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Live micing

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Live micing

Postby Arondite » Tue Nov 13, 2012 6:55 am

Hey guys, my current micing methods seem to be wrong, so I am asking for some advice on that matter. I know the estimated position of the mic stands, as those can pop up easily from a quick google search. The problem is replicating the stands used in rehearsals for the actual event. In my rehearsals, I have all the time I want, hence I can slowly move the mics around until I get a more or less uniform, clear sound from the mic. However, as for the actual event, even though I mark out the positions of the mic stand, as the mic stand is not in the same position as with the rehearsal, the sound becomes slightly ununiform and unclear. Sorry, I think what I just wrote may be confusing, so I will portray the scenario where this problem occurs below.
I have a gig in school, and it starts with a band playing, followed by a piano solo. As the band has to take the stage first, the piano is brought to stage only AFTER the band. Naturally, the mic stand for the piano also comes in later on. However, as I lack mic stands, I tend to reuse the stands, thus the stand used for the band is also used for the piano, hence it has to be repositioned after the band. Thus, the position (degree of elavation, how much the stand is extended, etc) differs slightly from the rehearsal stand. Thus, the sound captured differs from the supposed one, and the piano sounds horrid because some notes are very loud, and others are too soft. Is there any way to solve this, short of doing a test on real time? I take quite long to adjust the mic stands as I am rather inexperienced, thus I do not have the luxury to adjust on real-time. Thanks in advance for any advice given.
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Re: Live micing

Postby Joel Nichols » Tue Nov 13, 2012 9:49 am

I used to do a lot of work in schools and feel your pain about lack of mic stands! What mic are you using on the piano? The pickup pattern it has will affect how it sounds in different places.

A couple of tips regarding get the elevation of the stand right:
Try putting a little ring of tape somewhere on the stand to mark the positions, do this on all components that you move. Of course if you need to slide the parts over where this tape will be then it won't work! In the past I have sometimes just taken a picture on my phone as a rough guide. If you have your 3 pieces of tape on the floor you mark where the legs of the stand should go you can work from there.

Regarding levels, try to see if your school has a compressor - these help level out the loudest parts of a performance. How to set one is another discussion, but see if they have one!
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Re: Live micing

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Nov 13, 2012 11:01 am

The usual solution is to put tape or paint marks on the floor for the positions of the stand feet and piano legs etc. That makes sure the hardware is in the right places.

As for the heights of mics, a wooden stick with pen marks to indicate the required height makes re-setting stands easy.

Alternatively, fix the mics directly on to the piano so that they move with the piano!

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Re: Live micing

Postby Dave Rowles » Tue Nov 13, 2012 6:22 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
Alternatively, fix the mics directly on to the piano so that they move with the piano!

hugh

+1

There are a number of solutions out there to help with this...though they all cost a couple of quid. Best would be a goose neck with a desk clamp which you could attach to the internal structure of the piano.

In fact there are clamp solutions for almost any instrument, which does take the whole "getting it back to the right position" problem out of the equation.
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Re: Live micing

Postby Arondite » Fri Nov 16, 2012 4:21 am

Thanks for the advice guys, it was really helpful. For now, I think I will stick to the tape method, where you tape the points where the mic stand is supposed to be extended till. I have different colored tapes, which would come in handy for multiple usage of the stand. As for the method of attaching a mic to the piano, I have yet to try it out, but would a podium stand do? The short ones that sit on the table for speeches. I don't know if there is enough space on the piano for them, but they are all that I have at the moment.
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Re: Live micing

Postby Dave Rowles » Fri Nov 16, 2012 12:50 pm

They might do, if you can get them seated right. Make sure they've got a rubber underbelly or the stand will rattle on the frame.

I have in the past used a cheap desk tripod stand that came free with a crappy mic I bought eons ago. Maplins do a similar one, though it's not quite as good.
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