Misc. live rig questions

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by BobRogers, Dec 18, 2006.

  1. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I recorded the local HS symphonic band last week. Not the easiest of situations. The conductor is almost on the edge of the stage, so I have to set my mic stand on the floor - about 3 ft. below the stage. I have the usual rock band Atlas stands and booms, so with everything extended the mics are about 5 ft. above stage level. (Q1) What do you all use for mic stands and booms?.

    I used a pair of Rode NT5s in ORTF. (Q2) Can anyone recommend a good stereo bar? I had a bear of a time trying to position them correctly. Thank god for gaffer tape.

    (Q3) Maybe this is part of the last question, but what do you use to mount, say, a pair of C414s for MS or Blumlein?

    Finally, what are your favorite on line stores for this stuff?

  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    For stands, Koenig & Meyer (K & M) or Stagg. Stay away from the cheap stuff. In the situation you describe, I would fly the mics overhead on a wire or rope. Ty-rap the mic spacer bar and the cables to the rope, hoist into position then plug the mics in from a stepladder.

    For NT5s, I use a Keith Monks bar. One difficulty with NT5s is that you can't get an accurate ORTF configuration (170mm/110deg) without the XLR connectors colliding, so you have to compromise on angle in the third dimension - one angled further below horizontal than the other.

    I usually end up using two stands for MS or Blumlein, simply to get the positional flexibility. For MS, one mic needs to be inverted on top of the other. If you invert the mid cardioid, it's easier to think about the R and L arithmetic for the side.

    None in particular, but make sure you keep your Ebay searches up to date with your current requirements.

    BTW, a good article from SoS in 2003 on miking techniques:
  3. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Hey Bob -

    It's always fun doing HS bands - isn't it. There's always something new.

    As for the stands, I almost always place mine on the floor. Most US schools (at least the 100 or so that I've worked in) don't have good catwalk access for flying the mics. Sure you can get up there, but you're usually stuck with bad placement options. Not only that, I've yet to do a fly-in rig where I spent less than 3 to 4 hours on set up. For HS band, it's just not worth it! (They don't pay that much.)

    For my main stand, I use a QuikLok A85. It's sturdy and it's cheap. Kids kicking it will not knock it over. Plus, I tape its legs with yellow gaffers tape to make it more visible.

    That particular stand will go approximate 12 to 13'. They quote more in their brochure, but that's just not possible.

    As for the stereo bar, I like the Sabra-Som (available at Cascade Media - http://www.cascademedia.net). It's cheap and relatively well made. (Get ready to have your super glue handy when the plastic clutch breaks for the first time. Don't worry, your mics won't fall to the floor, but you'll want to glue it up after it's first break. I actually use 1500 lb epoxy on all 3 of mine - yup, they're all 3 broken in the same spot. I still wouldn't trade them for the WORLD though.)

    With the Sabra-Som, they include an 8" bar, which for most things is just fine. For creative rigging, I've purchased (from the local machine shop) a few 18" and 36" bars. Others here have complained about ringing in the audible frequency from longer bars. With cold rolled steel, I haven't had this problem.

    With this rig, I can easily do MS, ORTF, XY, AB or any other funky set up I might try. (You can see it in action here:
    (Dead Link Removed)
    And, if you look closely enough, just below where the bar meets the clutch, you can see my epoxy job.)

    I agree with Boswell that spacing most mics for ORTF gives a similar problem (Schoeps, Gefell and Neumann KM series are no exception).

    However, if you are able to get the mics high enough, you can apply a slightly downward angle which usually frees up enough space at the rear for such a rigging.

    As for mounting the C414s for MS/Blum, the SabraSom will definitely do it.

    FWIW, if you can't find a cheap supplier of the QuikLok A85, I have a spare (which has seen better days but is still fully functional and secure) which I could part with. If you're willing to make the drive, I'll part with it for $50. I won't ship it though - that would be a monumental pain in the a$$.

  4. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Thanks guys - I looked at flying the mics (though I've never done it before) and the room is not really designed to make it easy - at least as far as I can tell. I think if I can get a bit more height, it would help. But this is a volunteer effort and my recording is at least at the level of the ones my daughter has received from various band camps and competitions. So I'm not going to put too much time and money into the effort.

    I am learning a lot by doing this. The NT5s sounded really great to me when used on acoustic guitar, but a smoother high end would really help with flutes and oboes. An upgrade to the sdcs is in the plan at some point, but I'm playing with other ideas first. (Maybe another post.)

    I have to admit that I was pretty casual about the ORTF specs. I've measured carefully when I was first experimenting but now I just space them a little narrower than my ears a little wider than 90 degrees. I tried to get them as level as possible, but since ORTF is meant to mimic the human head and since I'm usually slumped in my seat with my head cocked (unless my wife is kicking me for some reason) I figure a little tilt to the axis adds realism.
  5. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    I'll second most of Jeremy's recommendations, including the Sabra-Som. I've got a couple of K&M stereo bars as well, including the one that flexes in the middle; I like that a lot - it makes ORTF configurations much easier depending on the mics you're using.

    As for the QuickLok stands, I highly recommend this one instead:

    link removed

    It's similiar to the one Jeremy uses, but it has locking casters on each of the three legs. The base legs are solid steel (not hollow!) and the grips are reliable enough to hold heavy mic arrays. (I routinely put a pair of AT4050's plus a stereo bar on one stand, at full extension sometimes. HIGHLY recommend you sandbag it if you're extending the boom, or at least make sure you have one of the tripod legs out underneath the boom arm, so it doesn't tip over.

    The boom is telescoping as well, and you can lock tightly at all the usual joints. They also provide a much better racheting lock/arm for the center joint, which really lets you lock the thing down for heavy mic array's. At full extension, it's well over 15' high.

    The best feature is the wheels - you can carry one it each hand, like a rifle, of course, it's very well balanced that way, but once it's out of your car or van, you can quickly set it up and rollllllll it into a gig, not unlike those light stands you see at movie shoots.

    I often use one high up, right in the middle of the choir for an ORTF pair, then two outriggers with omni's on either side, and if needed, (with an orchestra, for example) a fourth stand up and over/behind the conductor's head, pretty much where a pair would be if it was flown, albiet a little lower.

    I own five of these now, with plans to eventually buy a few more. One of these days, I'm going to get caught in a situation where I'll have too many choral gigs going on at the same time....

    They're not always in stock, but if you can find a pair, grab 'em!
  6. Zilla

    Zilla Active Member

    I don't use 414's anymore, but early on they where my main mics. I never liked the visual look of available stereo bars with 414's in MS, XY or Blumlein for concert work. It just looked too industrial. So I built a mount which fastens around the two 414's bodies, one standing on the head of the other. You use just the bottom mics' clip for stand mounting, and the upper mic is fixed about it. This was a much cleaner look for me, having the silhouette of only the two mics and nothing else! As a bonus, it made the mic alignment rigid and less sloppy. Since I haven't used 414's or MS in about 10 years I guess I should probably let this thing go. Anybody interested?
  7. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Do you have a pic of this? I saw a similar arrangement used by someone at a band camp here at Virginia Tech. I assumed it was available commercially, but I've never seen anything like it. I probably should walk across campus and talk to the people in the music dept about it, but I just looked for one the web. The one they used is probably a custom as well.
  8. Zilla

    Zilla Active Member

    I can take a pic of it tomorrow.
  9. Zilla

    Zilla Active Member

    I sent you an email with the pic (not sure I understand how to post pics here in this forum).
  10. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    I'll second the A-85 & Sabra Som, but only use the Sabra stuff for small mics. One trick for avoiding colliding mics ...
    Get an Atlas AD4B and an AD5B. Thread them together and you have a nice spacer that lets you do XY or ORTF with SDC mics on any 2-bit T-Bar.

  11. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    I use Manfrotto stands. I don't have the model number with me (I'm on location at the moment) but they are lightweight aluminium stands available in anodised black or anodised clear finish, with air-cushioned release. They go *very* high, and if you need to go higher, you can buy extensions to add to them. They are lightweight and have an adjustable footprint (you can make it very wide if necessary, even hang a sandbag over it to keep it safe when using heavy mics).

    Once I got my first Manfrotto, I sold my big heavy Atlas within a month or so. I simply couldn't see the point in dragging that huge cast iron base with wheels around with me any more... Now I have three Manfrottos, including a tall black one and a tall plain aluminium finish. So, I can choose whichever colour suits the venue best. Black for rooms with dark walls and so on, plain aluminium for places where the surrounding walls are lighter colours (in those places a black stand sticks out like a sore thumb).

    Another thing I love about the Manfrottos is the air-cushioned release. When the concert is over, I simply undo the segments and let the stand slowly bring the mics down. It's very cool...

    Being aluminium means they are very rigid. It helps to place a soft foam block under each foot to a) decouple it from any floor vibrations, and b) absorb vibrations within the stand itself.
  12. ghellquist

    ghellquist Member

    Short takes (sorry for telegraph style):

    - ORTF is not meant to mimic head size. It is a simple coincidence after long time testing different settings.
    - for setting up ORTF, use a distance below one of the mic holders. Perfect fit is one each of K&M216 + K&M217 threaded into each other. A little Loctite will help them sticking together
    - I second the Manfrottos. 004 is a good size for most hand-carried occasions, I have one. I also have a pair of 269H for the really hairy occasions.

  13. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Ah yes, I've just checked. The #004s are the ones I use, and the extensions for them are #099. I also have a set of three Manfrotto 'sand shoes'; these are like lunar-lander circular feet, a bit larger than a CD, that fit onto the legs of the stand for use in situations where the normal leg would simply keep sinking into the 'sand'. I have always intended to cut some foam to shape and glue it onto them, so that they provide isolation from the floor. This would look much better than the little foam blocks I currently use. Actually, I'd be gluing two layers of foam, one soft spongey layer and one firm hard layer, so that no matter whether the load on the stand (light or heavy mics, with or without sandbag) is light or heavy, it'll still isolate.

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