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Old May 9th, 2015, 03:56 PM   #1
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Mics for stage

Before y'all bust me for posting about stage audio, I thought I'd ask the knowledgeable bunch here to see if you could impart a few words of wisdom.

I was asked to provide a permanent audio solution for my school. The system works fine, I just need to add up to 8 additional wireless lavs, handhelds, and/or headset mics. I'm not worried about the different mics, per se, it's the mic/receiver combos that I have questions about. I have a budget of about $2500.00. We have a 16 input mixer already in the system and need up to 8 additional wireless systems. The space is about 75' wide by 100' deep, so not overly large. The receiver(s) will (should) be rack mounted in the space, so walls won't be an issue.

Any thoughts on make/model? Recommendations on what to look at and what to stay away from? FYI, the mics will be for stage productions (child actors mainly) and some clergy/choir when the space is a church.

Thanks for any input!
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Old May 9th, 2015, 04:23 PM   #2
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Re: Mics for stage

$2500 for 8 wireless mic kits comes down to $312.50 per kit.
A $300 wireless mic kit is well below the threshold of what most people here would consider to be a minimally-acceptable kit.

For several years , the Sennheiser G3 has been considered by most people to be the lowest-price kit that is worth the investment. Below that tend to be cheap, fiddly, plastic, unreliable, disposable toys. Furthermore, schools are particularly hard on equipment, and even G3 may not be up to the task of surviving in a school environment except for occasional use under close supervision by competent adults.

However, there are a new generation of digital wireless kits that use the 2.4GHz ISM band. The advantages are that they can be higher quality than most of the older-generation analog equipment. But the disadvantage of wireless in the 2.4GHz band is that the band is shared with WiFi, Bluetooth, and even microwave ovens.

Some big names in microphones are selling the 2.4GHz kits like the Audio-Technica System 10, and newcomers like Rode are now also selling 2.4GHz kits. But it may still be too soon to see whether these 2.4GHz products will be found reliable out in the Real World where they are competing with WiFi and Bluetooth, etc.
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Old May 9th, 2015, 04:31 PM   #3
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Re: Mics for stage

I've had a few racks of original series then G2 and G3 in schools and they survive very well - the packs are tough and resistant to damage, and dropping them seem fairly forgiving. The cheaper than G3 range - the XS are pretty good with the hand held, but the lav packs area bit more 'bendy', but still seem pretty good, and pricing is better than the G3. Schools and colleges often use disposable mics rather than the usual expensive higher quality ones, because these are the bits that get wrecked, but low cost chinese ones work well enough.
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Old May 9th, 2015, 05:13 PM   #4
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Re: Mics for stage

Shure are very common in many concert systems. The ULX is widely accepted, but you pay for that quality.
A good combo system with a lav and a handheld will run about $2k.
Shure ULXD Single-Channel UHF Handheld and ULXD124/150/C-G50 B&H

We're running a show with 3 R&B acts tonight with UR2's with Beta 58's.

A good cheaper option is the standard version of the ULX. I just put one of these in our church.
Shure ULX Standard Series - Wireless Combo ULXS124/85-M1 B&H

Be aware that with combo systems, you can't run the lav and the handheld at the same time.

I just put two of these in our church for a forward thinking 2.4g system.
Shure GLXD24/SM58 Handheld Wireless System GLXD24/SM58-Z2 B&H


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Old May 10th, 2015, 02:41 AM   #5
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Re: Mics for stage

What makes a huge difference in multichannel installs is the extra equipment, and this is missing from your budget. Distribution amps, remote aerials etc. Very often a distribution amp to feed multiple receivers from a pair of better aerials might cost as much as the individual package with mic, pack and receiver! Multiple receivers with front or rear aerials are a weak link, on the back they are often screened by the racks, and sticking out the front they get knocked, can't be set at the optimum angles and to see the receiver, can't be mounted high up.
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Old May 13th, 2015, 09:19 AM   #6
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Re: Mics for stage

Thanks, y'all for the helpful replies. At first it seems like "I can't get there from here" with my budget. Also I didn't think about antenna distribution and such. I'm going to look at your suggestions, work up a tentative (larger) budget and see what the powers that be say.
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Old May 13th, 2015, 12:48 PM   #7
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Re: Mics for stage

Bob,

I'm curious if you already have a general stage mic solution in place, or are you are using on-talent mics exclusively? Of course, good wireless lavs are ideal - especially for lead actors and soloists. To reinforce ensembles and choirs, a general solution might be a match for your budget.

I've been asked to put together a small system from scratch for a 20 foot stage. The budget won't cover wireless (yet), so I plan to start with floor mics. I'm looking at using these: Bartlett Stage Floor Mics - Bartlett Audio They've been recommended on other threads on DV Info over hanging mics. (Unfortunately, we have a non-technical person who is pushing for hanging mics. Oh well...)

Anyway, let us know what you have in this regard. Maybe a general solution (or improved general solution) and fewer additional wireless channels will help you move things forward within budget.
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Old May 13th, 2015, 04:16 PM   #8
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Re: Mics for stage

What sort of productions Jon? PCCs like the Bartletts are probably the best distant mic setup - but keep in mind that while it will lift the chorus, or a choir, the amount of gain they offer is very small - if you need people to be heard over the top of a band, a small orchestra or other noise making group, they won't be much good. Very often you raise 3 or 5 faders to the point when it almost feeds back and then when you prod the mute buttons, the volume change is extremely small. Great for a recording feed to a camera or audio recorder, but for volume through a PA, you may be disappointed.
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Old May 14th, 2015, 06:22 AM   #9
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Re: Mics for stage

The Shure web site has a FAQ and white paper section somewhere. It may provide some basic information on this type application.

Also, are you looking for hand held, instrument, lav, head-worn, ensembles, or a mix?

Many pro audio sources offer substantial discounts to schools.
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Old May 14th, 2015, 07:36 AM   #10
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Re: Mics for stage

Minimum would really be a Sennheiser G3 system - and you would need the antenna distribution that is part of the system.

You will need careful frequency planning with an 8-channel system - if you already have radiomics and you are adding another 8 - then you will *really* need careful planning.

You should only use 1 pair of antennas and then split these to the receivers - if you are not an RF expert, then I would get proper advise about how to set this all up, especially if you are adding to an existing system.

Sennheiser in Germany, the UK and the USA all have these experts who can properly advise you on how the best way to go about this is.

If your existing system is just a few cheapo systems - then I would strongly advise getting d of these and buy again as part of the new system as this will be much safer.
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Old May 14th, 2015, 01:34 PM   #11
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Re: Mics for stage

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul R Johnson View Post
What sort of productions Jon? PCCs like the Bartletts are probably the best distant mic setup - but keep in mind that while it will lift the chorus, or a choir, the amount of gain they offer is very small - if you need people to be heard over the top of a band, a small orchestra or other noise making group, they won't be much good. Very often you raise 3 or 5 faders to the point when it almost feeds back and then when you prod the mute buttons, the volume change is extremely small. Great for a recording feed to a camera or audio recorder, but for volume through a PA, you may be disappointed.
Hi Paul,

In my application, we need some reinforcement so people further from the stage can hear the voices. There's usually no recorded music during the dialog. The stage is small (20' x 15') and the room is maybe 80' x 40' with maybe a 15' ceiling. It's very live. The productions usually have a small number of speakers but might have a number of very young kids singing or chanting. The audience would typically fill about 1/3 of the room. The kids can be quite young with amateur volunteers directing things. Clipping on mics and transmitters and managing a complex mix isn't really in the cards. We'd be more likely to have a small number of wired handheld mics than wireless lavs when we need a commanding voice. The floor mics (or hanging mics, if they would be better) would be to provide subtle fill for those without a mic.

I don't want to hijack the thread. (The multichannel wireless topic is fascinating.) I guess it comes down to two questions:

1) When can a general mic setup be helpful (or unhelpful), and
2) Are floor mics or hanging mics preferred?

BTW, I plan on including a feedback killer / EQ to allow moderate gain without pain. ;)

Hopefully, the answers will benefit Bob and his application/budget as well as my more modest situation.
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Old May 15th, 2015, 07:00 AM   #12
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Re: Mics for stage

The kids may be too young to manage wireless mics in the form of body packs, etc. and it adds a level of complexity to the production that may be difficult to master if it is largely based on volunteer (parents?) and staff that does not have the necessary technical bent.

1 - Add some wall & ceiling acoustic treatment to manage the room reverb.

2 - Use directional floor mics for the "stars," they can be wired. Teach them to get close to the mic.

3 - Use some directional ceiling mics for the ensembles/chorus

4 - Manage the gain carefully durning set-up and performances - it isn't a rock concert so you do not need those ear drum shattering, feedback producing levels.

5 - Be careful about speaker placement
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Old May 15th, 2015, 12:37 PM   #13
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Re: Mics for stage

Great tips, Don!

I hadn't considered the combination of floor and ceiling mics. I had been thinking OR rather than AND.

Regarding treatment, the space has two separate boxes - the stage and the room. There is a partial wall at the sides and ceiling of the raised stage that divides them. I think we can reasonably treat the stage area to some degree. The audience area has glass on a side wall and is really too big for us to treat. I plan on mounting two 2-way 12" speakers from the ceiling just in front of the stage ceiling wall. That should cover the audience well without getting in the way and without radiating back to the stage. The delay from back wall to the stage should be long enough (120ms or so) to avoid squeal. The speakers will be aimed such that the front rows hear the performers directly with the reinforcement starting a few rows back.

I like "selling" the concept of floor (stars) and ceiling (ensemble) mics. I plan to start with the floor mics and add the ceiling mics if necessary.

And yes, managing gain conservatively should be realistic. It's not terribly hard to hear people as it is. They're not competing with music, aside from the occasional unplugged acoustic guitar.

Back to the original poster's question, I wonder if stage/ceiling mics would help that application or if it would be money spent for no gain (pun intended.)
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Old May 15th, 2015, 02:36 PM   #14
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Re: Mics for stage

hanging mics are quite common, but look pretty horrible at the kinds of heights where they are effective. On stage they also pick up a lot of reflections from the stage floor, which combine with the direct sound to sound typically hollow and distant. Boundaries on the stage floor use the stage surface as the plane, so are more effective and sound nicer at the same kinds of distance.

If you just need a little extra, then boundaries - PCC, not PZM to avoid too much being picked up in the audiences direction are the best you can do, if you don't want the grief that comes with radios - which are the opposite of set and forget.
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Old May 15th, 2015, 03:29 PM   #15
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Re: Mics for stage

Paul,

How would you compare the Crown PCC to the Bartletts? As I understand it, Bruce Bartlett designed them both.

Crown Audio PCC-160 Phase Coherent Cardioid Microphone

Bartlett Stage Floor Mics - Bartlett Audio
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