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  • 1.  Wireless Headsets

    Posted 08-16-2019 11:18
    I am trying to put a package of microphones together for our productions.  Can anyone give me some feedback on which headsets would be best to use, that won't give me a lot of "feedback".  I am looking to use 16 mics and using Audio Technica systems.  So what works best, Countryman, Audio-technica, Acacia, BodyMic (Drury lane)?  Thanks.

    Andrew Fisher
    Canon City CO

  • 2.  RE: Wireless Headsets

    Posted 08-16-2019 14:01
    In my experience, it's not the mic, it's how it's placed and the settings on the board and the pack. Very cheap mics have worked just as well as $200 Countryman mics for me. However, I'm not an expert. I think the owner of BodyMics is on this board - he and others will have better and more detailed advice than me.

    Ken Buswell
    Drama Teacher
    Peachtree City, GA

    Theater kills ignorance

  • 3.  RE: Wireless Headsets

    Posted 08-17-2019 10:07
    Short explanation:
    • any mic with a reasonably smooth frequency response will do about the same job - it is more about the room-speaker combination than the mic-transmitter set
    • then it comes down to features like comfort, fit, adjustability, weight, size, ease of fitting
    • single ear mics look better for the most part but are a bit trickier to fit so they stay in place
      • we aim to shape the boom by careful easing it shape to run along the check with the capsule resting on the skin
      • the ear-hook needs to be shaped (or use our silicon snail or dpa's snail or VT snail ear-hook) so that it doesn't wobble - push out against the ear-lobe and in against the temple
      • tape the cable to the neck below the point of exit from the mic boom and then either clip to a collar in the centre of the neck with a clip or tape to the center of the neck or clip into the hair at the nape of the neck

    Long answer:
    • theatre tends to use omni-directional mics because they offer a smoother frequency response and so are much easier to equalize
      • counterintuitive if you are having feedback issues where you would think a cardioid pickup pattern would be you friend, but all cardioids have severe peaks  and troughs in their pick-up pattern due to the ways we create these pick-up patterns
        • getting rid of the feedback points caused by these peaks is exacerbated when we add another dozen or so mics with similar, but not necessarily exact frequency responses
        • this is greatly simplified by the use of omni capsules.
      • almost all the small capsule cardioid mics have the cardioid pattern symmetrical around the axis of the mic boom, so the closer the mic is to the mouth (up to in front of the mouth) the more the signal is being primarily collect at right-angles to the  axis and the less gain and the more peaky the freq response, so the less natural it sounds and it is harder to eq
    • the biggest factor in the incidence of feedback is the room acoustics and the interface of the speaker system into the room
      • not always much you can do about either, but no matter what mics you use this will be an issue except in a room with perfect room acoustics and the right speaker system placed in just the right spot
      • most critical is that the mics are always behind the back of the speaker boxes
      • the speaker boxes should not be pointed directly at the back wall - should each be aimed at the center of the room with the focal point about 2/3rds of the way to the back row - so if you have 30 rows aim them at the centre of the room 20 rows in - this will give fairly even coverage throughout the space with minimal slap-back from the back wall
      • if possible the speakers should also be mounted high, as this also helps reduce any reflections from the back and side walls
      • never run the speakers louder than is necessary to have the vocals heard - unless it is a rock musical it should never sound like one (a mistake I think broadway has started to make - I had to wear attenuating earplugs at Wicked to stop my ears going into self-protecting compression.  The mix was good and balanced just way to load on both speech and music for comfort.  Our ears are very clever - if something is louder than it should be they try to compensate by limiting the signal they send to our brains, the down side is it then sounds less natural with less dynamic range and thus a voice is less nuanced.
    • the mix and operator -
      • once all that can be done to the speaker room acoustic combo, the sound system needs to be "tuned" to the room to null out any remaining peaks that cause feedback, and nulls that cause a loss of frequency information.  In the old days we used graphic equalizers to acheive this, today we have more sophisticated "Digital System Controllers" that do the work for us.  Whatever gear you use, you need to get the room as "FLAT" as possible to maximize the Gain Before Feedback" of the room.
      • next every mic on every actor (always use the same mic on the same actor for the run of the show) needs to be "Rung Out"  to tune it to the actor's voice,  the mounting position and the stage environment - with simple analog boards this is usually done using the inbuilt channel EQ/tone controls which is a little like painting a portrait with a 2" wide brush, if you have a digital board you usually have the option of parametric eq which allow you to narrow into just the frequency or frequencies that are problematic.
      • now it is in the hands of the operator - the more open mics there are the less each mic can be "turned up" before reaching it's feedback.  Physics at work - every time we double the number of open mics we lose 3dB of sound level before feedback will occur
        • this means that at some point as you add more open mics you need to reduce the master level a little to stay SAFE
        • also when 2 actors move close together their respective mics also pick up from the other actor effectively doubling the amount of signal sent to the system - so as they come together it is necessary (or at least smart) to reduce the level of one or both as they get closer and reverse that procedure as they move away.  Why smart - because you want the level to stay the same in the audience whether they are 10ft apart or 2" apart, as it would be unnatural in most instances for them to sound louder as the get closer (unless they are fighting)  - as it is more normal for them to speak more intimately and quieter as the get close.
        • all this means that unless you have a perfect room and sound system, the quality of the sound and the incidence of feedback is almost totally on the shoulders of the board operator.  
    Hope this helps a little, Ken thanks for the shout out

    Rod Reilly
    Owner, Bodymics
    Somerset NJ

  • 4.  RE: Wireless Headsets

    Posted 08-18-2019 08:26
    "almost all the small capsule cardioid mics have the cardioid pattern symmetrical around the axis of the mic boom, so the closer the mic is to the mouth (up to in front of the mouth) the more the signal is being primarily collect at right-angles to the  axis and the less gain and the more peaky the freq response, so the less natural it sounds and it is harder to eq"

    Thank you for you detailed response. In particular, this paragraph, was an Ah-ha moment for me.

    Brian Bozanich
    Director of Theatre
    Maumee Valley Country Day School
    Toledo OH