Wireless mics and musicals...


I am going to be working sound for our high school choir's performance of The Mikado, and we will be using wireless mics for the performers. What would be a good way to organize the mics so I know who has what? Any other tips would help as well. Thanks!


Well-Known Member
The way we always did it was to number the mics, and then create a chart, showing who has what mic, at what time. And we made huge copies on both sides of the stage. So everyone knew what mic they needed to have.


Active Member
I had this exact same problem with our production of Footloose when we ran 12 wireless mics.

What I did was go through each song and write down who needs a mic for each one. Then with all of our mics numbered (I did according to the board channel, eg mic 5 was channel 5 each belt back was labeled with teh number on teh front back and bottom so it couldn't have been missed) I started placing numbers beside each name. I kept in mind if they had to sing more than one consecutive song and the amount of time between songs and if they were onstage at the time or not. So I naturally kept the leads on the same mics all the time and just passed around all the others. That left 6 mics to decide who gets what at each time. So if one actor had to sing two songs in a row, they kept the same mic, and ones who didn't passed around to who should have one. So with knowing who needed one, and looking at if they were on stage, I was able to assign mics to each person.

After figuring out who could get which mic, I posted a list beside the dressingrooms, beside the doors to backstage, kept a list with me and gave one to the stage manager. I told the actors, If you don't have the mic I assigned to you, your mic won't be turned on. That took care of that. They were smart enough to look at one of the 4 posted lists and leave me and the stage manager alone about that topic, they only went to the stagemanager if they had any problems with hte mics, like the beltclip came off. Naturally, I never told anyone how to fix tehm so during intermission I would go backstage adn take care of all of the problems.

If there was a problem with passing the mics around by means of time problems or just teh actors were on opposite sides of hte stage, they brought it up wiht me after rehearsals and sorted that our. By the first show, all the mics were set and only the ones that should be on were on and teh actors all had the correct mics.

As for tips, since I don't know how experienced you are:

- Sound checks are an absolute necessary thing to have, I only got 2 checks out of 6 shows and the sound was the best for the 2 shows I had the checks.

- Don't listen to anyone who thinks they know about sound but really don't, I had the house manager telling me to turn down certain mics just becuase she didn't think they could sing, but if i turned down the mic, there would be no backup singers.

- Use new batteries each night to avoid most problems

- Make sure they are a UHF signal, not a VHF, we learned that one the hard way and make sure the frequencies are far enoguh apart to avoid crossing, and avoid frequencies of the tv non cable channels (for us that tv channels 2-13, not sure about your area) and avoid the cell phone frequencies which are in teh 800mhz and 900mhz

That should help you for now, if there is anything else you need, jsut ask, i've experienced just about any problem you could get with wireless mics within the week we had our show.


Active Member
we did les mis at high school 2 yrs ago now, we had 16 body mics n 4 hangers plus another board for pit.

we did a mic check 1 durrign hell week and i wish we could've done it mroe. so the lesson is --- DO MIC CHECKS

we used the number thing mentioned above and an old cardboard mailbox type thing to keep them in so taht no one got too confused

falcon's tips are exactly right n i've learned most of them the hard way as did the stage managers


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Fight Leukemia
make a chart, and make sure the performers know which one they are supposed to have!


I use a little brother thermal label printer and put the name of the person/ or character on the actual pack. also i have charts. Second, Make sure you get time from the director to mic actors, usually first dress, also train you actors in mic handleing, it puts more years on the wear and tear.

My personal recomendation have 1 or 2 spare body packs ready, and 1 extra mic wire. They do and will fail.

Also I must emphisise MIC CHECKS they help a lot.
(I often make the conductor mad with ringing, but he knows it is better before the show than after)


Thanks everyone, I like the chart idea. *will put it into practice as soon as possible* And no worries about Mic Checks. I get so hyped about shows I come early to check just about every sound aspect of the show I can, because if they don't work...well, my mind won't let me rest.

If I have any other questions, I'll post right away!



Active Member
Premium Member
Since somebody mentioned having an orientation with the actors before they use mics the first time, here's a version of the speech I give my actors before we mic them the first time:

There are two rules I want you to remember about using the microphones. Rule number one is to forget that you're wearing a microphone. Rule number two is to never, ever forget that you're wearing the microphone. Let me explain what I mean, because you're all looking at me like I'm crazy.

First, in terms of singing and projection, I want you to forget that you're wearing a mic. The microphone is NOT a substitute for projection. I can only put out of the sound system what you put into it; if you give me a weak sound, all that will come out is a loud weak sound. If you give me a nice strong sound, though, I can make it so that everybody, even in the very back row of the theatre hears you perfectly. So sing like you're not wearing a mic.

That said, as far as being physical goes, don't ever forget that you have it on. Don't sit on the transmitter, don't run a comb through your hair with the mic in, or anything else that could possibly damage it. These mics cost more than you make in a month if we have to replace them, so let's try to avoid that! If you have choreography/stage business issues that the mic might get in the way of, let the stage manager know, and she'll let the choreographer, director and I know, and we'll either figure out where to put the mic so that it's out of the way, or how to tweak things so that the mic won't get hurt. Just make sure you let us know before something gets broken.

So, now that we've got that out of the way, if nobody has any questions, let's do this thang!

Okay, I don't normally say, "thang," but otherwise, that's the jist of it. Just getting those two points across to your actors will make your job infinitely easier.



That's a good speech. I'm honestly thinking about drawing up a contract that the actors will have to sign before they can have a mic. Too many are broken, and not enough $$ to fix them.


For an arts show at our school we were using wireless mics and two directional mics. We numbered our mics (corresponding with the board channels) and it seemed to work well. The only problem we had was that some of the actors kept on dropping them, and these were $900 Sennheiser microphones.

The microphone is NOT a substitute for projection.

I have to say Amen. During the same show, one of the main announcer just couldn't seem to project into the microphone (its was on a lecturn, not a wireless). No matter what we tried, we just couldn't get any sound of her. We could plainy hear someone who was talking to her from 4 feet from the mic, but she was almost inaudible.

The main problem was that because of the setup, the microphone was hardwired into the sound system (not running through the board). What we ended up doing was wrapping a wireless mic around the mic we had set up so that we could control it through the board. But after we did this, she decided she wanted to wrap her hand around the microphone, thus covering up the wireless we placed there. Some people just don't understand. *sigh*


I got called in last year to the local high school my at the time girlfriend attended, she was the assistant director of footloose. they had massive amount of rented equipment, and had it all hooked up wrong ect.. any way they had rented 10 wireless lavier mics....so from the begging i had my doubts, laviers for performance ppl bouncing around ect..yea. None of them had the channels set, so i had to do all 10 receivers and transmitters. Then came keeping track of them all, and we had to do the same thing , every one was assigned a mic and a number ect. All went well until the brand new mics, at 1200$ a unit, started bleeping up. i had to fix two of them during the intermission on the first night of the show. then ppl weren’t turning them on , so we had to get the stage manager to check everyone b4 they went on stage. we still had a mishap of some one trying to do a solo with the mic off, i almost saved it using the overheads, but it still wasn’t great. but not my fault. I called the rental company the next day and tore a strip off of them for all of the transmitter problems we had. They blamed it on just about everything they could think of. So after faulty mics and other assorted problems everything worked well with few mishaps, and the principal of the school loved me. Well I hoped so after id just spent 4 days of my time back in high school, the last place I wanted to be. Oh well my Girlfriend was happy.


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Fight Leukemia
Get some Shure ULX bodypacks next time,they can be locked on!!!!!


Wireless Guy
Premium Member
The Shure SLX bodypacks have the same feature at a lower cost. Also, I can lock all of the other transmitters with a few pieces of black gaff tape. :)


Heres something that i dont think anybody else mentioned ; after you do mic checks periodically listen to the mics in your head phones. I know people can go out of range etc, but that sounds a lot different, than somebody some how managing to hit the mute or power switch (that is taped mind you if anybody can explain how this one happened i will give them a giant chocalate chip cookie). It may sound stupid but doing this before the showstarts can and most likely will save your bacon.


Active Member
When we did Footloose, we had 10 audiotechnica wireless headset mics, and a shure ulx and one other one by shure, not sure waht it was. Teh audiotechnica's were fo two different series, one of them was the 600 series and the other was some newer one that had digital packs and recievers, they were really good. anyway, I ended up power locking all the digital packs and the shure ulx and for the other audiotechnicas and teh shure, i put htem in the on position and built up a layer of tape beside teh switch so it couldn't be moved to the off position at all unless the the tape was removed, then I stuck a piece of gaffa tape over the switch.

I always listened to each mic before and during the show and i did listen in to a lot of interesting conversations. those were fun gave me some interesting things to talk about with the cast with alot of explanation from them. Some fo them were even embarresed about it. I just loved it.

than somebody some how managing to hit the mute or power switch (that is taped mind you if anybody can explain how this one happened i will give them a giant chocalate chip cookie).

If you just tape over the switch, it still can be moved if you put pressure onto it, thats why i tape it so it can't be moved and then put tape over it[/quote]
Our Show

Can't wait for my next musical, 18 wireless mics (VHF + UHF), 4 Boundarys, a small orchestra, and my first PC Playback based performance. It's gonna be interesting

OK, back On Topic. Colour coding is the way forward, because we use over 10 mics, we group them into groups of 5 identified by colours. Pretty neat!


Active Member
Sharing bodypacks... what a PITA. I had to do this for a middle school concert last year. Everyone gave their mics to who they weren't supposed to. So, I told them that would not work and that was the end of it. :) Now, I'm doing sound for the same middle school right now. They bought some POS shures (not sure on the model) which they wanted me to use. Their RF was way too weak. Especially if I wanted to PFL them backstage. :) So I'm bringing my 6 Sennheiser 112s and I'll use their Shures for the less important parts.

As for taping the mics, I do it in two places. On the Mute switch and I tape the mic wire to the bodypack. So when Bob's pack falls off all the strain is removed from the mic connector.

BTW, I'm new to this forum. I'm 17, attending a public high school. I'm the AV Club president and I am also an employee of the school system in the Technology Dept. for AV stuff.

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