Opera / Musical Project

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by MasonMedia, Jul 1, 2005.

  • AT5047

    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

  1. MasonMedia

    MasonMedia Guest

    About a month ago I was asked to make a recording of the premier of a new musical. The performance will be a one-time shot for the composer, so the recording is a critical element if there's to be any future for the work. The performance is in two weeks, so I'm starting to get anxious. This is normal. 8)

    The performance will be staged in a 450-seat recital hall with all the musicians, chorus, and solo performers on-stage. Under the circumstances, the stage is a bit small (49'wide x23' deep). Unfortunately, there's no pit. There will be 8 musicians: Bass, Piano, Harp, Winds (Stage R); EBass, EGuitar, Synth, Percussion (Stage L). A 40 voice choir sits in between the 2 instrumental ensembles. The cast includes 6 soloists plus narrator. Five of the 6 soloists have big operatic voices.

    Due to the close quarters on-stage and other physical restrictions with the design of the facility, there's no spot to place tall stands or even hang microphones (eg. no location for a main pair). As a result, the plan is to record 24ch direct to Samplitude and do whatever editing and mixing is needed in post.

    The composer/conductor of the work is concerned about both music and lyrics. At the outset, we decided to use a wireless mic on the narrator. Now it's became apparent, the singers also need wireless when they are backed by the choir. This of course is an anathema to a classically trained singer :twisted:

    I mention all this as background for a few topics to discuss:

    --Experiences with wireless mics used on powerful singers:

    Any pointers or suggestions for this kind of micing would be appreciated. I plan to use DPA 4061 on the 3 women, mounted in the hair above the forehead. Not sure about exact attachment method yet. I'm considering a thin elastic hair band to hold the capsule in place with small bits of tape as needed. The cable runs through the hair across the top of the head and down the neck.

    For the 3 men, Countryman E6 (omni). The rental house I use has a few of these units available. They are very tiny booms that attach over the ear.

    --Acoustic Bass:

    Ideas for micing solo bass in an ensemble like this. Due to close proxmity to other instruments and the chorus, closer is better. What mics are favorites for this kind of situation?

    --Grand Piano:

    We will begin with the lid open on short stick, but I think this maybe too loud. I have not had good luck in other situations with mics inside the instrument as it tends to sound boxy.

    That's all for this post. As this unfolds, I'll post more if folks are interested in the outcome. Hopefully, I can get permission to share a clip or 2 of the finished work.

    In advance, thanks to everyone who shares their knowledge and experiences here. It's really a high point in my day to sit for a few moments and catch-up with the group.
  2. Sonarerec

    Sonarerec Guest

    Since this is a concert performance with everyone nailed to the spot, why are they so paranoid about seeing mics? I am sure you know that even 6 feet can be too close for a mic for an operatic voice. This will resemble vocal X-rays!

    That said, if the composer/conductor is impervious to reason then your plan is good, although I would use all 4061s for all singers, bass, piano. Remove the grid from the ones inside the piano. I would also put a pair of something on a short stand stage center on the floor for the chorus. You will have to stereo mic the winds. 24 tracks will just do it!

  3. MasonMedia

    MasonMedia Guest


    Thanks for your ideas. Initially, I too thought, a stationary mic left and right would work. The difficulty is the singers roam about the stage. There are no "hot" spots where they land for their songs. :wink:

    Interesting you mention the 4061s for piano/bass. For this show I am purchasing 3 4061s to use with the wireless. This is an investment (in wireless) I would typically not be inclined to make, however this mic includes a versatile connector system. It uses small adapters to mate with various wireless xmiters plus there's an XLR adapter, too. So in the future, I'll be able to do just as you suggest. For this show, the rub is I only have 3.

  4. Sonarerec

    Sonarerec Guest

    Are you saying that the chorus forms a herd and roams the stage, or just the soloists? If the chorus is stationary how do you propose to mic them?

  5. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:

    I've been thinking about your project a bit, and thought I'd post a few things here....bear with me! :twisted: (this is my second attempt, actualy...pilot-error caused the first one to vaporize in the click of a mouse...grrrr.)

    I agree with Rich about the X-ray aspect of headset mics on the vocals, and I think it may be overkill in the end. At the least, you'll have to process these signals with a lot of room ambience or reverb ( Sequoia/Samp of course has tons of Room sims that will get you going, of course) to make them sound believable vs. the rest of the instruments. Also, you'll want to make sure the input trims on the beltpacks are set (padded down) low enough to accomodate the hi spls coming out of your (professional/operatic) singers. When we rent things like this, we occasionally get units where the beltpack transmitter's input has been cranked up to pick up a distant mic or something, and it can get awful with overloaded peaks if we don't catch it. I don't know what kind of companding you get with those units, I'm guessing they've gotten pretty good nowadays, although I would try to avoid them for any serious vocal recording. (Don't get me wrong, we use them all the time for broadway-style shows, pageants, theater, etc...)

    Having said that, let's back up a minute and talk about your room/space size. I'm assuming that there is no amplification/reinforcement going on in the 450 seat house, so your entire ensemble is going to have to work together, level-wise, to create something that sounds coherent in the audience. Hopefully, this will make things go your way in the long run. And hopefully, you have at least a LITTLE sway in how things should go regarding the recording, mic placement, etc.

    If it's at all possible (in the course of the rehearsals), you'd be wise to work with the conductor/music director/composer and have someone with good ears (yourself, perhaps) sit out in the house and work on balance of the ensemble vs. singers - acoustically/naturally, regardless of the recording. Assuming it's a good hall and you've got truly talented singers & musicians, it should be fairly straight forward to get a balance that lets them all be heard without straining.

    It could get emotionally charged (esp if you have diva's or temperamental musicians), so you want to go about this with great diplomacy. But, the near-final tutti rehearsals are the best time to get unruly (loud) players in line or to move singers around for their best projection. (Trust me, they'll love you for it - esp the soloists. They WANT to be heard.) You may even want to suggest they keep onstage movements to a smaller arc - esp if it's going to affect them being heard properly. (Appeal to their vanity, if nec!!!!)

    I know that what you're describing is potentionally a powderkeg of emotions, (esp if it's a world premiere), but gentle & respectful suggestions for placement of personnel is going to go a long way in the final analysis. (I just went through something just like this for a huge Vivaldi choral/orchestral production for CD/DVD - proper performer PLACEMENT saved the day.) This is your last chance to subtly get them to line up the best way possible for the performance as well as the recording. (Try to stress the long-term aspect of it: Resistance to change from their "comfort zone", vs. a recording that will haunt (or thrill) them FOREVER.

    As for mic'ing, all things being equal, you could (only in theory!) stick a stereo mic out in the 'best seat in the house" and capture it that way. Even with the best singers and intentions, we all know that's not going to happen with any degree of satisfaction.

    But let's start to work from the outside in: consider a pair of ambient/audience mics, either at the far rear of the space, or perhaps halfway back. That will give you believable applause & natural reverb for the room (you'll need it for those singers' mics). You can also crank the applause up & down with simple track/object editing in Samp/Seq. to give your applause body & fullness, instead of sounding distant and watery from the stage mics. This kind of mic'ing has saved many a production for me as "catch-alls" for anything that got missed onstage.

    Next up, since you can't fly anything or put a stand directly behind the conductor, I'd get some tall stands w/booms to do an outrigger omni pair on either side of the stage, reaching in as far as possible.. Based on the stated stage width, (about 49' ?) and again for a 450 seat hall, a pair of omni's on tall stands getting the mics above stage height - on a 6-8' boom looking IN from each side - will do you a world of good. (And they don't look so annoying if they're symmetrical to the audience's view. They tend to just disappear once the stage lights are on and the show starts....)

    I'm sure you'll do spot mics and DI's on the various instruments and such; I dare say you might want to consider a PZM or two for the piano, taped inside the lid, if the lid is going to be closed (I can hear the outrcy already!) Again with Seq/Samp., you can EQ this signal, add some Room Sim, and bring it down enough in the mix to give it enough clarity to be heard, yet blend in nicely with the overall mix. (Remember, it's not a piano recital here, so you wont be able to do all kinds of beautiful things with the piano anyway...)

    For the bass, i'd go with a side-address LD mic, and perhaps (if you're lucky) the bass player will have a pickup as well. Use both and blend to taste. With Samp/Seq., you can always sum the bass in the stereo mix below 120 or thereabouts to keep the low-end "oomph" centered, yet still keep the details of the bass image intact for the mix.

    Finally, let's come back to the singers & the choir.

    Assuming you're got truly professional people, they will project, BIG TIME. This is a good thing. If they're out in front of the ensemble, all the better. With a stage width of 49', a conductor in the center and a split ensemble, I doubt they're going to move around all THAT far, regardless.

    I often have to mic the singers in an opera, musical or dramatic production right at the "Footlight" position, sometimes with the orch/band directly behind the mics in the pit, or (worse) sometimes onstage behind the singers. As long as your singers are good at projecting (which is why I LOVE opera & broadway-style singers), you'll be cool. With staged opera, I tend to go with a group of AT-4050's or 4040s across the front lip of the stage, looking UP at the singers. (it's not perfect, but it works) When I can, I'll use something like the AKG 422 stereo mic deadcenter of the stage, right at the front lip. (Making sure it's properly gaffed to prevent anyone from kicking it into the pit! I always assume the singers are brain-dead, and once onstage, they're only thinking about the notes and hitting their marks....they NEVER think about kicking a mic. )

    I prefer either a stereo pair or omni in the center position, for obvious reasons. That's the hot-spot, and the place where most of the singers will be moving around in. The other mics (Far left, left center, right center, far right) fill in any other places where the singers may move or wander off to. When I mix this sort of thing, I have already made notes in the score (or ran a video tape) so I can see/read who's where, enabeling me to turn unused mics off, etc. (This really helps keep the final mix clean, obviously.)

    The bonus here is that you get two very usuable sound sources: a 'bounce" from the stage floor istelf, plus the direct sound. You're close enough to the floor where you only get ONE major reflection, and it's extremely close in time to the direct signal. The benefit is a surprisingly robust sound in spite of all the tradeoffs.

    For shows where mic visibility is an issue, I use little 5" atlas table stands painted black, (Along with the black matte AT mics) and for things less picky where I can get some height, I'll use short mini- boom stands and the like, using slim and discrete Neuman KM'84s, etc.) I don't know what kind of room lighting you'll have, but I'm guessing as few as four or five mics across the front of the performance area should cover you, on either type stand.

    If you've got a minute, you can go to my website and take a look at pics of productions we've done with these techniques. (You'll have to click on the pics to see enlarged/closeup versions, but you should be able to see what I'm talking about.) Go to
    http://www.WestonSound.com and click on "Current Events" on the toolbar, then scroll down to select either of the following dates: 1/27/05, or 1/24/04. Both of these are "Concert" operatic performances (self explanatory on their pages) and were done in a 650-seat auditorium (Perelman Theater, Kimmel Center) with no sound reinforcement, headset mics, etc.

    The 1/24/04 pictures show the first level balconies (where I placed the L&R booms, thus avoiding a tall stand on the floor on either side), and if you look closely, you can see the booms reaching in/over the performance space. It gave me a VERY wide image, of course, and I filled things in with spot mics everywhere. The spot mics in front of the signers were the icing on the cake. (I can send you excerpts of these performances, if you want to hear what it sounded like.) In addition, we had a TRIPLE choir across the back for the 1/24/04 (EDGAR) production. That was quite a challenge as well, and we used three pairs of AT 4000 series mics for them in ORTF arrays, (space was tight - choir depth was only TWO DEEP per!)....oiy!

    Sorry to run on so, but I truly believe you can get this one captured and in the can organically, for lack of a better word, than headset mics. (I'd use those as a LAST resort....you'll need a mic wrangler to track which mic goes with which cast member, lots of spare batteries, and someone - maybe yourself? :twisted: - to "help" put the mics on the female cast. (Maybe I'll tell you my Julie Andrews coctail dress/lav mic story someday...hehehe)

    Good luck with it all, and please feel free to email me if there's anything else I can do. (Besides SHUT UP already. :roll: )
  6. MasonMedia

    MasonMedia Guest

    Well not exactly. The chorus is seated and stands in place for their parts. The soloists roam about, and for good measure, every so often a group of 8 youngsters come on, sing a part and then leave.
  7. MasonMedia

    MasonMedia Guest


    Your post touches many of the points I've been struggling with for the past few weeks. Thanks for bringing another perspective to the table. Rather than quote from your post, I'll just add a few comments and clarifications.

    Agreed on the x-ray point. I have had some experience with wireless awhile ago. Setting the preamp's gain is really important. I missed that one only once... it's gets really ugly when the front end of the transmitter clips. As for companding, with a few exceptions, most analog wireless still uses it in one form or another. There is an all digital system by Zaxcom, but it's +$3K per channel. The best "analog" system that the film guys recommend is the Lectrosonic Hybrid. It is not as expensive (2K per channel) and uses a digital processing to eliminate companding artifacts. Unfortunately, our budget cannot support either of these options :wink:

    The composer/director likes a big sound and as a result decided we need to reinforce the soloists so the instruments and choir can let it rip during some songs. I've done this before, but hate the mush it tends to cause, especially with a live acoustic. It gets into everything. We have agreed, the goal is do do without as much as possible. Time will tell how it turns out.

    Your comments about the soloists' emotions, etc. are spot on. So far this has been the director's headache. He and I have a good rapport. I like your suggestion about stressing " the long-term aspect of it: Resistance to change from their "comfort zone", vs. a recording that will haunt (or thrill) them FOREVER."

    I had not considered using long booms for the main pair. At one point I was considering stretching aircraft cable across the stage to suspend mics from, but finally ruled it out for lack of time to set-up and adjust things.

    Early on I considered placing mics across the footlights, as you suggest. With the band on stage, I became concerned with the balance and how easily the singers could be over-powered. That comes back to your point about ensemble control. Un-fortunately, this seems to be a difficult thing to approach (it's been discussed). Also, at the outset when I was asked to make a recording without any PA, I asked the director if he had a favorite CD that illustrated his idea of the kind of sound/presentation he wanted. He sent me a DVD of a wonderful production of the opera L'Orfeo. There they did this vary thing. They had the advantage that the orchestra was in shallow pit in front of the stage and the chorus was on risers to the left and right of the stage. Apparently, they recorded multiple performances for the DVD as some wide shots included the mics, whereas others did not. They magically disappeared!

    Thanks for the detailed discussion. I am prepared with a pair of boundary mics for the piano. Still considering what to do about the main pair. Late last week I decided I really need it (a main pair), now just how to plant it?

    Well, it's getting late, again.. I'll check out your site tomorrow.
    Thanks again.

  8. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    Well, it does sound like you've got your work cut out for you. I realize that very often, we recording folks are the tail wagging the dog when it comes to decisions. All too often, someone has set ridiculous and lofty goals for a performance based on whims instead of facts, and (of course) never with any real budget.

    The fact that this guy wants to now amplify the sound is giving me the willies on your behalf. That's just seems so unecessary for a 450 seat recital hall with trained singers. (Sadly, another casualty of loud loud LOUD thinking...) I guess it's never occured to him to have the players tone it down, intsead? Relying on the sheer impact of the music he's written? (Well, ok....I'm grousing, I know....)

    Let me tell you a story about a musical that was "workshopped" here in Phila about 8 yrs ago. I was the 'resident" (fall guy? ;-) sound engineer/designer (god, I HATE that silly term- DESIGNER) for a local Music Theater Company here, and the rented theater where this was going to happen was the tiny, intimate 150-300 seat "Plays and Players" theater at 17th & Delancey St. (It even has a 50-seat balcony, too; it's like a miniature b'way theater inside!)

    The play being workshopped - before it went on to being produced on broadway - was "Parade" (Entitled "I Love a Parade" at the time) - and the incoming director was none other than Hal Prince. The acoustics aren't perfect in this space; it's more dead than resonant, but it's small and intimate, perfect for a semi-private workshop experience.

    I had never worked with Mr. Prince before, and I was warned ahead of time that he was gruff, opinionated and prone to fits and derisiveness towards anyone that annoyed him, esp technical help. (Couldn't have been farther from the truth, happy to say! It's always the PSYCHOPHANTS that cause all the trouble. Hehehe....) I was told he suffered no fools, and would need an onstage monitor next to his reading desk and a "God mic" for running these "Script in hand" readings, rehearsals and subsequent performances. I was told he ruled with an iron fist, and warned I might not be able to work with him. (They'd lost sound people in the past, apparantly.... hehe)

    So, I gave him all they asked for and more: There were 19 singers, 12 of them principals, and a pit orchestra of about 10, including strings and some winds. Prior to his and the cast's arrival, we had everything in place, from sound system to 20 wireless mics, to podium mic (the narrator read from the podium as well). 24 input console, etc. etc.

    We had a week for the cast to learn their parts, (and me to learn the cues!) rehearse their (limited) onstage moves, and tech the show enough for a "script in hand" opening at the end of this "Workshop" on the final 2 days. It was also recorded to DAT for posterity, future copies for backers, etc. etc.

    Early on, it became clear we had problems with the sound, even in this small space. It continued to get louder....and louder....and LOUDER!!!!!..... 19 people on headset lavs - you can just imagine the "choking up on the bat" situation here...as soon as we got ONE person loud enough, the next one needed more. EQ'ing for feedback got ridiculous - in the end we had so many notches and filtering going on, it sounded like a kazoo in a blender, but it was LOUD. The cast was beginning to rely on the mics, as well; no one was really projecting anymore (which I HATE), and everyone expected a Movie/TV soundtrack mix, instead of working at their parts.

    Hal got angry (at the cast) on more than one occasion (They were ALL NYC professional actors, taking time off from their regular gigs on B'way, btw.) By Wed., the sound was immense, ear splitting, not subtle at all, and Hal was gretting REALLY cranky, and in spite of the amplification, constantly complained about not being able to hear. It was getting ugly.

    Finally, over a lunch break (The man was kind enough to split a turkey sandwhich with me this day...neither of us went out with the rest), he said: "God, this thing is getting SO DAMN LOUD, all in this tiny theater. All these mics.... I remember when they used to sing on Broadway WITHOUT mics.... Isn't there anything else we can do!?!?!?"

    I will always remember this moment: I turned to him and said: "Well, sir, this was NOT MY idea to mic everything and every-one. I simply did what the rider called for. I do a lot of classical and opera, Mr. Prince, and if you REALLY want my opinion, I suggest we set up a few "zones" for the really important songs/arias, mic the podium for intelligability, and mic the chorus in a simple stereo pair, and be done with it. We may not even need the lavs." He looked stunned and said: "is that REALLY possible? Could that work here???? That's what I wanted all along!!!!" (Seems like we'd both been handed specs and cowed by the whims & desires of OTHER Psychophants in the biz around us....hehehe)

    After lunch, we turned off all of the lavs except for two or three principals, created mic'd "hot" zones for the rest to move into, treated the chorus as one stereo zone (actors moved in and out of the chorus as needed), and suddenly had all kinds of room in the mix for the narrator & orchestra in the pit. Amazingly, the whole thing suddenly fell into place, and the sound was natural, intelligable, and clean. Hal was thrilled.

    Mr Prince was indeed his namesake: he was respectful, courteous to me throughout, yet was still direct in what he wanted at all times. (Hell, he's HAL PRINCE, after all!) This just goes to reinforce my theory that TRUELY talented people can still be nice people. (It's the mid-level a**holes that give everyone a bad name, IMHO.)

    Looking back, I probably should have stood my ground in the first place - "I" certainly knew the theater better than anyone coming down from NYC. But, a lesson learned the hard way is the best one, and even Mr. Prince probably liked the "natural" sound even better once his suffering ended. (Had he not heard the din with all the lavs, he may not have appreciated it, either...)

    I know this may not relate all that directly to your situation out there, but I see a lot of similarity, (esp if it's a reading or a premiere of a new work!), and just thought you'd appreciate that story. (FWIW: The final two readings were attended by the cream of NYC broadway producers - the running joke was that b'way would have been wiped out if anything bad happened to the patrons in this little theater that day. The show got backing & was piicked up & retooled: it ran for about 3 months or so on b'way, entitled: "Parade")

    Personally, I was as impressed with the offer of half a turkey club from Hal than anything else. :twisted: Ah, show-biz memories!!!
  9. MasonMedia

    MasonMedia Guest


    What delightful story. And, a good example of the K.I.S.S. principle or less-is-more. Plus a free lunch, too. :D

    The idea of LOUD is really true. I have a friend who's day job is audiologist for the local school district. She tells me they are finding hearing loss, typical of 70 yr olds, in 4-5th graders. Yikes. I believe people are stimulated by so much amplified sound these days, they forget how make an effort to listen when something is not amplified. The loudness chase you describe with the Hal Prince show is exactly what I've experienced when a PA is used to fix balance problems because an instrumentalist cannot fit in (read play softer). :twisted:

    I have taken your comments to heart. Although it is not ideal, I'm going to place a main pair of spaced omnis on the edge of the stage, left and right of the conductor's podium. He's dead center. That will put them about 30" apart. I have some 15' AEA 15B stands, so getting them up high enough will not be a problem. I realize it's not a prefered look, however fortunately the actors will be avoiding front dead center anyway due to the conductor's position. During the tech rehearsal, it's possible we'll discover a better option, so this will be the starting point.

    In addition, I'm simplifying the chorus pick-up. I originally planned 4 spaced mics, but realize an ORTF pair will make for a better spot to go with the main pair and can be adjusted up/down easily for the blend.

    The best thing... 3 channels are now un-used. Yipee.

  10. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    Glad my long rambles are helping, in any way shape or form, Peter!

    Sounds like you're doing everything you can, and in the end, I'm sure it'll all be worth it. (And hopefully, they'll love you for the extra hard work and expense!)

    Keep us posted on your progress, as this all plays out.
  11. MasonMedia

    MasonMedia Guest

    Well tomorrow SAT is the dress/tech rehearsal. Today I tried out the wireless mics and learned a bit about alternate mounting techniques.

    The Countryman E6 is fantastic (if you have to resort to this kind of mic). After adjusting the over-the-ear wire, and bending the boom to position the mic, almost immediately I forget I was wearing a mic. It is very comfortable and light. The element is approximately 1/8" dia and about the same long on the end of a very stiff wire that is about 22AWG in size.

    To position my new DPA4061, I learned a simple trick using floral wire. This is the coated wire flower shops use to keep flowers from bending over. With a simple wrap of the mic cable around a short piece of 20AWG wire, I was able to fashion an over the ear mount that places the mic about 1" in front of the ear. This is not as elegant as the E6, but meets the goal of a simple head-mount which is important in this situation where I am trying to avoid problems due to costume changes, singers who kiss and hug each, and varying levels due to head movments. I hope that makes sense.

    The console is an O2R96. I just finished programming and testing the routing. The PA feed will be mono since it will be used sparingly on the soloists. I found a way to route an AUX Send out 2 separate outs, each with it's own master level control. One to feed the main speakers, the other for some stage level fills. The goal was to have a top level encoder for each channel to make adjustments to the PA without affecting the 2 track live mix that is used for back-up to the multi-track. Looks good. Hopefully it works as well under fire 8)

    All for now. More later.
  12. MasonMedia

    MasonMedia Guest

    Here's my report on the project, so far. The initial response from the client and audience is/was most enthusiastic.

    With most small non-profit groups, funding is always a problem. This one is no different. It was an ambitious undertaking to produce a new work including hiring 7 soloists, 8 musicians, renting a hall for 2 days, plus other costs (including the recording engineer and his assistant). Add to this the realization that the only way the audience was going to appreciate the lyric (all important in this work) was to reinforce the soloists for some, if not all their parts. Add more $ for 8 wireless mics, 6 PA speakers (2 main/4 fills), amps, graphic EQ, and delivery & pick-up.

    From the recordist POV, wireless mics solve one major problem: isolation of the soloist; yet create a number of others.

    Before Sat's tech rehearsal, I spent time researching popular wireless mic mounting methods for this sort of show. The key is maintaining a constant distance from the mic to the soloists' mouth so no matter the action or direction they are speaking or singing, the pick-up level is constant. This meant attaching the mic onto the singer's head. For this show, we were lucky to have 4 Countryman E6 ear-mounted boom mics (actually there were only 3 as the wire band on one snapped as I was gently bending it to fit over the ear) . These worked quite well, however I was un-prepared for the amount of time it took to carefully sculpt the wire loop to fit the snugly around the singer's ear, tape the cable into place, attach the transmitter pouch, etc. As a result, the technical rehearsal started without sound as we were still busy getting everyone connected. On the day of the performance, the singer's call times were staggered to allow for sufficient time (about 1 hour 45 min total).

    Since there were only 4 E6 mics, I purchased 3 DPA 4061 mics to fill out the set. These are small omini mics, the size of an over-sized grain-of-wheat bulb. They have removable caps that are used to adjust HF response depending on your choice of mounting location.
    On the fore-head just above the hair-line, the soft boost cap is used. On the cheek, or lapel, the high boost cap is prefered. I originally planned to mount on the forehead just above the hair-line, however, this plan was immediately trashed when we found costume changes included multiple wigs for one of the soloists. I finally settled on the floral wire over the ear method, which worked well as an alternate to a boom. Women with long hair (our wig diva) make it easy to hide.

    With any type of head mounting, the biggest challenge is keeping things attached. I tried all sorts of tapes including a roll of brown duct tape! (This was suggested by one of the actors!) There was varying success with different tapes, depending on the actors' skin, oil & sweat being the main variables.

    In use, both techniques provided sufficent gain before feedback and a pleasant natural sound. We did experience some distortion on some of the highest peaks (our singers were all classically trained). Careful monitoring of levels did not show any clipping, so I am not sure what was going on. Input pads on the trasmitters were set to min. When the distortion occurs, it seems to be frequency specific. This needs further investigation, which is made more difficult as the mics and transmitters were rented.

    The only other gotcha was the small coaxial connector on the DPA 4061. It connects to an adapter that interfaces to the particular wireless transmitter. This is a fine design from a multi-use POV (there's an XLR adapter, too), however, during the show, one of these worked it's way loose. The result was loud pops in the PA. Parts of this track on the recording were lost as well. Fortunately only one song was affected as the problem appeared late in the first ACT. We were able to correct it during intermission.

    Finally, my last recommendation for wireless mic use: when there's more than 2, hire another crew member simply to tend the wireless system. This person's job, in addition to fitting the mics at the start, is to be in the wings during the concert, ready to fix any problems that arise.

    More later..
  13. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    Congrats, Peter....sounds like you've become an expert in your own write, now!

    I had a wireles lav mic connector come loose once, of course at the worst possible moment, in the crucifixtion scene for an Easter Tableau. It was an outdoor theater, not far from an apartment complex with a cab company's RF transmitter on the roof. You can just imagine.....

    Now you're ready to preach the virtues of preparedness: The value of a good, competant "mic wrangler" on a gig like that is absolutely priceless. And little things like floral wire can indeed save the day. Glad you made it all work.

    Of course now the REAL fun begins........mixing it! :twisted:
  14. MasonMedia

    MasonMedia Guest


    You could not be farther from the truth. We have been mixing for the past 2 days. Yesterday we tackled the part that got smacked by the loose connector and the Gods were smiling :wink:

    Since it was a duet, we lost nothing during the song! The last line was delivered after the soloist crossed to Stage Right. There was a stand mounted vocal mic (KMS105) nearby. This was used at the start of the show for a pre-concert lecture and other announcements (cell-phones off, etc.) It was left setup intentionally for the un-expected. Well, it covered this line beautifully.

    So far the composer is gushing. He really did not expect the recording would turn out as well as it has.

    Since this is my first time using head-mounted mics, it has been a pleasant surprise. When they are mixed with the rest of the ensemble (plus a bit of added reverb) the result for the most part is really good. (Not perfect mind, you... but good). I was afraid it would sound too close, but it's not the case. There is some roughness (distortion) to the tops of a few notes that are sung full throttle (very loud) which I can only guess is some weakness in the wireless link showing. I have been able to smooth some of this out with EQ (in one case rolling everything off below 200Hz) for a phrase or 2. Samplitude's application of effects at the object level is great.

    More to come, I'm sure.


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