You are here

SDC (Cardioid) or Shotguns on Vocal Group

For performing musicians and engineers: stagecraft, engineering and gear.

SDC (Cardioid) or Shotguns on Vocal Group

Postby LRS » Sun Oct 02, 2011 9:39 pm

I've always been a fan of cardioid SDC in an ORTF or (if necessary) a spaced array when micing live vocal groups (a cappella), however a friend has just purchased some Sennheiser shotguns which he reckons are the bees knees. I don't have any shotguns and I've only ever used them in a theatre situation but I wonder whether their pickup pattern is too tight to effectively capture a large vocal group of some 20 to 40 singers.

Any thoughts welcome...

Cheers
Graham
LRS
Regular
Posts: 143
Joined: Tue Apr 22, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: New Zealand

Re: SDC (Cardioid) or Shotguns on Vocal Group

Postby seablade » Sun Oct 02, 2011 10:56 pm

LRS wrote:I've always been a fan of cardioid SDC in an ORTF or (if necessary) a spaced array when micing live vocal groups (a cappella), however a friend has just purchased some Sennheiser shotguns which he reckons are the bees knees. I don't have any shotguns and I've only ever used them in a theatre situation but I wonder whether their pickup pattern is too tight to effectively capture a large vocal group of some 20 to 40 singers.

Any thoughts welcome...

Cheers
Graham

Feel free to try it, but I would have your ORTF set up there and recording as well. I suspect you will at best end up with a hole in your stereo image if you follow strict ORTF pattern, but if you go with X/Y you may just end up with a narrow stereo image. This doesn't even consider the off axis response, which on shotguns tend to be rather bad, and on a decent SDC quite a bit better, but still not perfect.

But hey I have never tried it and would enjoy being proved wrong if it works well.

Seablade
seablade
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1160
Joined: Sun Nov 21, 2004 12:00 am

Re: SDC (Cardioid) or Shotguns on Vocal Group

Postby LRS » Sun Oct 02, 2011 11:05 pm

Thanks for that. I'm not necessarily talking about recording (although I have used ORTF'ish successfully in the past) but more for live reinforcement.

Cheers
Graham
LRS
Regular
Posts: 143
Joined: Tue Apr 22, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: New Zealand

Re: SDC (Cardioid) or Shotguns on Vocal Group

Postby Bob Bickerton » Sun Oct 02, 2011 11:53 pm

I wouldn't use shotguns for recording choir, but they are handy for live reinforcement.

As Seablade says the off axis response of shotguns is poor, but in difficult situations they can give more gain before feedback than cardioids. I regularly use a pair of Rode NTG-1s for this application which have a deep null 90 degrees off axis. By 'pointing' the null at the speakers and using as a spaced stereo pair they can give a nice lift to choir. They work particularly well outside (with dead cats) where there is less in the way of reflections and therefore off axis rubbish.

I'd love to try Sennheiser MKH50s in this application, but they are out of my budget range.

Bob
User avatar
Bob Bickerton
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 3443
Joined: Fri Dec 20, 2002 12:00 am
Location: Nelson, New Zealand
http://www.bickerton.co.nz

Re: SDC (Cardioid) or Shotguns on Vocal Group

Postby Scope » Mon Oct 03, 2011 8:22 am

Ditto that, the shotgun mic is very narrow & off axis, has a serious fall off of frequency response.
I use sennheisers 416. & 816 n broadcast / film work, collecting dialogue.
This is what they are good at.

Positioned carefully, you might get usefull sound, placing them far left & right, pointing in.
As for the sound, it depends on the quality of the mic.
Money no object, the mkh60 is about as good as it gets.
Compared to the 416, it has better off axis response, being more sympathetic to the user, should the actor move outside the optimim area.
Scope
Frequent Poster
Posts: 554
Joined: Sun Jul 02, 2006 11:00 pm

Re: SDC (Cardioid) or Shotguns on Vocal Group

Postby Driller » Mon Apr 02, 2018 9:41 am

I found this topic after searching on "outside choir reinforcement".

My daughter's primary school has various outside celebrations during the year where the children sing various things in the courtyard in front of the parents who are seated around them.

The problem is, as you can imagine, the sound of their voices doesn't carry very far (especially the younger ones) making for a disappointing result each time and a squash at the front with everyone straining to hear.

I experimented earlier in the year at one such event. The equipment used (which I already had) was two JBL EON15s at about 1m80 off the ground with 2 AKG C430 SCDs (the overhead mics from an AKG drum mic set) on stands at the front of the choir going into a Mixwizard4 desk.

It was an awful disaster!

One was the the EONs were placed either side of the choir but at the back rather than the front. I did this to try to keep cabling etc out of the way because between songs there's a lot of people walking about and kids running around.

Feedback would immediately start as soon as the faders were raised and before any kind of useful signal from the singers could be picked up.

I'm not sure the C430s were the best choice. I have a C451 on the hi-hat of the studio drum kit and I could buy another to make a pair but perhaps it would be better to get something else. I couldn't justify a pair of MKH50s but maybe a pair of KSM141s for example.

I also thought about running a rope or something between the speakers and have the mics (some Shure MX202s?) hanging off this to keep them out of the way.

Does any one have any advice not only on best speaker and mic position but also how to place cables and protect them from loads of feet moving about in this very difficult environment?

Thanks for sharing.
User avatar
Driller
Regular
Posts: 55
Joined: Fri Apr 25, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: Englishman in Paris
Don't worry, this won't hurt a bit

Re: SDC (Cardioid) or Shotguns on Vocal Group

Postby Bob Bickerton » Mon Apr 02, 2018 10:47 am

Well that's a trip down memory lane! Since then I've upgraded my mic collection considerably and now happen to have a pair of MKH8050s, which, as it happens, I use reasonably often to amplify choirs outside!

This scenario is always going to be something of a compromise, but I still prefer using hypercardioid mics for this application over shotgun.

Clearly the biggest challenge is avoiding feedback and the key to this is placement of speakers in front and to the sides of the choir and then placing the mics to pick up the choir as best you can being cogniscent of the mic's 'nulls' and pointing the nulls at the speakers.

If the MKHs are outside your budget I'd highly recommend the Sennheiser e614 - they're pretty much my live go-to SDCs.

Bob
User avatar
Bob Bickerton
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 3443
Joined: Fri Dec 20, 2002 12:00 am
Location: Nelson, New Zealand
http://www.bickerton.co.nz

Re: SDC (Cardioid) or Shotguns on Vocal Group

Postby blinddrew » Mon Apr 02, 2018 10:51 am

I'm sure smarter people will be along shortly so ignore any of the below if later posters contradict it. :)
I'd suggest that the problem here is really one of logistics rather than the kit you have.
The speakers, as you've worked out, need to be at the front of the stage area. The mics are cardiod so you might get a better result using a crossed pair as that will nudge more the speakers' sound towards the null. If you have a set of hyper-cardiods available that might work better.
But really this is about getting the speakers in line with or in front of the mics and avoiding any accidents.
When I'm setting up a stage I make it so that there is a clear entry point / exit point. Here there will be no cables at all, all cables will be routed round the other sides and taped down with gaffer tape. Where the cables are somewhere that people might tread I use that black and yellow stripey tape. If you're dealing with kids though, especially nervous / excitable ones, you might be better using the rope to keep them away from the non-entry/exit point.
User avatar
blinddrew
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 3936
Joined: Sat Jul 04, 2015 11:00 pm
Location: York
Ignore the post count, I have no idea what I'm doing...

Re: SDC (Cardioid) or Shotguns on Vocal Group

Postby Driller » Mon Apr 02, 2018 4:18 pm

Thanks for all the useful info chaps. I've looked at the e614 and it's easily within budget. I wonder how useful it would be to up the budget a bit on another Super cardio mic.

It's true that the C430s that I used before are cardoid (as opposed to superC) but how much of a difference that makes compared to the speaker placement is the question, I'll do some tests.

Good shout for the cable management, the kids running around certainly complicates things!
User avatar
Driller
Regular
Posts: 55
Joined: Fri Apr 25, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: Englishman in Paris
Don't worry, this won't hurt a bit

Re: SDC (Cardioid) or Shotguns on Vocal Group

Postby blinddrew » Mon Apr 02, 2018 4:21 pm

What you need is one of these: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Q3yMKg2ejQ :)

I need one too ;)
User avatar
blinddrew
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 3936
Joined: Sat Jul 04, 2015 11:00 pm
Location: York
Ignore the post count, I have no idea what I'm doing...

Re: SDC (Cardioid) or Shotguns on Vocal Group

Postby Frederick Noren » Mon Apr 02, 2018 7:08 pm

Driller wrote:My daughter's primary school has various outside celebrations during the year where the children sing various things in the courtyard in front of the parents who are seated around them.

[...]

Feedback would immediately start as soon as the faders were raised and before any kind of useful signal from the singers could be picked up.

[...]

Does any one have any advice not only on best speaker and mic position but also how to place cables and protect them from loads of feet moving about in this very difficult environment?

Well, here's how I handle both professional choirs and schools-out-celebrations with children choirs.

I use as many hand-held vocal microphones as I can get hold of and let three choir sings share one microphone - and the middle singer holding the microphone with a straight arm.

For children choir, I might use a couple of microphone stands in front of the choir, and maybe two-three in the choir - a total of five to eight microphones.

With this setup, you will easily get a good choir sound for amplification - with both body and tone. As someone already pointed out, do try to position the speakers in line with the front of the "stage" or in line with the front microphones.

Occasionally, a lad will lean forward and sing straight into one of the microphones, but it will just add to the performance and make the parents laugh.

If you can't get hold of enough vocal microphones, it's fine to use a mixture of vocal microphones and small diaphragm condenser microphones (remember to use windscreens/pop filters on the condenser microphones otherwise they will catch wind noise). The trick is to position the microphones as close to the children as possible.

I basically use the same technique for professional choirs, with added solist microphones - either hand held or walk-up on stands microphones up front on stage.

Most choirs have a shortage of bass singers, so I usually let two bass singers share a microphone, or even have one each - that way I can more easily balance the bass with the rest of the choir.

Luckily, I don't have to work with choirs that often - professional or schools-out - because it's always walking on a tightrope, but you already know that. :-)

As far as cabling and microphone stands, make things nice and tidy and use a lot of gaffa tape.


Good luck
Frederick
User avatar
Frederick Noren
New here
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Apr 20, 2005 11:00 pm
Location: Malmoe, SWEDEN
Sound engineer, music producer and SOS contributor. http://www.ninja.se

Re: SDC (Cardioid) or Shotguns on Vocal Group

Postby Sam Spoons » Mon Apr 02, 2018 8:19 pm

A row of mics along the front of the stage can work to a point but it will sound thin and not be much more than the barest of reinforcement. The best I have managed was with a dozen or so kids from my wife's ballet school, we used Fredrick's technique of rehearsing them three to a mic so they were each singing about 1 foot away. That was very successful, helped by the fact that they were all fairly confident anyway. The key as Frederick says it to get the singers as close to the mics as possible. You can't cheat the laws of Physics (Scotty, star date......).
User avatar
Sam Spoons
Jedi Poster
Posts: 6175
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Manchester UK
Finally taking this recording lark seriously (and recording my Gypsy Jazz CD)........

Re: SDC (Cardioid) or Shotguns on Vocal Group

Postby Driller » Tue Apr 03, 2018 12:05 pm

Thanks for the further advice and that gaffa machine is amazing!

The hand held mic idea sounds good but some of the groups are only 4 and 5 year olds so I'm not sure how well that would work. Not all 4 year olds are capable of holding a mic straight.

The problem is that it's on a rotating basis i.e. every class will go up and sing once and then it's all change so passing loads of hand held mics around is not that practical.
User avatar
Driller
Regular
Posts: 55
Joined: Fri Apr 25, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: Englishman in Paris
Don't worry, this won't hurt a bit

Re: SDC (Cardioid) or Shotguns on Vocal Group

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Apr 03, 2018 1:25 pm

Then drill them on how to stand close together, three to a mic stand. The only way to get decent level if they are not confident singers is to get them close to the mics. If they are quiet singers and a couple of metres from the mics you'll be lucky to get them heard through the PA at all before you reach feedback city.........
User avatar
Sam Spoons
Jedi Poster
Posts: 6175
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Manchester UK
Finally taking this recording lark seriously (and recording my Gypsy Jazz CD)........

Re: SDC (Cardioid) or Shotguns on Vocal Group

Postby Driller » Wed Apr 04, 2018 9:15 am

Sam Spoons wrote:Then drill them on how to stand close together, three to a mic stand. The only way to get decent level if they are not confident singers is to get them close to the mics. If they are quiet singers and a couple of metres from the mics you'll be lucky to get them heard through the PA at all before you reach feedback city.........

When you mention “vocal microphones” I’m guessing you’re talking about dynamic mics. Any reason why I shouldn’ put a cardioid SDC on a weighted boom stand (K&M with the triangular wheeled base and long weighted boom) each side with the mics just above head height pointing down at 45 degrees?
User avatar
Driller
Regular
Posts: 55
Joined: Fri Apr 25, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: Englishman in Paris
Don't worry, this won't hurt a bit

Re: SDC (Cardioid) or Shotguns on Vocal Group

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Apr 04, 2018 9:35 am

Only that two mics won't be enough, and the SDC will have a flatter response than a typical dynamic stage mic so you'll need to high-pass filter off a lot of bass to control the inevitable howlrounds.

It's all been said already -- the only practical way to deal with this kind of situation is lots of mics very close to the (low) noise makers. With two overhead mics you'll hear only a couple of kids (and they'll be distracted by the mics above their heads)... and if they reach up and pull the stand over (and they will !) you'll have more problems to worry about...

It's all been said: Speakers well in front of performers -- that's absolutely critical). Lots of mics (one per three is the right kind of ratio to aim for), and keep the mics as close to the trios as possible. Switching to rifle mics will let you move the mics back a bit, but only a matter of inches, and you'll get a lot of off-axis coloration that won't help anyway.

H
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 20852
Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound

Re: SDC (Cardioid) or Shotguns on Vocal Group

Postby Driller » Wed Apr 04, 2018 9:54 am

I appreciate the clarification Hugh, obviously this is a classically complicated situation (never work with children right).

I can see two major downsides to this solution:

1) lots of mics (at least 10 for 30 kids then) means lots of mic cables to get caught up, trampled on and played with

2) Trying to get a group of 30 four year olds to exchange 10 mics plus cables with a group of 30 five year olds multiple times in an afternoon in a confined space whilst not interrupting the show and sticking to a tight schedule.

Sounds like a tall order, hence my desire to do the boom thing but I get it, it wouldn’t work.

It’d be interesting to hear if anyone has done the 1 handheld mic for 3 with the same number of very young kids and what the result was.

Edited to clarify last paragraph
User avatar
Driller
Regular
Posts: 55
Joined: Fri Apr 25, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: Englishman in Paris
Don't worry, this won't hurt a bit

Re: SDC (Cardioid) or Shotguns on Vocal Group

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Apr 04, 2018 11:11 am

If you're moving the kids on and off stage the mics need to be on stands and the cables taped down. Using hand held mics is a recipe for disaster. It must be easier to mark the stage with coloured tape and tell the kids to "stand there" on the 'red X' than teach them to hand hold the mics and pass them over. Can't see any other way to do it. BTW, If you have smaller groups using the same stage mute any unused mics.
User avatar
Sam Spoons
Jedi Poster
Posts: 6175
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Manchester UK
Finally taking this recording lark seriously (and recording my Gypsy Jazz CD)........

Re: SDC (Cardioid) or Shotguns on Vocal Group

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Apr 04, 2018 11:12 am

Driller wrote:I appreciate the clarification Hugh, obviously this is a classically complicated situation (never work with children right).

It's one of those 'this is a great idea' things that will never ever work well and the sound operator will always get the blame. Been there, received the complaints, advise against and avoid like the plague now... ;-)

It’d be interesting to hear if anyone has done the 1 handheld mic for 3 with the same number of very young kids and what the result was.

Doesn't need to be handheld -- you could put the mics on low stands in a row across the front of the stage -- that's what I've done in the past... but if the mics are close enough to give you sufficient signal before feedback they will be close enough for the kids to kick and grab the stands too... and they will!

Basically there is no winning position with this situation! Small kids, and PAs just don't work well together.

H
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 20852
Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound

Re: SDC (Cardioid) or Shotguns on Vocal Group

Postby Bob Bickerton » Wed Apr 04, 2018 11:53 am

I guess it’s worth asking how many are in the audience and is the courtyard isolated from ambient noise such as traffic or aircraft.

I’m perplexed at the necessity for a multi-mic approach. I have now, for several years, run an outside stage for schools in a local arts festival, adjacent to a busy road, with a variety of acts including a range of primary school age choirs. For this I use a pair of MKH8050s as well as a Fohhn LX61 system with pretty good results to audiences of around 100 to 200.

Of course, you’re not going to get rock concert levels, but attaining sufficiency gain to enable diction seems fine.

Bob
User avatar
Bob Bickerton
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 3443
Joined: Fri Dec 20, 2002 12:00 am
Location: Nelson, New Zealand
http://www.bickerton.co.nz

Next

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users