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Fix my monitor system... please.

Discussion in 'Sound, Music, and Intercom' started by gafftaper, Mar 19, 2008.

  1. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    New black box theater... On the patch panel next to where all the mic lines come in from the various locations around the theater there is the DSP Monitor in. What ever get's plugged into this one jack is the source for back stage, booth, lobby monitors, as well as the hearing assistance system.

    The system designer gave me one small choir type mic... I think it's a Crown CM30. Nothing wrong with it if you can place it 2 feet above the person's head and hang one every six feet. But it doesn't work so well picking up all the sound from a huge stage. The black box can have stage configurations as large as 30'x50' so one CM30 isn't going to cut it. Even with the amps turned all the way up you can't hear what's going on on stage.

    I have easy mic input locations available all over the catwalks to make relocation a breeze (17' from the catwalks to the deck). I've got about $2k-$3k available to fix this problem. I'm thinking about buying 4 mics and a small mixer to mix them down into one line in for the DSP (possibly rack mounted mixer). I want a good clean sound, with as little background noise pickup as possible. Suggestions for strategy, mics, and mixers? Thanks Guys!

    P.S. I've got some PCC 160's and tried playing with them, but boundary mics are out as I think the audience would trip on them. I want a hanging solution.
     
  2. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    This or similar, underhung from the catwalk closest to the booth. Be sure to "audition" before you purchase, as a longer or shorter one may be required. I'd avoid the mixer idea, particularly an auto-gating type. K.I.S.S.
     
  3. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    I like the K.I.S.S. approach. Buy one freakin' cool (and freakin' expensive) mic and call it good.

    Our upcoming show is done in an "ally" configuration with a 20' deep by 55' wide stage with the audience on both sides. After that it's in the round. Our first show next fall is "corner" (stage in the corner of the room with seating on two sides at a 90 degree angle to each other). My thinking was that multiple mics would let me better adapt to the variety of seating configurations. But I certainly see the value of the big bad mic theory. Other ideas?
     
  4. museav

    museav CBMod CB Mods Departed Member

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    Pure guess, but the intent may have been for it to be ambient mic rather than trying to actually mic the stage. It's fairly common to want the Lobby and ALS feeds to represent being in the audience and for backstage feeds to include audience reaction. It's also useful for recording to add some "being there" sound and to avoid dead periods. If so, it would normally be mounted out over the audience where it can pick up something representative of what the audience is hearing. Personally, I like to have an ambient mic but prefer to run that to the console and use a pre-fade aux output to feed the ancillary systems so they can have their own mix and so the ambient mic can be included in other sends if desired.

    The CM-30 would be an interesting choice for this since it is meant to be permanently mounted with the attached electronics in a package that fits in a single gang box. If it has an XLR on the end it might be a CM-31.
     
  5. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    It doesn't have to be that particular mic; I was just trying to match your budget. I'm sure there are other shotgun mics that will meet your needs. Maybe the Sennheiser ME66? Lots of audio companies in your area; have them bring a bunch and see what works the best.
     
  6. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Actually I'm pretty sure it is the CM-30 because they wired up a portable single gang box with the mic coming out one end and XLR the other.

    I was told by the installer "just hang it 2 feet above the head of the person speaking and it will be great"... but what if it's a play and the set is 50' wide like our next show and Actors don't usually stand in one place and speak for 2 hours. The Crown specs for the CM-30 say to place one every 6' ... yeah that'll look good. I don't think it was intended as an ambient mic because the pickup is so faint... I literally cranked my amps to full and you could just barely hear the actors in the monitor system unless they were right under it.

    The DSP is set up with a preprogrammed Biamp controller which has automatic modes that take the feed from this one mic and "performance" modes that can take the feed from this mic or from the house mix. But in a space this small we won't be using reinforcement so the only thing in the house mix is sound effects. Thus I need a good mic or mics...

    Any mic suggestions Museav? What do you think about one vs several and a mixer?
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2008
  7. thommyboy

    thommyboy Active Member

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    We recently ran into a somewhat similar issue, though it is with our main stage rather than a studio, though our main stage is 27' x 53'
    I installed 6 Shure MX202 Microflex cardioid. With the Gooseneck it would allow you to easily redirect the mics as needed. The pattern is wide enough that you could cover most of the 20'x50' with about the same 6 as we have. They can come with either a ceiling mount pre-amp or an inline XLRmini to XLR connector.
     
  8. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    A noise boy friend of mine just pointed out I need to get the installers back in to check the monitor's settings in the DSP. He also suggested two good shotguns (no brand/model yet) mounted above the control booth to get the audience's point of view, run through a Rane MLM 82S rack mount mixer.

    Thommyboy: I like the gooseneck idea.
     
  9. Eboy87

    Eboy87 Well-Known Member

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    We have a Shure SM89 shotgun mic in the middle of our FOH catwalk that feeds the montior systems in the booths and greenroom. It picks up anything and everything in that theater, to the point where we usually turn it down. The only downside, it doesn't sound particularly musical, but it works. I'll see if I can grab some pictures next week. I've tried the hanging mic approach when trying to get ambient mics for a video shoot of our musical. Personally, I like the shotgun idea.
     
  10. mixmaster

    mixmaster Active Member

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    couple thoughts:
    Typically, the backstage/greenroom monitors are for the actors or performers to listen for cues so they know when their parts are coming up. Anything that can clearly hear the stage would be suitable. It doesn't need to be fancy or hi-fi. I have an old shure unidyne hung directly above the stage pointed down for such purposes. Quick, cheap, been doing the job for years. The mic feeds a little two channel mixer amp, the other input is the mono feed from the house console. Goes out to the backstage speaker at 70 volts.
    For the rest of the auxiliary functions you list, I would recomend a line out of the board, especially for the assisted listening devices. Assisted listening devices are to get the performance ABOVE the crowd noise for the hard of hearing, adding "ambient" noise back into the mix defeats the whole purpose. Nor do the people in the lobby need to hear the crowd noise. If they wanted that, they could just stand inside. It sounds like the installer tried to kill a couple of birds with one stone and wasn't particularly successful with any of the them.
    I suspect if you feed that jack a line level source (like a console output) you would get more signal to your amps and more volume out of the related speakers.
    Another thought: Is the mic that the installer left a condenser? If it is then it will have to be fed from a console or some other source to deliver phantom power. The processor or amp on the other end of that jack may not provide phantom to support the mic.
    As for hanging mics, I hang Shure MX202s al the time. If you put them in close, you could probably cover a 50' stage with two, if that's the way you decide to go.
    This shouldn't cost 2 grand, if it does, I either need your budget, or you need to come to Iowa so I can sell you some of my ocean front property.:lol:
    However it goes, congrats on the new theatre. I've had acouple in my time and part of the fun is working out all the bugs.
     
  11. museav

    museav CBMod CB Mods Departed Member

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    So they went to all that effort to make a $191 CM-30 be sort of something like a $197 CM-31. Whatever.

    If you're trying to get a clean feed of the stage sound, then multiple mics may be necessary and you'll have to watch the spacing to avoid phasing between mics from the actors moving around, the old 3:1 rule. Using mini-shotgun capsules may help you get more reach in a traditional proscenium or thrust situation, but I'm not sure how well that would translate to the "alley" or "in-the-round" stage configurations as you'd almost have to cover the stage from multiple directions to be sure to pick up all the actors and that could cause other problems with multiple mics potentially getting the same sound.

    That last comment sort of stands out. The Biamp processor's input can probably be set as a line level input or a mic input with phantom power, but I'm not sure how it would be both at the same time. Have you done anything to verify that the Biamp's input is properly setup and adjusted for that mic? Is the Biamp providing phantom power for the mic? Have you tried running the mic to the mixer and then to the Biamp in "performance" mode?

    I don't know how big the space is or anything, but have you considered how this works with the "alley" or "in-the-round" configurations you noted? I'm just thinking how you avoid significant level and frequency variations when you might have an actor facing someone in the audience and just a few feet away at one point but then have an actor be 50' away and facing the other direction at some another time (and exactly the inverse for another audience member). Just the differences between the direction the actor is facing could be significant in these configurations. Maybe I'm simply misunderstanding the situation, but I'm just not sure how practical it is to expect to not mic the actors with those stage configurations even in a smaller room.

    The issues if you're trying to get a clean stage sound are noted above. However, if you're wanting to get more of the audience and overall sound, then a single, cardioid mic in the audience area probably makes sense. I've heard several people note having good luck with an AKG SE 300 B/CK91 combination for this type of application. I've also had some luck using boundary mics mounted to the ceiling, a ceiling reflector or the wall, but that can be very room dependent and may not work well in a very live space. Since you're not really trying for recording or studio quality here, there are also several less expensive options from AKG, Audio-Technica and others for a compact, hanging cardioid mic.
     
  12. howlingwolf487

    howlingwolf487 Active Member

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    I know this is a mic'ing thread, but FYI: amplifiers cannot be "turned up". Only the amount of attenuation applied to the amp's outputs can be changed.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, otherwise take note!
     
  13. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    I'm pretty sure that the mic in question is a CM30 which does require phantom and I'm skeptical that the DSP provides it. However in trying to improve what I have I ran this mic on a loop through my console where I did apply phantom power and brought the gain way up... along with adding in two more mics before sending it into the DSP. This helped significantly. A friend of mine here also pointed out that there may just be a problem with the DSP settings. It doesn't matter how good your mics are if the DSP is turned down internally. I've got the installer coming back to do some tweaking.

    This is fun? ;)
     
  14. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    I had the local sound shop guys stop in today to take a look. They like the idea of four shotguns that can hang from various locations. So if it's in the round I can hit if from all sides, If it's alley then it's two per side, thrust just use three of them, etc... run them through a rack mount mixer and I'm set to go.

    The only way I was able to get any volume out of the system was to run three mics through my console, boost gains way up on them, then send them out back into the DSP. I couldn't run it in full performance mode taking the signal from the main output as my sound effects would have been devastatingly loud in the monitors or the mics extremely loud in the house. I tried. As mentioned above I am suspicious that perhaps the DSP has some internal settings turned down and I've got the installer coming back to take a look at it.

    The space really doesn't require reinforcement. It's about 55' square and the acoustics are perfect. While it's true that a person in a far corner will have a long distance to listen to the opposite corner of the "alley", so far we haven't had any problems. The acoustic technician really got the place dialed in nicely. It's a completely neutral room. Another reason the monitors have been so infuriating as you can hear just fine by opening the window to the booth.
     
  15. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Yes, you get an "A" for the day... of course in order to fully alter all the attenuation applied in order to boost the sound as loud as possible you have to TURN IT ALL THE WAY UP.
     
    howlingwolf487 likes this.
  16. museav

    museav CBMod CB Mods Departed Member

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    I was actually more concerned about directionality, what happens as the actors turn and face different directions and how that might affect the level and response. Maybe the intent is that the audience is outside looking in, in which case this may sort of fit that goal, but if the audience are supposed to be in the scene then this might not be desired.

    The "in-the-round" sounds like it may be the most challenging for the micing as someone just off center stage would apparently be picked up by all four mics at almost the same level but with the sound arriving at lightly different times, potentially causing phasing issues in the resulting mix that change as the actors move around. FWIW, using three mics because they are required to get coverage of the stage area is one thing but using three mics instead of one to try to capture the same sound may represent maybe a 5dB increase, readily noticeable but perhaps not worth all the effort if you find that the DSP input can be properly set. In fact, depending upon the processor you may even be able to apply some EQ, compression and even AGC to that input to let the processor do some of the work for you.

    If you use the console for the mics, you might try using a pre-fade aux output to feed the DSP if possible, that way you can create a totally separate mix of the mics and effects to send out that isn't dependent upon what you are doing for the house.
     
  17. mixmaster

    mixmaster Active Member

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    I'd much rather be tweaking new toys than the stuff I've been dealing with this week. We're on spring break here. No students, no shows. Just me, a pile of broken cords, and a pile of paperwork. I'm glad you guys to keep me company.
     
  18. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    90% of the time the purpose of these mics will be just to provide monitors to the booth, dressing rooms, green room, and lobby. Occasionally I expect someone will be using the hearing assistance system but we don't get THAT many seniors to our shows. So if there occasionally is some weirdness that's not going to make me cry. My biggest concern is my current problem where we can barely hear the actors in the booth. That's NOT ok.

    I really like the idea of the rack mount mixer just for the monitors. That way I have completely independent control. I noticed Peavy has one with compression on each channel for about $500... have to do some more shopping for rack mount mixers. The compression sounds like a great way to help keep the volume more even (does that make sense to you guys?)
     

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