OT: mic'ing the pit

What are good mic's to use for  the mallet instruments.  I tried sm57's but I didnt get a good sound. Any suggestions? Thanks

-darryl jones
Hmmm...I wonder how WGI would feel about a generator running in an arena?
I don't think you can use anything that needs gas.
Everyone has great suggestions!  As far as eliminating the ";thump"; sound, as a result of placing the mic on the underneath crossbar, I tried wrapping the mic in a layer or 2 of thin foam or cloth.  This really seemed absorb the sound before it went through the mic.  It gave us a much cleaner sound.

Does anyone have any tips for indoor/winter percussion mic'ing?  What would you do different inside as compared to outside?
What sort of wind screens are you guys using?  I am suddenly getting quite a bit of wind noise in the mics as the ";cold winds of the fall"; start to blow...
What kind of mics do you have?  You can pick up a pack of like 3-5 generic windscreens from Guitar Center for pretty cheap.  They fit well, and if they are loose a rubber band will hold them in place.  Looks a lot better than a tube sock over the mic.

When I joined up with the Cadets this past summer to work out some of their sound issues, I went out and got some immediately and it solved 95% of the wind issues. 
[quote author=chrisrivera link=topic=1307.msg6194#msg6194 date=1160420272]
Does anyone have any tips for indoor/winter percussion mic'ing?�� What would you do different inside as compared to outside?

Basically nothing.  Use the same mics and gear.

Obviously you will have to reset your levels appropriately for indoor.  I'd EQ off some more of the low end from the marimbas and any synths, and also the bass guitar if you have one running through the sound system.  Frequencies under 80hz tend to build up more indoors, and can give you some muddiness.
[quote author=tylerdurden link=topic=1307.msg6203#msg6203 date=1160458552]
What kind of mics do you have?�� You can pick up a pack of like 3-5 generic windscreens from Guitar Center for pretty cheap.�� They fit well, and if they are loose a rubber band will hold them in place.�� Looks a lot better than a tube sock over the mic.

I am using Shure Beta 98H/C's for the keyboards.  Two for marimbas - one for the lower end and one for the upper end & one for vibes - positioned directly in the middle of the board.  I have wind screens from Radio Shack (typical wind screens) ";zip tied"; on the mic.  It seems like the mic on the upper end of the marimba is giving me the most ";wind noise";.  Any ideas?

Thanks in advance for your time!

[quote author=Dave Ratliff link=topic=1307.msg6207#msg6207 date=1160497192]
I am using Shure Beta 98H/C's for the keyboards.  Two for marimbas - one for the lower end and one for the upper end & one for vibes - positioned directly in the middle of the board.  I have wind screens from Radio Shack (typical wind screens) ";zip tied"; on the mic.  It seems like the mic on the upper end of the marimba is giving me the most ";wind noise";.  Any ideas?

Thanks in advance for your time!

I agree with Justin's recommendation for rolling off some of the low end to reduce wind noise a bit (may also be able to help frame noise 'thud' for those who've had problems with that). Especially if you're having more problems with the mic's on the high end of the marimba, you may have a little more room to play here. We had a ";windy"; scene set in the Cavalier mixer that had some of the lows EQ'ed out a little. I'm not quite sure which frequencies he focused on, but it did make a difference. Didn't remove it completely, but it helped a good bit.
Thanks Jim.  I'll check with the setting tomorrow.
Dang Tyler...that pretty much shut this thread down... LOL! Great info...thanks
I agree that Justin gave pretty much the ";Cliff Notes"; for field micing but I am anxiously awaiting his report on speaker and board choices (as he mentioned in the last sentence of his post)...

Thanks Justin!!!  I have already put many of the things you mentioned in this post to VERY good and NOTICEABLE use!

You ROCK!!!
I consolidated and reorganized my posts, they are a little easier to read now (with some new info).�� It is organized from the mic all the way down to the last step of the speakers.  I'll keep editing this as I think of things..

[b][center]-MIC CHOICES-[/center][/b]

There are 3 general types of mics; Ribbon, Condenser, and Dynamic.�� We generally use Dynamic and Condenser the most for live sound purposes.�� Dynamic mics are generally less expensive and less sensitive than condensers; however condensers offer a warmer and more accurate sound.�� I prefer to use condensers, but if your budget does not allow for that a dynamic can be used just fine.��

The stock and trusted dynamic mic choice is usually a Shure SM57 or SM58.�� There is basically no difference between those mics except the 58 has a larger windscreen on it.

As for condensers, I really enjoy the AKG Perception series.�� They are inexpensive, and are fairly durable.
[center]-MIC PLACEMENT-[/center][/b]

Assuming that everything equipment/signal flow wise is set up correctly, start with mic placement.

For the marimbas I like to use 2 mics, preferably large diaphragm condensers.�� It would be wise to spring the extra cash out for shock mounts, especially if you are attaching the mics to the frames.�� In addition to the shock mount, wrapping whatever you attach the mics to the board with in foam will reduce a lot of the frame noise.�� Also, windscreens are a must for the field.�� They are a very cheap investment, and will save you some headaches.

When placing the mics on the marimbas, place the low end mic first.�� You'll want to get it roughly 6 inches to a foot or so up from the bottom of the frame, about a third of the way up the length of the board from your lowest bar.�� Do the same for the upper octave mic.�� See diagram for the general idea (heh, please excuse my lack of graphic design skills....).�� Play around with mic placement a lot.�� Each mic is different, and they will react differently when moved even an inch or so.


As for the vibes, usually only one mic is needed, placed around the center of the board.


Make good cable choices.�� You will need XLR cables to attach the mic to the preamp.�� You don't need to go out and buy the $100 50 foot cables, but don't get the cheapest you can find either.�� Cables are what carry the sound and the lower the quality the more chance the cable will induce noise and lose signal clarity.�� Also, try and keep all of your cables to the same type.�� Running one kind of cable to the left monitor and a different one to the right can get you an unbalanced sound.�� In addition to cable choice, proper storage is important.�� The shielding around the cables can break if they are folded up or wrapped incorrectly, and this will ruin the cable.�� I've seen it happen to cables that were less than a month or so old.�� Stress to your students that if they want to sound good and not have a wonderful feedback sound in their show, they had better take good care of the equipment.

I suggest wrapping the cables up like this-

Hold the cable in your left have about 5 inches from the connector.�� Take your right hand, and grab about a foot section and bring it up to your left hand.�� This will form a circle.�� Turn your right hand over, and grab another section and bring it up.�� This keeps the cable in alternating directions so the wiring has a chance to stay loose.


Unfortunately with pro audio equipment cheap usually means, well, cheap.�� I highly discourage buying Behringer products, despite the low prices.�� When buying a sound system, it really does matter with how much you spend.�� It might be a slightly expensive purchase at the time, but the right gear will need very minimal upkeep and will last for years.�� Behringer mixers have the nasty tendency to blow out, and it costs more to fix it than to just go and buy a new board.�� Plus, the quality of the preamps, EQs, and other effects on the board are very low.�� Remember that a piece of gear with a lot of stuff on it for cheap usually means quality was sacrificed in many areas.

That being said, I highly recommend Mackie and Yamaha products.�� The Mackie VLZ Pro series of mixers are durable, sturdy, and usually have very few and rare issues.�� They have been used for years as touring boards for live bands, and they can take a very heavy beating.�� Allan and Heath also have some good choices, but price wise for how many inputs you will need are about the same as the Mackie's.�� First off, look at how many mics you want to use.�� The Mackie 1604 VLZ-Pro has 16 mic preamps, which is usually more than enough for a standard setup.�� If you have 3 marimbas with 2 mics each, and 3 vibes with one mic, that�۪s only 9 inputs used for the board.�� You still have a good number of ins left for extra percussion mics, synths, bass guitar splits, and guitar splits.�� The preamps on the board are fairly transparent, and have a very low noise floor.�� The EQ's are also fairly transparent and actually sound quite good.�� The board also has aux main outs, so you have some choices on how many mixes you want to send out and where.

If you want to spring the money for a digital board, I would go with the Yamaha O1V.�� The plus for having a digital board is that everything is recallable, in case something gets changed on the board.�� Also, you have a lot more options regarding EQ, compression, gates, reverb, and so on.�� They take a bit longer to get the grasp of, and are a little over twice the cost of an analog board with the same amount of ins and outs.

[b][center]-PREAMPS AND LEVEL SETTING-[/center][/b]

Once you get the mics placed where you want them to, and the cables plugged into whatever you use for a preamp.�� A preamp is used to convert the weak mic level signal carried up the cable to the preamp to line level, an impedance level that pro audio gear can understand and carry.�� In most cases I would suggest buying a mixer with built in preamps, it saves the hassle of having to drag around external preamps.�� Once you get everything plugged in, start setting levels.�� Don't touch any EQ's or other processing yet.�� Get the balance you want first, then remove or add frequencies.�� When setting preamp levels, turn the gain up on the preamp until it starts to overload, then back it down a few clicks.�� This gets the maximum response out of the preamp, and gives you more headroom down at the faders.�� Try and set the balance with the faders musically.�� Setting them all at unity will do you no good.�� Play around with them while someone sits near the top of the stands referencing them for balance.�� Don't try and set levels in front of the speakers, because it will be ";too loud"; feeling down there.�� Always reference from the audience's level.

Remember when setting preamp and fader levels, you don't need to get too loud.�� A good rule of thumb is to never exceed the volume of the pit un-mic'd.�� The amplification should support the natural sound of the pit, not a substitute for it.


When it comes to panning, I would keep the auditory image the same as the visual image of the pit.�� If one marimba is on the left, keep it on the left when you pan.�� Also remember that panning will change how you perceive levels.�� Once something is moved out of center, it can make your sound for the better or worse.�� If something sounds worse, it is most likely a balance issue.


Unless you have some training in pro audio, usually most people have no concept of what 1 kHz really means.�� The human ear can hear frequencies from about 20 Hz to 20 kHz.�� This is broken down into 10 Octaves, since frequency is related to pitch.�� Pitch is what we perceive intervals as in a non linear fashion.�� Frequency follows the linear model.�� A 440 is a standard tuning note, A being the pitch and 440 Hz being the frequency.�� An octave above A 440 would be 880 Hz, and another octave would be 1760 Hz (or 1.7 K).�� You can see that the interval between 440 Hz and 880 Hz is much smaller than the interval between 880 Hz and 1760 Hz.�� That is why we perceive pitch in a non linear fashion.

I�۪ll break down the octaves in the 10 steps-

Octave 1: 20-40 Hz
-Very Bottom
-Fundamental range for very low instruments, like a kick drum
-Little musical content
-Not reproduced by many speakers

Octave 2: 40-80 Hz
-Lower Bass
-Low C, which is 65 Hz
-Sonic Foundation of the Ensemble
-Primary Bass range
-Reproduced by most speakers

Octave 3: 80-160 Hz
-Upper Bass
-Fundamental of Bass Guitar
-Musical Foundation

Octave 4: 160-320 Hz
-Middle C 250 Hz
-Transition between bass and middle range
-Muddy area
-Primary foundational pitch range
-Area that crossovers usually operate down from

Octave 5: 320-640 Hz
-Low mids
-The body and richness of the ensemble
-Treble of pitches

Octave 6: 640-1040 Hz (1K)
-High C 1040 Hz
-Mid Range
-Central area for most instruments

Octave 7: 1280-2560 Hz (1.2-2.5 K)
-Upper mids
-Large area for most instruments
-Definition of instruments

Octave 8: 2560-5120 Hz (2.5-5.1 K)
-Transition to high frequencies
-Edgy area
-Upper end spectrum

Octave 9: 5120-10240 Hz (5.1-10 K)
-Metallic, Sibilance
-Cymbals, very high end of instruments, metallic ring from vibes

Octave 10: 10240-20480 Hz (10-20K)
-Extreme High
-Air, Hiss, Sizzle
-No Musical content
-Edgy sound

Now that we kind of have an understanding of what the bands really mean, we can apply them to our instruments.

Now with EQ settings, a good rule of thumb is to subtract first, add last.�� You can't add frequencies to something when those frequencies are not present in the original sound source.�� Also, a little bit goes a LONG way.�� Cranking up 2k 8dB is a big change, and most likely for the worse.

With the marimbas for a field setting, you want the board to be able to sing and be even for all frequencies present.�� A good place to start is to remove around 2dB at about 60-70 Hz.�� This gets some of the low end buzzing and wind noise out.�� The first place to add is at about 250 Hz.�� This gives the marimba a bit more ";body"; in the mid low registers.�� I would also remove a bit in the 750 Hz-2k range.�� Those ranges are where most of the instruments sit, and where the most frequency buildup can happen.�� The last change would be to about 16k if your EQ goes that high.�� This adds a bit of ";air";.
For the vibes, do roughly the same thing, except really take out a bit more at 2k.

For the indoor season, shave off even more of the low end (60 Hz and under).�� As I said before, these frequencies tend to build up inside gyms.

[b][center]-OTHER GEAR-[/center][/b]

It also wouldn't hurt to pick up a noise suppresser.�� They filter out certain frequencies that feedback occurs at.�� They are usually very transparent, and will totally kill most feedback.�� You can find these at any pro audio outlet.�� They come directly after the mixer, so you would take the mixers outs that go to the speakers and connect it to this box.�� From this box go to the driver or speakers.

Depending on your mixer�۪s output and what kind of speakers you have, you might have to get another amp to drive your levels up to speaker level.�� Read your product�۪s manuals.

Power conditioners are a must if you are using a lot of power.  They basically regulate the voltage from the outlet or generator so your gear gets consistant power.  Fuhrman makes some great products for fairly cheap.

As for speakers, I prefer Yamaha.�� Yamaha offers a wide range of active (powered) and passive (unpowered) live sound monitors.�� I suggest going to a pro audio outlet and taking a listen to a few models in your price range.�� Remember that you don't need to get anything that will blow the windows out of your house.�� Speakers sound the best when they are pushed to right under their max, so get something that is smaller for a gym or field.�� Again, remember that you DON'T have to crank the pit way up.�� Balance it with the natural sound of the pit.

It might also be a good choice to pick up a subwoofer.�� You can get a good one for around $400, and it will clean up the sound coming out of your main speakers.�� Most live sound speakers are not designed to have a lot of low frequencies running through them, because most manufacturers assume you will be using a sub as it is.�� All you need to do is pick up a crossover box and send that out to the sub.�� The crossover box filters out all the frequencies under a certain level (usually like 200 Hz or so and under) and sends those to the subs instead of the mains.�� Very helpful for splitting off low synth notes and bass guitar, and also will add a little clear ambience for the low end.


Keep in mind that you should look ahead for your purchase.�� Good gear that is well taken care of will last for a very long time, and might be a one time purchase for your group.�� Remember that the more cuts in quality for a cheaper price just might mean more headaches down the road when things break.�� Always air on the side of good measure, having an extra mic and extra cables lying around is a smart thing to do.�� Cables especially have the tendency to blow out at bad times.

Good luck with your amplification endeavors, and if you need help on choosing gear or any extra questions, feel free to PM me.

Justin - this is really outstanding. Thanks for taking the time to offer such a detailed and informative post for the forum!!
Amen - that's approaching definitive...

One thing that I don't believe was correlated -- wind noise tends to be in the very low frequencies, but more importantly, pit instruments are some very defined boogers.  If you take a look at a pit recording, particularly just a couple of keyboards, examine a waveform in a spectral view and you'll find what looks like a piano roll.  Keyboard notes are VERY frequency isolated.  In fact, during the 2000 BD show, I used to use the ";Frank is an american badass"; part to use Audition to simply highlight the guys voice, and drop it 24db.  He became passing noise.  The reason you can do it is because the keyboard notes stick out like stars at night.

The point is that if you are running into wind, make sure you're eq'ing the notes themselves.  EQ isn't simply a v shaped thingy on your boombox.  It's a sort of ";volume control"; for a frequency space.  Thus, when you look at that vibe that's A440, you're literally at 440Hz.  If you do nothing but raise that area of the eq, the mic'd vibe gets louder.  There are so few overtones, and such a fundamental sound, especially on a metallic, that raising the ";lows"; to add bass is just pointless.  So if you reduce those bass frequencies that are prevalent in wind, you can cut out quite a bit without losing the fundamental tones.

Know thy octave when EQ'ing.  Rock on Tyler.
You know guys, I have learned more from reading the last two posts that I have from the last combined two or three months of trying to figure out this stuff myself.  Thanks so much for offering this OUTSTANDING reference/resource.

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