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Old March 2nd, 2008, 09:15 AM   #1
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Thoughts / Experiences with MXL Mics?

I have been taping pageants, choral productions and school programs for a while. It has now become apparent that (as most have said on this forum), I cannot trust a feed from the soundboard.

I am looking to get a budget-minded condenser mic to assist in reducing the audience noise picked up by my camera mics. Since most of the choruses are not miked at all, I'm hoping that a condenser placed at the front of the stage, coupled with a mic on the stage monitors to pick up any backing music, will decrease my dependence on a feed from the soundboard.

Going the "cheap" route is only temporary, as I know that high end mics will produce much better results.

Given my situation, has anyone had any experience with MXL mics, such as this one?
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...sary_Pack.html
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Old March 2nd, 2008, 10:15 AM   #2
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They make great door stops...

But seriously , when youre starting out they will be better than what you have allready. and it is a small invesment that won't break the bank, now you got to figure out how to get phantom power to them (perhaps a small mixer) also keep in mind you will need long xlr cable as well (starting to add up), not to mention a way to get the signal into your camera (inputs?).

if that is all you can afford then go for it, they are surprizingly good compared to the built in mics on cam.
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Old March 2nd, 2008, 10:55 AM   #3
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Thanks, Gerry.

Yes, I already have a small Tapco mixer that has phantom power, about 250 ft of XLR and I usually split the camera mic input between the mixer and an external mic on the camera (L/R).

I knew that this mic would not be the most ideal. I am getting fairly good sound from my current setup. The problem is when the soundboard mix gets screwed up. I only use it as a backup via a MD recorder, but when I have needed it lately to help fill in, it has not been adequate. At two different venues, the backing music was too hot for the vocal to come through well. Not to mention the talking and crying babies (and adults) in the audience.

A good example can be found in a show I did last week (click "preview" on the very last event - Cosby Pyramid Concert - on my ordering page here):
http://www.magicalmemoriesproduction...aphy_order.php
Anytime there is applause, the singers are drowned out - plus the audience noise. Luckily, it was passable..........THIS time.

I figure the more I can pick up and control on my own, the more I can take out the weak links, which have been the soundboard and operator most of the time. I can't help but think that even this cheap condenser would be beneficial.

Thanks for your input.
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Old March 2nd, 2008, 12:01 PM   #4
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I worked with an old-style bluegrass band that would put up two of the MXL large condenser mics. Even with heavy eq'ing they sounded terrible. I loaned them two of my AT4040 mics to use when they went on tour. They loved them and they weren't that expensive (although they might also be a bit over your budget). A package that is nearly identical to what you linked to is this one by AT: http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/AT2041sp/

These mics are a couple of steps down from the 4040 series, but still better than the MXL stuff you linked to.

Wayne
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Old March 2nd, 2008, 12:16 PM   #5
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After seeing the example, i can only say I wish you lots of luck.
placement will be critical here if you want to pick everything well. traditionally to do this type of recording well the sound guy has to be "on-board" with the program, and perhaps supplement the house sound with some overhead mics. several (4 to 8) of those small diaphragm condensers would work the best to pick up the stage singing would be alot nicer. the stage is way to wide to get any usable pick up from only one or 2 mics , unless youre using 2 small diaphragm mics on a 15' mic stand a mic bar in a XY configuration. would be the best for a small mic count. unfortunately they may be opposed to having a 15' micstand in the middle of the audience. that will pick up how it sounds in the room instead of counting on the sound guy for his mix.
as simple as it sounds, this is technically a very difficult situation, considering the live band, which makes the board mix useless (he is mixing for the room and not video) there fore instruments that are naturally loud in the room are barely being reinforced thru the PA as well as soft sounds like vocals are getting alot more level in the mix.
due to the lack of cooperation from sound guy and lack of gear, I would highly recommend 2 small diaphragm mics in an XY configuration on top of a tall stand. this rig would be great for other situations in churches auditoriums and prety much anywhere you need to capture what it sounds like in the room. this will give you the room sound and NOT the closed mic sound but hey... alot of classical music and choral recordings are done in this fashion although with some esoteric microphones, this will get you going in the right direction.
this setup is also great for quartet, acoustic jazz among other intimate instrument recordings. as time goes by and as you can afford it then youll end up with nicer mics which will give you realy great sound.
the reason for the tall stand is to give better context with lower crowd noise. you may still get some serious clapping in there.
if you can arrange to record their rehersal you might be able to find the sweet spots (if there are any) were a couple of mics might pick it up better. if you have the capability to record multi tracks take all the audio you can get and mix it for the best sound in post.
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Old March 2nd, 2008, 12:55 PM   #6
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Oddly enough, this high school auditorium is very well outfitted with drop down condenser mics right above the choral section. Unfortunately, they do not utilize them. Ideally, if I could get a lead to those, there wouldn't BE a problem. If only that was the sole venue I work with......

The other issue is that I do a lot of pageants. More and more, I am finding that some of the the venues do not even allow a soundboard hookup. I usually drop a wireless lav mic in front of either the stage monitor or a main speaker (which is usually not within reach). So, I am trying to find something that will help in those situations as well. The more all-around use I can get out of a product, the better.

Wayne, If I end up going this route, the product that you linked to is still just within my budget. I'm not cheap, but I do have to take baby steps with these things to keep the wife on board. :)

Gerry, I'm not an audio guy, so can you elaborate on an "XY" configuration and perhaps a link to the type of mic you are recommending? :)
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Old March 2nd, 2008, 01:25 PM   #7
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XY micing is the simplest form of stereo recording.

XY setup is simply 2 microphones (usually small diaphragm) that are mounted on a mic bar (small bar that allows 2 mics to be mounted to one mic stand) and with the diaphragm of both mics being aimed at each other so the diaphragms are as close together as possible, and are usually at about 90 to 130 degrees from each other to give you the stereo spread. go to this page it explains it better than I can.

http://www.prosoundweb.com/studyhall...techniques.php

I tend to like the 90 degree as a minimum angle (depending on distance from source) I tend to like 110 to 120 better, to me it sounds more like the experience of being in the room.

Alot of the people that are into recording bands live (like phish and DMB) use this technique very successfully.

Oh yeah, by the way this works best with cardioids.
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Old March 2nd, 2008, 08:28 PM   #8
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Marshall makes the MCA SP-1. Buy them if you can find them.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old March 2nd, 2008, 10:58 PM   #9
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Rather than getting a new mic stand that can telescope that far would require an extensive investment from what I can find. My stands may reach 72" or so, but that's it. Maybe utilizing some higher seating areas behind where I set up could help. In my experience, not too many people sit back there anyhow. Of course, I am adept at building things from PVC pipes. I could create my own stand - painted black, of course. Hmmmm...the wheels are turning now.

Okay.....

COMPLETELY different direction from what were we discussing, but how would a Rode Videomic work in that situation? After poking around, I found that some live tapers have used these with good results. The word "good" being a relative term, I suppose.

There is a great deal on one in the classifieds ($75). Is it worth a try? I could certainly make use of it in other situations. Just a thought.
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Old March 2nd, 2008, 11:35 PM   #10
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Try it.

There are no clear cut rules in audio. a tall boom stand may be high enough, this set up usually work best when about 20 or so feet back from the stage (based on a room the size of your sample) basically close enough to get good presence and inteligability. experiment on location if you can get into full rehersal.

As far as the Rode, it would probably work to help, but it would definetly not be the best choice. the Rode is design to focus in on sounds directly in front of a camera that is not too far away. yes it would be a great mic for other situations but not in this one. an XY is going to be the best scenario when you cant or dont want to rely on the board mix. keep in mind youre trying to capture a lot of sound that is coming from a lot of directions so a single shotgun mic would not be the best choice.

Speaking of Rode, their SVM (Stereo Video Mic) would be a good choice, again up high on a centerline of the sound system and stage. it is basically a single stereo mic that has an internal XY setup inside. Ans since it is camera mountable you could perhaps use it for other situations. but it is more expensive than the MXL's.

With the budget limitations, I would buy 2 of those small diaphragm MXLs and a mic bar, and you say you own the rest. this setup would give you the most flexibility on top of giving you the best way to mic up this situation. not to mention having an XY setup can be utilized in tons of other live event situations. Youll never regret owning an XY setup. and as your budget grows you can add those specialty mics and upgrade the MXL's.
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Old March 2nd, 2008, 11:44 PM   #11
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By the way.

Do a search for small diaphragm mics in the auction sites and youll find other mics other than the MXl's that could be had for similar price. and perhaps your local music stores might carry some as well.
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Old March 3rd, 2008, 07:06 AM   #12
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Thanks again, Gerry. Your advice will prove to be invaluable.

I have a friend that owns a studio and is a great sound tech, He's checking around his place for some used mics. I think I'll go with your suggestion and get two small diaphragm cardoids.

I know. I know. I have a friend that's a sound tech....these are all things I should have known. :)
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Old March 3rd, 2008, 08:15 AM   #13
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"Can't trust a feed from the sound board"

Well in some cases that's true, but sticking a couple of mics up in the air isn't going to sound as good if you're trying to record the human voice over a PA system.

If it's just choral voices, and you can get close enough, then yes.

I use a lowel light stand with a grip head holding a short mic gooseneck.

To see that, go to http://www.tyford.com >iWeb>OnLine Archive>Video and look for Ty's Boom.mov.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old March 3rd, 2008, 08:57 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gerry Gallegos View Post
XY micing is the simplest form of stereo recording. ...

Alot of the people that are into recording bands live (like phish and DMB) use this technique very successfully.
As if this needed validation... ;-)

Check this out:

http://micsupply.com/phishtapersection.jpeg
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Old March 3rd, 2008, 09:15 AM   #15
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Thanks, Ty.

Therein lies the problem. While weddings will ultimately be my main focus (wireless lav + soundboard feed covers that), these school concerts and pageants are two completely different animals.

The pageants tend to have alot of PA vocal, with a backing track provided via CD. This is no problem IF I have a soundboard feed.

On the other hand, school performances seem to not rely on mics for the choral and instrumental portions, but use PA for the solo vocals, emcee and backing tracks.

Having a tight budget, I need to strike a happy medium for both. Up to now, my stationary cam has done a fairly good job recording ambient sound with a 90 degree stereo condenser mic. I use my "roaming" cam's standard mic audio to fill in, with the live soundboard mix to compliment both. For the most part, this has provided good sound. However, a rash of clipped sound feeds and lack of soundboard access has me looking for a backup solution that I can control myself.

One problem I will have to deal with is that my main cam is usually set up toward the back of the venue to get the full performance area in view. A mic rig in front of that will not work. But if it is at the camera or farther back, it may not be acoustically pleasing.
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