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Stage Performances: How does everyone MIC?

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Jeff CarpenterStage Performances: How does everyone MIC?
by on Oct 14, 2005 at 7:58:08 pm

Let's talk about sound!

(Note to start: The work I do is for mostly for Middle and High Schools or local community theaters. Shot on DV, goes right to DVD.)

I've finally gotten to the point where I've got some nice wireless lavs for weddings and now I find that I'm doing more stage shows. Mostly singing. Choirs and solos and duets, and some community theater. For now I've been borrowing whatever mics I can get my hands on from friends, recording several tracks on multiple cameras and spending all sorts of time in post figuring out which mic sounds best for which act.

I'm wasting a lot of time doing that and want to spend some money to buy what I need to do this right as I shoot. I'm planning on getting one of those $100 mixers with 6 or 8 inputs, some long XLRs, and work out a system where I can bring someone along to sit by me while I shoot and do a little mixing as we go.

I've been looking at my options...shotguns, hanging mics, PZMs, etc. I know the advantages and disadvantages to each and I'm just trying to figure out what the best combination of all this stuff is. So I wanted to hear from people around here. What kind of audio equipment do you guys own and how do you use it? I'm most interested in choirs (with a piano, or maybe drums) and stage plays (not music bands).

I just wanted to know what you guys thought and what you do before I started to spend money.

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MatteRe: Stage Performances: How does everyone MIC?
by on Oct 16, 2005 at 1:07:59 am

I usually attract a dissenting comment or two when I post this info, but here I go again...

I own and use several expensive studio condenser microphones.

But here is a link to a Mic that simply will work great for VO work, choir and orchestra recording.
Its very sensitive with low noise, so it will work well for recording stage plays.
The price is $59.99 (yes, that's 1 cent under $60).
(I just checked now, and its on SALE for just $49.95, so its almost FREE!)

I'm not kidding, this is a terrific mic. It requires Phantom Power to operate.
The standard phantom power is 48 volts, but I have easily run this mic on 12v to 20v phantom power from a battery-powered mixer.)
If you're looking at a Behringer mixer, they work great together.

A pair of these mics mounted in the right place can help you create a beautiful stereo recording.

This mic also sounds quite good on piano, string instruments and woodwinds.

Because it is very sensitive, it can be over-powered by the close-micing of percussion and some brass instruments.
There is another version (for a bit more money) that has a 10dB attenuator for use under LOUDER conditions.

Info on this mic has been posted on the COW many times and it ALWAYS gets surprised and grateful responses from those who buy it.

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Dave StenzRe: Stage Performances: How does everyone MIC?
by on Oct 17, 2005 at 1:38:02 pm

I also record quite a few high school concerts to include bands, choirs and string ensembles. I'm a bit of a purist in that less is more.

In order not to obstruct audience sight-lines, I've found a setup that works quite nicely in the school's 500-seat auditorium using one stereo and two condenser mics.

Bands and string ensembles:
First, all mics are mounted on Atlas desk stands or low tri-leg boom stands, which in turn, sit on top of a couple layers of mouse pads (extra shock absorbsion). Hanging mics is not an option at this time. Since they usually dress up the front of the stage with flowers, etc., I can hide the mics.

Mic 1: Center stage is an A-T Stereo mic panned hard left and right. The mic is placed in a shock mount and angled up toward the conductor's head.

Mic 2: Stage right is a condenser mic in a shock mount, placed approximately eight feet in from the side wall and aimed in and up at a 45 degree angle. This captures more reflection from the side wall than direct sound from ensemble. If I need more direct sound from the ensemble, I simple re-aim more in their direction. Panned hard left (audience perspective).

Mic 3: Stage left is the same as above except the mic is aimed toward the right side wall and panned hard right (audience perspective).

I usually capture the MC's/soloist's voice directly via a mic splitter.

Choirs will use a similar setup except I might add an additional mic or two if needed for balance.

Hope this is useful.


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Jeff CarpenterRe: Stage Performances: How does everyone MIC?
by on Oct 17, 2005 at 2:09:18 pm

Hope this is useful.

Very much so. Thanks to you too, Matte.

I know just enough abuot audio to make things really complicated if I wanted to. This kind of advice is very useful to me because it really shows me what has worked for others. Left to my own imagination I am certain that I'd end up setting up redundant items and just wasting a lot of effort and money.

I'd still welcome any advice from others but I did want to thank you guys for what you've said already. This is exactly what I was asking for.

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branmacRe: Stage Performances: How does everyone MIC?
by on Oct 17, 2005 at 3:45:56 pm


The advice you have been given is good. But unless you have more sound souces than your cameras can handle, I would advise against using a newbie to live mix for you, that is a surefirwe recipe for disaster. A litle more thought to mic placement should mean that you know which mics to use for which piece, I would keep the sound sources separate if possible



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Dave StenzRe: Stage Performances: How does everyone MIC?
by on Oct 17, 2005 at 6:03:57 pm

Another thought.... minimal mic'ing for these events can be done with the "Decca Tree" approach. An industry standard for years with excellent results. Just Google DECCA TREE and you should find lots of info...


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