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Inexpensive boundary mics vs hung condensers


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I'm not very experienced in micing a stage, but I've done sound effects for panto's for years...& years.....& years: I recently bought 3 Pro Signal boundary mics. from CPC & I'm now using them in final rehearsals for the upcoming Panto:


Our "Musical Director" has decided to get his Arse in his hand because HE mic'd the stage last year, using 3 unspecified mics on stands in front of the apron & 2 Audio Technica pro 45's overhead to pick up from upstage. This arrangement worked better than mine, even though he hasn't heard the new mic's working yet ;) . The fact that they were inexpensive means they are cr-p.


Having refused my offer to do a blind comparison between the 2 setups, he now insists that I use the pro 45's hung just behind the prosc. between the boundary mics - to fill in the gaps :P . Anything for a quiet life, I'll do just that (After all - fingers do slip on faders sometimes).


The real purpose of this post (I'm not really whigeing well, not much anyway) is to ask if anyone has used the Pro Signal MP33682's as stage mic's and, if so, do they stand up well compared to more expensive hung mic's? I'd really appreciate some informed opinion as, if I don't know I keep quiet, then find someone who does know & ask him.



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Mics on stands at the front of the stage - work. Work as in they pick up sound from directly in front. In terms of quality, they rarely cut it - as somebody moves across the stage they go loud soft loud soft etc. Also - most cheap cardioids are very thin and weedy at distance.


Overheads do work - if the sound they pick up is what you want. Great for tap, poor when the voices of the people on stage are pointing forwards not upwards.


Cheap doesn't always equate to rubbish sound - thee are more aspects to it than this.


Boundary mics work better by design, but if this person has more pips on their shoulders then nothing you can say will work.


Your choice is to go with their system and take the I told you so, or walk. A no win scenario.

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Just finished a run of "thursdays child" tonight at a local school.


Had 16 mics on the stage, most of which were quite cheap boundary's or overheads.


6 x overheads spread over the stage

3 x boundary's on the stage edge (sat on foam blocks to reduce mechanical coupling

3 x shotguns on the first FOH LX bar

4 x SE1a's on short stands at the edge of the stage pointing upstage and slightly upwards.


I needn't have bothered with anything else apart from the SE1a's. Gain before feedback on the shotguns was almost useless, overheads did work but little voices pointing at the floor were a pain, and the boundary's didn't even get turned on tonight!


In short, whilst my thoughts had initially been "quantity over quality" it turned out to cause more problems as getting a useful level out of them was nigh on impossible.


Reasonable condensers on short stands pointing at their faces worked very well. Overheads picked up the difficult to get back corners of the stage ok.


I suppose you get what you pay for!

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I suppose what cedd is saying shows that both you and your MD are right.


I use 3 expensive Crown PCCs across the front of the stage and they give a good lift to the sound but capture little of what happens upstage. My tech manager bought two cheap Audio Technica dangly things (PRO 45's) for me to use and although they are the same mic they differ considerably in how much gain is needed on the desk to get the same level from both. I resisted using them at first, but they do pick up a lot when hung quite low (and some sound from the wings, but never mind). I'd asked for some nice shotguns but budgets are budgets and I got them.


The above and below combination picks up most of what is needed and keeps me and the people bringing shows in happy most of the time.


Try out the combination of your mics and your MD's danglers and I bet you'll both end up happy with the results...



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My best results for this sort of working have always been from boundary mics at he front of the stage and cardioids hung a bit farther upstage, angled for pickup from the far upstage area (hanging straight down is a no-no).


However, to get the best results don't just assume you can turn on 5 or 6 mics and leave them up for the whole act. Knowing the script and actually mixing among the mics as the action moves around the stage minimises extraneous noises and increases your GBF.



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Ill second the combination, For the stage where I work, we have an 8` extention, with nothing to hang from, so I have 5 Pro 45s hung on stage and 3 boundries on the front edge.


Have a look at the shure site, they have some good info on mics, such as the more is better doesnt work, every open mic reduces your gain before feed back by about 3Db IIRC


the best bet is as few mics as possible to get even coverage.


The main reason Imoved away fdrom shotguns in the Pit is the musicians kept either a: moving them, or b: bashing the stands at the quiet moments!

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Thanks for the replies:


I've hung the pro 45's just behind the front tab (about 1/3 back), probably 10' high.

They are pretty well invisible and I'll see if the GbF is reduced much at tonight's rehearsal.


Looks like I'm going to be riding faders rather more than of late :P


Always willing to learn, that's me



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... every open mic reduces your gain before feed back by about 3Db IIRC


Every doubling of the number of open mics reduces the gain-before-feedback by half, which is -3.010dB.


The formula for calculating the effect of open mics is:


10 x Log (old NOM / new NOM) where NOM is number of open mics.


Whenever new NOM = twice old NOM the sum becomes 10log(1/2), which is equal to 10 x -.3010 = -3.010


There's an analogy with electrical resistors in parallel: every time you double the number of resistors of the same value in parallel you halve the total resistance.

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Oh dear.


The ONLY way to improve the level of audible content from the common unwashed (ie chorus or small principals not important enough to warrant a radio!) is simple....

And it's been said MANY times before on the BR.


Right at the start of rehearsals GET THE B***ERS TO PROJECT PROPERLY!


Obviously too late for you now if they've not ben given this simple yet effective though most often ignored (in am-dram) solution, but them's the apples, I'm afraid.


If they don't project, then NO amount of micing is EVER going to do any darned good.



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  • 1 month later...

To ressurect an old thread rather than starting a new one. I've just packed up from a scout and guide gangshow. Nightmare as far as pickup goes. Lots of little voices, quite a few of whom don't want to be there.


I tried my setup from "thursdays child" as listed above, but with a few tweaks. I dispensed with the shotguns mainly due to the very high ceiling and lack of any ladders, though could probably have done with them for a couple of seated monologues. The SE1a's were the lifesavers of the job, on short stands on the stage lip. I then hung 2 of my cpc hanging mics upstage.


I decided afterwards that I need some "proper" hanging mics. The question is, what to go for? Will I see a marked improvement over my 30 quid hanging mics if I go for a £70 Audie Technica "pro45"? I am initially looking at a pair. What about the Samson cm12c? I could afford 3 of them for the same money, but would quantity prevail over quality? Or am I just paying for a name with the Audio Technica's?


How did the OP go on with his Pro45's? Would be nice to hear what happened and close the circle in this thread.


I will also in this buying spree, be getting another pair of small diaphragm condensers and am looking at Beyer MCE530's. That gives me 4 float mics for the stage lip which should be more than enough for the size of stages I work on. Would people say the MCE530's are comparable to the SE1a's? They are a little cheaper but on paper look about the same remembering I am not looking for a matched pair (the individual prices of each mic are far more camparable than the matched pair prices, for which the SE's jump up dramatically).


And, as the title of the thred is about boundary mics. People have said they've had success with them, but which ones do people favour and which wouldn't they touch? There are small ones like the AKG C400 and larger ones like the Sennheiser E901. Do the smaller ones cut the mustard against their bigger brothers?




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How did the OP go on with his Pro45's? Would be nice to hear what happened and close the circle in this thread.



Hi Chris,


I reported back in a new thread after the show ended its run & the gist was that the pro45s worked very well, although I couldn't get the same GBF from them as from the Boundaries:


It was difficult to run any really objective checks, as I was using a small mixer with only 4 mic inputs & therefor relying on a line-level feed from the "Musical Director"s mixer for the 45s (and he was Bu&&ering about with the feed, trying to prove his point) <_< .


I've since bought a Spirit Live4/2 which gives me 16 mic inputs & more output options than I can shake a stick at, so No More being Bu&&ered about :P :


I came accross Red5 Audio, who have a Very similar small hung condenser mic. the RV85: The frequency graph for the 2 mics. is almost identical & Red5 confirmed they are intended for choir overhead along with many other uses, so I bought 2 for 60.00.


I haven't been able to try them on stage yet, but they do a very pleasant job of close-micing various accoustic instuments (Fiddle is another thing they are intended for). Red5 are very approachable & seem knowledgable - may be worth a 'phone call.


I used Pro Signal MP 33682 boundary mics, from CPC & must admit I bought them because they were on offer at a ridiculous price, but I'm sold on them for reinforcement: A bit light perhaps in the solo songs ( I used bass cut to reduce stomping) but clear as a bell at the back of the hall - "Best sound for years, heard every word" B-) .


As an aside, the 33682s are battery powered & I kept forgetting to switch them on, so I bought some MP 33713s just for the phantom power adaptors included in the box, for less than a fiver each!


Hope this drivel is of some help



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Brilliant, thanks for that.


The big question is, am I going to notice a difference in stepping up from my existing mics? I already have a set of 6 (for exactly the same reason as the OP - the ridiculous price from cpc). Clearly I don't want to go buying another pair if I'm not going to see a marked difference.


I might just go for the extra pair of condensers for float mics and see how I go, they don't look pretty but do a very good job.



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