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Old February 17th, 2007, 12:32 PM   #1
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best microphone for tap dancing

What is the best way to mic tap dancing? I've looked into boundary mics, but they are intended more for stage acting and talking, rather than the pounding of tap shoes. Maybe some AT3031's? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

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Old February 17th, 2007, 11:29 PM   #2
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bumpity bump
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Old February 18th, 2007, 12:14 AM   #3
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I can't recommend a particular mic per se, but having filmed a few tap dances I would make the suggestion that;

1) make sure your set up to handle rapid transients. Try keeping your peak meter at -3 or even -6 db. That keeps the quick loud taps from digitally crunching.

2) Besides the sharp/metal part of the tap, there is also a deeper pounding of the wood that is sometimes used by dancers as part of the rhythm, so low frequencies need to be captured too.

3) Probably a little distance between mic and stage is good, If your too close than the dancers' changes in position as they move around the stage and as a result move closer/farther away from yur mic might become distracting in the final mix.
Just some thoughts...
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Old February 18th, 2007, 03:19 AM   #4
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I believe there are contact mikes used to capture tap dancing.

They are encased in foam use sticky tape to keep them in place on stage but isolate them so they are just capturing the dance.

Perhaps you could check IBM for Cotton Club et all and get a hold of someone from the sound crew.

PBS has done several specials on tap dancing.

Check em out and get a hold of them as well.

Keep us posted!
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Old February 18th, 2007, 04:00 AM   #5
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Hi,
I am a recording engineer and music producer by profession and video guy by hobby :D

So I hope I can help you with this.

I would use a combo of two mics. First a boundary mic, like e.g. the venerable Radio Shack or the Crown. Sennheiser and Shure make them too I believe. I have the Radio Shack and it works great.

Place the boundary mic about 1 -2 meter (3-6 ft?) from the place where the tapping takes place (so they don't step on it).
Then I would take a large diaphragm condenser, set to omni and placed low by the floor on a small mic stand, like they use for recording kick drums (K&M make great ones).

Use a preamp with clean gain (no tube or anything - you wanna catch the transients of the tapping, and most budget tube preamps are too 'slow').
If you have one, put a compressor in the chain to tame the spikes a bit before going to tape/disk. Choose a medium attack time and release time. Ratio about 2:1 to 4:1, depending on the compressor.

By putting the large diaphragm mic in omni (and not cardioid) you avoid most of the phase issues that plague multi-mic setups. Also, be sure to monitor with headphones and find the sweet spot of the microphones. Experiment, since an inch can mean a world of difference in sound quality.
You will soon hear where the sound is best. In post you can tame the dymamics some more with compression.

Good luck and have fun!

Cheers
Arthur
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Old February 19th, 2007, 10:43 AM   #6
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What about those stage mics that attach directly to the floor? Flat-surface thingies? I see them all the time attached to the face of the stage at tap dance concerts...
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Old February 19th, 2007, 05:48 PM   #7
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Hi Ben,

Those would be the boundary mics I talked about in my previous post :D

Cheers
Arthur
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Old February 19th, 2007, 06:31 PM   #8
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I would say it depends on the environment. If you are in a nice stage space and people on set will be quiet, then the large omni condenser is nice. You don't just want the clickety-clicks. For good percussive sound, you want some resonance in the space. But if the environment isn't ideal, then the boundary mic is the way to go. Add the space later with reverb/convolution.

The setup Arthur recommends is the best of both worlds. You can mix to taste in post.
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Old February 19th, 2007, 07:05 PM   #9
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i have used a decent shot gun mic and got'en decent results...but i never put it thur a home theather system...its usualy just a regular tv. ? hope this helps
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