Skip to main content
Community forums, blogs, song critique, press & more...

Crown PCC-160

Hi guys,
that's my very first post!:redface: i love your forum, you gave me great advices, i hope my english is understandable...

ok, i am audio engineer in a teather and i have to buy some mics for actors on stage.. someone told me about the Crown PCC-160 being an excellent choice for this purpose.
but someone other told me that this microphone is great for application (on the stage, capting first reflections of voices and sounds), but not that good for sound quality.
does anybody know something more, or have experience whit this mics?
i would like to rent them for some shows, just for testing them. but in italy there isn't any service who provides them to me.. so i have to buy them without testing..
any comment or response would be a big help for me!

thanks, saluti!



chiunana Fri, 04/01/2011 - 16:37

thanks guys, great informations you gave me.
to dvdhawk:
i understand your point very well about actors that can't pretend to have very good sound quality on tape (well, i do use a computer of course.. no revox, unfortunately! just kidding..) and in the same time no other "external devices" on a scenogrpahy... but i feel that you know how artists are.. they want to feel comfortable on stage, and don't want to have anything but themselves and the teather piece they are going to play.
so, i think, my role is not only to be a sound tech, but also to let them think that i work FOR THEM, or better WITH THEM, making them be my kings and queens for the show. maybe i am wrong, i may should be more imperative, but, beside the fact i am not really that kind of carachter, it's also true that it would become very hard to work if there would be stress gived by this kind of discussions. i always suggest my beloved lavallier, say that 50% of times it's easy to convince the actors to use it, 40 % it's harder but i win at the end, and the other 10% of times there is no choice for me. they say to me "or the lavalier or the actor", so i don't have any choice.
your idea of kind of hiding some mics into the scene is great. i didn't understand it when i readed your post.. i actually don't know why i never tought about this solution in these days.. i will spend some days making experiments with my Rode NT5 that i use to record myself, at home playing drums. for the price, i appreciate Rode too, hawk! (even if a close friend of mine, an acoustician, tell me everytime that Rode "is only marketing!")

to moonbaby: well, i think it's more useful to know english than italian!! but don't be too good with me.. i know that my english is "pretty understandable", but nothing more... great to know that you had good experiences with this kind of stuff.. i am curios to experiment, i think i will buy i couple of this mics.. if i don't like them, i can sell them..

thanks guys!

chiunana Sat, 05/07/2011 - 15:31

thank you for the informations..
actually, after i listened again to the recordings, i had the same impression. they have a kind of "hardness" that means that i have to combine the PCC's with another, softer, mics.
the NT5 are pretty good, i have them at home for my drums recording.. but my issue is that i offer to the artists audio-video recording of the show, and that means that i can't (or i don't want) see the mics on the stage. i have to hide them. the PCC's are perfect for this.
i am still searching microphones which are capable to work well, on a great distance. for instance, i tried to put in X-Y the NT5 above the stage, at the height of the illumination system (i don't know how it's called in english), but i had to open the gain too much, and the background noise (influnced by the light noise, of course) was too high. i guess i need mics with more sensibility, but i don't know.. i wish i could explain better, but unfortunately i can't....

Profile picture for user pmolsonmus

pmolsonmus Sun, 05/08/2011 - 14:49

Depending on your stage, you may be able to lay the mics on the stage floor or create a very small base to mount a stereo stand.

I wouldn't worry about the visual impact. Lots of BBC and PBS broadcasts have visible mics.

For my take, I would rather it sound good than sacrifice audio for a few black sticks at the front of the stage.


By the way, your English is fine, but you are looking for a more "sensitive" not more sensible mic. :smile:

chiunana Sun, 04/17/2011 - 12:16

hy guys...
i recorded yesterday a show with a couple of PCC for the first time..
i think, altough they have a kind of "hard tone", they work well for this kind of situation. positioned on the floor of the stage, i didn't realized until i listened the recording, that they have a good sensibility.. ok, i tested them just one time and maybe for other kind of shows they work differently.. but for anyone in my situation, i think they are a very good choiche, surely the price worth.

Profile picture for user pmolsonmus

pmolsonmus Tue, 05/03/2011 - 18:02

Sorry I've been really busy for the past several months and not able to check in. I have used PCCs a lot for stage work.

I think they're fine for amplifying spoken voice and are not really visible to the audience. That said as a singer, choral director and musical director for theatrical productions I don't use them for anything where I need the group to really sound good.

First problem is gain. They are really hard to bring up to a decent level unless there is quite a bit of level already onstage.
Trying to balance a relatively soft singer onstage with an orchestra? Not going to work well.

The second issue is that they pick up a lot of stage floor noise. Great if its a show featuring tap dancing but not much else.

I have taken to mounting NT5's on a stereo bar at center stage on a shorty stand and a 2 AKG14s stage Left and stage Right on shorty stands and have not had a problem since.

The brightness of the NT5s cuts through just about everything and the LD darker AKGs give me a round warm sound to mix in.

If I have to use PCCs I put them on a small piece of carpet.

PM me if you've got other questions.


chiunana Thu, 03/31/2011 - 15:09

yes.. it isn't Shure, strange.. on the catalogue of my shop, there is written Shure. i would laki to change the title of topic, but it seems impossible...

this mic captures the reflections of the sounds on the stage.. like if you would put a small diaphramm condenser at the very end of the stage (or the beginning, it depends of point of view), directed on the stage with a 45° angle. that's how they describe it to me.
not only the effective sound quality is important to, either to know how does it work with vibration caused by normal teather sounds, like walkings or runnings feets (i don't know the exact term in english, sorry!).
audiokid, do you know this mic?
thanks guys!

bigtree Thu, 03/31/2011 - 20:24

I've fixed this typo for you.

Most actors I know of in my country use Lav mics, headset with wireless for live stage and theatre. Sorry, I know nothing about the Crown PCC-160, maybe someone else here will help you now that the title is correct.

Profile picture for user dvdhawk

dvdhawk Thu, 03/31/2011 - 23:32

For picking up an actor's voice, you can't beat a lavalier or headworn wireless mic system. This obviously gets expensive and requires some programming of radio frequencies - but by far the best results. (The PCC-160 isn't exactly cheap either)

Crown makes very nice PZM / Boundary mics.

Boundary mics can be useful for some jobs as area mics. Most of them are hemispherical, so they can cover a lot of area. But according to the [[url=http://[/URL]=""]PCC-160[/]=""]PCC-160[/] datasheet the model you are looking at is half-hyper cardioid. If you can mount it on a flat surface that increases the reflected sounds it can collect - it will pick up even better. If there's someplace in the sets or scenery you can mount it that might be helpful.

Since this one is hyper-directional, so it should have better gain before feedback than the typical hemispherical models.

If you place them on the floor the vibrations of people walking shouldn't damage the microphone, but you will hear every footstep loud and clear.

chiunana Fri, 04/01/2011 - 01:11

thanks for the answers.

the fact is that we do have some lavalier Sennheiser, and we use it as most as possible. but some actors don't want the mic, they think it's kind of "innatural", or "not right". well, the teather is not the collosseum, it's medium-small sized, with good acoustic, so if you simply talk on the stage, you can hear pretty good in the last seat row also (the teather has 254 seats).
but i want to RECORD the shows (we offer audio-video recordings) without placing some mic in the scenography, so the PCC seems the solution. but i am concerned about the problem with the footsteps.. i think that could be a huge problem on some shows.
in the last days i was trying to pick some small diaphramm condenser and letting them down (in ORTF configuration) from the light bracery, at the very end of the fabrics.. i can't explain it better, i am a english-jerk!
but the problem is always that, if i am positioning the mics so far away from the stage (6 meters circa, about 20 feets), i have to put the gain at almost maximum to pick a decent sound signal.
maybe the issue is that i have some very very bad mics until now (the best are AKG C1000S.. so i don't tell you the worst!).

see, i am trying to understand what is the best solution with the little budget i have for buying mics.

thanks for the answers, and thanks to audiokid for the title change!!

Profile picture for user moonbaby

moonbaby Fri, 04/01/2011 - 10:26

Your English is a lot better than my Italian! I think that Hawk's suggestion was to try to put the boundary mics on a hard surface OTHER than the floor...
It is not difficult to mount PZM mics to a "hard surface"--- this can be a clear piece of plexiglas or a wooden panel -- as small as , say a half meter square. Then you can mount that panel on a mic stand, and you can experiment where you place it in relationship to the actors. I have had pretty good results with that arrangement in churches that were in the same size as your theater, and with people that were not professional actors.

Profile picture for user dvdhawk

dvdhawk Fri, 04/01/2011 - 11:45

I agree with moonbaby, your English needs no apology.

Your actors need to understand that lavalier mics may be 'unnatural' - but it is how professional theater is done around the world. They can't have high quality audio/video recordings and not expect there to be microphones to be involved in some way. If you watch a video with good sound, either there is a mic just out of the frame, a mic hidden in a clever spot, or as Hollywood would do it - the dialogue is re-recorded in a studio and dubbed in in post-production and every other sound is fake '[[url=http://[/URL]=""]Foley-ed[/]=""]Foley-ed[/]' in from a sound effects library.

As for boundary mics, yes - I was suggesting putting them on stage somewhere other than the floor if possible. Any wall, table, or other furniture that says on the stage throughout the play. Plexiglass is also an option. I use a single Crown PZM-30D mounted on clear plexiglass [roughly 50cm x 50cm] to pick up multiple trumpets and it works very nicely.

If you are using this mic only for recording and not amplifying it into the theater - you might consider a hemispherical model like the PZM-30D instead of the more directional PCC-160 - the 30D would be more forgiving with where you position it. Or you might consider a different approach, with something like the Rode NT4. For roughly the same price as either Crown, the Rode gives you two good quality Small Diameter Condenser mics in a single mic body (but requires two audio channels) It would give you good coverage left to right and more positioning options. I find the NT4 to be very useful for choral groups, instrumental ensembles, and for room mics.

If I was in your position, the actors would not have a choice, they would wear a lav or headset mic whether they wanted to or not. But if I was looking for a mic that I could use for many different things that wasn't terribly expensive I'd be shopping for the Rode.

*and for those of you wondering, no, I do not sell Rode mics. [although I wish I did]