Sound Reinforcement - Forums for Live Sound Professionals - Your Displayed Name Must Be Your Real Full Name To Post In The Live Sound Forums > Pro AV Forum

Hands-free Mics for an Auditorium in New COVID Environment


I run an auditorium for live audiences, broadcasting, and recording - and COVID has greatly impacted our operations.  Smaller crew, smaller audience with wide spacing, and NO lavaliers or handheld mics.  I need to capture the presenter(s) on stage, session host standing on the floor in front of the stage, and the audience questions/interaction (current capacity of 30) disbursed across 670 seats.
I need tips on capturing the audio.  I am currently using stationary shotgun mics (no boom operators) for everything.  Two short shotguns pointed on stage, one on the host in front, and three long shotguns at the audience.  Feedback, air handling, and projector fan noise are a constant challenge. Recordings are decent, but as soon as I add channels to the house loudspeakers it is a mess.
I'd appreciate any advice on pointing mics at the stage, location of mics, and especially how to capture audience comments. I don't expect excellent results in this environment, but I need at least good results.  Thanks.

Mike Caldwell:
Are you riding the mics and only have the needed mic up at any given time?
Do the audience mics even need to be in the main PA?

Could the presenters be assigned a mic each that the grill and foam has been cleaned/sanitized before used.

Get new mics that are dedicated for each presenter and only ever used by that person.

What about putting up a popper stopper for each separate presenter mic like you see in studios and some radio. After it's used pitch the foam or screen and replace with new...wearing protection as you replace of course.

Tim McCulloch:
Your acoustic noise floor is too high and the PA system was unlikely designed with area micing in mind.  Most of what you end up amplifying is the HVAC noise.

There is no way around the inverse square law.  You'll have to get mics much closer to the sources and/or the PA much closer to the listeners.

Mike is spot on that either microphones, transmitter packs, other parts touched by or that come into contact with presenters... they can be sanitized between uses.  At there is a link to equipment manufacturer guidance on cleaning their products.  There are some other resources at the same site regarding A2's and how cleaning and sanitizing of equipment (mics to intercom headsets to IFB, etc) is going to be part of the "new" workflow.

LAB forum moderator Mac Kerr has been doing a corporate 'broadcast' where the CEO and camera operator are the only people in the studio; the CEO has his own personal lav mic and puts it on, dresses the cable, and plugs it into the line or transmitter.  The Camera Op intervenes only if there is a problem of some kind.

Here is what I'd consider:  if you can make the lav mics "expendable" for budget purposes, find a relatively inexpensive lav mic you like and either send them with presenter after the show or bag them up for the trash.  If you can't swing that consider a robust cleaning regimen and then sealing the cleaned mics in plastic bags, date and initials of the cleaning tech.  Buy extra windscreens for all microphones; most foam screens can be cleaned, sanitized, dried and bagged like the lav mics.

Next it might be beneficial to use the killed seats to place a small loudspeaker and forgo the big PA except for playback.  Use front fills for the center section.  If you can kill zones of PA covering unused seating areas, do so.

With what frequency is this facility used?

Have the audience text their questions and comments and the AV minions can put them on the confidence monitor.  Requires a human to transcribe...

hanging fixed mics over those areas ...the best we have found are Earthworks...dont know if Dugan automixing could help.
tuning/trimming existing PA for reduced coverage..level & modified program material can help

Thanks everyone for your advice.  We are in a situation where we can't buy new equipment on demand, and have to wait 3-12 months - it is a long process.  So we are trying to modify and use what we have.  The auditorium is currently used 3-5 times a week, and we are looking at opening at least a second auditorium next month.  Each group is different (audience and presenters), and there are typically multiple presenters for each event (more presenters than we have mic packs).  We seem to get better each day by trial and error, but still looking to increase our quality and reduce our needs to ride each channel during back-and-forth questions/conversations.
So far we have adjusted the direction and volume of each house speaker.  We have removed the audience mics from the main house sound, and only send them to the stage monitor speakers.  We have removed all stage furniture (podium, chairs, table) due to cleaning requirements that created unacceptable delays in live broadcasting.  We have designated 2 taped boxes on stage for presenters to stay inside and prevent too much pacing.  We surrounded the projector on the catwalk with acoustic panels which reduced its fan noise by half. 
Unfortunately, we can't control the audience, presenters, or their interactions - but can only make suggestions for them to throw away.  My team's role is to make the best out of what we are given for each event while trying to preemptively engineer controls that encourage better quality.
I'll look into the cleaning guidance to see if we can incorporate it.  If we could start using lavs with our presenters again, then half of our problems would be solved.  I'll also look into small PAs to place in each of the 3 sections instead of using the house sound, so thanks for the suggestions.


[0] Message Index

Go to full version