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Title: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: jesseweiss on July 26, 2015, 03:48:50 pm
So I run Shure wireless lavs for my school musical and all is well.  We have 16 mics setup to run through the LS9-16 system and it works fine considering they are kids.  EQ isn't always the best, but kids are kids and aren't very consistent.

In some shows, we have a group of "featured singers" and we frequently don't have enough lavs for all of them so they just project.  Given that these kids are usually some of the best singers (yes my daughter was one last year) they do a decent job, but I would love to give them some reinforcement.

I was thinking of getting some condenser mics to use that we can place strategically on the stage (somehow) to pick up these kids singing. We could hang mounts from the sets if need be, or use a stand if it can be discrete.  I've had sound engineers (of which I'm really not) use them successfully for group backups in other situations with my band in the same theater with great results, micing like 15 kids on each side of my band for backups and having it sound amazing.

I'm looking for recommendations on reasonably priced condensers, say in the $300 range or less that we could use for this purpose.

Thanks.
Title: Re: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: g'bye, Dick Rees on July 26, 2015, 03:59:09 pm
Such mic usage will not show any appreciable difference using dynamics or condensers.  There is no magic to one or the other, really, and pattern (including nulls) is probably the salient factor.

The over-arching principle is " loudest sound at the mic wins" and both condensers and dynamics share that stricture.

I work with kids programs in various capacities and the participation and technical awareness of the director is a make it/break it factor.  The best of them set up 3 or 4 cardioid mics across the front of the stage and have the soloists come right up and work them close enough to be useful.

Again, as with the "compressor as magic box" idea, there are no magic mics that will elevate the voice of too distant a singer over ambient level...and with presence comparable to the wirelessly miked actors.
Title: Re: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: Keith Broughton on July 26, 2015, 04:12:54 pm
Such mic usage will not show any appreciable difference using dynamics or condensers.  There is no magic to one or the other, really, and pattern (including nulls) is probably the salient factor.

The over-arching principle is " loudest sound at the mic wins" and both condensers and dynamics share that stricture.

I work with kids programs in various capacities and the participation and technical awareness of the director is a make it/break it factor.  The best of them set up 3 or 4 cardioid mics across the front of the stage and have the soloists come right up and work them close enough to be useful.

Again, as with the "compressor as magic box" idea, there are no magic mics that will elevate the voice of too distant a singer over ambient level...and with presence comparable to the wirelessly miked actors.
Good points!
I am always interested to understand where people get the idea that a condenser mic is somehow "better".
Had a singer on a festival recently want to know if I was providing a "powered" mic.
She was refering to a condenser, of no particular type, and I suggested she use the mic we provided.
Even though it wasn't a "powered" mic, she liked it just fine  :)
3 rules....application, application, application
Title: Re: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: Scott Bolt on July 26, 2015, 04:23:32 pm
In general, I have found that a decent condenser mic with the same polar pattern as an equivalently decent dynamic mic will pick up more details from a distance.  I think this can be simplified to "a decent condenser mic will pick up more details than a decent dynamic mic". 

This appears to be especially true at lower SPL.... and thus the reason that most choir microphones are usually condensers.

From here (just as an example):  https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CEQQFjABahUKEwjGuPqYz_nGAhUMNT4KHfm_C0g&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.shure.eu%2Fproducts%2Fmicrophones%2Fchoir-orchestra&ei=vUC1VYbmKozq-AH5_67ABA&usg=AFQjCNEHpok-Ncn5fl1DwvC50yTHtP_wUg&bvm=bv.98717601,d.dmo

Title: Re: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: jesseweiss on July 26, 2015, 04:30:48 pm
Such mic usage will not show any appreciable difference using dynamics or condensers.  There is no magic to one or the other, really, and pattern (including nulls) is probably the salient factor.

The over-arching principle is " loudest sound at the mic wins" and both condensers and dynamics share that stricture.

I work with kids programs in various capacities and the participation and technical awareness of the director is a make it/break it factor.  The best of them set up 3 or 4 cardioid mics across the front of the stage and have the soloists come right up and work them close enough to be useful.

Again, as with the "compressor as magic box" idea, there are no magic mics that will elevate the voice of too distant a singer over ambient level...and with presence comparable to the wirelessly miked actors.

This is not a situation where the kids "come up to the mic" as they are singers in a musical and really function as backup singers to the lead.  I'm not worried about the presence being same as the mic'd actors, but it would help for some reinforcement.  I'm also not looking for a magic solution, just options.

The only mics we have now are SM58's, whose cariod pattern doesn't pick up much more than the center most kid and only if they are close enough to the mic.  I imagine that there are other mics with different pickup patterns, etc... that would work more effectively to pickup a group singing together through maybe 2 mics.
Title: Re: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: g'bye, Dick Rees on July 26, 2015, 04:33:12 pm
In general, I have found that a decent condenser mic with the same polar pattern as an equivalently decent dynamic mic will pick up more details from a distance.  I think this can be simplified to "a decent condenser mic will pick up more details than a decent dynamic mic". 

This appears to be especially true at lower SPL.... and thus the reason that most choir microphones are usually condensers.

From here (just as an example):  https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CEQQFjABahUKEwjGuPqYz_nGAhUMNT4KHfm_C0g&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.shure.eu%2Fproducts%2Fmicrophones%2Fchoir-orchestra&ei=vUC1VYbmKozq-AH5_67ABA&usg=AFQjCNEHpok-Ncn5fl1DwvC50yTHtP_wUg&bvm=bv.98717601,d.dmo

No, any significant (read  practical) difference between mics is just that...a difference between the mics, not the method of changing sound waves into electronic impulses.

You are largely incorrect and posting something which reinforces urban myths is not helpful to the OP or any casual reader.

Yes, mics exhibit different patterns and frequency response.  Is the difference attributable to dynamic vs condenser?

NO.

Title: Re: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: jesseweiss on July 26, 2015, 04:36:10 pm
No, any significant (read  practical) difference between mics is just that...a difference between the mics, not the method of changing sound waves into electronic impulses.

You are largely incorrect and posting something which reinforces urban myths is not helpful to the OP or any casual reader.

Yes, mics exhibit different patterns and frequency response.  Is the difference attributable to dynamic vs condenser?

NO.

So going back to my last post, are there specific mics you could recommend for this application that would have good pickup pattern and frequency response to be effective?

Or should we just try it with the SM58's we already have?
Title: Re: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: g'bye, Dick Rees on July 26, 2015, 04:38:14 pm
This is not a situation where the kids "come up to the mic" as they are singers in a musical and really function as backup singers to the lead.  I'm not worried about the presence being same as the mic'd actors, but it would help for some reinforcement.  I'm also not looking for a magic solution, just options.

The only mics we have now are SM58's, whose cariod pattern doesn't pick up much more than the center most kid and only if they are close enough to the mic.  I imagine that there are other mics with different pickup patterns, etc... that would work more effectively to pickup a group singing together through maybe 2 mics.

Again, loudest sound at the mic wins.  If you have three or four kids singing on one mic, a 58 will work IF they are all closely grouped around the mics pattern...cheek to cheek.  They have to re-create as much as possible a "single" sound source. 

If you want "wider" , get a stereo bar and put two 58' on the stand angled about 60 degrees apart.

It takes practice and a good director.

Title: Re: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: Tim McCulloch on July 26, 2015, 04:57:54 pm
In general, I have found that a decent condenser mic with the same polar pattern as an equivalently decent dynamic mic will pick up more details from a distance.  I think this can be simplified to "a decent condenser mic will pick up more details than a decent dynamic mic". 

This appears to be especially true at lower SPL.... and thus the reason that most choir microphones are usually condensers.

From here (just as an example):  https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CEQQFjABahUKEwjGuPqYz_nGAhUMNT4KHfm_C0g&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.shure.eu%2Fproducts%2Fmicrophones%2Fchoir-orchestra&ei=vUC1VYbmKozq-AH5_67ABA&usg=AFQjCNEHpok-Ncn5fl1DwvC50yTHtP_wUg&bvm=bv.98717601,d.dmo

The difference in clarity of off axis and distant sources is attributable to the phase response of the microphone.  Inexpensive mics don't sound like the more pricy models; the design details, materials used and build execution create those differences - not dynamic vs condenser.
Title: Re: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: g'bye, Dick Rees on July 26, 2015, 05:02:20 pm
The difference in clarity of off axis and distant sources is attributable to the phase response of the microphone.  Inexpensive mics don't sound like the more pricy models; the design details, materials used and build execution create those differences - not dynamic vs condenser.

A kinder, gentler curmudgeon...
Title: Re: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: Andrew Henderson on July 26, 2015, 06:03:20 pm

In general, I have found that a decent condenser mic with the same polar pattern as an equivalently decent dynamic mic will pick up more details from a distance.  I think this can be simplified to "a decent condenser mic will pick up more details than a decent dynamic mic". 

This appears to be especially true at lower SPL.... and thus the reason that most choir microphones are usually condensers.

From here (just as an example):  https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CEQQFjABahUKEwjGuPqYz_nGAhUMNT4KHfm_C0g&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.shure.eu%2Fproducts%2Fmicrophones%2Fchoir-orchestra&ei=vUC1VYbmKozq-AH5_67ABA&usg=AFQjCNEHpok-Ncn5fl1DwvC50yTHtP_wUg&bvm=bv.98717601,d.dmo
+1


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Title: Re: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: Scott Bolt on July 26, 2015, 06:16:23 pm
Condensers are more sensitive.  That is why they are so commonly used for micing up choirs ... and not so commonly used for micing guitar cabs.

I would hang something like one of these:  https://www.ccisolutions.com/StoreFront/category/choir-overhead-microphones and give it a try.  Keep in mind that the cardiod pattern will pick up a much wider area than the hyper or super will.

Sadly, I don't have much experience with the different options for these hanging microphones (not even sure which ones my church uses).  Hopefully someone else can chime in.

If you don't mind having a stand on stage, it is entirely possible to set a single SM58 at a reasonable distance from 2 singers and pick them both up.  Keep in mind that this may cause feedback issues (as might the condenser) that you don't have with the lavs since the gain will have to be higher in order to get the lower SPL picked up.

Actually, I have had quite a time with some lavs I have worked with causing feedback issues (weddings btw) where hand held mics were much better.

Dick, it isn't an urban myth that Condenser microphones are by design more suited to picking up lower SPL, but thanks for your evisceration.  I haven't had my weekly beating this week and was feeling neglected.  An SM58 isn't the solution to every vocal micing situation.  Frankly, I think they are seldom the right choice in the current competitive environment that they are in .... and really only survive at all due to the venerable past they have enjoyed.  They are tough, are better sounding than most $20 microphones, and everyone has used one so they are familiar.

Tim, I agree with most of what you said.  By "distant sources" what is generally meant is that the SPL is lower.  Condenser design is more capable of being made more sensitive than a dynamic microphone can be made (at the same cost point of course).  This is why overhead choir microphones are almost entirely condensers (I haven't looked for a dynamic one, but I am postulating that one may, in fact, exist among the ocean of condensers out there doing the same thing).
Title: Re: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: g'bye, Dick Rees on July 26, 2015, 06:43:40 pm
This is not a situation where the kids "come up to the mic" as they are singers in a musical and really function as backup singers to the lead.  I'm not worried about the presence being same as the mic'd actors, but it would help for some reinforcement.  I'm also not looking for a magic solution, just options.

The only mics we have now are SM58's, whose cariod pattern doesn't pick up much more than the center most kid and only if they are close enough to the mic.  I imagine that there are other mics with different pickup patterns, etc... that would work more effectively to pickup a group singing together through maybe 2 mics.

With 16 lavs available on "human mic stands", you might consider adding one or more of the mic'd up kids to the smaller groups and double up your lav use.  If you want to get fancy and these are real clip-on lavs and not earsets, it's quite easy for one of the stage moms to reposition the lav to the collar at the back of the neck for use as a group pick-up.  The "mic stand" can kneel in front of a group of 3 or 4 kids and pick up pretty well.  No hasle to set the "stand" anywhere you want and you can even have the group migrate around the stage and have the mic available to them.  Again, if you want to get fancy and have the channels, you can split the feed of any such mics into two separate channels for processing and grouping according to the function...individual or group.

No need to buy more stuff.  Double use what you have.
Been there, done that.
Title: Re: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: jesseweiss on July 26, 2015, 06:49:09 pm
With 16 lavs available on "human mic stands", you might consider adding one or more of the mic'd up kids to the smaller groups and double up your lav use.  If you want to get fancy and these are real clip-on lavs and not earsets, it's quite easy for one of the stage moms to reposition the lav to the collar at the back of the neck for use as a group pick-up.  The "mic stand" can kneel in front of a group of 3 or 4 kids and pick up pretty well.  No hasle to set the "stand" anywhere you want and you can even have the group migrate around the stage and have the mic available to them.  Again, if you want to get fancy and have the channels, you can split the feed of any such mics into two separate channels for processing and grouping according to the function...individual or group.

No need to buy more stuff.  Double use what you have.
Been there, done that.
We thought about doing that. I guess the concern was the "stand" being heard more but the back of the neck thing is interesting.

We could try to expand the number of lavs since we have money. To get a few more lavs would require a bigger rack since right now it's full with the receivers and antenna and power distribution for the 16 we run.

Sent from my LG-D850 using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: g'bye, Dick Rees on July 26, 2015, 06:57:57 pm
Condensers are more sensitive.  That is why they are so commonly used for micing up choirs ... and not so commonly used for micing guitar cabs.

No, they can be easily made in a smaller, less obtrusive form which is more easily deployed and less visually distracting.  That's the primary reason.  As to miking guitar cabs, condensers (and ribbons) are commonly used for this purpose both in the studio and for live performance.

Both of your assertions are less than correct "blanket" statements without basis in reality.

Quote
Actually, I have had quite a time with some lavs I have worked with causing feedback issues (weddings btw) where hand held mics were much better.

None of the weddings I do will accept hand-held or stand mounted mics for the ceremony.  None.  Zero.

If anyone following this thread wishes to pursue the topic swerve into wedding mics, see this thread:


http://forums.prosoundweb.com/index.php/topic,155526.0.html
Title: Re: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: g'bye, Dick Rees on July 26, 2015, 07:00:39 pm
We thought about doing that. I guess the concern was the "stand" being heard more but the back of the neck thing is interesting.

We could try to expand the number of lavs since we have money. To get a few more lavs would require a bigger rack since right now it's full with the receivers and antenna and power distribution for the 16 we run.

Sent from my LG-D850 using Tapatalk

Tell the "stand" not to sing...
Title: Re: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: jesseweiss on July 26, 2015, 07:00:57 pm
Tell the "stand" not to sing...
Lol

Sent from my LG-D850 using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: g'bye, Dick Rees on July 26, 2015, 07:36:21 pm
Jesse...

Just a few of the drawbacks of using hanging mics for theater: 

1.  fixed position.  Any changes in blocking or missing marks means they won't work as intended.  Difficult to re-position.

2.  They still need to be as close as possible to the intended pick-up spot to function.  This can mean that the staging will be severely limited to a 7'-8' height.  So nothing can be in the air without whacking the mics and altering their orientation.  No stilt-walkers, no jumping in the air and waving hands/arms above heads, no tossing things through the air.  In short, severely limited theatrical stagecraft.  Directors will not be pleased.

There are more reasons, but these are the primary ones which limit hanging mics to fixed, controlled spots...s
which can be as or more easily handled with large black "studio" booms.
Title: Re: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: Scott Bolt on July 26, 2015, 08:17:21 pm
Dick,

No, they can be easily made in a smaller, less obtrusive form which is more easily deployed and less visually distracting.  That's the primary reason.  As to miking guitar cabs, condensers (and ribbons) are commonly used for this purpose both in the studio and for live performance.
That is one reason, but not the only reason.  Not all condensers are tiny.

Quote
Both of your assertions are less than correct "blanket" statements without basis in reality.
Your opinion.

Quote
None of the weddings I do will accept hand-held or stand mounted mics for the ceremony.  None.  Zero.
I agree that no wedding is going to allow anything but lavs (or shotgun mics).  The visuals are simply unacceptable.  I worded my statement poorly.  I have never used hand helds in a wedding.  I was simply surprised at how easily lavs feed back in comparison.

If anyone following this thread wishes to pursue the topic swerve into wedding mics, see this thread:


http://forums.prosoundweb.com/index.php/topic,155526.0.html
[/quote]
Title: Re: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: Scott Bolt on July 26, 2015, 08:23:36 pm
Jesse...

Just a few of the drawbacks of using hanging mics for theater: 

1.  fixed position.  Any changes in blocking or missing marks means they won't work as intended.  Difficult to re-position.

2.  They still need to be as close as possible to the intended pick-up spot to function.  This can mean that the staging will be severely limited to a 7'-8' height.  So nothing can be in the air without whacking the mics and altering their orientation.  No stilt-walkers, no jumping in the air and waving hands/arms above heads, no tossing things through the air.  In short, severely limited theatrical stagecraft.  Directors will not be pleased.

There are more reasons, but these are the primary ones which limit hanging mics to fixed, controlled spots...s
which can be as or more easily handled with large black "studio" booms.
All good points; however, if he is trying to clean up the stage and NOT have things on the stage that can be trampled by a flock of youngsters then it might indeed be better to have the mics suspended instead of on a boom.  Just like the wedding scenereo we were discussing, the visuals are very important in theater.

To the OP, in my old High School they used microphones along the front of the stage on small stands (< 1ft) pointing up at an angle.  While this does work, it also makes horrible floor noise when people walk, jump, fall, etc on the stage.  Any high gain microphone mounted to something touching the floor is going to have this problem.  It is something to think about in addition to the visuals of the situation.
Title: Re: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: Scott Wagner on July 26, 2015, 08:46:20 pm
I was simply surprised at how easily lavs feed back in comparison.
Why are you surprised at this? Lavs are still microphones, and subject to the same laws of physics. Instead of a handheld an inch or two from the source, you have a lav six inches or more from the source - so you have to increase the gain to get the same result. If you use a handheld at the same distance, you'd have the same issue. I suggest that you do some more studying before publicly questioning someone who's been doing audio for longer than you've been breathing. Dick is spot-on with his statements.
Title: Re: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: g'bye, Dick Rees on July 26, 2015, 08:54:01 pm
Why are you surprised at this? Lavs are still microphones, and subject to the same laws of physics. Instead of a handheld an inch or two from the source, you have a lav six inches or more from the source - so you have to increase the gain to get the same result. If you use a handheld at the same distance, you'd have the same issue. I suggest that you do some more studying before publicly questioning someone who's been doing audio for longer than you've been breathing. Dick is spot-on with his statements.

Thanks, Scott.  I question all statements which (when read by a casual reader looking to learn or someone posting with a specific question) may cloud the issue or suggest unsound or impractical ideas.  It has little or nothing to do with the person who posted the incomplete or inaccurate info.  It's all about keeping it real for those who sincerely want to learn.
Title: Re: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: Nathan Vanderslice on July 26, 2015, 09:26:41 pm
With 16 lavs available on "human mic stands", you might consider adding one or more of the mic'd up kids to the smaller groups and double up your lav use.  If you want to get fancy and these are real clip-on lavs and not earsets, it's quite easy for one of the stage moms to reposition the lav to the collar at the back of the neck for use as a group pick-up.  The "mic stand" can kneel in front of a group of 3 or 4 kids and pick up pretty well.  No hasle to set the "stand" anywhere you want and you can even have the group migrate around the stage and have the mic available to them.  Again, if you want to get fancy and have the channels, you can split the feed of any such mics into two separate channels for processing and grouping according to the function...individual or group.

No need to buy more stuff.  Double use what you have.
Been there, done that.

Great point! One common practice I was taught was that when you have two people close to each other on the stage with "body" mics, is to use one mic for both of them as you can have phase problems if both mics are up (which give you "mud"). One bit of caution I would throw in here is the use of overhead mics. Whether they are mounted to scenery, or hung from the flies, it's generally a bad idea. You might be able to get away with it using cardioid mics., but even then, you're likely to pick up reflected sound from the stage and flies, especially if you use omni mics as some who are not very well educated in sound reinforcement are likely to do. Two other things, one, they look ridiculous hanging there, and two, the odds are that the kids won't get picked up well because they are under the mics not in front of them, and it's likely that they're going to be too high to be any good.
Title: Re: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: jesseweiss on July 26, 2015, 09:32:09 pm
Thanks, Scott.  I question all statements which (when read by a casual reader looking to learn or someone posting with a specific question) may cloud the issue or suggest unsound or impractical ideas.  It has little or nothing to do with the person who posted the incomplete or inaccurate info.  It's all about keeping it real for those who sincerely want to learn.
Okay I'm getting confused, and since it was my original question I'm hoping to get clarification.

After research it is my understanding that condenser mics are capable of more sensitive and are also intentionally designed that way, as compared to most dynamic mics which try to keep out as much ambient noise as possible. As such, when spl is lower because the source is more distant, condensers are usually a better option. This is what literally every website, manufacturer, guide etc... says.

As such, condenser mics are usually used for things like choirs and orchestras and would seem to fit the application I am asking about.

If this is not the case, and condensers are no different then why have both types? While I'm not even remotely the follow the herd type, it seems unlikely to me that a few select handful of people know the truth and everyone else is completely wrong and uninformed.

I've already received some ideas about how not to use a condenser, so I'm wondering if anyone has suggestions on what mics other than an SM58 I might use on booms or carefully mounted on the sets so they are placed correctly that will pickup 5-8 singers as a group.
Title: Re: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: g'bye, Dick Rees on July 26, 2015, 09:45:00 pm
I already gave you the suggestion of widening the pickup area by using a pair of 58's on a stereo bar on a single stand.  Look back and check it out.

Regarding my clarifications of Scotts posts, there is an occasional grain of truth, but often it is only part of the story and not directly applicable to your situation.  And sometimes there's just misleading topic swerve.  Such posts quibbling about mic response condenser vs dynamic clouds the issuue at hand and introduces needless confusion into a discussion of the direct application of what you have to use in your specific situation. 

Again, LOUDEST SOUND AT THE MIC WINS.  No matter what the mic, you have to consider if and how it can be deployed for the desired application.  In your situation the mics you have now can be made to work just fine.  Even if you buy more or different mics, the salient factors are deployment and operational skill/experience...factors which are necessary regardless of the mics.

It's not the hammer, it's the carpenter.  You have to know what you're doing and that doesn't come in the box with the mic.


Title: Re: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: g'bye, Dick Rees on July 26, 2015, 10:11:18 pm
Okay I'm getting confused, and since it was my original question I'm hoping to get clarification.

After research it is my understanding that condenser mics are capable of more sensitive and are also intentionally designed that way, as compared to most dynamic mics which try to keep out as much ambient noise as possible. As such, when spl is lower because the source is more distant, condensers are usually a better option. This is what literally every website, manufacturer, guide etc... says.


As such, condenser mics are usually used for things like choirs and orchestras and would seem to fit the application I am asking about.

If this is not the case, and condensers are no different then why have both types? While I'm not even remotely the follow the herd type, it seems unlikely to me that a few select handful of people know the truth and everyone else is completely wrong and uninformed.

I've already received some ideas about how not to use a condenser, so I'm wondering if anyone has suggestions on what mics other than an SM58 I might use on booms or carefully mounted on the sets so they are placed correctly that will pickup 5-8 singers as a group.

The highlighted section' is not strictly true.  ALL mics have patterns developed for specific applications, but NONE of them can distinguish between desired and undesired sound and ALL of them have to be deployed in a manner favorable to their functioning as desired/required.

For your specific purposes you need the voices and the mics to be as close in proximity as possible and for your sources to PROJECT so the mic (whatever you have) will have something with which to work.   

There's more to it than just the method of transduction, sensitivity , pattern and such.  The question is will it work in your situation...and how well it will work.
Title: Re: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: Tim McCulloch on July 27, 2015, 12:15:24 am
Condensers are more sensitive.  That is why they are so commonly used for micing up choirs ... and not so commonly used for micing guitar cabs.

I would hang something like one of these:  https://www.ccisolutions.com/StoreFront/category/choir-overhead-microphones and give it a try.  Keep in mind that the cardiod pattern will pick up a much wider area than the hyper or super will.

Sadly, I don't have much experience with the different options for these hanging microphones (not even sure which ones my church uses).  Hopefully someone else can chime in.

If you don't mind having a stand on stage, it is entirely possible to set a single SM58 at a reasonable distance from 2 singers and pick them both up.  Keep in mind that this may cause feedback issues (as might the condenser) that you don't have with the lavs since the gain will have to be higher in order to get the lower SPL picked up.

Actually, I have had quite a time with some lavs I have worked with causing feedback issues (weddings btw) where hand held mics were much better.

Dick, it isn't an urban myth that Condenser microphones are by design more suited to picking up lower SPL, but thanks for your evisceration.  I haven't had my weekly beating this week and was feeling neglected.  An SM58 isn't the solution to every vocal micing situation.  Frankly, I think they are seldom the right choice in the current competitive environment that they are in .... and really only survive at all due to the venerable past they have enjoyed.  They are tough, are better sounding than most $20 microphones, and everyone has used one so they are familiar.

Tim, I agree with most of what you said.  By "distant sources" what is generally meant is that the SPL is lower.  Condenser design is more capable of being made more sensitive than a dynamic microphone can be made (at the same cost point of course).  This is why overhead choir microphones are almost entirely condensers (I haven't looked for a dynamic one, but I am postulating that one may, in fact, exist among the ocean of condensers out there doing the same thing).

It is easier to make a small diaphragm condenser mic have better phase behavior because of lower mass of the transducer assembly compared to the moving coil of a dynamic mic.  This is why some folks love (or hate) mics like the Shure KSM9 or Neumann KMS105 - the sound sources sound natural and distinct; the hate coming from "it picks up the whole damn stage."  Guess what?  Cheaper mics do, too, but we don't identify those other sounds because they get lost in the phase-incoherent wash AT THE CAPSULE.  The nice Heil dynamics are often mistaken for condensers because they, too, have great phase response on and off axis and you can pick out the sources of much of the soundstage behind the singer or instrument.  But it's not a case of condensers automatically being "better".

As for sensitivity, what does it matter when the acoustic noise floor  (undesired signal) is equal to or greater than the desired signal?
Title: Re: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: Nathan Vanderslice on July 27, 2015, 12:57:11 am
Okay I'm getting confused, and since it was my original question I'm hoping to get clarification.

After research it is my understanding that condenser mics are capable of more sensitive and are also intentionally designed that way, as compared to most dynamic mics which try to keep out as much ambient noise as possible. As such, when spl is lower because the source is more distant, condensers are usually a better option. This is what literally every website, manufacturer, guide etc... says.

As such, condenser mics are usually used for things like choirs and orchestras and would seem to fit the application I am asking about.

If this is not the case, and condensers are no different then why have both types? While I'm not even remotely the follow the herd type, it seems unlikely to me that a few select handful of people know the truth and everyone else is completely wrong and uninformed.

I've already received some ideas about how not to use a condenser, so I'm wondering if anyone has suggestions on what mics other than an SM58 I might use on booms or carefully mounted on the sets so they are placed correctly that will pickup 5-8 singers as a group.

How many sm 58's and channels do you have available? You're best bet is probably use 2 or 3 mics on stands and group the kids in 2 or 3 to a mic. The other thing is if you have to deal with scene changes. This needs to be done carefully to not have a potential disaster, or injury. Use the cast members/singers to help with this. If you have a way to conceal the cables on stage then just pull the cables, and grab the stands and mics as units and clear them. You're guys on mix need to be ready for this to avoid any nasty pop or other noises that can happen. If you have a good EQ on the system, you can probably get a pretty good gain on the mics without worrying about feed back as you are so far behind the speakers. The other part of this is to minimize the number of mics that are hot at once when possible. More mics hot=lower feedback threshold. Good luck. BTW, if your HS is anywhere near the MS, and you have a sound crew at the HS, perhaps you can get them interested in helping. There's a good chance that you'll get one who is eager to get mix time. Be sure to set standards for performance (mostly commitment and attendance). Remember that they are learning too.
Title: Re: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: g'bye, Dick Rees on July 27, 2015, 07:37:32 am
Tim...

Thanks for the clarification.  i've edited my post to remove the unclear sentence.

Nathan...

Jesse has stated his problems with uneven response when grouping kids around a single 58, thus my suggestion of using a pair of 58's on a stereo bar @ around 60 degrees to use what he already has mic-wise to get the broader pickup pattern he was desiring.

As to clean stage and reducing cable clutter, my best suggestion is still to use the existing lav-carrying members as "human mic stands".

No muss, no fuss, no cables at all.
Title: Re: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: Scott Bolt on July 27, 2015, 09:50:33 pm
It is easier to make a small diaphragm condenser mic have better phase behavior because of lower mass of the transducer assembly compared to the moving coil of a dynamic mic.  This is why some folks love (or hate) mics like the Shure KSM9 or Neumann KMS105 - the sound sources sound natural and distinct; the hate coming from "it picks up the whole damn stage."  Guess what?  Cheaper mics do, too, but we don't identify those other sounds because they get lost in the phase-incoherent wash AT THE CAPSULE.  The nice Heil dynamics are often mistaken for condensers because they, too, have great phase response on and off axis and you can pick out the sources of much of the soundstage behind the singer or instrument.  But it's not a case of condensers automatically being "better".

As for sensitivity, what does it matter when the acoustic noise floor  (undesired signal) is equal to or greater than the desired signal?
Tim,

It was my assumption, although I didn't state it, that the reasoning behind the better behaviors you describe was due to the lower mass of the transducer in a condenser mic.

You do have a point about the noise floor though.

It is still quite common for choir stages to use suspended condensers for this kind of application.
Title: Re: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: Scott Bolt on July 27, 2015, 10:04:19 pm
Why are you surprised at this? Lavs are still microphones, and subject to the same laws of physics. Instead of a handheld an inch or two from the source, you have a lav six inches or more from the source - so you have to increase the gain to get the same result. If you use a handheld at the same distance, you'd have the same issue. I suggest that you do some more studying before publicly questioning someone who's been doing audio for longer than you've been breathing. Dick is spot-on with his statements.

There are lots of guys out there that still swear by film cameras and record players  that have been doing their trade longer than I have been breathing.  It doesn't make them right, just experienced.

Before you give me the "go sit in the corner" lecture, I gave the OP feedback on his question to the best of my experience and understanding.  That is what forums are for.

If I were to ignore the OP's request entirely, and recommend placing microphone stand(s) on the stage, I still wouldn't pick the SM58 for such a task.  Would you?
Title: Re: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: Stephen Swaffer on July 27, 2015, 11:05:22 pm

If I were to ignore the OP's request entirely, and recommend placing microphone stand(s) on the stage, I still wouldn't pick the SM58 for such a task.  Would you?

With the knowledge that they were already in the OP's possession I would.  The OP was going to place condenser mics (somehow).  This is a a potential (somehow) with existing mics that may or may not prove workable in his situation.  If it does come close, then an investment in a better quality mic coupled with the knowledge and understanding of utilizing a mics response pattern to your advantage might yield a very good result.  Certainly a more productive path, IMO, than just picking a condensor and hoping its pattern was what you wanted-and still trying to find a (somehow).

Or the OP may learn that putting stands anywhere on the stage won't work-without buying mics.

Most of the arguments with live sound (IMO) should not be phrased as much as "right or wrong"-but as better in this situation or that situation.
Title: Re: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: Kevin Maxwell on July 28, 2015, 12:39:55 pm
ďThe loudest thing at the mic winsĒ this is worth repeating over and over again.

I use hanging mics all of the time, usually with apron mics also. BUT this is only for chorus numbers where everyone on stage is belting out the number. And if you have a lead that is also wearing a mic and is on stage and really belting it out you need to figure out if they are being picked up on the hanging mics too much and you may need to drop them a bit on their body mics.

I think the mics we usually use are the Audio Technica 853 and to clear moving scenery they are usually hung a bit high. The other trick I use is I delay the mics to get a better time alignment with them. So the sound they pick up and send out of the speakers doesnít arrive before the sound of the voices off of the stage would arrive. It helps to make it more natural sounding. And the main speakers are delayed to the edge of the stage.

I just finished doing a short run of Godspell 3 days ago and someone asked me how many speakers were in the system. I had to stop and count them. 11 covering the house all time aligned properly. One special hung at the back of the room facing to the front of the room for one sound effect. And 2 hot spot style speakers in the pit on mic stands for the conductor and a pain in the neck guitarist who had to hear the singers even though he was supposed to just follow the conductor.

I had a friend (former apprentice of mine) who came to the Friday night show and I showed him around before the show and I mentioned the one speaker that was just for the one sound effect. Afterwards he said he never heard the one sound effect. And I said to him did you hear the door slam when Judas ran out the back of the auditorium and when he came back in? He said yes and I said those doors canít slam, that was a sound effect played back. He thought it was real. And it made the search for just the right sound worth it. It actually was 2 sounds played at the same time to get it to sound like what we wanted.

But for the type of thing that you are doing your best bet might be the human mic stand trick. It can be one of the singers in a small group where the mic is placed far enough away from their voice and where the actor/singer is centrally located with the other singers.

Also if you have an actor that has an important line (but just one line) and is miced because of that, it would probably be better if the director would have that actor deliver the line into the face of another actor with a mic and save their mic for other uses.

Depending on the show and the staging sometimes you can plant a wireless mic in scenery to enable it to pick things up.

Some of the shows I have done lately the musical director has us mic certain actors that are just select singers to give us a fuller sound for the chorus type of parts. And depending on the show you are doing handheld wireless sometimes can be used. In Godspell the handheld mics are written into the directors notes.

I donít know if you do mic swaps at all but with the proper planning you can make better use of your mic resources if you can swap some of them out during intermission. It helps to have mic wranglers to handle all of that. For Godspell I hardly even touched a wireless mic. I had a crew of high school kids handling all of the mics, putting them on the actors and taking them off. We have trained them over the years and we get the older ones training the younger ones with our oversight. I have one kid going into his senior year that will really be missed when he graduates. But I have had one of these types of kids almost every year.   
Title: Re: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: Tim McCulloch on July 28, 2015, 12:55:26 pm
Tim,

It was my assumption, although I didn't state it, that the reasoning behind the better behaviors you describe was due to the lower mass of the transducer in a condenser mic.

You do have a point about the noise floor though.

It is still quite common for choir stages to use suspended condensers for this kind of application.

Yes, but it's not inherent that they be condensers, that's why I mentioned Heil as being acoustically similar even though they are dynamic mics.

I've used hanging AT853 (as Kevin M mentions below) in conjunction with PCC160 or the newer Bartlett apron mics for ensemble pickup, but they're pretty much useless for trying to get the kids that don't project.

It is what it is - complaining parents not withstanding.  Actors are not trained to project these days and I'd love to set up a date with Vlad the Impaler for any director who tells the talent "don't worry, the mic will pick you up."
Title: Re: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: g'bye, Dick Rees on July 28, 2015, 01:02:58 pm
ďThe loudest thing at the mic winsĒ this is worth repeating over and over again.

I use hanging mics all of the time, usually with apron mics also. BUT this is only for chorus numbers where everyone on stage is belting out the number. And if you have a lead that is also wearing a mic and is on stage and really belting it out you need to figure out if they are being picked up on the hanging mics too much and you may need to drop them a bit on their body mics.

I think the mics we usually use are the Audio Technica 853 and to clear moving scenery they are usually hung a bit high. The other trick I use is I delay the mics to get a better time alignment with them. So the sound they pick up and send out of the speakers doesnít arrive before the sound of the voices off of the stage would arrive. It helps to make it more natural sounding. And the main speakers are delayed to the edge of the stage.

I just finished doing a short run of Godspell 3 days ago and someone asked me how many speakers were in the system. I had to stop and count them. 11 covering the house all time aligned properly. One special hung at the back of the room facing to the front of the room for one sound effect. And 2 hot spot style speakers in the pit on mic stands for the conductor and a pain in the neck guitarist who had to hear the singers even though he was supposed to just follow the conductor.

I had a friend (former apprentice of mine) who came to the Friday night show and I showed him around before the show and I mentioned the one speaker that was just for the one sound effect. Afterwards he said he never heard the one sound effect. And I said to him did you hear the door slam when Judas ran out the back of the auditorium and when he came back in? He said yes and I said those doors canít slam, that was a sound effect played back. He thought it was real. And it made the search for just the right sound worth it. It actually was 2 sounds played at the same time to get it to sound like what we wanted.

But for the type of thing that you are doing your best bet might be the human mic stand trick. It can be one of the singers in a small group where the mic is placed far enough away from their voice and where the actor/singer is centrally located with the other singers.

Also if you have an actor that has an important line (but just one line) and is miced because of that, it would probably be better if the director would have that actor deliver the line into the face of another actor with a mic and save their mic for other uses.

Depending on the show and the staging sometimes you can plant a wireless mic in scenery to enable it to pick things up.

Some of the shows I have done lately the musical director has us mic certain actors that are just select singers to give us a fuller sound for the chorus type of parts. And depending on the show you are doing handheld wireless sometimes can be used. In Godspell the handheld mics are written into the directors notes.

I donít know if you do mic swaps at all but with the proper planning you can make better use of your mic resources if you can swap some of them out during intermission. It helps to have mic wranglers to handle all of that. For Godspell I hardly even touched a wireless mic. I had a crew of high school kids handling all of the mics, putting them on the actors and taking them off. We have trained them over the years and we get the older ones training the younger ones with our oversight. I have one kid going into his senior year that will really be missed when he graduates. But I have had one of these types of kids almost every year.   

Golden.
Title: Re: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: Scott Bolt on July 28, 2015, 06:14:16 pm
Yes, but it's not inherent that they be condensers, that's why I mentioned Heil as being acoustically similar even though they are dynamic mics.

I've used hanging AT853 (as Kevin M mentions below) in conjunction with PCC160 or the newer Bartlett apron mics for ensemble pickup, but they're pretty much useless for trying to get the kids that don't project.

It is what it is - complaining parents not withstanding.  Actors are not trained to project these days and I'd love to set up a date with Vlad the Impaler for any director who tells the talent "don't worry, the mic will pick you up."
LOL.  Point taken.

Thanks Tim.

Kevin,

Great examples.
Title: Re: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: jesseweiss on July 29, 2015, 11:31:08 am
ďThe loudest thing at the mic winsĒ this is worth repeating over and over again.

I use hanging mics all of the time, usually with apron mics also. BUT this is only for chorus numbers where everyone on stage is belting out the number. And if you have a lead that is also wearing a mic and is on stage and really belting it out you need to figure out if they are being picked up on the hanging mics too much and you may need to drop them a bit on their body mics.

I think the mics we usually use are the Audio Technica 853 and to clear moving scenery they are usually hung a bit high. The other trick I use is I delay the mics to get a better time alignment with them. So the sound they pick up and send out of the speakers doesnít arrive before the sound of the voices off of the stage would arrive. It helps to make it more natural sounding. And the main speakers are delayed to the edge of the stage.

I just finished doing a short run of Godspell 3 days ago and someone asked me how many speakers were in the system. I had to stop and count them. 11 covering the house all time aligned properly. One special hung at the back of the room facing to the front of the room for one sound effect. And 2 hot spot style speakers in the pit on mic stands for the conductor and a pain in the neck guitarist who had to hear the singers even though he was supposed to just follow the conductor.

I had a friend (former apprentice of mine) who came to the Friday night show and I showed him around before the show and I mentioned the one speaker that was just for the one sound effect. Afterwards he said he never heard the one sound effect. And I said to him did you hear the door slam when Judas ran out the back of the auditorium and when he came back in? He said yes and I said those doors canít slam, that was a sound effect played back. He thought it was real. And it made the search for just the right sound worth it. It actually was 2 sounds played at the same time to get it to sound like what we wanted.

But for the type of thing that you are doing your best bet might be the human mic stand trick. It can be one of the singers in a small group where the mic is placed far enough away from their voice and where the actor/singer is centrally located with the other singers.

Also if you have an actor that has an important line (but just one line) and is miced because of that, it would probably be better if the director would have that actor deliver the line into the face of another actor with a mic and save their mic for other uses.

Depending on the show and the staging sometimes you can plant a wireless mic in scenery to enable it to pick things up.

Some of the shows I have done lately the musical director has us mic certain actors that are just select singers to give us a fuller sound for the chorus type of parts. And depending on the show you are doing handheld wireless sometimes can be used. In Godspell the handheld mics are written into the directors notes.

I donít know if you do mic swaps at all but with the proper planning you can make better use of your mic resources if you can swap some of them out during intermission. It helps to have mic wranglers to handle all of that. For Godspell I hardly even touched a wireless mic. I had a crew of high school kids handling all of the mics, putting them on the actors and taking them off. We have trained them over the years and we get the older ones training the younger ones with our oversight. I have one kid going into his senior year that will really be missed when he graduates. But I have had one of these types of kids almost every year.   

Thanks Kevin, a lot of great info.

Usually we do mic swaps to save resources, and then about half of the featured singers wear lavs and we are fine since I have crew (plus adults back stage) that handle all the mics.  This last show (Adam's Family) we couldn't do swaps and we didn't use the remaining very few lavs for the featured singers (my daughter was one) because we weren't sure how it would work with just 2 or 3 mics for 8 kids not always right next to each other.

I think that we'll just make do with the lavs we have moving foward (possibly with Dick's human mic stand idea), and worst case use the wireless SM58's we have being held by the singers (or a stand hidden somehow).
Title: Re: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: g'bye, Dick Rees on July 29, 2015, 11:36:12 am
Jesse...

It's easier to hide wireless lavs in/on bits of scenery than trying to hide and orient a wireless 58.

I've used potted plants, edges of flats, tables (works like a boundary mic) and all sorts of other bits of stage dressing.
Title: Re: Condenser mics for live group vocals
Post by: jesseweiss on July 29, 2015, 01:57:19 pm
Cool, thanks.  I would have to get another lav, but that's doable.  Doesn't have to be wireless, could run to a mic jack in the wings (there are tons from the unused overhead mics that don't work).