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I'm running sound with wireless mics for the first time - any tips?

Discussion in 'Sound, Music, and Intercom' started by superuser2, Nov 16, 2008.

  1. superuser2

    superuser2 Member

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    Hello everyone,

    I will be running a talent show with four wireless mics for the first time (I've mixed 4 shows with all wired mics before that). I've got the basics of mixing and using a sound board, and I know how to patch my high school auditorium's system, but that's about it. Any tips on working with wireless microphones?

    I know the obvious one of making sure their faders are off when not in use so as to avoid unprofessional backstage noise.

    What exactly is the role of the person backstage managing the microphones? What situations do they need to react to, and how?

    We're going to borrow four from our choir director's band, and he will be able to help us if we're stuck, but he's also directing the show, so I'd like to make sure I and whoever is in charge of them know as much as possible. Any suggestions?
     
  2. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    My advice... and I'm sure more advanced advice will follow...

    Replace the batteries before each and every show. This will cost you $$$, but it's worth it not to have any of the batteries go dead during the show.

    Also, do not have the performers turn their mics off. Tell them to always keep them on. If they turn them off, chances are in the rush to get back on stage they will forget to turn it back on, resulting in a useless mic. If your mics have a "lock" that makes it so the mics can not be turned on and off, use it.

    If you have a person backstage managing mics, they are probably responsible for check-in and check-out of mics. This person should turn them on when giving the mics out and they should stay on until that person gets them back.This person should either teach the performers how to place their mics or place the mics on the person every night, or a combination of both. Also, this person should have a couple batteries in their pocket just in case a pack dies. In my world, I often have a few make-up people I can trust help out with this. The stage manager has a few extra batteries, as we don't have anyone backstage in a theatre performance. The stagehands take care of this at our talent shows, who are also members of the tech crew.

    I guess I should have checked- I'm assuming these are bodypack mics and not wireless handhelds. Wireless handhelds are a bit easier to manage.

    Also, this is my advice coming from the standpoint of a non-professional theatre run by non-professionals. It may vary in your situation.
     
    superuser2 and (deleted member) like this.
  3. DHSLXOP

    DHSLXOP Active Member

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    To add...

    -Make sure that the same person always puts the mics on and that they always put the mics on the same way - it will save time during mic checks - when the mic is in the same area, there is less EQing to do.
    -NEVER NEVER NEVER let the actors take the mics off themselves - we learned this the hard way at my school - they would take them off quickly (actually pull them out of their pants), and we would end up with transmitter clips breaking all over the dressing rooms.
    -BE CAREFUL - don't let the mic drop (a wireless body mic has a much higher chance of falling and breaking {due to its size} then a bigger hand-held wired mic. Make sure that the people handling them are safe around them, and not rushing to clean up - you will regret it when the mic stops working. (We know - we have 1 wireless that won't turn on at all now, and another that sometimes won't send a signal...)

    And a tip for you - make sure to have a walkie-talkie or a clear-com with you when you are mixing. We just started running one to our sound board and it has made life during the show so much easier for them. They sit in the middle of the house, so it is hard for them to move around during the show, so with the headset, you can easily communicate to someone backstage if you are having mic troubles (ie: to check if the pack is off or if the mic is muted, etc).


    I'm also coming from a non-professional level - but those are just my thoughts.
     
  4. superuser2

    superuser2 Member

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    Awesome. Thanks.

    I'm always on a clear-com anyway, but thanks for the suggestion. I'm going to be taking it off during acts so I can hear, but we do have a flash feature should any issues come up.

    I'm in a booth at the back of the house and there's no way to get backstage quickly (especially if I want to avoid running through the audience). In preivous shows at the school I often see the recievers in the booth - I'll have to ask our auditorium tech why, 'cause there might be a valid reason to have them there instead of backstage.

    What do I need to know about using the receivers themselves? Once set up, do they require any kind of attention?
     
  5. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    They shouldn't... Just make sure they're on! :twisted:

    Actually, sometimes it's helpful to have the receivers nearby. That way, if a trasmitter stops working you can look to see if a) it's turned on and b) how much battery is left. (Note: Second feature available on most newer models, not usually found on older models.) If I remember correctly, the Sure ones we rented one time at my High School would even tell you if the microphone was muted.
     
  6. DHSLXOP

    DHSLXOP Active Member

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    It seems that even our older audio technica receivers (without display screens) allow us to see if the battery is going/if it is muted - so most of them do that.
     
  7. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    Most of these meters are horribly inaccurate until you get into the high end professional range.

    Do not bet the show on the supplied lights or meters.
     
  8. howlingwolf487

    howlingwolf487 Active Member

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    Especially with lavs, only use the EQ to cut frequencies - almost never boost, unless looking for a particular type of tone.

    Make sure that you keep an eye on the bodypack input levels, as most bodypacks cannot be adjusted without delving into the layers of clothing most actors/actresses have on. Often times, the input will need to be attenuated (made less) by 10-20dB so that it doesn't clip the bodypack. From there, it's up to you to set levels appropriately (gain staging).

    Also, when placing mics, always try to place them so that necklaces, collars, ties, etc. don't rub against the element of cable - it can lead to nasty noises.

    Make sure your actors know ON PAIN OF DEATH that, if they so much as wiggle that mic an eighth inch from where you put it, you'll be on them about like a hungry lion on an antelope.
     
  9. tweetersaway

    tweetersaway Member

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    Fresh batteries before every show. I've had some bad experiences with techs who didn't do this. When you take out the old batteries after a show, pair them up with masking tape and save them for rehearsals and flashlights. It'll make you feel better about wasting batteries.
     
  10. mbenonis

    mbenonis Wireless Guy Administrator Premium Member

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    Or use rechargeable batteries. :) I've been particularly impressed by the Sanyo 2000 mAh AA Eneloop series of batteries.
     
  11. Anonymous067

    Anonymous067 BANNED USER

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    Just a note on the rechargables-don't go cheap. Cheap=bad. You get what you pay for.

    Other notes-
    Don't ever let anybody but yourself deal with on/off. One person deals with this, the board op.
    Tape over power switch (or lock if you have that option).

    Having the receivers near the board in a fixed installation is better imo, because you can see rf status, interference, etc etc.

    You may want to get it through your head that DIFFERENT does not necessarily equal BAD.
     
  12. giwiens

    giwiens Member

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    Just want to add my bits in. I use wireless mics quite extensively for the live events in my multi-purpose theatre. What the others have said is true, espicially the new batteries and not letting the performers touch the on/off/mute switches. Control the mute yourself. I talk to each speaker/presenter/performer who wears one of my lav mics or uses a wireless handheld that the mic will be live once they step onto the stage and go mute once they leave the stage. This does require me to pay close attention but that is my job as the tech. I have just found that this way you don't get that one person who thinks that they are muted actually muting themselves when they go on stage.

    Garth
     
  13. AlexD

    AlexD Active Member

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    Also I find that placing a mic near the thought picks up breathing very easily, this might depend on the headmic its self but mine do. Annoying coz the headmics I got are huge and really hard to hide. Making headmics out of leviers is a much better route to go. If only we had some :(
     
  14. NickVon

    NickVon Active Member

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    to reiterate, and expanand on some of the thoughts

    for high end wireless having the receivers in front of you can be priceless for troubleshooting problems. For consumer level wireless it basicly only becomes helpful to see whether the receiver is receiving signal... (which it might not be if it's cheapo wireless and way far way up in the booth,) Cheaper wireless units, always better to have them as close to the packs as possible, off stage and ideally in line of sight.

    all thoughts regarding placing mights the EXACT same way each time by the same people is very important. in addition, each performer should be getting the same mic each time as well. (lable them with masking/board/gaff tape)

    Batteries: New ones each performance. and as someone mentioned used the half used ones for future rehearsals, eletric toothbrushes, flashlights, TV remotes, cameras, etc.

    I'd stay away from rechargeable unless you keep careful track of how many times they been discharged/recharged, as after a time they will become worse then just reusing half dead ones :).

    CheapBatteries.Com - Batteries - Duracell Alkaline, Procell Alkaline, Eveready Energizer, Rechargeable Ni-MH, Flaslights, CD's, DVD's, iPod Accessories, & Blank Tapes.
    sight looks sketchy but they are in fact very well prices, best prices on Duracell Pro Cells i've ever gotten.


    BUT most IMPORANTLY HERE IS WHAT YOU NEED when dealing with Wireless:

    You will also need an Apple Pie, Caffeinated beverage of your choice, and something that you can bunch with out damaging something to get you through the show.

    Also the reason why I use wired mics when ever possible ;-)
     

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