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idchafee
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Microphone question

Tue May 24, 2016 10:59 am

OK I'm putting this here because its audio.

I was suckered into doing the sound board for my daughter's Jr High play. They have some wireless mics that clip on their collar, those are fine. For the kids that don't have mics clipped to them, they also have two corded mics, and that's what my question is about.

In past years, they had these mics on a stand on each corner of the stage. It was a good 15-20 feet away from the kids talking most of the time, and wasn't very effective. When I got involved, I bought some longer mic cables, grabbed the scissor lift and hung them down from the ceiling directly over the kids' heads. That seems like it works a little better, but the mics they have now are (I believe, from the googling I have done) unidirectional, so they only really pick up well when the kid is right underneath it. I think what I want is a couple omnidirectional mics, they would pick up sound from the sides better, and with no onstage monitors I don't think there would be much feedback concern.

So my question is, does anyone here have any sound experience, and could maybe recommend a nice omnidirectional mic? I'm not overly concerned about price - the drama dept has some $ in the budget and I can make up the difference if needed. I just want people to be able to hear these kids, they work too hard on this to not be heard.
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Re: Microphone question

Tue May 24, 2016 11:16 am

If you're set on the microphones handing down above, perhaps something like this would be better suited. I'm pretty sure that there is a model more attuned for stage production but you'll get the basic idea.

As for the microphones themselves, if they're a professional model from like Shure you may just be able to swap the element for an omnidirecitonal unit.
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idchafee
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Re: Microphone question

Tue May 24, 2016 12:37 pm

the wrote:
If you're set on the microphones handing down above,


I'm not married to the idea, it just seemed to be an easy way to get the mics closer to the kids. Would something else work better?
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chµck
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Re: Microphone question

Tue May 24, 2016 6:25 pm

For most live-sound use, you don’t want an omnidirectional model
Without knowing where the kids will be or if they are moving around a lot or not, I think setting up a few cardiod mics would be preferable to omnidirectional mics, since you could get a better sense of stereo sound (if that's important to you).
Image
As for microphone recommendation... the shure sm58 is maybe the most popular microphone for on-stage vocals
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Re: Microphone question

Tue May 24, 2016 10:21 pm

chµck wrote:
Without knowing where the kids will be or if they are moving around a lot or not,


They will, its a play, with all the corresponding activity. last year's production was Midsummer Night's Dream, and there was quite a bit of activity up there. Very little to no music, almost all spoken dialog.

chµck wrote:
I think setting up a few cardiod mics would be preferable to omnidirectional mics, since you could get a better sense of stereo sound (if that's important to you).


I don't think it is. I mean, its almost all spoken dialogue, where I don't think stereo really comes into play. The little music that is played, isn't sung and I pump that through my iPad directly to the board. Now watch as soon as I say that, next year's play will be a musical. :lol:

That diagram is interesting. It says that the mics should be 2-3 feet in front of the 1st row of singers. But what if there is no 1st row and all the action in a given scene is taking place in the 3rd row, maybe with occasional movement to the 2nd or 1st row as the script dictates? Or even off to the extreme left or right? This last play, one of the pivotal scenes took place way over to the left side of the stage, probably between row 2 and 3 in the diagram. Since I can't plant mic stands on the stage (where the 2nd row would be), isn't hanging it above still my best option?

I think my biggest want is a sensitive microphone that will pick up well over the widest possible area, and not be prone to feedback. Heck I'm not even sure I care all that much about the sound quality - if people can hear and understand the lines, I call that a win. I swear some of these kids are so loud when they're goofing off before rehearsal, then proceed to carry on a mumbling conversation with their shirt collar once its time to go onstage.
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chµck
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Re: Microphone question

Tue May 24, 2016 11:20 pm

Well the diagram is just giving an example of the ideal cardiod microphone setup, given their range of 120 degrees, if setting up for a choir.
I agree that your best bet would be to hang the microphones from the ceiling. Depending on how big the stage is, 3-4 should be sufficient to cover the entire stage.
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Re: Microphone question

Tue May 24, 2016 11:24 pm

You want a stage floor mic. Or, to be specific, several (depending on the stage size). You don't want hanging mics as the thing you are trying to capture, voice, is going forward, not up. You will start at a disadvantage is the gain will have to be higher and you will get a lot of reflected an non directional sound (footsteps or other general stage noise) that will be much louder relative to the actors than it should be.

Here is a decent enough FAQ: http://www.bartlettaudio.com/pages/faq-stage-floor-mics

Note, I am not an audio engineer, though I can run a mixing board when push comes to shove....

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Re: Microphone question

Wed May 25, 2016 1:05 am

Most mic.s aren't that unidirectional (even a lot of "shotgun" mic.s aren't that directional, despite claiming it by virtue of being "shotgun" mic.s). A directional Cardiod mic has almost a constant pressure "pick-up" +/- more than 30 degrees (from the center of the mic). From there you can increase the field by increasing the distance from the "source"/kids - in other words raising it higher.

It sounds like what you really need to do is raise the mic. higher and apply more gain (increase loudness - though be wary of distortion) - and perhaps utilize a compressor:

http://manual.audacityteam.org/man/compressor.html

You can even approximate the field coverage of the mic., place it centrally to the stage, and then move it up to expand the coverage area to suit.


BTW, the wavelength of the spoken voice is long enough that it is largely "omni" as it diffracts around the speakers head and body. Percussive speech sounds (ex. "ch" in chair) however can be directional depending on how high in freq. they are. Those higher freq.s mostly add in source direction-detection which is not desired (generally), but can also add in intelligibility which is desired.
 
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Re: Microphone question

Wed May 25, 2016 9:13 am

SecretSquirrel wrote:
You want a stage floor mic. Or, to be specific, several (depending on the stage size).


I thought about that, but the "stage" is really a bunch of risers with their legs duct-taped together. So there's a decent amount of "stage noise." They make footsteps sound louder, they make noise when the kids move around on them, etc. And when the dancers get out there, hoo boy. I'm worried that a stage mic would pick up that noise more than the voices. But maybe if I made some sort of platform for the mic to sit on, independent of the stage? Hmmmmm......

SecretSquirrel wrote:
Note, I am not an audio engineer, though I can run a mixing board when push comes to shove....


*fist bump* same here. But I work cheap (read: free).
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Re: Microphone question

Wed May 25, 2016 12:35 pm

I have audio experience, but I don't do stage micing for a living.

Honestly, I wouldn't worry about this brand versus that. Mics vary because some sound darker, others brighter. And some sound cleaner, others sound more colored. But price isn't always a direct correlation to better quality. And when it is, most people don't notice. I certainly wouldn't when watching a stage full of kids. So don't be afraid of cheapo brands like MXL and others if they fit your needs.

When you said omnidirectional, I was thinking feedback. Certainly more potential for it, anyway. Depends how loud the kids are, how loud you need the end result to be, and how distant the PA speakers are. Good that you noted there aren't floor monitors.

Adding more mics means a lower feedback threshold. There's even a formula for it: doubling the number of open mics brings you 3dB closer to feeding back. But if you have more mics, that implies closer proximity to each kid and therefore lower gain.


Let us know what you decide and how it goes.
 
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Re: Microphone question

Wed May 25, 2016 1:04 pm

Milo Burke wrote:
Adding more mics means a lower feedback threshold. There's even a formula for it: doubling the number of open mics brings you 3dB closer to feeding back. But if you have more mics, that implies closer proximity to each kid and therefore lower gain.


I can only deploy two mics without having to modify the board, and that is way beyond what I want to do. So I want to get the most bang for my two-mic buck. When I was using the band dept mics this year, I had the gain damn near maxed out, and the volume cranked pretty high too, and I wasn't getting what I wanted, but I also wasn't getting feedback. The more I think about it, the stage mic thing might be my best bet.
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Re: Microphone question

Wed May 25, 2016 3:15 pm

idchafee wrote:
I can only deploy two mics without having to modify the board, and that is way beyond what I want to do. So I want to get the most bang for my two-mic buck. When I was using the band dept mics this year, I had the gain damn near maxed out, and the volume cranked pretty high too, and I wasn't getting what I wanted, but I also wasn't getting feedback. The more I think about it, the stage mic thing might be my best bet.

You can get an Alesis MultiMix 4-channel for about $100, which will mix two mics into one output. Two of those and 4 inexpensive unidirectional mics on short stands would cover the entire stage front, and then bring the two outputs into the main mixer. Total including some Monoprice cables: $500.
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Re: Microphone question

Wed May 25, 2016 3:23 pm

What are the microphones in question?

As for microphone recommendation... the shure sm58 is maybe the most popular microphone for on-stage vocals

The Shure SM58 is a great dynamic mic, but it's a really bad choice unless the students are going to hold it to their mouths to speak. It doesn't sound like they are. This is a job for condensers (assuming you can get phantom power to them).

A stage isn't a choir, exactly, but the same principles apply:

http://www.audixusa.com/docs_12/about/v ... hoir.shtml

Two microphones above the performers, pointing down at separate portions of the stage. I'd start with placing them so that they both face sort-of towards the center of the stage, about 1/4" of the distance in. So if the stage is 20' wide, place the microphones 5 feet from the edge on both sides. You might find most of your speaking parts are constrained in a certain area so you could bring them in - or you might have to bring them back out.

Condenser microphones with big pickup patterns (large cardoid preferred) will do the trick. You'll get background/non-direct sound, but that's Just Going To Happen.
Last edited by derFunkenstein on Wed May 25, 2016 3:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Microphone question

Wed May 25, 2016 3:25 pm

Just tell the kids to speak louder.

I mean, a man spends half his lifetime telling them to just g****mn BE QUIET FOR A MINUTE, they'll be sure to appreciate the gesture.
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Re: Microphone question

Wed May 25, 2016 4:02 pm

[quote="chµck"]
Image

This diagram is likely illustrating the 3:1 rule where you need to have you mics 3 times the distance from each other as they are to the talent to avoid comb filtering effects. More mics is not better.
Likely from this web page or similar: http://blog.shure.com/how-to-mic-a-choir/

I would consider mounting the two mics on the stage floor. What you are creating is a boundary or PZM mic basically.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boundary_microphone
http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0247/3 ... 1.pdf?1581
http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0247/3 ... 0.pdf?1690

You can give this a try with your existing mics. What I would do is make a couple 12 to 18" square pieces of plywood. Simply mount the mics on top of that....tape is your friend here. You can get some isolation from the stage with a piece of carpet placed between the two. Give it a try....you are only out a quarter sheet of plywood and some time. You may still notice too much foot noise.

If you were going to still purchase something, I'd look at some of the small hanging choir mics like this:
http://www.audio-technica.com/cms/wired ... index.html
They are small so you can hang them close to your talent without being a large object in the way. Still keep the 3:1 rule in mind as you choose quantity and placement.

My final comment is that there is no magic a mic can do here. You simply must get the mic close to the talent to get enough sound level. And/or ask the actors to speak louder(good luck).
 
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Re: Microphone question

Wed May 25, 2016 6:54 pm

idchafee wrote:
I can only deploy two mics without having to modify the board, and that is way beyond what I want to do. So I want to get the most bang for my two-mic buck. When I was using the band dept mics this year, I had the gain damn near maxed out, and the volume cranked pretty high too, and I wasn't getting what I wanted, but I also wasn't getting feedback. The more I think about it, the stage mic thing might be my best bet.


The stage mic might work out well - but it has it's own set of problems. Read up on it a bit more before making a decision. :wink:


Your biggest problem appears to amplification. Specifically the amount of amplification from the mic. The mic.s you have though could be exceedingly inefficient - but that's pretty rare.

Note that when you add-in a mic pre-amp that you need to be wary of the input on the accompanying amplifier/sound reinforcement-speaker. Some can handle higher gain, some can't. The amplifier should of course have it's own "volume" adjustment that should help things.


-the only other thing I can think of is if the mic.s you do have are cardioid and you have them oriented wrong (relative to the capsule and the sound source you want to record).
 
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Re: Microphone question

Thu Apr 06, 2017 12:40 am

Ceiling mics would be the great option for you. Heard good things about Audix M70. The MXA910 from Shure may also be the way to go.
 
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Re: Microphone question

Wed Apr 26, 2017 2:33 pm

ludi wrote:
You can get an Alesis MultiMix 4-channel for about $100, which will mix two mics into one output. Two of those and 4 inexpensive unidirectional mics on short stands would cover the entire stage front, and then bring the two outputs into the main mixer. Total including some Monoprice cables: $500.


https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IPF9DX2/re ... UTF8&psc=1

Is that what you're talking about? I'm kind of confused, I only see two mic ports on that thing. What am I missing?
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Re: Microphone question

Wed Apr 26, 2017 2:51 pm

idchafee wrote:
ludi wrote:
You can get an Alesis MultiMix 4-channel for about $100, which will mix two mics into one output. Two of those and 4 inexpensive unidirectional mics on short stands would cover the entire stage front, and then bring the two outputs into the main mixer. Total including some Monoprice cables: $500.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IPF9DX2/re ... UTF8&psc=1

Is that what you're talking about? I'm kind of confused, I only see two mic ports on that thing. What am I missing?

Nothing, that's what I see also. If your mics are XLR balanced, you would need two of those mixers. I noted in a previous reply that you only had two available inputs on your main mixing board, so that might be one way to get four mics to two main inputs.

Although, in the past year since this thread was opened, options have improved for cheap mixing hardware:
https://www.amazon.com/Behringer-Premiu ... 83&sr=1-10
https://www.amazon.com/Behringer-Xenyx- ... 83&sr=1-14
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idchafee
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Re: Microphone question

Wed Apr 26, 2017 4:37 pm

ludi wrote:
Although, in the past year since this thread was opened, options have improved for cheap mixing hardware:
https://www.amazon.com/Behringer-Premiu ... 83&sr=1-10
https://www.amazon.com/Behringer-Xenyx- ... 83&sr=1-14


OK, talk to me like an idiot, because I am. I see the 4 mic-in ports, got that part. How can I link this board to my main board? It has mic in ports, would I need an adapter to connect the line out on this to the mic in on the main board?

Sorry for being a moron. :oops:
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Re: Microphone question

Wed Apr 26, 2017 4:45 pm

idchafee wrote:
ludi wrote:
OK, talk to me like an idiot, because I am. I see the 4 mic-in ports, got that part. How can I link this board to my main board? It has mic in ports, would I need an adapter to connect the line out on this to the mic in on the main board?

Sorry for being a moron. :oops:

Have the mic preamp sum to mono, then use a 1/4" patch cord from the mono output to a 1/4" input on the main board (or XLR, if you opt for the model with XLR outputs). You'll have to mix the mics separately from everything else, but unless your main board has 48v phantom power, that's just going to be how it is.
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