Area Mic's- Hypercardioid

Hey- a couple of questions in this post. I'm designing Urinetown at my school, which is going up in a few weeks. We need to reinforce the actors. They aren't cutting it. The director does not want to use body mics unless it's absolutely necessary, and in that case this post will be unneccesary (although still beneficial for my own knowledge).

We have seven AT cardioid choral-type condensers, which I was thinking of using as area mic's. The problem with those is that the spread is too wide, not allowing (what with our placement) for much targeting capabilities. I need, for example, to pinpoint a couple of actors directly center stage singing to each other over two small ensembles just stage right and left of them. The cardioids will pick up the soloists, who are TOTALLY drowned out right now- or, whose lines are barely audible- as well as the people around them, which is not at all good.

I've been looking at hypercardioids and shotguns. I've heard something along those lines might work. Condenser. What I am puzzled by, however, is just how this would work. I know it has better noise rejection capabilities, but I don't know how successful something like that would be as an area mic. Any thoughts?

Also, shotguns are often supercardioid, I think. Different from Hypercardioid??

Lastly, any suggestions on mic's to check out for areas if it comes to that? Wireless will be fine if we need them, we can get the necessary gear, and I've got it all plotted out in case. But, the area mic's need to be fully explored before I can say for sure whether we need lav's (since the show then takes on a whole new element sound-wise, where every solo line with music behind it will be mic'd for the sake of consistency.)

Well, thank you for any responses, and I apologize if this is a bit convoluted- I'm fairly exhausted.



Active Member
From what i've worked with, with picking up soloists over ensembles, is fairly basic, but i'll put my two cents worth in anyway. I had an issue when I had mine as I only had some small uni-directional drop down choir mics at the time, but I went out and got a few shotgun mics, and hung them, pointing them in the general direction of where the singing was to take place, and they did pick up more of the voals and less of the instrumental, which allowed me to adjust levels in the mix and send a fairly consistent level of vocals over the FOH.

As an area mic though, a condenser would have to be considered for a few things. One is whether or not it has sufficient noise cancelling capabilities. Two as to whether it is able to pic up a good, solid level of consistant volume from one place, or whether it pics up unneeded atmospheric clutter. Three, as to what condenser it is.

Hey- thanks for the thoughts. What I'm talking about, though, is picking up two center-stage soloists over ensembles fairly close on either side singing pretty loud. So, cardioid choral mic's like our AT's won't cut it. I'm looking to pinpoint some much tighter spots, try to cut out some of the overpowering vocals on either side. The pit won't be too much of an issue with cardiods, but they would backfire if we used them.

So, I'm thining lav's will be the solution after all.
Can I half-hijack this thread and ask about using shotguns.

We have five shotguns here and I'd to put them into more regular use however although they are indeed very directional - I can't get much gain-before-feedback at all?

I'm thinking for choirs use normal mics for the frontrow and shotgun the men in the back rows (commonly drowned out) - I know you can just position the "normal" condensers to get an even spread by coming slightly top-down but that doesn't really cut it with gain-before-feedback.

Comments please about the best thing to do in this situation? I'd also be interested to hear about some great uses for shotguns in a musical etc.


Well-Known Member
There is only so much you can do when the basic problem is poor technique with the actors and their projection or singing.

Lavs for these two problem people probably would work best.
Shotguns could work, but you would really need to make sure your blocking is spot on ,since you are looking at needing quite a bit of off spot rejection. It is hard with a shotgun to get a very natural sound indoors. They work great outside and with video, but usually are not recommended indoors since the rejection of the reflected sound is typically high.

you would need to experimenting with placement, I would suggest hanging from above on a mount that you can lock down, having them mics forward and downward pointing, obviously the further away they are from the actors, the larger the pick up area. You might need to get the blocking altered a bit to get more isolation.



Active Member
Not that this will help you this time, but when I was in high school we didn't have access to any sound gear at all. So the director drilled us on projection. Nowadays I don't feel that I'm out of my place as an engineer by talking with the director, vocal instructor, etc. early and often about working on diction and projection with the actors.

On most shows that I'm on now, all the leads wear mics, and some of the bit parts as well. I always have a few pencil mics on the front of the stage for just in case, but really, it comes down to projection. If you put a condenser (sounds like hypercardioid is the flavor you want this time) on the front of the stage and the actors can't even project that far, then they're the one's who are going to look bad. People are likely to come hassle you about it however, so you'll need to polish up your best bit about throwing the best of your skills and equipment at the problem and just coming up short on raw materials (i.e. vocal input).

BTW, what are the chances that you could get the ensembles to lay off a bit. There's more than one way to skin a cat ya know.

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