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Are there any people reading this with sound technician skills? Advice needed please..

Discussion in 'Music' started by letoile, Apr 28, 2011.

  1. Hello, thanks for reading.
    I work in a large 3 form entry primary school. We have 3 halls which I use for rehearsals and concerts, but only 1 of them is large enough for our main, larger-scale performances / assemblies / shows / concerts. Unfortuantely, the large hall was built with P.E and school dinners in mind and as such has been built /lined with materials which deaden sound. Therefore, when I rehearse a large group of children singing in the smaller halls (traditional, old, echoey school halls), they sound fabulous.... but then I put them up on the stage in the big hall and it's all horribly disappointing with a very flat, dead sound. It's such a shame!
    We have a PA system with 4 not very good mics (often unbalanced with each other - but we can make do with them for soloists) and we have a couple of floor stage mics too which don't seem to make a whole lot of difference. I need something that is going to lift and amplify the general sound on the stage of up to 180 children singing / playing!
    What are my options and where can I go to find out more information about this? I don't think we can have permanent hanging mics, as they will be knocked by the balls in P.E lessons! (The stage isn't a built in stage - it's one made of those platforms all locked together). I realise and accept that any option (if I have any!) is going to cost a fair bit of money.
    I'm hoping somebody can point me in the right direction...
    Many thanks!

  2. The easiest and cheapest thing to do would be to setup two cardoid condenser microphones (Rode NT5, Oktava MK012 £240 for a matched pair) in ORFT on a pole, nine feet back from the choir and nine feet up in the air. To add to this you could add omnidirectional condensers spaced wide to the sides,
    You could also add reverb on the PA if it has it, or add a outboard effects unit to the PA if it hasn't.

  3. In essence you are seeking to give your sound a little 'umph' as the hall flattens your sound out. The previous poster's suggestions are about right; if you understand that what you are seeking to do is to modify the sound going through your system by adding a few bells and whistles ie a little reverb to give some sort of spacial enhancement and perhaps a bit of chorus to fatten your sound out. I have used PZM mics by Radio Shack in the past and they are cheap and surprisingly good. They are know as plate mics too and you can literally blue tack them to a wall or post. Crown make one now I think.
  4. I have been organising and engineering school sound, and live recording for 30 years, including choirs and orchestras, so can sympathise with your situation.
    The first thing to be aware of is that the techniques and equipment used for recording performances are often inappropriate [ie: don't work] for amplifying performances. The use of a matched stereo pair of microphones, as suggested by
    superlocrian, provides a simple and effective method for recording.
    However, in my experience, if you just try running these mics through the PA system and add a bit of reverb, you're quite likely to get feedback - especially if you need to turn the volume up where your performers are not very loud.
    You say that the big hall is pretty 'dead' in terms of live sound. This is usually an advantage for amplified sound since it tends to reduce the problems of feedback, and will allow you to turn up the volume a bit more than if it were a live reverberant space.
    Secondly, microphones designed for hand held use need to be used close up to the performer's mouth. Such mics are generally robust and not unduly expensive - excellent properties for any piece of kit that's being used by kids...... But, they are not a lot of use when put on stands 2 or 3 feet away from choirs or smaller groups.
    So you will need a different type of mic for this more distant work - and they tend to be less forgiving of abuse, and cost rather more. The 'boundary' or 'plate mics' mentioned in another post are, in my opinion, more trouble than they are worth except, possibly, for some specialist applications.
    But this is the nature of live sound - there are rarely any simple, all purpose, foolproof, agreed-by-everyone solutions to questions such as yours. It follows, therefore, that any suggestions made on this website will be largely guesswork and may well be wholly unsuited to your specific location. And waste your money.
    You might be better to contact a local PA hire company and ask them to provide the sound for your next concert and at the same time pick their brains and get a list of the kit they use and note how they set it up.
    Assuming their equipment does the job OK, and armed with your list, contact one of the larger musical equipment retailers such as Gear 4 Music or Thomann [or a local one, perhaps] and ask them to suggest [cheaper] alternatives/substitutes. Hopefully, you will then have some suitable equipment and an idea of where to start in terms of setting it up for best effect.
    Finally, you may want to consider asking around local choirs and orchestras and see if any of them know of, or use amateur recordists to do their concerts. Such people do exist and will often be able to offer advice or hands-on help to schools in terms of setting up/using their equipment. This clearly raises issues about CRB checks and the like, but having your own sound engineer may well be worth it.....
    Good Luck.
  5. I just wanted to say thank you to everybody who replied. I really appreciate it and will look into all your suggestions and advice!

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