Condenser Mics for Madrigal Dinner


My HS is doing a Madrigal Dinner. Last year I was able to borrow mics and set them in front of all 15 characters. This year we will not be able to borrow them and the cost to rent 15 mics is to expensive. I was thinking about renting some condenser mics. Our stage is 30ft wide. How many mics would you suggest using.
i would say you should look for some PZM mics they are ment for wide angle picup's (they work great for choir, stage nosie, and tap danceing. if you have the budget i would say use some nice vocal mics for your soloist.

hope that helps
By "condenser" I assume you meant "choir", since condenser only describes the way the mic works and not it's sensitivity.

Of course, it all depends on how well you need to pick up the 15 people. I would suggest renting one choir mic and seeing how far away from the vocalists you can set it and still get the kind of sound that you want. Then just divide that number into 15 and viola! You know how many mics to rent.

I've never actually had a PZM mic to play around with, but I wonder about the amount of speech they could pick up and manage to convert into intelligable sound...::shrugs::

C. Rutherford
Audio technician, Point of Grace
Waukee, Iowa
You DO NOT want a standard PZM*, which is omnidirectional. You want a cardioid boundary microphone, the most common of which is Crown's PCC-160 (PCC=Phase Coherent Cardioid), although there are others out there. Some guys prefer to use a standard appropriately sensitive small condenser, and then mount it at the floor to get a boundary effect that gives you the same end result as a PCC, but with a (depending on the mic) better sound.

The PCC-160, while not the best boundary mic out there, is the most common, and is pretty good for most jobs. It could work for this gig, but...

The KEY with boundary mics is to not think that you can just leave all of them up and let people talk. If you do that, you'll end up with all sorts of phase cancellation. They need to be actively mixed, just as wireless mics would. The engineer needs to follow the action onstage and ride the faders to match which mics are nearest the action. Ideally, you want no more than one mic at a time up, but it can vary depending on the action onstage. In all honesty, mixing floor mics well is harder than mixing wireless, IMHO.

For your application, they could work, but they won't sound like close mics can, since they're more suited to subtle reinforcement (which, if you were using lavs, would be the ideal goal, too, although lavs can do that loud close mic sound, too, of course).

On a typical proscenium stage, I recommend going for an odd number, typically 3 or 5 depending on the width of the stage and the blocking. Why an odd number? Because this tends to align with where much blocking happens more often than an even number would...lots of action is usually blocked at center and at odd spacing centers, just because things usually look more balanced this way. By having mics on those centers, you're more likely to be directly on-axis of a mic instead of split between two.

Best of luck,

*-Which, btw, is a specific brand name for Crown's version of an omnidirectional boundary microphone (so called because it takes advantage of the boundary, or "pressure zone", effect, which is what happens when a microphone is placed directly on a reflective surface, and the reflection of the sound hits the microphone perfectly in phase and at the same level as the direct sound, resulting in a doubling of level at the microphone)
I think you will really have to play arround and test with the kind of mics you get. Alot of my recording is done with groups of 100 or so people, sitting in a big square or rectangle, about 25 people on a side, four or 5 rows deep. the past few times, a friend has brought two REALLY nice microphones (i have no idea on the brand or model, i am told they were both at least $600 on a really really good sale) but they were both switchable omni, uni, and supercarteroid pickup. I set both of these up, and mixed heavly back and forth back and forth between the two depending on where in the group the person was talking. they picked up the speaking crystal clear, even someone speaking softly in the back row, probably at least 12 feet away from the mic. The good things i had going for me though, i wasnt using speakers, so i didnt have to worry about feedback, and everyone else in the room was quite soft when somone was talking. I had very similar results when i fliped the mics to uni directional to pick up a single speaker at a podium. In short, a good mic can be GREAT, but you have to test it out, and see if it is really great for what you want to do. Maybe some expert can tell you a great mic for exactly what you want to do, but I am not that person :) sorry, that's just my 2 cents

(ok guys, sorry for the lack of anything like paragraphs or a clear train of though there...)

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