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Old April 6th, 2007, 01:11 PM   #1
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How to mic the president

Can anyone give me details about the mics they use during presidential addresses? It's very distinctive. There are two mics sitting in a really weird looking doughnut shaped shockmount. I read somewhere that those same mics have been used by every president since Kennedy, but I've been unable to find a photo that proves it. I did find one of Carter that could depict the same mics, but it's hard to be sure because of the angle. I want to use a photo of Bush and Kennedy (if possible) showing those mics in a Power Point demonstration. Basically it's a way to illustrate that quality audio gear is a good long term investment.
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Old April 6th, 2007, 01:16 PM   #2
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Well, they may look presidential, if that matters.

They are Shure SM-57 with the factory windscreen. A cardoid dynamic microphone, they have certain inherent characteristics, such as good gain before feedback, more resistant to wind effects, we're all used to how they sound. And then there's the "presidents have used them for 50 years" thing.

They also are used quite a bit for micing drum sets and guitar amps for concert performances. The successor Beta57 is actually quite a nice mic.

The SM-57 has a street price of about $80 US, the factory windscreen is a little harder to find. If what's being said from the podium may influence the direction of the world, better have a backup or two in a fancy holder.
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Old April 6th, 2007, 01:24 PM   #3
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Wow. I thought it was something really exotic. :) Do you know if it's actually the same mics, or just the same type of mics? If they only gets hauled out a couple of times per year, I would think a pair of those would last forever.
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Old April 6th, 2007, 01:31 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Seth Bloombaum View Post
Well, they may look presidential, if that matters.

They are Shure SM-57 with the factory windscreen. A cardoid dynamic microphone, they have certain inherent characteristics, such as good gain before feedback, more resistant to wind effects, we're all used to how they sound. And then there's the "presidents have used them for 50 years" thing.

They also are used quite a bit for micing drum sets and guitar amps for concert performances. The successor Beta57 is actually quite a nice mic.

The SM-57 has a street price of about $80 US, the factory windscreen is a little harder to find. If what's being said from the podium may influence the direction of the world, better have a backup or two in a fancy holder.
Have to agree. I bought an SM57B (which also has proximity effect reduction) for my on stage vocal mic. The SM57 has a long pedigree as a workhorse mic, able to withstand the use and abuse while providing pretty decent audio quality. I think I paid $99 at the local large music store chain. A very solid investment IMO.

-gb-
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Old April 6th, 2007, 06:17 PM   #5
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They're not always 57s, but this sturdy old Shure model experiences common usage on the presidential podium, the one with the presidential seal. Non-seal podiums often use whatever is approved for the host facility (ie: universities, etc. where a speech may be presented.)

The 57s have been used on the podium as far back as Lyndon Johnson. In some cases, they may be 57s with non-stock windscreens, and sometimes they appear to be a different make and model altogether (though likely not as often) and in a few cases (rarely) you might even note the stock 57 with no windscreen at all. They are essentially always hardwired (never wireless) to avoid problems with pressbox systems walking all over the frequencies, as well as potential information security issues.

The double mic system (though obviously a sensible backup solution) is also a practical method for feeding both the house and the press box with near identical signals.


I have a couple 57s that I bought 20 years ago, and although they show alot of external road wear 'n' tear, they still work and sound a perfect as ever.

-Jon
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Old April 7th, 2007, 07:23 AM   #6
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From the Shure website's history time-line:
"1965 - SM57 Dynamic Microphone is rugged and reliable with a clean, natural sound. It continues to be the Presidentís lectern microphone today, as it has been for every U.S. President since Lyndon B. Johnson."
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Old April 8th, 2007, 11:40 PM   #7
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I've never mic'd a president with anything other than a 57. When you put a condenser podium mic in front of the president it makes him look like Bob Barker so you don't do it.
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Old April 8th, 2007, 11:49 PM   #8
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Do they use the exact same microphones or do they buy new ones every once in a while? And why has that mic been around for so long without a replacement?
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Old April 9th, 2007, 12:00 AM   #9
 
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Do they use the exact same microphones or do they buy new ones every once in a while? And why has that mic been around for so long without a replacement?
they have new mics periodically, I'm sure. Many years ago, I was working for a pro audio company, and the president was coming to town. They brought their own mics, press box, etc. They had several backup mics, my company provided desk, speaks, power, etc, but that was it. Not only did they have their own anvil case of mics (all 57's in both green and black) but they had several boxes of spares. The triple head not only has redundancy, but also an out of phase mic for feedback control and a backup. My understanding (could be urban myth) is that the original triple head was to feed NBC, ABC, and CBS simultaneously.
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Old April 9th, 2007, 12:08 AM   #10
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My understanding (could be urban myth) is that the original triple head was to feed NBC, ABC, and CBS simultaneously.
Well, it could be urban myth, but it does seem to make a lot of sense for back then considering there was were only those 3 tv networks...(not counting radio feeds)

My understanding now is that they use the double mic system with one mic feeding a breakout for the press to access.
-Jon
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Old April 9th, 2007, 12:13 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Charles Hurley View Post
I've never mic'd a president with anything other than a 57. When you put a condenser podium mic in front of the president it makes him look like Bob Barker so you don't do it.
I agree, yet sometimes that is what they get...although still a dual system. Those mics tend to crop up in places such as those periodical awards banquets or special events where the pres. is a guest speaker, but it is not a presidential event. In those cases, I have noted the podium to display an insignia other than the presidential seal - something along the lines of the Knights of Columbus seal, a particular university seal, or the seal of the forum or host of the various fund raisers at which the president will speak - in which cases you sometimes see them straying from the old standby micing system that is used in the more conventional, traditional or planned appearances.

-Jon
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Old April 9th, 2007, 01:03 AM   #12
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Brings back memories. Back in the 70s when I was in high school I was in a 'PA' team that would do all the set-up for school functions. One day we were sent to another school to do the sound set up for Govenor Ronald Regan. Of course we pulled some Shure 57s out of the closet and our Bogen amp and EV horns. Not quite presidential yet, but for a freshman in HS it was kinda cool. I remember being impressed with the security on the roof with rifles!
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Old April 9th, 2007, 08:45 AM   #13
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I've used the SM-57 myself for miking many things - they have become and industry legend for instrument mics (thrown over an amp, or aimed at the drum kit for example). In my opinion, they can't be beat for spoken vocals for the price, at only about $100 with the windscreen (A2WS).

Oh, and in case you are wondering, the shock-mount used on the lecturn for Presidential addresses is the A55M.

Here's the link to the accessories: http://shure.com/ProAudio/Products/W...M57-LC_content
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Old April 9th, 2007, 02:03 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Nick Royer View Post
...And why has that mic been around for so long without a replacement?
That falls into the "if it isn't broken, don't fix it" category. It's a pretty mature technology, and it's always nice to know that this is one investment that won't be obsolete with next year's model. But, then, I think that's the point that Marco was trying to make at the start of this thread :)
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