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Author Topic: Help needed making microphones more sensitive  (Read 2426 times)

Cameron Peck

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Help needed making microphones more sensitive
« on: May 21, 2019, 03:24:47 pm »

Our organization holds meetings in hotel banquet rooms 3 times per year and I got tired of paying their outrageous prices to rent audio equipment. So, I purchased the equipment below to help us save money. We use the house sound system but with our equipment.

2 X Shure SM57 microphones
1 x Behringer Micromix MX400 Ultra Low-Noise 4-Channel Line Mixer
1 X Peavey USB Audio Interface
1 X Behringer MicroHD HD400 Ultra-Compact 2-Channel Hum Destroyer

I purchased the mics based solely on the fact that is has been used for the Presidental Podium for 30 years.

The mics don't seem to be sensitive enough for our needs. The 1st time we used this setup, we had to turn up the volume so high that the hum was unbearable. We just ended up not using mics and everyone had to speak loudly. (This is also why we purchased the Hum Destroyer)

This last time, the volume wouldn't go loud enough to be useable without holding the mic very close to the mouth (which is not a good solution when trying to do presentations). So, we had to rent the mics from the hotel.

Can you help me find a good (and cost effective) way to use our current mics but louder? If not, what do we need to change? Also, hauling around our own powered speakers is not an option.
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Corey Scogin

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Re: Help needed making microphones more sensitive
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2019, 03:44:10 pm »

Our organization holds meetings in hotel banquet rooms 3 times per year and I got tired of paying their outrageous prices to rent audio equipment. So, I purchased the equipment below to help us save money. We use the house sound system but with our equipment.

2 X Shure SM57 microphones
1 x Behringer Micromix MX400 Ultra Low-Noise 4-Channel Line Mixer
1 X Peavey USB Audio Interface
1 X Behringer MicroHD HD400 Ultra-Compact 2-Channel Hum Destroyer

You need a preamp (or mixer with preamps) with balanced inputs. The Behringer MX400 is an unbalanced line-level mixer, there are no microphone preamps in it. If you get a simple, cheap mixer, such as the Behringer Xenyx 802, you should not need the "Hum Destroyer" as the balanced lines should eliminate any hum picked up on the cabling. Also use balanced output cables (Tip-Ring-Sleeve 1/4" cables or XLR cables) to connect to the sound system.

Edit: PS:
I didn't notice that you aren't using your real name. Please change your username to your real first and last name before the moderators lock this thread.
Mods: sorry for responding without checking.
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Cameron Peck

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Re: Help needed making microphones more sensitive
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2019, 04:41:25 pm »

You need a preamp (or mixer with preamps) with balanced inputs. The Behringer MX400 is an unbalanced line-level mixer, there are no microphone preamps in it. If you get a simple, cheap mixer, such as the Behringer Xenyx 802, you should not need the "Hum Destroyer" as the balanced lines should eliminate any hum picked up on the cabling. Also use balanced output cables (Tip-Ring-Sleeve 1/4" cables or XLR cables) to connect to the sound system.

Edit: PS:
I didn't notice that you aren't using your real name. Please change your username to your real first and last name before the moderators lock this thread.
Mods: sorry for responding without checking.

Thanks for your information.  It looks like I was not using the correct type of mixer.  Will the 802 allow me to use the mics from further away, rather than having to hold it right in my face?
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David Sturzenbecher

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Re: Help needed making microphones more sensitive
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2019, 04:46:33 pm »



I purchased the mics based solely on the fact that is has been used for the Presidental Podium for 30 years.



Fun Fact, if you have seen a SM57 on a presidential podium in recent years, there is a very good chance it was a modified (upgraded) mic with much higher end components.

A mixer with a proper microphone preamp should allow you to get much more gain.   But I do predict that you will be posting again asking how to eliminate the feedback being created by your new mixer.
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Mike Caldwell

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Re: Help needed making microphones more sensitive
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2019, 04:50:07 pm »

Thanks for your information.  It looks like I was not using the correct type of mixer.  Will the 802 allow me to use the mics from further away, rather than having to hold it right in my face?

That will let you apply more gain to the mic and pick up sound a little further away from the mic.
That said there are a lot of other factors you will need to deal with once to start putting the mic into a sound system and want to bring the level up to where people will hear it.

John P. Farrell

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Re: Help needed making microphones more sensitive
« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2019, 04:52:57 pm »

Thanks for your information.  It looks like I was not using the correct type of mixer.  Will the 802 allow me to use the mics from further away, rather than having to hold it right in my face?

57's can do pretty much anything.....maybe not the first choice for the job but far from the worst. 

With that being said, what do you normally rent from the hotel?  You've been trying to plug microphones into a line level mixer.  If you're trying to replace a lavaliere with an SM57 you'll probably be disappointed.  If you're looking for a lectern mic or a table top mic you'll probably be fine if you do a little reading on gain structure and EQ. 
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Corey Scogin

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Re: Help needed making microphones more sensitive
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2019, 05:38:37 pm »

This last time, the volume wouldn't go loud enough to be useable without holding the mic very close to the mouth (which is not a good solution when trying to do presentations). So, we had to rent the mics from the hotel.

Side note: the closer you get the microphone to the sound source you want it to pick up, the less gain is required and the less feedback you'll get. Often (not always) closer = better sound as well.
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Tim Weaver

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Re: Help needed making microphones more sensitive
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2019, 05:56:56 pm »

We have a saying around here. "the loudest sound at the mic wins". Just keep repeating that to yourself while setting up next time.
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Jason Glass

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Re: Help needed making microphones more sensitive
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2019, 06:48:29 pm »

Our organization holds meetings in hotel banquet rooms 3 times per year and I got tired of paying their outrageous prices to rent audio equipment. So, I purchased the equipment below to help us save money. We use the house sound system but with our equipment.

2 X Shure SM57 microphones
1 x Behringer Micromix MX400 Ultra Low-Noise 4-Channel Line Mixer
1 X Peavey USB Audio Interface
1 X Behringer MicroHD HD400 Ultra-Compact 2-Channel Hum Destroyer

I purchased the mics based solely on the fact that is has been used for the Presidental Podium for 30 years.

The mics don't seem to be sensitive enough for our needs. The 1st time we used this setup, we had to turn up the volume so high that the hum was unbearable. We just ended up not using mics and everyone had to speak loudly. (This is also why we purchased the Hum Destroyer)

This last time, the volume wouldn't go loud enough to be useable without holding the mic very close to the mouth (which is not a good solution when trying to do presentations). So, we had to rent the mics from the hotel.

Can you help me find a good (and cost effective) way to use our current mics but louder? If not, what do we need to change? Also, hauling around our own powered speakers is not an option.
Mr. Peck,

I do wish you good luck and commend your willingness to learn audio engineering from the ground up.

It seems that you've been given the opportunity to learn that what you were paying for was not equipment.  It was the unique expertise of an audio engineer.

We know how to select, deploy, and operate the right equipment to deliver a desirable result.  Even the guy at the hotel does.  If he makes it look too easy to be worth your $, then he's undoubtedly worth multiples of what a hotel pays him.  And he doesn't need to be the person riding the faders during your event to have earned it.  His efforts that result in a system that can be satisfactorily operated by a novice may not be obvious, but they're precious.

The answers here are excellent, but  nothing delivers professional results like an appropriately paid audio professional.  Believe me when I tell you that once you achieve the mic sensitivity that you desire, routed to an appropriate amount of amplification, your problems with audio will have only just begun!  You can learn this trade, no doubt.  But taking the bigger lesson here to heart will make you a better manager who puts on a better show.

Sent from my mobile phone using Tapatalk
« Last Edit: May 21, 2019, 07:00:10 pm by Jason Glass »
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duane massey

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Re: Help needed making microphones more sensitive
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2019, 07:03:54 pm »

I would suggest (at the very least) that you hire someone to tell you what to buy and show you how to set it up.
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Duane Massey
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