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Trying to reduce feedback with wireless mics for a board meeting

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Dan Shaw
Trying to reduce feedback with wireless mics for a board meeting
on Feb 20, 2015 at 10:52:46 pm

I am hoping to get some ideas on how to best prevent feedback given my situation when working the audio board for a school district board meeting. Unfortunately, I can't rearrange things. So I can't re-position the output speakers or the individuals who have the microphones. The location also does not help as it is in a large room that has some echo.

What I am finding is that if the audio levels are too high, I get feedback. But if I lower them down to prevent that feedback, it gets too quiet. So the last couple of meetings I have been working my butt off to turn off all the mics except for the person speaking. This has helped a lot, but they talk sometimes so fast that I can't keep up. It would be great to try to keep all of the microphones on so that I don't have to babysit as much.

Other difficulties:

- Wireless mics are on small stands that sit in front of the board members.
- Members have bad mic techniques. Some are really close and others are farther away. So I have had to turn up the soft talkers and lower the loud talkers.
- Members are sitting next to each other in a horse shoe like pattern.
- Two large speakers are above the board members (mounted to the wall)

After researching, things others have suggested:

- Find the frequency that the feedback is coming in on and reduce it with EQ. Best option? I don't have a graphical EQ board. Just a mixer with EQ knobs.
- Look into a limiter/gate to block out the reverb. (I shy away from this as it costs $$$)
- Continue to ride the mixer and turn off mics that are not being used.

Ultimately I'd love to not have to spend money. In fact, I don't think I can spend any money right now. Gotta love public education. So I would love some ideas on what I can do as an amateur audio engineer. :)

Thanks guys! And let me know if I didn't give enough details. I'm new to this.


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Brian Reynolds
Re: Trying to reduce feedback with wireless mics for a board meeting
on Feb 21, 2015 at 12:19:25 am

I have used these and had good results....
http://www.behringer.com/EN/Products/FBQ100.aspx

Not going to totally fix the problems you have unless you do a complete rejig....

A trick I have often used is to actually turn the level down on people with bad mic technique and tell them how much better good technique sounds as seen on other people..... Guess what they learn fast ;)


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Ty Ford
Re: Trying to reduce feedback with wireless mics for a board meeting
on Feb 21, 2015 at 12:25:51 am
Last Edited By Ty Ford on Feb 21, 2015 at 12:26:19 am

Hello Dan and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

How many mics are you running?

How many people are talking into them?

Can you please post a picture of the setup?

Regards,

Ty Ford
Cow Audio Forum leader

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


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Ryan Miraglia
Re: Trying to reduce feedback with wireless mics for a board meeting
on Feb 21, 2015 at 9:51:19 pm

If you have the option, for low talkers turn gain up on the handheld unit itself, and down for louder folks. Tell speakers to speak INTO the mic.


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Brian Reynolds
Re: Trying to reduce feedback with wireless mics for a board meeting
on Feb 21, 2015 at 11:07:27 pm

While 'chasing levels' for low speaking persons actually creates problems for 'YOU'.

I do some annual AGM type meetings and was faced with similar problems and then changed the tack to lowering (slightly) the level on people that aren't prepared to use a mic properly..... They are then 'forced' to raise the mic to their mouth and then i will then raise the level to get good results.
Also by people seeing that poor mic technique gives poor / almost acceptable results they will continue to do it, perpetuating the problem for future generations of 'sound mixing people'

If anything is said by the organisers just say 'I was doing my best but when people refuse to use a mic correctly there is not much I can do'


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Ty Ford
Re: Trying to reduce feedback with wireless mics for a board meeting
on Feb 22, 2015 at 12:17:04 am

Or, toss out the table mics and rig them all with Headworn mics like the countryman B6. They can't get away from them and they are very lightweight.

Regards.

Ty Ford
Cow Audio Forum Leader

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


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Dan Shaw
Re: Trying to reduce feedback with wireless mics for a board meeting
on Feb 24, 2015 at 9:08:08 pm

Thanks everyone for your suggestions. I do agree that having bad mic technique is most likely the biggest issue that I have. I have the board meeting tonight so I am going to talk with the board and remind them on how best to talk into the mic. It would be nice to just attach the mic's onto their bodies so that they don't have to talk into the mic on the table, so I might bring that up and give it a try.

Ty - To answer your questions, I have 1 wired mic for any community member to talk into, and 8 wireless mics for the board members. These wireless mics are plugged into small table mics that stand in front of each board member. The board is constantly talking throughout the night.

I am including a photo of the room, but the layout of the tables is not correct on this photo. The woman who you see there is facing the direction of how the board would be facing. You can also see one of the large speakers on the wall. Once the tables are set up it resembles a horse-shoe pattern.



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Ty Ford
Re: Trying to reduce feedback with wireless mics for a board meeting
on Feb 24, 2015 at 9:23:22 pm

Hmm, can't tell exactly, but angling the speakers towards the right in the room and away from the mics might help some.

Basically, it's a rock and a hard place situation. If people don't get up on the mic, there's not a lot you can do.

Are the mics only for PA? If they are there to record what's said, then if you have a gain control after the recorder for the PA, then you can get good record levels and adjust the amount that goes to thew PA system. That'll allow you to stay further away from feedback.

Regards,

Ty Ford

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


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Jo Llereza
Re: Trying to reduce feedback with wireless mics for a board meeting
on Jun 27, 2015 at 2:11:20 am

Hi Dan,

I was wondering if you found the solution to your feedback and mic level issues for the board meetings.


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Dan Shaw
Re: Trying to reduce feedback with wireless mics for a board meeting
on Jun 29, 2015 at 4:41:33 pm

Jo - At first I pushed the board members to practice good mic technique. That lasted for about an hour and then they went back to their old habits. It's a ton more work, but what I have ended up doing is turning half of the mics off for the few board members that seem to not talk as much. This allows me to increase the volume without any feedback. I then have to stay alert and enable their mics when they do talk. As long as I don't have all of the mics on at the same time it sounds fine. And while it takes more effort on my part, they do appreciate it. This meeting is only once per month. If it were a daily event I would look more into how I could reduce this feedback.

-Dan


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Ty Ford
Re: Trying to reduce feedback with wireless mics for a board meeting
on Jun 29, 2015 at 5:44:38 pm

Hey Dan,

A couple of automixers (shure and Audio-technica sell them) will also work in your situation.

Regards,

Ty Ford
Cow Audio Forum Leader

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


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Jo Llereza
Re: Trying to reduce feedback with wireless mics for a board meeting
on Jun 29, 2015 at 6:04:32 pm

Hi Dan,

Yes, that's pretty funny how you trained them and then within the first hour they went back to their old habits...Omg when you posted this, I was reliving the past.

I had this same problem more than 10 years ago, and we have 10 microphones plus the podium microphone..now we stream our meeting live..

Our nightmare was that the boardroom had 14 ft high ceiling speakers throughout the room pushing sound downwards towards the microphones. Whoever the acoustics engineer hired in the boardroom design either disregarded or didn't know that 10 twelve inch long gooseneck tabletop condenser microphones were going to be utilized for the monthly board meeting. Our meetings are videorecorded and we also have a separate recorder for audio recording only for backup.

You probably already do this, but for every board meeting after setting my gain structure, I "ring out" the room of the nasty feedback frequencies. I only have the secretary, board and vice chair's microphones set at 0db, the rest of the mic levels are set at negative 10 db or some completely muted like you for the one's that don't speak much.

The board members had swivel chairs that reclined, and sometimes when they talk they recline their chairs and forget there is an audience of 90 people and it is video/audio recorded, so I really feel your pain. I really hate when someone from public comes to the podium and they are standing 2 feet away from the microphone...

We finally broke down and had to get a shure SCM 810 automixer and DBX driverack 260, which is not cheap, but purchasing that and educating them on good microphone techniques greatly minimized our problems. You'll still have the same old people that don't practice proper mic techniques.

I'm glad you found something that works without having to spend money on equipment, but reinforcing or reminding them to practice proper mic techniques and muting mics that aren't used frequently is the most cost effective plan.

Thanks for sharing.


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Ty Ford
Re: Trying to reduce feedback with wireless mics for a board meeting
on Jun 29, 2015 at 6:29:58 pm
Last Edited By Ty Ford on Jun 29, 2015 at 6:43:06 pm

Jo,

Nice post!

Dan, one of the things I try to use in these situations is…

"People make judgements about you by how good you sound. You can sound really good if you are always around six inches from your mic. If you don't really care how good you sound, that's OK, but I just thought you'd like to know a little secret."

Maybe that'll stick with them, maybe not.

Regards,

Ty Ford
Cow Audio Forum Leader

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


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Jo Llereza
Re: Trying to reduce feedback with wireless mics for a board meeting
on Jun 29, 2015 at 7:10:38 pm

Thank you Ty!

You're definitely spot on with speech intelligibility at a distance of around 6" or so from the microphone, especially when you have set your gain and recording levels at around 0db for each mic.

Thanks for the little secret Ty!


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Ty Ford
Re: Trying to reduce feedback with wireless mics for a board meeting
on Jun 29, 2015 at 7:37:58 pm

Thanks,

and if they ask, "how'd I do?" afterwards... If little or no improvement…..say, "better"……..with a little lift that lets them know there's room for improvement.

If they really did improve, tell em even if they don't ask. "Hey you were really right on it and it sounded great!"

Regards,

Ty Ford
Cow Audio Forum Leader

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


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Peter Groom
Re: Trying to reduce feedback with wireless mics for a board meeting
on Jun 30, 2015 at 8:43:08 am

Im curious why speaker / amplification is neccesary at all in a room that small with so many mics. Its like oil and water - doesnt go.
Is there a big seating auditorium we cant see?
Peter

Post Production Dubbing Mixer


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Ty Ford
Re: Trying to reduce feedback with wireless mics for a board meeting
on Jun 30, 2015 at 12:36:46 pm

Perhaps not in this case but

1. Recorded for legal posterity?
2. So people attending with bad hearing can hear them?

Regards,

Ty Ford
Cow Audio Forum Leader

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


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Peter Groom
Re: Trying to reduce feedback with wireless mics for a board meeting
on Jun 30, 2015 at 3:29:56 pm

Perhaps.
I think everyone will have bad hearing after the inevitable howl round.
Record it by all means but i doubt they need amplifying.
Peter

Post Production Dubbing Mixer


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