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  • 1.  Sound solution? Floor pics?

    Posted 03-27-2018 12:55

    I am directing a musical in my gym on the floor.  Last year we rented headset mics, but they kept cutting out. 


    Has anyone had luck with floor mics? I've been reading about these:


    Any advice?  Comments?





    Kendra Holyoke

    Theatre Arts Years 1, 2, & 3


    Pine View Middle School

    International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme

    Candidate School


    5334 Parkway Boulevard

    Land O' Lakes, Florida 34639

    813-794-4800 * 813-794-4891(fax)




  • 2.  RE: Sound solution? Floor pics?

    Posted 03-27-2018 13:36
    I don't think there's anyway they could replace headsets. They help when actors are fairly close, but even then they will just give a little boost. For the ones I have (Crowns), to really pick up anything up beyond 5 or so feet, the gain would have to be boosted too far up. Unless actors are a consistent distant away, it would be difficult to get a good balance.

    Ken Buswell
    Drama Teacher
    Peachtree City, GA

    Theater kills ignorance

  • 3.  RE: Sound solution? Floor pics?

    Posted 03-28-2018 10:09
    I also produce my shows in our gym. Over the years, I've built a sound system from GTD wireless mics that go into my sound board and play through our gym speakers. As long as students have the mic pack in front of their costume (I have mic belts), the sound is pretty good.

    Christine Izmirian
    Lakewood CO

  • 4.  RE: Sound solution? Floor pics?

    Posted 03-28-2018 14:31

    Hi, Kendra.  Boundary / floor mics work great for picking up the chorus in a musical, but are really not great for individual performers.  They can also be a little touchy concerning feedback.  I'd suggest you rent wireless headset mics again.  Here are some things to watch out for:

    1.  Insist on a Diversity system.  This means there are 2 separate antennae and receivers in the receiver.  If one channel cuts out or gets weak, the other automatically kicks in.  Cheaper systems don't have this.

    2.  Use fresh batteries every night.  Keep the used batteries for later rehearsals.  As batteries get weak, they can cut in and out.  There are usually battery level markings on the receiver, so you can check how much juice is left in each battery.

    3.  Make sure you can plug the mic/headset in and out of the belt pack.  Cheap systems have the mics hard wired into the belt pack.  If the mic goes bad, you lose that entire mic.  Hard wired mics are a sign of cheap systems, like systems used by fitness instructors.  Also, insist on several spare mics/headsets.  If there's a problem, it's often in the cable between the mic and the belt pack.

    3.  Insist on a name brand system  I've had great luck with Shure systems, but others are great too.  Sennheiser and other major brands have quality systems too.  

    4.  Rent from an established theatrical rental company in your area.  They'll be much more likely to have quality gear.  My school bought 6 cheap systems, which never did work well, and broke quickly.  Low bid is usually a guarantee of inferior gear.

    5.  Insist that the rental company give your students hands-on training.  Many rental companies may charge a little extra, but are happy to do it, because they're more likely to get their gear back undamaged, and you'll be more likely to recommend them if people ask who you rented from.  Also, they might be able to "Tune" your performance space.  With many different groups using a performance space, the EQ of the room can get seriously wonky.  It'll cost a little more, but it's well worth it.

    Break legs!

    Bob Fowler

    Co-Developer:  Practical Technical Theatre Instructional Series

    Interactive Educational Video, LLC

  • 5.  RE: Sound solution? Floor pics?

    Posted 03-28-2018 15:44
    I bought three of the very mics you posted (for the same price.) They worked well for my purpose - picking up improvised games and skits on our 48' wide apron during choir & band changes for arts festivals. We spiked the floor so actors knew the best areas to stand. They also helped  pick up the choirs. 
    For musicals, we have invested in purchasing Shure wireless microphones over the years. I agree with every previous comment regarding their use and would add to be careful of using frequencies also used by nearby venues. We occasionally have trouble with mics cutting out during our Sunday matinees when nearby churches are using their wireless systems.
    Also note that the Bartlett product warns against using them in a gymnasiums. 
    Good luck.

    Kate Costello
    Theater director
    Arlington Heights IL

  • 6.  RE: Sound solution? Floor pics?

    Posted 03-29-2018 06:42
    All comments above are very good. I actually only use one boundary now because we have thankfully trained the students to project. Also, boundaries pick up ambient noises, so shuffling feet, orchestrations and scene changes can get amplified as well.

    Crit Fisher
    Lighting/Sound Designer
    New Albany High School

  • 7.  RE: Sound solution? Floor pics?

    Posted 03-30-2018 04:53
    The Crown and Bartlett floor mics can be used in other places besides the floor.  I've used them on tables, in planters, on the backside of table lampshades, on posts (near mouth height), on the back side of guard railings / trellises, and on the ceiling (bottom of overhanging platforms / 'inner below').  Some keys to using them (and any microphone) successfully are:
    • Keep a clear line-of-sight between the performer's mouth and the microphone (if there is scenery or other actors between the two, then the sound becomes muted and muffled).
    • Only turn-on the mics you need (the more active mics you have ON, the more likely feedback can occur).  You don't necessarily have to fully mute the un-used mics, just turn them down 10-20 dB.  Muting the mics can cause sudden level changes that are clearly audible to the audience.
    • If you use automatic feed-back suppression processors, use one on each mic, not the whole mix (feedback is a result of the relationship between each mic and each speaker, so if you try to suppress multiple microphones with one processor you will make all the mics sound bad, not just the one you are having a problem with).  If you are recording the program with these mics, split the microphone line (or choose a 'pre-effects mix bus) and feed the recording mix BEFORE you feed the mic into the feedback suppression processor (no need to trash your recording with the processed audio).
    • Try to keep the mics as far upstage as practical.  The closer they are to the front of the stage, the more they will pick-up the sound reinforcement speakers and instigate feedback.  If you are keep  your actors blocking no closer than 6 feet from the stage apron edge (for safety), then move the mics 5 feet upstage.  his creates a small visual marker to help the performers stay away from the edge of the stage, too.  Moving everybody upstage a few feet will not generally reduce the audience's ability to hear the performers, but it can substantially reduce feedback.
    • If you are micing a choral program, and your proscenium is below about 18-20 feet, installing the mics up-side-down on the ceiling in front of the proscenium can work well, particularly for recording.  Just make sure that they are secure - not held to the ceiling with gaffer's tape!  This also works well for feeding a general show program to the backstage support area speakers in dressing rooms and green rooms.
    • If mics are used upstage (i.e.behind the plane of the loudspeakers), and you have a digital mixer that allows you to delay the individual mic channels, then delay the mic sound proportional to the distance upstage (approximately 1ms per foot) so the sound from the mic comes out of the loudspeakers at about the same time it naturally arrives at the audience's ears.  This reduces some of the 'hollowness' the audience perceives and can also help reduce feedback tendencies.  The audience will tend to focus on the sound that arrives first, so allowing the natural voice to arrive at the audience's ears BEFORE (up to 10-15ms) the sound from the loudspeakers arrives, it helps the brain to focus on the performer and not the sound system.
    • If you are using fold-back monitor speakers anywhere around the performing area of the stage, try to NOT route the sound reinforcement microphones into the monitor speakers.  Just use them for music, click-tracks, or other (pre-recorded) sound effects.  Foldback monitors may be OK for rock-n-roll type shows where the entertainers are using hand-held mics positioned close to their lips, but they are generally disastrous for conventional theatre productions.

    Erich Friend
    Theatre Consultant
    Teqniqal Systems

  • 8.  RE: Sound solution? Floor pics?

    Posted 03-31-2018 09:19
    Edited by Rachel Ferrari-Engel 03-31-2018 09:23
    There have been lots of great suggestions and you have a lot to pull from!

    I also would not give up on headsets.  Floor mics are good for reinforcement of the ensemble.  However they can also pick up floor noise if not installed correctly.  You also need to be aware of their placement in relationship to your speakers.  I have had problems with floor mics and feedback in my space due to a set of speakers installed that are over the apron instead of in front of it... I believe use in a gymnasiums setting will be particularly difficult.  I often use hanging mic's for ensemble pick up; but you must be ok being able to see the mic cable and capsel  them.  

    Some additional comments I think worth mentioning for your headset mic's

    •  did you scan frequencies prior to setting setting then.
    •  check to make sure T-Mobile has not fired up in your area.. anything that operates above 608 MHZ will no longer be usable once they start up in your area.  This would be any mic/receiver in the G-Band 
    • Are you using an antennae distribution system.  When I first began 10 years ago I did not.. and had problems with cutting out all the time.. since adding an antennae distribution I have RARELY had a problem.
    • Did you check your signal strength.  You can move your receivers closer to the stage to help out. Many theater's keep receivers backstage to improve signal strength.  However that requires another sound personal.  One backstage to monitor receivers and one out in the house on the live mix.
    • Also don't underestimate the power of mic placement & pack sensitivity.  That can make a huge difference in sound pick-up and feedback.
    Wishing you the best on your production!!  I hope everything works out well!

    Rachel Ferrari-Engel
    Pittsburgh Pa