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Author Topic: Are High SPL Headworn Mics A Viable Solution for Operatically Loud Singers?  (Read 573 times)

Adrian Durlester

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I'm posting in the church area since this seem most appropriate. Jewish synagoges usually have a cantor or cantorial soloist, a singer of liturgy and liturgical music, sometimes of a chanted style, sometimes of a folk/rock/pop style, and sometimes (and especially during the Jewish High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) in an operatic style.  I'm working with and consulting for a synagogue that really wants their cantorial soloist to use a head-worn mic. They now have younger clergy who want to be mobile in the Sanctuary. I setup some Line 6 V55 systems for them last year, with their basic headworn omni mic. It's fine for the rabbi, who sometimes sings, but not in an operatic voice. For the cantorial soloist, it's a disaster whenever she sings full out in an operatic style. Even setting the mic farther back on the cheek  doesn't mitigate the issue. (I should also note this particular synagogue has no independent mixer and no ability to compress and EQ individual channels - a situation I am currently remedying -  replacing their old TOA commercial mixer amps (80s and 90s vintage) with a new Behringer XR18. I doubt, however, that even with the mixer installed, I'd be able to eliminate distortion from the Line 6 HS 70. since I am fairly confident the distortion is occuring right at the mic. But having compression will help in other ways.) I've worked with high-end DPA mics in theatrical settings, and they are pretty impressive at handling high SPL. The Countryman mics that come in High SPL version also seem to work well, and I've heard good things about the head-worn mics from PointSource. I'm concerned, however that these higher-max-SPL-rated mics have very different sensitivity ratings and might not work well with the Line6 TBT12 bodpack xmitters.  Does anyone here have experience using high max SPL mics with the Line6 bodypacks? Does anyone have any recommendations? Will the high max SPL mics really be able to handle an operatically loud voice? (I don't have the option of surgical dot or wig mounting as in live theater or TV. Even though I don;t think they work as well as headworns, might a lav be better in this scenario? (A fix mic and a handheld wireless are not an option here.)  I can tell you right now that trying to sell these folks a truly higher-end mic  won't be easy so I need to be armed with the proper arguments.  (In the short term, until I have the questions I've asked here more in hand, I'm advising the cantorial soloist to use a fixed mic (wireless or handheld) and use some mic technique to know when to back away from the mic! Thanks for any advice. I'm not  newbie per se, I have an udnergraduate degree in technical theater and did live audio and lighting for over 2 decades, and I've kept current in equipment, but this hasn't been something I do on a daily basis since 1998, so a reality check is in order. Thanks in advance for your assistance.
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Mike Caldwell

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Have you confirmed that it is actually the mic capsule itself that is overloading and not the wireless transmitter. The Line 6 body pack does not have a gain adjustment as such but they do have preset EQ settings for different mics. have you tried checking those settings.

Is it possible that the input on the TOA mixer is overloading from the increased output level on the receiver when someone when someone really gets into the mic.

What model mic are you using, does the mic have a wind screen on it  and if it's a model that uses them is the mic capsule cap on it.

I've lost count of the number of E6 mics that I have seen at service calls with out a windscreen and the mic EQ cap on them.
 

Adrian Durlester

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I am fairly confident that the mic capsule itself is the source of the distortion. It's difficult to prove that the bodypack xmitter is not the distortion source, but I did not notice the bodpack indicator led or the receiver's indicator leds showing a red overload condition when the mic itself appeared to be distorting.  I'm aware of the modeling/eq capabilities of the Line6 packs, and have tried the 3 available EQ settings to no avail in this regard. I purchased bags of replacement windscreens and replacement parts for the HS70s, (and even a Microphome cleaning kit because they do get shared) so no, that's not the issue. The mic is Line6's standard HS70 headworn mic, sold with its XD-55 and XD-75 systems. I have written to Line6 support because none of the documentation (including online) actually notes a maximum SPL for the HS70.  I know it's not up in the over 140dB range of the DPA and PointSource units. Line 6 says the bodypack xmitter has a dynamic range of <117dB and remember, as a digital shystem, it also has an impressive 0.03 THD and no compression, companding, or limiting. I'm now a firm believer in digital wireless over VHF or UHF.

I have connected  other wired and wireless microphones to the same channel on the relic TOA mixer/amp and did not notice any clipping or distortion when driving the imput at similar and even higher levels than the Line6 receivers. So as much as I'd like that old TOA to be the culprit, it doesn't appear to be.

I guess my real question is - given that I believe the limitation is in the mic itself, how likely is it that changing to a mic designed specifically for high SPL (plus putting an actual mixer and serious amps into the system) would make the headset mic approach viable for a singer who sometimes sings with an operatic-level soprano voice? If i tell them it won;lt work, they'll simply say "but I saw them do it on Broadway" not realizing that surgical dot cheek, forehead or in wig placement have some advantages over an adjustable headset boom. We won't be asking our cantorial soloists to let us put a Rykote Stickie on her cheek or forehead every time. Might a chest /clothing-mounted lavalier clip be a better solution for our scenario?

-Adrian



Have you confirmed that it is actually the mic capsule itself that is overloading and not the wireless transmitter. The Line 6 body pack does not have a gain adjustment as such but they do have preset EQ settings for different mics. have you tried checking those settings.

Is it possible that the input on the TOA mixer is overloading from the increased output level on the receiver when someone when someone really gets into the mic.

What model mic are you using, does the mic have a wind screen on it  and if it's a model that uses them is the mic capsule cap on it.

I've lost count of the number of E6 mics that I have seen at service calls with out a windscreen and the mic EQ cap on them.
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Mike Caldwell

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The Line 6 pack uses the Shure mic connector and pin out specs so any Shure compatible headset mic or lapel would work as to trying another mic as a test.

As for the pack not showing any input clipping that does kind of point back to the mic itself.

As for the digital wireless frequencies, they still use frequencies in the UHF and now some down in the VHF bands, there just transmitting data over an RF carrier. Your Line 6 is actually up in the 2.4ghz band, in my opinion that may not be the best place to be since there is a lot of other devices using that bandwidth, like everyone's cell phone and wifi router or access point.

I just had an act that was carrying a four channel ULXD system and a few times during the show I got some strange digital drop out noises from a couple of their mics. Operating range was not the issue or it shouldn't have been an issue.
With that said I did not touch their wireless system so I don't really know how well they had it configured.

Taylor Phillips

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I'm posting in the church area since this seem most appropriate. Jewish synagoges usually have a cantor or cantorial soloist, a singer of liturgy and liturgical music, sometimes of a chanted style, sometimes of a folk/rock/pop style, and sometimes (and especially during the Jewish High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) in an operatic style.  I'm working with and consulting for a synagogue that really wants their cantorial soloist to use a head-worn mic. They now have younger clergy who want to be mobile in the Sanctuary. I setup some Line 6 V55 systems for them last year, with their basic headworn omni mic. It's fine for the rabbi, who sometimes sings, but not in an operatic voice. For the cantorial soloist, it's a disaster whenever she sings full out in an operatic style. Even setting the mic farther back on the cheek  doesn't mitigate the issue. (I should also note this particular synagogue has no independent mixer and no ability to compress and EQ individual channels - a situation I am currently remedying -  replacing their old TOA commercial mixer amps (80s and 90s vintage) with a new Behringer XR18. I doubt, however, that even with the mixer installed, I'd be able to eliminate distortion from the Line 6 HS 70. since I am fairly confident the distortion is occuring right at the mic. But having compression will help in other ways.) I've worked with high-end DPA mics in theatrical settings, and they are pretty impressive at handling high SPL. The Countryman mics that come in High SPL version also seem to work well, and I've heard good things about the head-worn mics from PointSource. I'm concerned, however that these higher-max-SPL-rated mics have very different sensitivity ratings and might not work well with the Line6 TBT12 bodpack xmitters.  Does anyone here have experience using high max SPL mics with the Line6 bodypacks? Does anyone have any recommendations? Will the high max SPL mics really be able to handle an operatically loud voice? (I don't have the option of surgical dot or wig mounting as in live theater or TV. Even though I don;t think they work as well as headworns, might a lav be better in this scenario? (A fix mic and a handheld wireless are not an option here.)  I can tell you right now that trying to sell these folks a truly higher-end mic  won't be easy so I need to be armed with the proper arguments.  (In the short term, until I have the questions I've asked here more in hand, I'm advising the cantorial soloist to use a fixed mic (wireless or handheld) and use some mic technique to know when to back away from the mic! Thanks for any advice. I'm not  newbie per se, I have an udnergraduate degree in technical theater and did live audio and lighting for over 2 decades, and I've kept current in equipment, but this hasn't been something I do on a daily basis since 1998, so a reality check is in order. Thanks in advance for your assistance.
With all of the products and equipment available these days, it's easy to forget that what we as the sound techs do is sound reinforcement, and that in a few cases, our fancy technology is not actually needed.  If your cantor is clipping the mic capsule, I think chances are pretty good the entire congregation can hear her quite well without it.
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Adrian Durlester

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With all of the products and equipment available these days, it's easy to forget that what we as the sound techs do is sound reinforcement, and that in a few cases, our fancy technology is not actually needed.  If your cantor is clipping the mic capsule, I think chances are pretty good the entire congregation can hear her quite well without it.

 I hear you, but, well: Yes and no.  ;)

1. At high holidays, our small 200 seat sanctuary space is opened to the social hall, increasing the seating to 1000. The social hall and rear sanctuary have a low drop ceiling, so even the loudest voice needs some reinforcement to be intelligible. We have additional (sadly NOT time-delayed speakers) in the social hall.

2. Ceremonially, there are a number of times when the leading clergy must turn away from the congregation and face the ark where the Torah scrolls are kept.

3. Not all of the numbers are operatic. Some are folksy and quieter. We do not usually have a engineer to operate the system (though my intent in installing the Behringer XR18 is to wean them onto having someone at least switching mix presets as needed from  the house area, and teaching the clergy to do the same from the pulpit area (what we call the bimah.)
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Adrian Durlester

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Mike, FWIW, I've had fewer issues with the Line6 digitals in the wifi band than with their older VHF mics, As a general rule of thumb, congregants are not using their phones or other wifi devices during services. (And when I install the XR18, I'm gonna use an external router and operate the controllers in the 5K wifi band!) Even though we are a liberal Jewish cognregation, and do not abide by the stricter orthodox Jewish rules that would prohibit use of any electronics on Shabbat (including a sound system in many cases,) congregants, by and large, turn off their phones. During services, there is never any other activity going on in the building, so no one else is using the WiFi. We've had zero cases of dropouts or spurious signals in the past 11 months since we started using them.

I know the packs use the TA4. I have my own adaptors between various brand bodypack connectors, so I can use any mic anway. I tried an older Countryman Isomax IIC of mine and could not get the bodypack into an overload situation with it. I could get a voice as loud as the soloist's to distort even that venerable old mic without overdriving the bodypack.

Again, I'm happy with the Line 6 units. I just want some advice on whether it's worth my time and the congregation's money to try out one of the high-SPL level mics from DPA or PointSource, or if I should be considering a different solution, like a chest/clothing mount lav. Has someone out there worked with the designed for hgh-SPL headworn mics and a really loud singer? Anybody? Bueller?

-Adrian

The Line 6 pack uses the Shure mic connector and pin out specs so any Shure compatible headset mic or lapel would work as to trying another mic as a test.

As for the pack not showing any input clipping that does kind of point back to the mic itself.

As for the digital wireless frequencies, they still use frequencies in the UHF and now some down in the VHF bands, there just transmitting data over an RF carrier. Your Line 6 is actually up in the 2.4ghz band, in my opinion that may not be the best place to be since there is a lot of other devices using that bandwidth, like everyone's cell phone and wifi router or access point.

I just had an act that was carrying a four channel ULXD system and a few times during the show I got some strange digital drop out noises from a couple of their mics. Operating range was not the issue or it shouldn't have been an issue.
With that said I did not touch their wireless system so I don't really know how well they had it configured.
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Mike Caldwell

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Mike, FWIW, I've had fewer issues with the Line6 digitals in the wifi band than with their older VHF mics, As a general rule of thumb, congregants are not using their phones or other wifi devices during services. (And when I install the XR18, I'm gonna use an external router and operate the controllers in the 5K wifi band!) Even though we are a liberal Jewish cognregation, and do not abide by the stricter orthodox Jewish rules that would prohibit use of any electronics on Shabbat (including a sound system in many cases,) congregants, by and large, turn off their phones. During services, there is never any other activity going on in the building, so no one else is using the WiFi. We've had zero cases of dropouts or spurious signals in the past 11 months since we started using them.

I know the packs use the TA4. I have my own adaptors between various brand bodypack connectors, so I can use any mic anway. I tried an older Countryman Isomax IIC of mine and could not get the bodypack into an overload situation with it. I could get a voice as loud as the soloist's to distort even that venerable old mic without overdriving the bodypack.

Again, I'm happy with the Line 6 units. I just want some advice on whether it's worth my time and the congregation's money to try out one of the high-SPL level mics from DPA or PointSource, or if I should be considering a different solution, like a chest/clothing mount lav. Has someone out there worked with the designed for hgh-SPL headworn mics and a really loud singer? Anybody? Bueller?

-Adrian

Comparing any new pro or pro'ish wireless mic against an older or cheap low end VHF is not really a fair comparison.

It sounds like you have a somewhat controlled usage wifi area however anytime a wifi device is turned on with the wifi service turned on there is wifi activity in the air.

Good call on using 5g for control when you get an XR18 or for that matter any digital mixer. Just turn off the 2.4g when you set up the router, no need to have it adding more clutter to the air waves!

I have used the larger Countryman Isomax headset with a AT3000 series wireless on a singer who was moderately loud with no problems.
Never used an E6 style headset on what I would call loud vocalist though.

Keith Broughton

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It is possible to overload the mic pre in a transmitter pack even with the gain at maximum attenuation.
I had just that problem with the first gen Rode headsets and Sennheiser packs.
There are mics available that have attenuated outputs (like the Sennheiser MK2 red)
Also, having the mic further away from the mouth will help.
Line 6 systems would not be my first choice for this application.
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