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Musical Tips

Discussion in 'Sound, Music, and Intercom' started by kovacika, Aug 5, 2008.

  1. kovacika

    kovacika Active Member

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    I've been contracted to do sound for a local park that has local bands every weekend during the summer. Local bands are my bread and butter and where I learned to mix. It so happens that there is also a musical on the schedule. So, I rent some wireless mics and set out to do musical sound. Well, it was rough to say the least. I have not been so disappointed with a mix of my own for years. Even after having a full sound check, all kinds of time to set EQ's and comps it still sounded like ass. But I still have 1 rehearsal and 3 shows to go so I'd really like to pull it together.

    YDP2006 for FOH
    2 Yamaha Dual 1/3octave EQ's
    10x Sennheiser evolution wireless units w/ mk2
    3x DBX 266 comps
    Yamaha GA 32/12

    Biggest issues were with the sound being very empty, I was catching a lot of reflections from the "bandshell" that the show is being performed under. I assume this is a mic placement issue...but I don't know very much about placing lavs...I have the actors wearing them over their ears right now. Any tips/tricks?

    Also, any tips on musical sound and wireless lavs would be much appreciated.
  2. mbenonis

    mbenonis Wireless Guy Administrator Premium Member

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    Chicago, IL
    Mic placement is the first place I'd look. Over the ear is OK, but if the actors are wigged you can do better and place it on the forehead, usually right under the wig. This will help some.

    After that, speaker placement. Where are your speakers now? Are they closer to the audience than the actors are? Are they left/right, or a center cluster. I prefer a center cluster hung over the stage, but that might not be do-able for you. Also, if they speakers are closer to the audience than the actors are, then put a bit of delay on them to give the actors a precedence of say, 5 feet or so. It'll help directionalize the sound. Make sure nobody hears an echo, though. It should still sound coherent in every seat.

    Next up is EQ. I personally like to take some mid out of the mics. Now, this is with my system (EV SX300 boxes and B3 mics), but I feel like face mics always tend to be slightly mid-heavy. Just play around with the EQ until the speakers "disappear."

    See if you can get enough compression to put a comp on each channel. Set the comp so that the volume doesn't get too loud when they really belt it out. Don't bother with gates/expanders; they're not terribly useful.

    Now, how to deal with mics that are close together. You've no doubt noticed that when two actors get close together, things start to sound funny. What's happening is that a delayed signal is being mixed together with a non-delayed signal and causing comb filtering. Some frequencies are being attenuated significantly as the mics mix. The solution is to duck one of the two mics when they get closer together. Figure out which person is talking when they back away, and use that mic - it gives you a split second more to bring up the fader you ducked.

    Finally, keep in mind that your job is to reinforce the actors, not make them loud. There is a difference. Ideally, the mix should be just loud enough to hear at the farthest back seat in the house, and if you're doing it right, it should seam as if the voice really is coming from the actor and not the speakers.

    Feel free to ask more questions!
  3. jkowtko

    jkowtko Active Member

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    Redwood City, CA
    I second everything Mike says, and to add to his comments:

    * forehead is universally the best placement for tonal quality. over the ear should be used only if the actor has no hair and is not wearing a headpiece. Clip on the lapel should be avoided -- the mic is too far away at this point and will sound distant and will pick up everything else in addition to the actor's voice.

    * EQ: I pull down the LF a lot (pot to 9 o'clock) and the low-mid down about half that much. Solo through the headphones to do this and get rid of the "oatmeal box" sound.

    * Compression: I regularly use compression whenever there is a noise floor (i.e. band or ambient noise) and/or the actors speak softly or use a lot of dynamic range. For soft compression I'll use 2:1 with a threshold at -10db and a +5 boost. For stronger compression it's 4:1 with the threshold at -10db and a +10 boost.

    * Actors within proximity of each other will pick up on each other's mics and everything will sound hollow. I'm not sure if phase reversal will help here -- I haven't tried that yet (board doesn't support it). I personally fade line-by-line, so if two actors are in a dialogue and close to each other, I will always have one or the other fader pulled down at least 10-20db while the other person is talking. If they are close enough or in an embrace you can also pick up one actor on the other's mic. Just don't have both mics on full or you will hear the results :|

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