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Microphone Recommendations

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Todd Rogers
Microphone Recommendations
on Nov 26, 2008 at 3:13:51 am

Hello All,
First post here at the Cow!

I am looking for some recommendations on what type of microphone may be best suited for capturing the audio of a stage production. For example, recording actors in a play when their voices are not mic'd. I am thinking I could place two microphones at the front of the stage (one off to the left, and the other to the right), and aim them up a little to catch the sound. I'm just not sure which microphone are best suited for this? I plan on recording both the video and audio using my Canon XL2.

Any suggestions on makes and models of microphones? I'm not looking for the cheapest option, yet can't afford top shelf either. I'm thinking if I could spend less than $1,000 I could fit it in my budget.

Hopefully I've given enough information for you to respond.

Thanks,
Todd



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Ty Ford
Re: Microphone Recommendations
on Nov 26, 2008 at 11:38:40 am

Hello Todd and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

Your question has a complex answer. It begs more questions.
1. How good do you want the audio to sound?
2. How big is the stage?
3. How many people with lines onstage at the same time?
4. Is this a musical?
5. Is there live or prerecorded music?
6. What do you intend to do with the footage?

Regards,

Ty Ford

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide






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Todd Rogers
Re: Microphone Recommendations
on Nov 26, 2008 at 2:46:33 pm

Hello Ty. Thank you for your reply.

Yes, after I posted my question I realized there were a lot of unknowns to give a "sound" answer!

1. How good do you want the audio to sound?
My main concern is being able to pick up the actors voices at a fairly good level. The more I capture their voices the better, but I'm not opposed to picking up some background noise... applause, or even an occasional sneeze.

2. How big is the stage?
That's a very good question... I have not seen it yet! I'm sure this plays an important part in determining the proper mics. I will find the answer to this question, but for now let's go with a 30 foot wide, by 20 feet deep.

3. How many people with lines onstage at the same time?
Again, at this time I do not know, but I will find out. However, for this excercise, let's go with 8 actors that are spread out over the stage.

4. Is this a musical?
No. However, there may be musicals coming up in the future and I would like to be prepared for that.

5. Is there live or prerecorded music?
There will be music, but it is prerecorded and will play through the house system.

6. What do you intend to do with the footage?
The footage will be used to create a DVD for members of the theater and their family and friends to purchase... hopefully.

Thanks again Ty, and sorry I don't have some of the production specifics. I realize this makes it hard to give a solid recommendation.


Todd



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Ty Ford
Re: Microphone Recommendations
on Nov 26, 2008 at 3:36:05 pm

Todd,

The professional theater way to do this is to have a wireless mic on each actor. Mics set at the stage or above are simply too far away to get a solid sound. These systems also usually require a person to mix the sounds (more typically, to mute or lower mics not being spoken into to keep the sound clean).

Sennheiser G series mics would be a minimum, with something like Countryman B6 mics at the hairline.

You'll get something with "zone micing" but it will sound hollow and far away. It could be argued that "it's close to the sound the audience is likely to hear." Close to, yes, but the difference is that your XL2 will probably not be just locked down on a wide shot. As a result, when you zoom in, the roomy audio will not match well.

Regards,

Ty Ford

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide






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Todd Rogers
Re: Microphone Recommendations
on Nov 26, 2008 at 4:03:16 pm

Thanks again Ty.

I would love to mic each performer, but that just isn't going to happen. This production is put on by a small community theater and consists of child actors.

In my attempt to research some options via the inernet, I came across the term "Boundary Microphones". The explaination of these seemed to be close to what I might need. Have you any expierence with the Audio-Technica UA851A or similiar mic's? My thought was to place a couple of these on the stage and connect them to my XL2 via XLR cable. I don't need the best sound quality, I simply need the voices to be heard. If I zoom and the sound doesn't match, that's ok for this project.

I am a production team of one, so I'll have to set it up and pretty much leave it.

How about this question: Is there a type of microphone that is more designed for what I am trying to accomplish? Would a boundary mic be a better fit than a shotgun style?

Thanks.



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Ty Ford
Re: Microphone Recommendations
on Nov 26, 2008 at 4:26:14 pm

PZM and boundary mics work, but you're still very far away from the mics. and they'll hear your feet first if you get close to them. The acoustics of the space, the action on the stage, where you might be also to mount directional mics, all of these come into play. No one on any forum can answer that question. There are too many variables.

They'll be closer to the action than your XL2 mic. Chances are they'll be better. Enjoy the learning experience. Rent some mics and let us know what works for you. DreamHire in NY is one of may rental facilities if you don't have one locally.

Regards,

Ty Ford

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide






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Todd Rogers
Re: Microphone Recommendations
on Nov 26, 2008 at 11:06:12 pm

Thank you again for your replies Ty. I have a lot of learning by trial and error ahead of me. I just hope I can keep the errors at a minimum!

Todd



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Ty Ford
Re: Microphone Recommendations
on Nov 27, 2008 at 12:58:57 am

Todd,

Noooo! You learn a LOT more from the mistakes. Trust me.

Regards,

Ty

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide






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Steve Wargo
Re: Microphone Recommendations
on Nov 27, 2008 at 7:05:36 am

Unfortunatly (or fortunatly), our mistake are embedded into our mind for eternity.



Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1 HD .


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Jordan Wolf
Re: Microphone Recommendations
on Nov 27, 2008 at 2:48:07 am

EXPERIMENT, EXPERIMENT, EXPERIMENT!!!!

Never stop, always take the opportunity to...

:-)

Wolf
<><


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Eoin Ryan
Re: Microphone Recommendations
on Nov 30, 2008 at 3:49:35 am

can u not just run an XLR cable from the back of your camera to the sound board/mixing desk in the hall? Monitor the audio with headphones and if sounds too high tell the mixer to bring it down a little. Better to have it too low than too high anyway. As a back up use a sennheiser k6 on an me66 shotgun and put this on a mic stand directed at a speaker. About 2 feet away with low sensitivity selected on your transmitter. Let this transmit to your second camera which you could have locked off in a wide shot. Both ways will guarantee good audio. The sennheiser evolution system is great and would recommend.


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Eoin Ryan
Re: Microphone Recommendations
on Nov 30, 2008 at 3:55:35 am

sorry I just re-read your post and realized you said the actors were not mic'd. Will there not be any mics on stage at all? If so, my suggestions above would work. If not, don't do the job or use suggestions above that recommend trying the different mics.


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Todd Rogers
Re: Microphone Recommendations
on Nov 30, 2008 at 4:01:09 am

Thanks for the reply. Unfortunately, the only thing coming through the house system is music... that's it. No mic's on the actors at all.

I do plan on hooking up a couple mics via the camera's XLR inputs, but it's down to a matter of which mics I should purchase/rent first. These mic's will be placed in front of the stage aimed up at the actors. Of course, it would be good to know which mic's have a wide enough spectrum range for covering the stage... at least most of it.

Thanks again.



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Jordan Wolf
Re: Microphone Recommendations
on Nov 30, 2008 at 5:42:28 am

Shotguns will cover most of the audio spectrum, as will boundary microphones like the Crown PCC160.

Wolf
<><


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Jordan Wolf
Re: Microphone Recommendations
on Nov 30, 2008 at 6:04:43 am

**ADDENDUM TO PREVIOUS POST**

One of the guys who uses our portable rig has used:

2 AKG C414B-XLS
2 Crown PCC160

Maybe you can look in to renting from a local production house? That would be cheaper and could be built into your bill.

Wolf
<><


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Todd Rogers
Re: Microphone Recommendations
on Nov 30, 2008 at 6:10:16 am

Perfect. Thanks much for the info Wolf. I'll check into the mic's you mentioned.

Todd



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Todd Rogers
Re: Microphone Recommendations
on Dec 18, 2008 at 1:11:11 am

Hey Guys,
Just thought I would report back for an update.
I ended up purchasing and using the Crown PCC 160's. Wow, I was very pleased with the audio they captured. I placed two of them at the front of the stage, which was about 35 feet wide and 20 feet deep, and they picked up all the actors vocals with no problem. I angled the mic's in just slightly towards center stage as that is where most of the action was. Both mic's connected directly to my Canon XL2 via the XLR connections, and I set the record level to automatic.

I couldn't be happier!
Thanks for all of your input,
Todd



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