Small Form Factor Microphone Stand

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by JimboJ, May 7, 2005.

  1. JimboJ

    JimboJ Active Member

    Recording concerts in churches, temples, art galleries, etc., I am seldom able to hang microphones from above the stage. Instead, I mount my main pair of microphones on a black Bogen light stand, center stage, right in front of the ensemble. It always bothers me that I’m partly obscuring the performers from the audience. Of course, the audience is supposed to be LISTENING, so it really shouldn’t matter that there’s a 12-foot tall pole on a tripod interrupting the view. However, I do catch flak for it occasionally.

    Now that I’m planning to add outriggers to my main pair, I’m not looking forward to putting out yet more big mic stands in the front of the musicians. Does anyone have any ideas about an alternative mic stand of sufficient height but with a smaller form factor? Maybe a DIY solution? I use small diaphragm condensers so the stand doesn’t have to support a lot of weight – but it can’t be prone to tipping either, where a bump from a wayward musician would send it crashing into a viola. (Okay, maybe that’s not the end of the world.)

    Looking forward to any ideas.

    -- James
     
  2. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    We have the same problem, often, but the main risk is the audience wandering around in front of the front row to get to some other seat and hooking the leg of the tripod under their own and giving it a good kick.

    Also we find our big manfrotto becomes a totem pole for a meeting place, people congregate there, even hold it, lean on it while catching up on the latest family pregnancy or whatever. Sends us wild.

    So no real advice. For unobtrusive-ness, we sometimes use the small circular-based K&M types stands, but they can be knocked over. They have one advantage that due to the weight of the base, they fall quite slowly, so the perpetrator can usually catch it on the way down, turn and give us a real sheepish look, while we are cursing like Mutley off in the middle distance.
     
  3. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    David, you just reminded me of a time when a little old lady decided my center mic stand would be a good place to "LEAN" while talking to one of her friends during the intermission. (Aaaieeee!!!!) I never moved so fast to try to stop her.....old lady falling one direction, mic stand falling the other.....Which one do I grab first? (As Jack Benny once said: "i'm thinking....I'm THINKING!!!)

    Whenever we've got to deal with a mic stand in the center aisle, we try to make it as visible as possible to people walking past. We often make a "landing zone", using 2" white gaffer tape strips in a big square around the base, something like a "Do-not-step" area, sometimes actually putting white tape on the tripod legs themselves.

    While that works SOME of the time, another trick that seems to help is if the church has movable kneeler pads. (Many churches have these instead of hard-wooden covered/padded kneelers.) These items can actually be picked up and moved. Some are round, some are oval, some are small squares - I'm sure you've seen the type. Since our main stands are tripods, we can sometimes put a kneeler pad (if they're small enough) in the 'Crook" of each zone, so the three kneelers tend to gently force folks away from the stand. In most cases, all but the most brain-dead get the message.

    If we end up with outriggers that are actually IN the first few pews (unavoidable in some spaces), we try to tape off the area to each side of the mic stands. It's not a popular solution (esp if they're selling reserved seats), but if we get permission to do it, it's often a passable solution.

    I never underestimate the power of people to lose all common sense in public, though. :? You can only cross your fingers and hope for the best in most cases. :cool:
     
  4. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    I put a table behind the stand. A couple of bits of equipment on the table encourages people to stay away. Of course this only works in a limited number of venues. I know this doesn't answer James's question.

    I'll probably buy a pair of DPA 4060s, and to mount these I intend to use some aluminium pipes (light and strong) from a hardware store. Some of these pipes can be very thin indeed. This series of tiny DPA mics -with which Rich has had a lot of success- have negligible weight. I'd like to do something similar for other SDCs, but I don't know the best way to connect mic clips to thin pipe. The weight of cables becomes significant at a height. The DPAs can be easily attached to anything, and have several feet of extremely thin cable.

    John
     
  5. Sonarerec

    Sonarerec Guest

    A reminder to anyone using the DPA 4060/4061-- these mics have a mean presence boost which can be completely flattened by removing the grids. Be careful of the diaphragms!

    Rich
     
  6. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Our biggest problem besides the aforementioned problems is the videographers who always complain about the microphone stands. We normally use a Decca Tree with AT4060s so I guess they have a right to complain but their solution is would be , for us, audio suicide. They want us to use shotgun microphones from the balcony. When you try and tell them why this is not such a good idea they get upset and say "well that is what I use and it works well" Then you listen to something that they have done and even though it looks good it sounds REALLY BAD. We normally give them a feed from our recording setup and they take the feed but then complain about the microphones being in their field of vision. It is a no win situation.

    We have used lots of different stands and as long as they are painted flat black they seem to disappear from the concert goers vision or at least are tolerated. I think for your uses a Bogen or other "light" stand would work well. A couple of years ago Shure made some really nice stands that went very high and were basically converted light stands. They were made to hold their SM-80 and 81 microphones. I see them every once in a while on Ebay. When I was in college one of my fellow students had a stand all made out of pluming parts. He used 1", 3/4" and 1/2" hard copper tubing along with adapters to get quite a high stand and had a local welder make him a base that was a low tripod with a shelf in the middle that he put sandbags on . He pained it all flat black and it worked well.

    As to marking the stand we used everything we could think of including putting a sign on it but people seem to use is as a meeting place anyways. I like the idea of kneeling cushions so maybe we will carry with us something to inflate and place it around the stand. <a big truck tire tube or child's swimming pool?><GRIN> We also carry bright yellow rope that we use to cordon off the pews when we are set up and their is no center isle. We attached metal washers to the ends of the rope and drape them over the pews. This seems to work well unless you have a small child who likes to play with the rope and washers. We finally put heat shrink over the washers to keep little hands from undoing the ropes and so they would not rattle during the services.

    As soon as someone invents an anti-gravity microphone holder all of our worries will be over. <GRIN> Until then I am afraid that we will have to annoy some concert goers with our microphone stands.
     
  7. Sonarerec

    Sonarerec Guest

    I almost always use the heavy-duty 12ft Bogen for the main array with a Matthews sandbag full of gravel on the base (unless I am flying mics). If someone complains about the unsightliness I point out that the view of the conductor is obscured only if you are seated in the middle of the center aisle (and resist the temptation to point out that THEY are the only ones interested in watching the conductor). If they persist I gently ask a rhetorical question, "now you came primarily to LISTEN rather than LOOK, didn't you?"

    Frankly, when I attend concerts I always close my eyes. This engenders other hazrds but I won't get into that here....

    Rich
     
  8. Sonarerec

    Sonarerec Guest

    Almost forgot about the thread--

    the Shure stand to which Tom refers is the S15. Very fine piece of gear except for when the threaded lockscrews strip out. Plus a tripod base that is wider than any other stand I own. Came with its own carry case, though.

    For low profile solo I put one or two Schoeps caps atop a short piece of threaded alum rod painted black, and use the base of a background lightstand:

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=productlist&A=details&Q=&sku=5351&is=REG

    Rich
     
  9. recordista

    recordista Active Member

    My regular stand is the Avenger A410B: solid as a rock, black anodized, and has a lazy leg to cope with sloping floors. Only ~$150 and takes much more abuse than the lighter Manfrotto/Bogen stands.
     
  10. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Good topic!

    First, here's a creative idea that often gets the stand(s) just enough out of the way that people don't complain.

    Check out B&H Photo and look for a tall backdrop stand. This is essentially two light stands with a long, sturdy pole in between them. You can mount your mics on the pole using a stand adapter for a pop screen and now your mic stands are far off to the sides of the conductor and no stand in the middle at all. The best thing is, you can mount ALL of your front array mics here and assure the same distance to the source.

    Another instance where I find this to be helpful is the occassional church gig where the musicians move from the rear of the church to the front down a center aisle. Obviously, a tall, center-mounted mic stand means certain death to a few chorusters, so mounting this back-drop stand on either side of the aisle and flying the mics over head makes all but the tallest tenor safe.

    As for the mic stands coming under constant danger - I'm ALL too familiar with this. I get people tripping over them, leaning on them, hanging purses or camcorder bags from their lock-screws and much more. Here's a good one:

    I was recording a local concert band (a regular and VERY good client of mine) when the photographer insisted that my mic stands were in the way. (This is just 5 minutes before the start of the concert none-the-less. :evil: ). So, I didn't have time to retract the stands (since the cables are taped to the stand all the way down the shaft.) What I did was layed the stands flat on the ground and watched them very carefully.

    The good news is that, until the -5 minute mark, the concert was closed to all except the families of the musicians. The bad news is, the conductor's 3 and 5 year old daughters were running around the hall without parental supervision. I had three stands set up that needed to be laid down - 1 center stand with 2 Schoeps mics on a T bar and 2 flanking mic stands, both with Schoeps mics on them.

    I stood guard over the center stand and carefully watched the outer stands to ensure they were fine. My attention drifted for only a moment when I turned to see that the 5 year old had removed the mic from the stand and began trying to sing into it. When her father saw her, he yelled and she promptly DROPPED my mic to the concrete floor!!!!!!! :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil:

    That's why I carry an insurance policy on all my gear.... :roll:

    J.
     
  11. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Sheesh, that story makes my eyes water. Even though we have insurance its still very distressing to experience this sort of event, I am like a hawk when doing schools gigs in churches.
     
  12. Exsultavit

    Exsultavit Active Member

    Recordista- I'm gonna really check out that Avenger A410b. Looks good on the web! All my favorite stands have that 'lazy leg' feature- constantly handy, as the best spot is often up a few stairs right in front of the sanctuary....

    The Shure S15 is the lightest stand with a pretty small 'visual factor'. I find, though, that hanging mics is the only way to make them 'invisible'. Unfortunately, this takes forever to do right and is impossible in many venues.

    As far as people hassling my stands-- I must live a blessed life! NO ONE has ever:

    -'hung on' to one of my large stands

    -hung anything (like a camera strap) from the stand's screw-downs

    -leaned against it

    -moved it (without my permission)

    -painted it, sawed it in half just before showtime, etc


    Once, though, when I had a stand in a pew at a crowded show, someone sat with the stand between their knees. But they moved when I asked them to.

    Have no idea why I am lucky this way, but whenever I read these posts I am very thankful!

    sincerely

    Exsultavit
     

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