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Author Topic: Using stage monitors with condenser mics  (Read 534 times)

Mike Thomas

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Using stage monitors with condenser mics
« on: February 20, 2014, 05:37:28 am »

Hello Folks. I am looking for some advice for the singer setup for our portable church situation. This church meets in a gym and uses a different worship team each week. If the number of singers is over 6, we usually set up SM81 condenser mics on boom stands in front of the singers covering 3 singers per mic. The problem is with using monitors. The singers want to hear each other but when the condenser mic inputs are put into the monitors, there can be feedback issues. I would like for the singers to be able to hear themselves. Can we accomplish using condenser mics for singing teams AND use stage monitors with their inputs in the mix? If so, what do we need to consider to pull this off?

Thanks in advance for the advice!
Mike
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Lee Buckalew

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Re: Using stage monitors with condenser mics
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2014, 06:43:21 am »

Hello Folks. I am looking for some advice for the singer setup for our portable church situation. This church meets in a gym and uses a different worship team each week. If the number of singers is over 6, we usually set up SM81 condenser mics on boom stands in front of the singers covering 3 singers per mic. The problem is with using monitors. The singers want to hear each other but when the condenser mic inputs are put into the monitors, there can be feedback issues. I would like for the singers to be able to hear themselves. Can we accomplish using condenser mics for singing teams AND use stage monitors with their inputs in the mix? If so, what do we need to consider to pull this off?

Thanks in advance for the advice!
Mike

This has nothing to do with them being condenser mics.  It is all about SPL at the mic.  When you group mic you are moving the mic away from the sound source (singers in this case) and making the singers and the monitor speaker be more equidistant to the mic.  You also have singers that are not listening to each other (or can't hear each other because of stage volume) even though they are being miced as an ensemble, and are instead trying to hear each other through the monitors.  The loudest sound at the mic wins.  If the SPL from the monitors that is reaching the mic is nearly the same as the SPL reaching the mic from the singers then you will have feedback problems.  As you approach feedback, even before there is ringing, you begin to significantly altar the tone of the sound. 
If you want to group mic the singers they need to be arranged so that they can hear each other without the monitors.  At least so that each group can hear and harmonize to the singers within their own group without hearing themselves in the monitors.  Then only the other groups are in a given monitor.  This would help.  It would also help to get mics much closer to singers making the difference in voice level vs. monitor level getting to the mic biased toward voice.  One singer per mic or two singers per mic rather than 3 perhaps.  With 2 per mic the mic can split each pair of singers. 
The monitor to singer arrangement also makes a big difference to what the singers hear vs. what sound gets to the mic.  Very few monitors have a pattern that will allow three singers wide to hear an even balance, many can't get two singers wide in their coverage pattern.  When the monitor coverage is too narrow the monitor gets turned up to a much higher level in order for the singers to hear what they need to making the feedback problem even more pronounced.  A successful  solution for you will have to do with arranging people and equipment properly and also with having the necessary amount of each rather than keeping the same arrangement/layout and changing out equipment types.

Lee
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Lee Buckalew
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Mike Thomas

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Re: Using stage monitors with condenser mics
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2014, 07:20:09 am »

Lee, Thanks for your explanation of the effect we have been experiencing along with your recommendations. I will be using a condenser mic setup this weekend and will experiment with two singers per mic, mic closer to the two singers and greater distance from monitor to mic than singers to mic. Thanks!
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Steve M Smith

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Re: Using stage monitors with condenser mics
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2014, 08:19:23 am »

The singer to mic distance is the most important thing here.  With one mic and one singer, the mic can be very close to the source of sound so the gain doesn't need to be too high.

When you move it away a bit to cover two singers (or more) the level reaching the mic reduces so you have to increase the gain to compensate.  this is where the feedback problem starts.

You can mitigate it to some extent with some frequency cutting on the graphic equaliser but you are basically fighting with the laws of physics!


Steve.
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dick rees

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Re: Using stage monitors with condenser mics
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2014, 08:34:59 am »

This has nothing to do with them being condenser mics.  It is all about SPL at the mic.  When you group mic you are moving the mic away from the sound source (singers in this case) and making the singers and the monitor speaker be more equidistant to the mic.  You also have singers that are not listening to each other (or can't hear each other because of stage volume) even though they are being miced as an ensemble, and are instead trying to hear each other through the monitors.  The loudest sound at the mic wins.  If the SPL from the monitors that is reaching the mic is nearly the same as the SPL reaching the mic from the singers then you will have feedback problems.  As you approach feedback, even before there is ringing, you begin to significantly altar the tone of the sound. 
If you want to group mic the singers they need to be arranged so that they can hear each other without the monitors.  At least so that each group can hear and harmonize to the singers within their own group without hearing themselves in the monitors.  Then only the other groups are in a given monitor.  This would help.  It would also help to get mics much closer to singers making the difference in voice level vs. monitor level getting to the mic biased toward voice.  One singer per mic or two singers per mic rather than 3 perhaps.  With 2 per mic the mic can split each pair of singers. 
The monitor to singer arrangement also makes a big difference to what the singers hear vs. what sound gets to the mic.  Very few monitors have a pattern that will allow three singers wide to hear an even balance, many can't get two singers wide in their coverage pattern.  When the monitor coverage is too narrow the monitor gets turned up to a much higher level in order for the singers to hear what they need to making the feedback problem even more pronounced.  A successful  solution for you will have to do with arranging people and equipment properly and also with having the necessary amount of each rather than keeping the same arrangement/layout and changing out equipment types.

Lee

This is pretty much "gospel" on the subject.  The simple mantra is this:

Loudest sound at the mic wins.  That should be the voices themselves.  Your mic/monitor setup should be set up to implement this principle.  Lee has covered how.
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Mike Thomas

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Re: Using stage monitors with condenser mics
« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2014, 11:28:05 am »

Loudest sound at the mic wins...that pretty well sums up my issue from what all of you have said. Consensus is a good thing. I believe I know what needs to be done to combat the feedback problem so I will experiment this weekend. Thanks to all of you for the insight!  :-)
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Tim Padrick

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Re: Using stage monitors with condenser mics
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2014, 03:46:37 am »

Give the folks on the left only the folks on the right, and vice-versa.
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