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Open space performance during Covid-19 - choir mics and setup advice needed

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Open space performance during Covid-19 - choir mics and setup advice needed

Postby george_vel » Tue May 05, 2020 10:07 pm

Ok, Dears, the situation in 2020 should be familiar - as of now it’s not permitted to perform live concerts in music halls due to Covid-19...

So, I have an idea for a safe live performance at open space outside and I need your advice on the best (and affordable) options available.

Imagine 20 choir singers and one or two soloist, spaced at least 1,5 meters away from each other on 5-to-6 rows of steps. They should perform in front of an audience positioned also away from each other audience member 1,5 meters away. The space I have in mind could result in approx. 100 people as audience.

How could I amplify the choral singers?
I was thinking about 20 dynamic mics for each choir singer, going into a 24- or 32-channel mixer and the output to go to a pair of JBL Eon-615 speakers. I haven’t thought about monitors yet...

Do you think this is a reasonable setup? Can you recommend something better?
The setup I have in mind requires lots if mics, cables, stands, etc.
In that case, is it possible, let’s say, to use cardioids (less mics) instead of dynamic ones or this will increase the risk of feedback loop?

Any advice on this is more than welcome! :-)
Thanks and stay safe!
George
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Re: Open space performance during Covid-19 - choir mics and setup advice needed

Postby resistorman » Tue May 05, 2020 11:42 pm

I needed to mic a 40 person choir outdoors in the Bahamas and only had 4-SM58 mics, a Mackie 1604, and 3 JBL Eon powered speakers. I placed the speakers a fair distance away from the choir in a cluster and put the mics in a row across the front of the stage. Soloists stepped closer to the mics closest to their section. I was so surprised how well it turned out that I wound up using this method for all the outdoor choir concerts I did for years, albeit with very fine tuned systems, shock mounts, windscreens and delay speakers. The insensitivity of the dynamic mics helped a lot to keep them from picking up extraneous noise and wind gusts. We had audiences of 500 or more and everyone was very complimentary, and nobody complained. That said, the 6 foot rule might make things tough for that sort of thing.
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Re: Open space performance during Covid-19 - choir mics and setup advice needed

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed May 06, 2020 12:20 am

I can only see it working with a mike for every singer. It's hard enough to mic a choir sharing mics when they are standing shoulder to shoulder never mind 6' apart.

george_vel wrote:is it possible, let’s say, to use cardioids (less mics) instead of dynamic ones or this will increase the risk of feedback loop?

You are mixing up your terminology here, cardioid mics can be dynamic, capacitor or even, occasionally, ribbon transducers. I wonder if you mean to say capacitor to dynamic? Either way the deciding factor will mostly be the sensitivity and polar pattern. A more sensitive mic won't have a greater risk of feedback 'cos it will require less gain to be dialled in on the desk. The main feedback issue with capacitors compared to dynamic is that most capacitor mics have a more extended/emphasized high end which can generate some feedback at frequencies which only the younger members of your audience will be able to hear :D
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Re: Open space performance during Covid-19 - choir mics and setup advice needed

Postby Eddy Deegan » Wed May 06, 2020 12:59 am

george_vel wrote:Ok, Dears, the situation in 2020 should be familiar - as of now it’s not permitted to perform live concerts in music halls due to Covid-19...

So, I have an idea for a safe live performance at open space outside and I need your advice on the best (and affordable) options available.

Imagine 20 choir singers and one or two soloist, spaced at least 1,5 meters away from each other on 5-to-6 rows of steps. They should perform in front of an audience positioned also away from each other audience member 1,5 meters away. The space I have in mind could result in approx. 100 people as audience.

I'm not clear on the timeframe within which you're proposing this. Are you talking about the immediate future, at some intermediate point or further down the line? Also, 1.5 metres is less than the generally accepted standard of 2 metres.

I'd wait until we know more about how things pan out, because at the moment you don't have enough information to go on and it's a bit too soon to expect people to gather in any significant numbers, even if spaced, until we do.

If you're proposing doing this 'now-ish' and think it's ok because it's outside then that's a different discussion altogether, because it's very much not ok. Bulgaria may have a much lower number of infections than many other countries but it jumped by 52 (3.15%) in the last day* so I would plan with extreme caution.

* Based on the data I found at the time of writing, which presumably is only for people who have been tested and thus a smaller number by far than the real figure.
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Re: Open space performance during Covid-19 - choir mics and setup advice needed

Postby zenguitar » Wed May 06, 2020 2:02 am

+1

I appreciate the sentiment, but I would also caution against an organised public performance at present. A number of countries are beginning to discuss easing restrictions, but the key message here is that easing is not the same as removing. A live performance may well be an uplifting experience, but it is not a necessary experience. There are far more important priorities; and while the arts are valuable, perhaps they would be better expressed online still.

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Re: Open space performance during Covid-19 - choir mics and setup advice needed

Postby george_vel » Wed May 06, 2020 5:21 am

Sam Spoons wrote:...
You are mixing up your terminology here, cardioid mics can be dynamic, capacitor or even, occasionally, ribbon transducers. I wonder if you mean to say capacitor to dynamic?
...

Sorry, Sam, you’re right, I made wrong terminology mix. :-)
I meant dynamic ones vs. condensers.

To all, thanks for your replies. :-)
I think you got me wrong.

The concert won’t be held tomorrow or this week. I am asking you for advice since I need some time to prepare and most likely we can do such performance at the end of June or beginning of July, if we’re able to do it at all.

In Bulgaria they’ve started loosen the measures. Parks are now opened, mountains as well. They also allowed restaurants to open but only outdoors with tables spaced 1,5 m away (this where the number came from). I also think 2 m is better so this could be kept in my setup and that’s where the challenge with mics is coming - unusual situation to amplify singers spaced at such distance.

We are thinking on such setup because our fans are asking for it. I think people need something to bring back their spirit up. We’ve canceled 5 concerts so far and the time to be able to go back in concert halls does not appear near at all.
So we are trying to adapt and offer something outdoors at safe distance, as with the restaurants for example. :-)

Thanks God, Bulgaria is doing fine so far. We are having 2 or 3 hot spots now, where number of infections increased in last days. But in last 5-6 days for example in Sofia number of daily new cases is between 3 and 10 which is quite low for a city of almost 2 mil. people. Most likely we are not doing enough tests as you said, but total mortality rate did not increase, even more - it’s a bit lower compared to the same period in 2019.

So all of us dealing with music, like you and me and the rest of the world, we might face the situation to make performances only outdoors for an year or more from now. And that’s my question about - how to amplify singers in such unusual spaced formation, i.e. how many mics, what mixer, what PA, etc.

Thanks!
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Re: Open space performance during Covid-19 - choir mics and setup advice needed

Postby Jorge » Wed May 06, 2020 5:44 am

This performance is a bad idea. Singing seems to be an efficient way for asymptomatic people infected with SARS-CoV-2 to aerosolize the virus and spread it to many others even more than 6 feet away.

https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/st ... r-outbreak

Maybe I have a New York City perspective, but you all aren't doing much better than we are and I say better safe than sorry. Once your geographic area meets reasonable criteria for low prevalence of infectious individuals in the population consistently for 2 weeks or more, you can start thinking about group events like this, but before that in my opinion the risk is unacceptably high.
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Re: Open space performance during Covid-19 - choir mics and setup advice needed

Postby george_vel » Wed May 06, 2020 7:53 am

You’re focusing too much on “when” instead of “how” :-)

Put it this way - we’ll not do anything risky and without official permission, whenever it is much safer than today. It can be a month from now, or 5 months, or even more than 12. No one knows.

Whenever concerts are more safe, I believe first they’ll be allowed only outdoors and I am looking for “how” to make it work.

Hope this make things more clear :-)
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Re: Open space performance during Covid-19 - choir mics and setup advice needed

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed May 06, 2020 10:54 am

If you're planning on having spaced choir members your options are very limited because you won't have a normal 'ensemble'. It will be impossible to cover such a spread out group with a normal simple stereo array, or even a few mics spaced across the front. The distances involved are just impractical... which leaves no choice but to use separate mics on each individual, either hand-held or stand mounted.

This arrangement can work well, and is often used very successfully for large American baptist choirs etc, but obviously the mic count and cabling requirements are large and it can be quite challenging. More difficult still is the need to train the singers to adopt a good -- meaning consistent, more than anything -- mic technique

The point made earlier about potentially spreading the virus through aerosol particles when singing is a very serious one, and the major concern for you will be contamination of microphones and particularly their grilles. So you'll need to be very careful about cleansing the mics very thoroughly before and after each rehearsal and performance, and avoiding any situation where people could end up sharing/swapping mics.

be aware that some mics are a lot easier to clean than others...
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Re: Open space performance during Covid-19 - choir mics and setup advice needed

Postby george_vel » Wed May 06, 2020 11:43 am

Thanks a lot, Hugh!

Can you name just few mic brands and models you have in mind? Especially the ones that are easier for cleaning.
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Re: Open space performance during Covid-19 - choir mics and setup advice needed

Postby ronmac » Wed May 06, 2020 12:09 pm

Another consideration is that your audience will also need to maintain social distancing. That will require a much larger outdoor space and the additional equipment to cover it.

Once you have the technical requirements set you need to consider the necessary budget for the additional equipment, space and security measures.
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Re: Open space performance during Covid-19 - choir mics and setup advice needed

Postby djangodeadman » Thu May 07, 2020 4:44 pm

george_vel wrote:Thanks a lot, Hugh!

Can you name just few mic brands and models you have in mind? Especially the ones that are easier for cleaning.

I can’t speak for Hugh, but for me it is the ability to remove the grille from the mic. So, an SM58 grille is relatively easy to clean, an e935 grille much less so. Keep in mind that you will also have to sanitise the bodies of the mics, although this should be relatively easy. You further need to consider how you handle the mics when setting up, to prevent you potentially infecting the performers, and when taking down, to prevent you from potentially becoming infected..

Believe me, I’ve been thinking about these things a lot, while wondering when I will ever be able to return to work.

If and when there is an effective vaccine we can all go back to the unhygienic practices of the past, but I suspect that we will think better of it.
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Re: Open space performance during Covid-19 - choir mics and setup advice needed

Postby george_vel » Thu May 07, 2020 7:23 pm

@djangodeadman, thanks a lot for your valuable input. :-)

I don’t want to enter in any discussions about Covid-19 and how the world should response to it.
It’s very personal.

Actually, we don’t know anything about what is going on right now and how things could develop in future, but just staying separated and afraid seems like not a viable option, at least for me. Imagine if we have to wait for a vaccine development like the one for HIV - it doesn’t exist yet, for almost 40 years...

If we have to learn how to live with the virus for a couple of years, as authorities are suggesting now, at least we can discuss how we can react meanwhile. Otherwise, arts and culture are (most probably) sentenced to death...

I do really understand your concerns, UK was hit hard. Even your prime-minister was infected badly and luckily, he recovered successfully. :-)

But this does not mean we can’t discuss here how to adopt to the new situation. And my question was aimed at this direction.

So, once again thanks for your suggestion about SM58.
It would be costly to invest in 20-25 mics of this type, but at least is a starting point for thinking about a mitigation plan. :-)

Stay safe!
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Re: Open space performance during Covid-19 - choir mics and setup advice needed

Postby blinddrew » Thu May 07, 2020 7:33 pm

Simple foam mic-covers like this: https://www.ebay.co.uk/i/164172316151?c ... G0QAvD_BwE that you could wash (or bin) would help as well.
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Re: Open space performance during Covid-19 - choir mics and setup advice needed

Postby george_vel » Thu May 07, 2020 8:12 pm

blinddrew wrote:Simple foam mic-covers like this: https://www.ebay.co.uk/i/164172316151?c ... G0QAvD_BwE that you could wash (or bin) would help as well.

Thanks, blinddrew, this is an excellent idea! :-)
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