleles. Any opinions on players using some of the various individual portable voice amplifiers. Wired or BT? Thanks
 
I would suggest you buy one and test it. Amazon has over the ear wireless ($99) and wired ($35) to the amp box. If it doesn't work well enough, returns are very easy. The wireless is listed as 18w, the wired is 10w. More watts is better. The leader of my group uses the same Bluetooth mic that comes with a receiver to her Fishman amp that works very well. You'll have to see if the small amp box will be loud enough, though if each of you uses their own, it could be loud enough.

Michael Kohan in Los Angeles, Beverly Grove near the Beverly Center
4 tenor thinline cutaway ukes, 3 thinline acoustic bass ukes, 5 solid body bass ukes
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I play with an ukulele group, anywhere from 6 to 20, with 16 players on average. We play different venues. Retirement homes, Assisted Living facilities, and more upscale events. Often our voices are overpowered by the ukuleles. Any opinions on players using some of the various individual portable voice amplifiers. Wired or BT? Thanks
KohanMike's suggestion is worth looking at, but be careful it doesn't make people play louder and defeat the purpose, I've seen it happen!
Before going down the amplification road, I would encourage the group to lighten up on the strumming, it's not a competition to see who can play loudest. An average 16 ukes played more softly should still provide plenty of volume, with the added bonus of more room for volume dynamics when required. A thing that I find with my group is that they tend to play and sing with heads tilted downwards towards the song sheet, thereby limiting their vocal projection.
Vintage
 
KohanMike's suggestion is worth looking at, but be careful it doesn't make people play louder and defeat the purpose, I've seen it happen!
Before going down the amplification road, I would encourage the group to lighten up on the strumming, it's not a competition to see who can play loudest. An average 16 ukes played more softly should still provide plenty of volume, with the added bonus of more room for volume dynamics when required. A thing that I find with my group is that they tend to play and sing with heads tilted downwards towards the song sheet, thereby limiting their vocal projection.
Vintage
Just thought of another way to avoid potential amplification wars. Maybe some folks could fingerpick, play arpeggios or strum on alternate beats instead of in unison.

My group used to practice in rooms that had amps, drum sets & PA systems; sometimes the group next door would be sooooo loud, it was loud even in our room. When their door opened, it was a wall of distorted sound emanating from the room & couldn't hear anything but noise. Your group wouldn't get so extreme, but this is an example of amplifier wars getting out of hand. The guy that ran the place liked us cuz we showed up on time & didn't steal stuff.
 
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Sometimes when playing with a large group, you can't hear your instrument very well. So you start to play a little louder. Then other people start to play louder. Then you play even louder... It can get cyclical quickly.
 
I think y'all (or I) are missing the point of the OP.

When everyone is singing and playing, that is what it is. No amplifier is needed.

When all are playing and "one or a select few" are singing and need to be heard, then they need to gather around a single mic and "be the stars."

True also though, is that when the "stars" are singing and everyone else is singing too, trying to amplify "the stars" will likely end in disaster.

Think like any chorus (group) where a single voice (instrument) needs to be heard. Everyone else backs off, hums, or stays silent during that passage. Then, let 'er rip!
 
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Good point! It seems as though lots of groups play at one level (usually loud). Introducing dynamics would help with the volume issue without adding electronics to the mix. At the same time, could also vary the tempo to make it more interesting.
 
I think y'all (or I) are missing the point of the OP.

When everyone is singing and playing, that is what it is. No amplifier is needed.

When all are playing and "one or a select few" are singing and need to be heard, then they need to gather around a single mic and "be the stars."

True also though, is that when the "stars" are singing and everyone else is singing too, trying to amplify "the stars" will likely end in disaster.

Think like any chorus (group) where a single voice (instrument) needs to be heard. Everyone else backs off, hums, or stays silent during that passage. Then, let 'er rip!
Well observed. When a big group plays and sings in unison, it's often a bit of a sonic mess.
I've been trying with my group to introduce the idea of one or two lead singers for a song, with the rest of us coming in when appropriate. Something like this; " Johnny and Mary, could you take the lead for this song. Jim and Ann could you come in backing vocals at the end of the 2nd and 4th lines of the verses and the rest of us will all come in on the choruses."
Nothing too complicated but to some this is an alien concept so they sing everything regardless, this of course encourages others to join in so the idea of creating dynamics in the song is lost.
Sometimes it feels like trying to herd cats and I have to remind myself that we are together for a bit of fun and not come across all school master and authoritarian.
Vintage
 
I particularly like the idea of a siren being included. Might just help get the attention of those people in the audience or still looking at the menu. One curious description, however got my attention. Look at capacity. Apparently it is utilitarian enough that you can bring along your fishing gear…
  • CAPACITY: 32 tackle compartments with 13 removable dividers. Flip-top lid accessory compartment and increased base storage volume for bulk tool storage
 
I particularly like the idea of a siren being included. Might just help get the attention of those people in the audience or still looking at the menu. One curious description, however got my attention. Look at capacity. Apparently it is utilitarian enough that you can bring along your fishing gear…
  • CAPACITY: 32 tackle compartments with 13 removable dividers. Flip-top lid accessory compartment and increased base storage volume for bulk tool storage
Notice the statement, "Pyle Megaphone Speaker PA Bullhorn... Built-in Siren & 800 Yard Range for Football, Baseball, Hockey, Cheerleading Fans & Coaches or for Safety Drills"... then shows a child with it directed at her ear!
 

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My suggestion would be to go a bit further and get something really effective, a small PA system. I really like the Fender Passport, which comes in a variety of sizes. You'd probably want the very smallest. Two SM57 microphones for lead vocals, two microphones stands and two microphone cables, and you're all set. Sound quality is very good.

I know Yamaha and others make similar "all-in-one" systems.

Or you could do this:



(Not serious)
 
One suggestion before the amp wars. Sit in the audience one of the times and confirm the voices are being overpowered.
A lot of times you think you are being overpowered because you can't hear yourself, but the audience can.

Another suggestion is that the people singing, stick to singing, not playing also. Otherwise when you amp your voice, you are likely to amp your instrument too to an extent. Making the others want to raise their uke volume to keep up with the sound of yours anyway.
 
Notice the statement, "Pyle Megaphone Speaker PA Bullhorn... Built-in Siren & 800 Yard Range for Football, Baseball, Hockey, Cheerleading Fans & Coaches or for Safety Drills"... then shows a child with it directed at her ear!
Yeh, it looks like there’s some real marketing savvy at play here!
 
I play with an ukulele group, anywhere from 6 to 20, with 16 players on average. We play different venues. Retirement homes, Assisted Living facilities, and more upscale events. Often our voices are overpowered by the ukuleles. Any opinions on players using some of the various individual portable voice amplifiers. Wired or BT? Thanks
This is probably way beyond what you were asking for but here goes: Maybe some folks could play percussion (cajon, shakers), guitar, harmonica or as KohanMike did, convert to bass. This would spread out the sound & provide variety to the group's sound. I've found that bass players fill in the low end and are welcomed by almost every ukulele group.
 
Notice the statement, "Pyle Megaphone Speaker PA Bullhorn... Built-in Siren & 800 Yard Range for Football, Baseball, Hockey, Cheerleading Fans & Coaches or for Safety Drills"... then shows a child with it directed at her ear!
Man, this picture is so funny. The kid loves it. It’s like it’s a seashell.
 
We use them when we play in a room where we don't need to amplify. Mine's corded, because I don't trust the cordless ones. Don't get the mic to close to the speaker, it'll go off like a fire truck siren! And always charge it up for a few hours right before the gig.
 
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