Finally, proof...

Discussion in 'Live Sound' started by JoeH, Feb 22, 2008.

  1. JoeH

    JoeH Distinguished Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    .....that you can never have enough microphones. All you collectors and gear-porn viewers can relax, tell your wives, girlfriends: It's OK. It does happen sometimes, so one must prepared.

    Yes, really, I had a gig two weeks ago that required my bringing almost everything I own, mic-wise. It was truly one of those save up for a "Rainy Day" things.

    The project was a live concert recorded for broadcast. The group was SO Percussion. What happened was this: Their rider called for as many as 16 mics between four players for the front row of percussion sets, and four more across the back for a second set of small percussion items, like bowls, bells, wood blocks, etc.

    To make it a "perfect storm," the venue (Kimmel Center in Phila) usually splits the mic requirements with me, adding whatever mics they have as well, for complex gigs, but they had another event in their other hall, sucking up almost of their available mics, at least the ones that would fit the requirements on the band's rider. After a quick conference call with them, it turned out I'd need to bring as much as I could get my hands on, along with my own 24x3 Whirlwind snake/splitter box, I get the direct side, and the house/monitors get the transformer iso side. They just said: "Bring everything you've got!"

    Without boring you with the entire mic rider list (mostly B&Ks, AKG 414s and KM-84's), we were able to mix and match, creating two discrete areas onstage, two for the first half, and two for the second half. (It had to be set up this way to let the material move from one work to the next without resetting anything.) They opened with a Steve Reich piece: Music for Pieces of Wood, playing physically close together under a single (KMi-84) mic. Then they moved on (without a break) into an original work entitled:
    "Amid the noise" on the rest of the gear already pre-set for the first half.

    Among other things, this piece had steel drums, marimba, wood boards, bells, toy pianos, melodica (a "hooter," as some would call it), synthesizer, prepared grand piano, laptop (Sampled audio) output, two transistor radios, and a cactus with a DI. (i'm not making this up; it actually sounded VERY cool, and watery...of course, one had to be VERY careful how they played it, gently stroking the spikey tines in the correct direction without getting stuck) Oh speaking of water, there was a bucket of water and cup as well. This was, as I recall, a total of 18 microphones & two DI for the first half.

    After intermission, we reset the stage for four identical sets of percussion for David Lang's "the so-called laws of nature". Each player had tuned wood blocks, metal bars, marimbas, tom toms, and one kick (bass) drum at their 'zones' onstage. We did each "zone" with four mics each; a KM-84 on front wood blocks, AT 4040's and 4050's as overheads on the middle stuff, and various available dynamic mics on the kick drums. That was 16 mics total, plus another four (Shure SM81's) on the small set of percussion items, up on another riser in the back. (We couldn't swap or pull anything, since it all had to happen in real time, without any resetting of the stage.)

    In addition, I had two mics hanging in the house for ambient/surround feeds, and there were a number of hand held wireless mics (run by the house sound guy) for announcements, etc. I got a composite feed for those.

    For most of the show, I was running between 20 and 24 mics into 24 tracks with Sequoia on my laptop. (Yeah, things have come a long way in live acoustic recording!) No biggie at this point. :roll:

    But the main thing was how amazing it was to finally bring out so much stuff, and throw it all into the fray. (Finally, a reason to use so much stuff all at once!) The mixdown went well, I had the ambient mics as well as the closeup stuff to give me a pleasing "real" sound, without making it too studio-like.

    I still don't know how (yet) to post pictures here, but I do have some sexy shots of the mics & stands all in place, along with the players in dress rehearsal and in concert. (Perhaps I can figure out how to post them here...)

    About 50% of what was performed will be broadcast this Sunday (Feb. 24th) on WRTI 90.1 FM in Phila., and it will also be streamed on the web at (This isn't a shill or a plug for my work, just a pointer to some interesting new music, and an example of why it's OK to collect lots of mics. LOTS of mics. :twisted: )

    You're not alone out there; so keep buying mics. You just never know. :wink:
  2. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Jan 13, 2005
    That sounds like a cool concert, Joe; I'm going to check out the streaming version, if it's still running.

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