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Microphones Will this work?

Discussion in 'Sound, Music, and Intercom' started by cisgrig, Dec 4, 2008.

  1. cisgrig

    cisgrig Member

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    We have folks that complain at every performance that they can't 'hear' the actors. Some want to go to a fully miced stage, but no one has written a check. And I think that it would be above the line for a volunteer, community theater with little formal training technical background .
    I've pointed out that louder wont make it better if the actor mumbles, etc.
    In the interim I'm putting in 3 Audio-technica AT815b mics on the first electric (L-C-R). We have a 40x25' stage, 20' proscenium opening. Not sure if I'm going to angle the outside two cross stage or aim straight back and down along the mid stage line. One center speaker cluster above the proscenium, and I've added side speakers at stage lever and mid way through the house.
    We tried aerial units before, no body liked seeing them hanging down over the stage and if raised didn't seem to do much good. Mainly because we only had 4 units to work with.
    Any idea, suggestions, comments are welcome.
     
  2. anonymous381

    anonymous381 Member

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    I'd go back and try the Overhead Mics again and the shotgun mics are gonna be really tricky to get all the audio and then you have to deal with whether it sounds right or not. Personally if I didn't care too much about quality and just want to get voices in I'd shoot them across the stage. This goes back to the right triangle where the hypotenuse (diagonal) is longer than the two legs and on top of that you probably wont have a lot of people in the wings...I work with 2 Overhead mics and they work really well for picking up most action that happens on stage. I would lok into borrowing some kind of cardioid mic or renting it from somewhere to help. they have a much larger polar pattern

    Here is the Polar Pattern and Freq. Response of the AT's for anyone else wanting to help

    [​IMG]
     
  3. Eboy87

    Eboy87 Well-Known Member

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    Have you considered putting a few PCC160's on the downstage edge as well?
     
  4. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    I have a feeling this is one of those situations that you could throw the kitchen sink at and probably won't get that much better. Projection is something that plagues inexperienced actors. I usually tell people if the power is not there to get to the mics, I can't do anything. I can make help them in a 2000 seat house, but in a 400 seat they should be doing enough by themselves.
     
  5. anonymous381

    anonymous381 Member

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    I've been plagued by weak voices before and it's really frustrating when i try to gain up and fader up while I'm still getting yelled at by the TD because "they still can't hear him/her" and I'm running them at +10 while everyone else is -10 and his/her mic is picking up everybody and their uncle.
     
  6. jkowtko

    jkowtko Active Member

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    (I am assuming that your actors do not have body mics, and you only have stage mics available for use --)

    It also depends on the "floor noise" (i.e. other things making noise in the theater, such as the band, air conditioning, noisy fans and lighting equipment) as well. If there is a loud band in the pit or somewhere on stage, then unless the actors have body-worn or handheld mics very close to their mouths, then they will be competing against the band for mic pickup. Then it doesn't matter how loud you turn up the mics -- you'll just hear that band louder. Cardioid stage mics will do much better than omni, but they will still have the issue if they are not close enough to the actors.

    If the only way you can hear the actors is to hang the mics down to ten feet above stage level or even lower for certain people, then you need to ask the Director the difficult question -- what's more important, the appearance of the play, or hearing it? $$ for more/better equipment can always solve problems, but without it you need to make tradeoffs. If it's a musical I would venture to say that hearing the songs is probably more important than hiding a few hanging mics.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2008
  7. 1kfresnel

    1kfresnel Member

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    Lack of projection is an Achilles heel for sure!

    Safety side note: I would avoid mixing high voltage (1st electric) and low voltage equipment if at all possible as a best practice. We hang our choral mics on our valances, which also helps mask their visibility. Depending on the backdrop, I often have to squint to pick out the elements.

    That being said, were the mics hanging straight down, or angled slightly? The pickup pattern on these microphones prefers some tilt in the proper direction for best results. The pattern of the 815's is quite restrictive, and a cardioid pattern (AT 853s) would give you much more flexibility unless you really need the noise rejection of the 815s.

    If you have the opportunity to invest in some more equipment, Crown PCC-160 boundary mics would be ideal, as trying to pickup downstage sounds from overhead can often be ineffective. They you can move the ATs further upstage for better coverage. Or...you could try separating the current microphones into an upstage pair and a downstage pair, but that might be pushing it with the width of your stage.
     
  8. Eboy87

    Eboy87 Well-Known Member

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    +1

    Either way, I think you're fighting an uphill battle. Been there, done that, got a closet full of T-shirts.
     
  9. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    Not even remotely worth worrying about.
     
  10. museav

    museav CBMod CB Mods Departed Member

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    Mixing the signal levels on the same batten might not be a safety issue but it is certainly a potential noise issue if any of the light circuits are used.

    Remember the 3:1 rule, if the closest mic is hanging 20' overhead then it is difficult to maintain that separation and sometimes more is not necessarily better. The same applies to using overhead and footlight mics. One potential issue with using footlight mics primarily for picking up individuals is that as each actor's relationship to the mic changes, the mix changes. What do you do if one actor moves towards the mic while another moves away from it?

    Also keep in mind that inverse square law applies to mics, double the distance from the source to the mic and you lose 6dB of gain. Getting a single mic close to the source is one of the most effective ways to increase gain before feedback. For example, going from the 1-1/2" or so distance of a headset mic to being maybe 20' from a hanging mic is a 44dB reduction in gain before feedback. Even at 10' it is a 38dB reduction. Put simply, the further the mic, the less gain before feedback and the less the system can make up for a weak source. So when dealing with individuals rather than ensembles, the actors really need to learn to project or you need to figure out how to close mic them.
     
  11. Sayen

    Sayen Active Member

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    We use a mix of PCC series mics for straight theater. The actors still need to project, but if your board op is on the ball the floor noise is minimal. I spend a fortune replacing cables when they get stepped on, but the mics themselves are built like tanks, and it's much less hassle and cost than giving every actor a quality wireless. The mics are almost unnoticeable.
     
  12. cisgrig

    cisgrig Member

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    Thanks Everyone!
    On top of everyone here having THE answer, my Exec Dir. is worried about 'sight issues' if I used these as footlight units (up stage from pit). Gonna hangem', gonna gain to feedback, and use a cattle prod on actors to get them to speak up!.
    Wont have a venue until March, but will post results just so we'll know what happened.
     
  13. Anonymous067

    Anonymous067 BANNED USER

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    Suddenly I feel very blessed to have 22 systems of semi-good wireless and actors who project.....

    And to think last month I was swearing up a storm at a bodypack.
     
  14. tech2000

    tech2000 Active Member

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    Same here. Only, although we have 16 wireless body packs at my theater, I have trouble picking up the rest of the actors without one!
    Maybe it was just our last cast or something, but the music (during our fall musical) seemed really quiet because noone could hear the ensemble 20+ people singing. We had hanging microphones, but we didn't have to use them during dress rehearsals and they didn't pick up much anyway.
    Time to change placement of my hanging mics!
     
  15. mixmaster

    mixmaster Active Member

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    I fought this problem when I used my MX202s to pick up a choir. Because of the location of the choir and the battens that I had available, The second electric was where I had to be. Taping the mic cords to the pipe that holds the lights I picked up terrible interference. I tied a string to the rigging cables about a foot above the electrics and ran my mic cords along that and that got me enough separation to eliminate the buzz. The mic lines hanging vertically past the electrics don't pick up the Buzz as bad as cords run horizontally(parallel to the wires in the electric). If you happen to need the mics right under one of the pic points, that eliminates the need for the string. Just tape the mic cord to the cable and let it hang vertically past the electric.
    Matt
     

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