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If you only had 1 Crown PZM mic and were recording a 20-pc jazz orchestra (drums, bass, elec. gtr, piano, keys, perc, 4 trmpts, 5 trmbns, 5 saxes, LdSax, 2 Ld vs. and up to 8 BGVs) in a live setting.

...where would you use the PZM?
...or would you use it at all?

BTW - your PZM is NOT the only mic you have to work with. .its just an option.


anonymous Mon, 01/13/2003 - 14:06


I found another PZM - so now I have a pair! Now, what would you do with 2 Crown PZMs in this setting?

Also, I was given 4 EV PM5 (dynamic omni) mics. Does anybody know anything about that mic? What are they good for? Would you use any of them on this recording? If so, how?


anonymous Sun, 01/19/2003 - 17:10

You will get a hard time getting the right balance in the recording, but use your ear, place them by the lowest playing instruments, and try to place the musicians different places to obtain the balance.

If you use both pzm's rmember the "3 to 1" rule. There should be at least 3 time's the distance between the mic's than the sound source, otherwise you will get a signal wwith alot of phase problems.

anonymous Mon, 01/20/2003 - 06:24

Another thing,
I have heard you can drastically improve the strength of signal particularly the lower end if you attach the PZMs to a 2ft square to 4 ft square piece of plexiglass. I have seen a sound company mount them to some clear plex that had holes drilled in the corners and then flew them up in the air about 10 ft up angled toward the two main orchestral sections. I never heard the end product so I can't comment, but the mics were nearly invisible to the audience.

Kurt Foster Mon, 01/20/2003 - 09:48

I recorded a gospel choir on location at a church in Oakland CA. The pastor of the congregation was Elijah Green, a monster musician who played Hammond B3 and piano. All his sons were in the band also. Absolutely killer! Reverend Green had a pair of PZM's mounted as described and we used them in the recording. They worked very well I must say. Fats
Tannoy, Dynaudio, Blue Sky, JBL, Earthworks, Westlake, NS 10's :D ,
Genelec, Hafler, KRK, and PMC
Those are good. …………………….. Pick one.

anonymous Wed, 01/22/2003 - 19:31

Tried one of the PZMs on the piano - sounded OK. Not as warm or full as the AT Pro37R, though.

So, I used it to catch the Leslie. The leslie was backed up to a wall (open back against the wall), so I put the PZM in the apex of the right angle made by the wall and the side of the leslie cab - angled about 45 degrees to the wall/cab. I was pleasantly surprised at how good a job it did. Organ sounded full and detailed - not an abundance of bottom end, but it fit nicely into the mix.

The only drawback is that either the organ or the leslie, or the mic itself is kind of hissy. You don't really notice it, though unless the music is sparse.

anonymous Fri, 01/24/2003 - 10:09

PZM are otherwise known as "boundry" microphones; they need to be on some kind of large surface, or they're very week and thin sounding. The mounting that Tom described is widely used on stages. The larger and thicker (or more solid) the surface is, the better the sound. And yes, they are, unfortunately, noisey. But hey, if you don't have a pair of M-50s handy, you can't beat the price. ;)


Mike Simmons Fri, 01/24/2003 - 10:46

Hi Jeff! How's it goin man!

I agree with other posters on the pzm being mounted on a large surface. I use them as room mics for music and as roundtable mics (conference recording) when fast set-up is needed and individual micing isn't possible. My gut instinct would be to tell you to go with the omnis. On the cheap, Behringer makes the EC8000 for about $35/ea. I've never heard them but Harvey raves about 'em in a best bang for the buck kinda way. Take care!!!

themidiroom Fri, 01/24/2003 - 11:05

Originally posted by Curious G:
Behringer makes the EC8000 for about $35/ea. I've never heard them but Harvey raves about 'em in a best bang for the buck kinda way

I have one of those EC8000 mics. I bought it to use with their digital EQ/RTA. One day out of curiosity, I plugged it in. I didn't like the sound of it at all. I would spend more money for a better sounding omni mic.


anonymous Sat, 01/25/2003 - 21:57

I love PZM's. they have a flavor that is truly different from 'regular' mics. It is true that they often lack fullness, but on the other hand they give you so much clarity and a certain kind of realism.

Crown makes a number of PZMs. Some of the higher end models are made with an enhanced bass response. Many people just assume that the Sound Grabber is "it" - it ain't.

Sometimes I stick a PZM inside the kick resting on a small blanket. Very nice natural boom, could work well for jazz

Taping a PZM to the lid of a grand piano will give you the coupling it needs for a full sound.

I also love PZM as room/audience mics. They will give you a lot of clarity and less phasing than a regular omni. Helps take out some of the mush in an echo-y room Tape to plexiglass and aim them XY or even try splitting them to the left and right sides of the room.

I tape the PZM's to the plexiglass with gaffer's tape and then use those big spring loaded clamps you buy at home depot for $1 each (and maybe some more gaffer's) to secure the plexiglass to a mic stand. This works well as long as you don't need to angle them up or down.

You can also use plywood. The only reason plexiglass is so popular is that it is less obtrusive in a live recording situation. With plywood you could attach a TV mount or something with screws.

I have also gotten good results taping them to the side walls.

Kurt Foster Sun, 01/26/2003 - 08:22

I did some work at a studio once that had a pair of Crown PZMs mounted to the wall on either side of the glass in the live room. They were placed there for use as "talkback" mics. I surprised the second by putting them up as ambient mics while tracking acoustic guitar overdubs. They worked quite well. The second told the owner of the studio and the primary resident engineer about what I did and they began to employ this technique themselves. Fats
Tannoy, Dynaudio, Blue Sky, JBL, Earthworks, Westlake, NS 10's :D , Genelec, Hafler, KRK, and PMC
Those are good. …………………….. Pick one.

anonymous Mon, 01/27/2003 - 09:44

I have used PZMs in the situations described by JoeQ and have usually gotten very good results. As Joe said it doesn't have to be plexiglass, unless visibility is an issue. When hung overhead on a stage, you try to interfere with the stage lighting as little as possible. Also, you try to not obstruct the view from the balcony, if there is one. So, if that's not a problem, you could use wood, or maybe sheet rock.

Other than inside an instrument (kick, piano), I have never used them to "spot mic", so I'm not sure about stand mounting. You may end up with vibration transmissions or resonances, which is another reason for "flying" the mics. Floor, walls, or ceiling is what they're meant for, and is usually the easiest.


Violin Dan Mon, 01/27/2003 - 15:41

Recently picked up two Crown pcc-160 boundary mics. Haven't tried them out on anything yet, but am curious about flying them. What is the directional pattern relative to the plex plane? I would assume that on the edge of a stage, the intended use, the pattern is somewhat hemispherical up and toward the stage. How does this work flown?
I would be interested in knowing if anyone has used them with strings or other chamber groups.

anonymous Mon, 01/27/2003 - 19:34

As for the pickup pattern of a boundary mic, I assume that they all are hemispherical. I can't see that the placement makes any difference in the pattern since all signal is captured from the reflection off the plate. I suppose there could be some exceptions.....

What I did with the PZM on the organ (leslie) was to get a boom stand, put an SM57 clip on it and just "drop" the PZM down into the clip so that the plate rests on the clip. This orientates the mic in an "upright" position (not that that matters...). Then, I just taped the back of the plate to the clip & wrapped some more tape around to secure it.

Quite amazing how well it is working in my mix.... :cool:

anonymous Tue, 01/28/2003 - 07:51

The base of the PZM should always be oriented perpendicular to the sound source. Think of it this way: if you place the mic right side up, flat on the floor, then ideally your instrument (let's use a trumpet) should stand right over, or just in front of the mic, pointing down toward the floor for maximum pick up. If you mount the mic on a portable panel, like plexiglass or sheet rock, connect strings (mono filiment nylon for invisibility) to the four corners of the panel, hang it upside down, over and just in front of the performers, and angled so the broad flat face of the panel, with the mic in the middle, is facing toward the instrument. The PZM is now upside down on the bottom of the panel, and the trumpet player can point forward or up in the air to be picked up over head. Remember, the panel or boundry is just an extension in all directions of the flat base plate of the mic. And to get the best low-end response, the panel should be at least 4 square feet (2' x 2'or bigger) and as flat and rigid as possible. I have not done this, but I have heard of people making the mic somewhat more directional by placing a large block of sound-absorbant material over the back half of the mic, just behind the opening slot, with a cut-out to fit tightly over the mic body. That way, theoretically, the mic picks up in a 1/4 spherical pattern from the front.


anonymous Tue, 01/28/2003 - 08:41

I bought 2 of the ecm8000s and returned them immediately, they had way too much self noise for my taste. I have used some earthworks omnis before that didn't seem to be anywhere near as noisey, but they are a whole lot more money. I believe from reading other peoples posts that small diaphram mics may in general exhibit more self noise( i don't know) I ended up getting a pair of oktava mc012s and liked them much more.

anonymous Tue, 01/28/2003 - 10:06

And yes, the smaller the diaphram, the noisier the mic is by itself. That's why large diaphram mics are used in studios. The more cross-sectional area that is available for the air to move, the greater the output from the capsule, or sensitivity compared to the amplifier noise. Smaller diaphram condensers have a flatter response, but less sensitivity, thus, higher comparative self noise (Stephen Paul can explain this much better than I). Measurement equipment electronically subtracts the noise during evaluations, so that's not critical.

Flat response is what you want for measurement purposes, and very popular for natural sounding recordings, but a little uninspiring (IMHO) for music.


anonymous Fri, 01/31/2003 - 09:30

I have used PZMs on (or should I say IN) kick drums a few times, mainly, because I didn't have anything more appropriate. As an omni mic, I think they are slightly sweeter sounding than measurement microphones, but still so flat that it doesn't enhance any of the drum's musical character. Even without a larger base (you used wood), it will translate quite a complete sound when stuffed inside the drum shell. The real problem, though, is now the entire drum becomes a pick-up, and all the other drums, and bass, can come through almost as loud. Impossible to prevent feedback in a loud PA system without totally deadening the drum. YMMV. It's going to depend on the drum and the environment.


Violin Dan Thu, 02/20/2003 - 18:40

Jeff Lowes said: "As for the pickup pattern of a boundary mic, I assume that they all are hemispherical. I can't see that the placement makes any difference in the pattern since all signal is captured from the reflection off the plate. I suppose there could be some exceptions....."
I just checked the Crown web site on the PCC 160 and it's described as having a "half supercardioid" polar pattern and the polar plot shows a good 10-20 db difference from the front to the back, in the plane of the floor, so this puppy is not hemispherical, but quite directional. I guess the 3d plot would look like a fourth of a football...think about it.
This would make for some interesting situations in the "flying" scenario, not to mention setting them inside the lid of a piano ;>}
What say???

anonymous Thu, 02/20/2003 - 22:51

no sound production or recording studio should be without at least 2 pzm's i have used them in nearly all situations from recording drums inside pianos inside open backed guitar cabs conbined with an SM57 (Sounds awesome) acoustic guitars (just stick it on the wall and play guitar at it) and vocals (smae just stick it on a wall at mouth level and sing at it ) and also in many live band situations... when i fist got into recording they were the first 2 mics i had so i experimented with them on everything ( i love em) :)

anonymous Sun, 03/02/2003 - 14:14

hello y'all,
sorry for bringing this post up again, but reading it got me thinkin'.
i have two of the 'radio shack'-pzm's. they need a 1,5 V battery. i heard or read somewhere that they worked better with 2 of those batteries, but these need to be at half size. now i've never come across the batteries, but would it be possible to use a 3V external power supply?

btw: just lurked around so far, really great site!
(Dead Link Removed)

anonymous Mon, 03/03/2003 - 01:51

I also have 2 of the radio shack PZM's and i use 9 volt batteries on both of mine they work alot better than the standed 1.5volt i just soldered a 9 volt clip on to the prongs of the old batt holder and taped the 9 volts on the side... been working fine for 10 years now ..wish you could still get them here(radio shack model pzm)

anonymous Tue, 03/04/2003 - 21:19

My old band used two mics on the drums live: a PZM overhead and the house kick mic. The PZM was a Radio Shack modified to accept phantom power. It was mounted to a plexiglass plate on a boom stand and flown face down direcly over the drummer's head.. If we had a buck for every house engineer who told us it wouldn't work only to end up loving it by the end of the night, we'd still be together!