Boundary Mics

Johnreelsound

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Joined
Oct 26, 2007
Hi I am new to the site and I want to hear anyones experience of Boundary mics as I have a conference coming up where I need to record a number of people round a large table. Any suggestions?
Thanks John
 

jkowtko

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Jan 9, 2007
Location
Redwood City, CA
I'll second this request. I have not used boundary mics to date, but I would like to do something along the lines of the a poor man's version of Meyer's Constellation system -- something that allows me to mount area (mostly hanging but could be wall or prop mounted) mics to improve the sound delivery in the room just enough for comfortable hearing in the audience. I would like to use this for dramas and the dialogue portions of musicals.

Thanks. John (K)
 

BillESC

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Aug 29, 2005
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Kilmarnock, VA


The U841A delivers exceptionally intelligible audio reproduction in a super-compact, low-profile design. Equipped with UniGuard
 

museav

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Having been on several panel presentations, wireless lavs and SM57/58s on desk stands seem to be the standard, but for permanent installs you may want something better.

Unless you can get everyone to wear a headset or lavaliere mic, I personally prefer short goosenecks with the caridioid or even mini shotgun mic capsules for conference tables. Audio-Technica, Shure, AKG, Clock Audio and others offer these.

Flat mount boundary mics can work well, but have limitations in some conference table applications. One if the biggest is that they sometimes get inadvertently covered with papers, notebooks, etc., then people wonder why no one can hear them. People also tend to push low profile mics out of the way to set down their coffee or laptop and the users often don't realize they have a front, especially with the circular mics. If you try to cover too large an area with a boundary mic, such as an "omni" (actually only half omni since it's on a table) in the middle of the table you can start to pick up lots of extraneous noise. A gooseneck, even low profile, helps make people think "microphone" and they inherently know what it is and that they talk into the end of it.

There's a lot more to a Constellation system (or LARES or ERES) than multiple mics. Area mics can be very effective, but can also add a lot more work for the person mixing.
 

soundlight

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Oct 27, 2005
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NJ & NYC
I have only used PCC-160's for this, but they work very well for it. It's all that we have in our inventory that works for low-profile, table-mount pickup. And they're really great for it!
 

gafftaper

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The system designer for my theater said Crown PCC 160's. I've talked to several local audio guys and all agree they are one of the best all around boundary mics. Unfortunately mine don't arrive for a month so I can't tell you how well they work first hand.
 

kovacika

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Nov 6, 2006
PCC160's are awesome for long distance....roughly 15-20'. ive never used them for close range, but i assume they'd work just fine.
 

soundlight

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Oct 27, 2005
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NJ & NYC
From 3' away, they pick up people well in pairs, and if they're 5' away, they can get three people sitting at a table well.
 

museav

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The PCC-160 is a great stage floor mic and one of my favorite boundary mics, but it is actually the various PCC-130 and PCC-170 models that are the Crown PCC versions intended for conferencing and tabletop applications. I would still suggest looking at the application and whether boundary mics are the best approach. They may be a good solution, but may not be if there will be a lot of stuff on the tabletop.

Also consider that if you pickup multiple people with each mic, then you will get every comment, sneeze, cough, etc. from any of them. In some cases it may be preferable to have a mic for every one or two people and to be able to mute the mics of inactive participants.
 

icewolf08

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While the Crown PCC mics are great, it may be worth looking into the Crown PZM line. They are designed to work at optimum efficiency on surfaces like tables, and were designed with recording such things as conferences in mind.
 

David Ashton

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Sep 8, 2007
Location
perth W Australia
One common mistake with boundary mics is using too many of them, if you have them close together and as they are omni-directional you get phase cancellation which gives some weird results, so I suggest that 1 mic covering 20ft of stage is about right if you use them closer you get a "combing" effect which is uncontrollable, I know, I've done it.
 

avkid

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I suggest that 1 mic covering 20ft of stage is about right
20ft you say.
Which way would that be measured?
So that would mean that I should use one and a half mics in my space.
Horse hockey.
 

soundlight

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Oct 27, 2005
Location
NJ & NYC
I've always found that 10' spacing with PCC's is best. If they're used on a table, for panel speakers or such, just use the 3 to 1 rule and you'll be fine.
 

David Ashton

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Sep 8, 2007
Location
perth W Australia
Like most things acoustic there are few rules but some guidelines, the best method is trial and error until you find the best way for your space,I was pointing out a potential trap to be aware of with boundary mics if you have many live at the same time it can sound weird.
 

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