there goes the budget...

danl

Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Location
west virginia
our theater rents lavs for our productions twice a year... the most we've ever rented is 17 (actors without lavs would just stand near actors that had them and sort of project into it - not terrible sound for a cast of 35, but not the greatest system), unfortunately, there is only one business locally who rents them... $35/day... doesn't seem like a lot, i'm sure, but on our limited budget (we get about $20k total per show), almost $4200 for the week nearly killed us... we were wanting to look at other options for micing our next show (a cast of 45 - all of which need to be miced somehow)... possibly overheads???
our stage is 40' wide by 20' deep plus a 10' apron... we're raising the floor because of an inset turntable, so i'm afraid to put down floor mics for fear of picking up too much echo (even though i'll put down homosote between the plats and flooring)... our orchestra is housed in an acoustic room behind the stage (not in a pit) and fed through monitors on stage and into the house...
i've gone through past posts here and found a couple pertaining to issues like this, but it seems that almost every time there is pressure to go with lavs rather than overheads... i'd like to open a new discussion on it and hopefully learn more about how to use overheads (since we never have), which are best for our situation, and things like that...
ANY tips and information would be greatly appreciated!!!
thank you...
dan'l
 

Dillon

Active Member
Joined
Jun 16, 2006
Location
New York
The one thing that you have going for you in favor of overhead mics is the fact that your orchestra is in a separate room -- you've got complete control over the sound on your stage. The turntable is most likely going to give you a fair amount of mechanical noise... this will limit when the overhead mics are useful. If it works out that you are only amplifying while the turntable is staying still, overheads might be the answer. Steer clear of floor mics. They aren't very effective to start with, and once you put them on a raised deck, it's going to act just like a drum head... big and loud!

I'd reccomend two different options:
A - use a mix of overheads and lavs. Put the lavs on just the principal leads and use overheads to fill in the chorus.
B - use some of your budget to BUY some wireless systems. You'd be surprised what you can get for $4200. Make room in your budget to buy one or two new systems each production... pretty soon you'll be all set!
 

Van

CBMod
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Jul 27, 2006
Location
Portland, Or.
I've said it before, on eof my absolute favorite ways to mic a stage full of actors is PZMs mounted on plexi- reflectors. Hung in front of proscenium and placed on the edge of the apron. Two way to eleiminate floor noise;
first , if you have the ability mount the reflectors on mic booms and set them off the end of the stage in the pit then raise them into "focus" range. Second build wedges out of High density PolyEthylene foam < gray stuff like inside Penguin cases> Both of these have worked well for me in mic-ing both Orchestra and theatre. I'm betting you'll get a lot of good answers here though. There are a lot of hum heads who really know thier stuff. :mrgreen:
 

dvlasak

Active Member
Joined
Nov 3, 2006
Location
Wisconsin
I'd reccomend two different options:
A - use a mix of overheads and lavs. Put the lavs on just the principal leads and use overheads to fill in the chorus.
B - use some of your budget to BUY some wireless systems. You'd be surprised what you can get for $4200. Make room in your budget to buy one or two new systems each production... pretty soon you'll be all set!
Really great topic!!
I agree. At the High Schools where I work, I mic the leads and use hanging mics for the rest. Granted, that is not the ideal, but as a school there is only so much money to go around. The sound is really decent, but again you need to really mix when the leads are not singing to get a good balance if a non-miced cast member is also speaking. Not that you don't need to mix when the leads are singng, but it is very noticeable when a person with a mic is talking with someone who is not miced.
You don't talk about your board. How many channels? That will impact how many mics you can use anyway, so the decision to balance wireless with overhead may be made for you. Also, what kind of sends do you have? How does the cast hear the pit orchestra and each other? If you are using wedges on stage, that also can be a concern with overheads. You need to be creative with where the monitors are placed in relation to the hanging overhead mics, so the cast can hear, but you don't pick that up in the overheads.
Currently I use AUDIO-TECHNICA AT933Rx/ML mics. I fly them of the bottom of the borders where I need them. I attach them with safety pins all the way along the upstage side of the border and then "string" the cable to the wing wall where the snake is located. You need to be very careful with the mic cable as they are quite sensative to damage.
Also, when you contemplate buying your own wireless (which you should do!) you should also buy additional mics. This is good for several reasons - 1) you have a spare(s) should a mic develop a problem, 2) - you have extra mics that you can have on cast members that share/swap mics, so all they need to do is swap the transmitter and not the mic, thus lessening the chance that they wreck the mic and/or cable in a change from one cast member to another.
I hope this helps!! Hey you others out there - what do you do? How about really getting this thread going?!!
Dennis
 

soundlight

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 27, 2005
Location
NJ & NYC
I agree on the wireless AND overhead idea. And I agree with the Sennhieser Evolution 100 series mics. My HS has them, and they're really nice. You should be able to get a system for at or below $450/ea. Northern Sound and Light has the best price that I've found. A system includes a transmitter, a reciever, and a lav mic. Make sure to get the right one though, sennhieser sells omni and cardioid capsules for their wireless if I remember correctly. I'd go with Shure Microflex overheads if you're going to buy some, they're really nice. We have the ones with the mini gooseneck at the end of them so that you can position them for optimal pickup.
 

SHARYNF

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2006
I've said it before, on eof my absolute favorite ways to mic a stage full of actors is PZMs mounted on plexi- reflectors. Hung in front of proscenium and placed on the edge of the apron. Two way to eleiminate floor noise;
first , if you have the ability mount the reflectors on mic booms and set them off the end of the stage in the pit then raise them into "focus" range. Second build wedges out of High density PolyEthylene foam < gray stuff like inside Penguin cases> Both of these have worked well for me in mic-ing both Orchestra and theatre. I'm betting you'll get a lot of good answers here though. There are a lot of hum heads who really know thier stuff. :mrgreen:

I'm with VAN with this one, pzm's on plates is very effective, gives a very natural sound, and eliminates all the issues with mic'd or not mic'd etc. and also the cone of pick up that you tend to get from hanging mics, especially for reinforcement. I think People are put off on PZM's for some reason, but I use Crown PCC 160 mics. For recording I'd use a totally different setup added to this, but, for reinforcement I'd suggest giving it a try.

Sharyn
 

tenor_singer

Active Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2004
Location
Orwell, Ohio
Hopefully this will help. I did a couple of things to build the GV program to where it is:

1. I started an equipment swap with a good sound technician friend who owned a small studio. He would lend me his microphones for my three shows and I would lend him my system over the summer. He would clean it and rent it out to other community theaters he helped. What money he made renting my system out reimbursed him for the money he would have made if he charged me rent on his mircophones.

2. Save Save Save Save. You can do it if you dig in. The $20k you spend per show is roughly 6 times what I spend, so the money is there... you just have to be creative and make some cuts elsewhere. What I did was settle for the cheaper lighting fixtures (360Q's and PAR's) when I desperately wanted to purchase a higher quality projectors. Stretch the dollar.

3. I started a parent booster group whose sole purpose is to fundraise for capital equipment and for our scholarship fund. So far they have helped... not necessarily with microphones, but with other tech equipment... most recently was another belt pack and head set for our wireless comm. system.

4. Be patient. Things aren't gong to happen over night. I have been building GV's program from 12 students and six 8" fresnels (purchased in 1972) to what it is today for 10 years. While that may stink for the student graduating in a couple of years, it will highly benefit your younger program members.

5. My initial sound system was my foot. "Louder or I'll kick you in the pants!"... All kidding aside, this is my weird way of saying that we had no sound system to speak of and were performing in a HUGE echo chamber (gymnasium). I desperately wanted just a basic FOH system. I raised $1000.00 over the course of two years. I then begged our band and choir programs to chip in $1000.00 as well (with the promise that I would forever set up and tear down the sound system during their concerts... something that then seemed like a great idea... but now, 8 years later, is biting me in the butt :) ). So I had my buddy from step 1 go out and purchase me some gear. I had him do it instead of me because he would purchse gear for several area schools and get discounts because he would purchase 20 speakers instead of 2. For $3000.00 I got a sampson s1000 amp, Behringer eurodeck 24/4 mixer, Behringer feedback destroyer (because we would set up and tear down nightly during tech leaving us ZERO time for any decent EQ work and gain structure), two EV s100 speakers, 3 AT boundary mics, 3 EV hanging mics (for the choir), a 250' snake, a couple of hand held microphones and all of the connectors and cords. Long story ... long (sorry)... try to team up with another group in the building. Maybe they will split the cost for a share of the usage.

6. Even though I haven't been successful with my school program doing this, I did have good success writing grants for a community theater that I was AD for. Try writing a grant to a local foundation that is sympathetic to the arts.

Good luck! One of my favorite parts of my job has been building my program. You'll do great!
 
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