micing a session

micing a session

Myself (guitar) and 5 others (flute, whistles,violin, harmonica and bodhran) will be playing in a semi performance/session in pub soon and want to amplify it a little just so as we can be heard above talking. Apart from micing each individual instrument (which we dont have enough inputs on amp and also too overkill) is there a uni-directional mic that can be used say placed in central position so as to pick up the general sound of the 6 instruments so as to be amplified.

Re: micing a session

There are plenty of good omnidirectional (not unidirectional) condenser mics that would serve your purpose, and they’ve come down greatly in price. Rode makes some good ones at quite reasonable prices, and there are plenty of others now that I haven’t used, all of which are probably worth looking at.
Condensers are relatively fragile - if you think there’s a likelihood of a drunken musician - or bodhran player - trying to get up to go to the can and knocking everything in the room over, this is not for you.

Also, consider that the most likely effect of turning up your volume is a matching increase in audience volume. They’re not there to listen to you, they’re there to hang out with their friends. If they’re talking over you, it’s not because they can’t hear you well enough, it’s the opposite.

Re: micing a session

I was going to offer my two cats to help out with your mouse
problem, but I see I misread the situation :-)

Re: micing a session

I have to agree with Jon, a condenser mic would be your best choice. If you have a interface, you can plug your mic into that,the interface into a lap top and use freeware like audacity to record with. Theres also plenty of stand alone recorders to choose from.

Mic placement in a situation like yours will be trial and error.
Post some audio for us if you do it.

Re: micing a session

They’ll just talk louder unless you are properly mixed. I haven’t seen the group condenser mic thing work in a noisy bar. Sounds like some on here have though, so maybe I’ve just had bad experiences.

Re: micing a session

AMPLIFY, Barry, not record!

The "central position", for efficiency and protection for the mic, may be suspended overhead, if that is practicable.

Re: micing a session

As an ex-publican, I have to agree with SandyBottoms. If you mic up, the customers will just talk louder. There is no way you can make them shut up and listen. Actually if you play more quietly, they might look to see what happened to the noise. But only for a little while. If you want to relay the sound to a distant corner of the room, the customers over there will just get annoyed because they can’t see what’s going on and they can’t have a quiet chat. If it’s possible to have a quiet chat in any pub these days. Good luck, anyway.

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Re: micing a session

Have to agree with others that the only ‘good’ solution is to mic each instrument individually and feed a desk.

But assuming you will be playing on a stage, or at least separated a bit from the punters, a solution I used once with some success is to use not a microphone, but a Zoom H2 digital recorder. The Zoom has a choice of 90 or 120 degree sensitivity, and a stereo line output which you can feed to the amp. By placing the Zoom at the front of the stage, between the band and audience, it will pick up the sound balanced pretty much as it would be if it was just acoustic, and still rejects most of the punter noise.

If you will be playing in a session style circle, with punters all about, you could probably put the Zoom in the centre of the circle, in ‘surround sound’ mode. But I’ve never tried that.

The Zoom doesn’t cost a lot more than a pair of decent mics, and has the advantage that it will also give you a CD quality recording of what you do.

Re: micing a session

One way some old timey musician friends mic themselves, without a monitor, and with just a gentle nudge up possible, or more, is with a ‘figure of 8 polar pattern’, bi-directional, mic in thier midst. I belive it’s an Audio Technica AT2050… I haven’t tried it myself, lacking such a mic, but I like the idea…

Omni ~ all over the place

Do not use "omnidirectional" mics for live sound amplification. They are only good for recording, and then, as some have warned, they are omni ~ they pick up everything. If used for live sound amplification it would result in agonizing feedback and the potential of blown speakers…

Re: micing a session

Only if the speakers are close to the mike. If what is wanted is the sound relayed to far corners of the bar, then an omnidirectional might do it. Just don’t crank it up high……

Re: micing a session

PS Was originally going to offer a cat too.

Re: micing a session

"Do not use "omnidirectional" mics for live sound amplification…. they pick up everything."

…including the very background noise above which you’re trying to make yourselves audible.

Re: micing a session

What CMO said.
I don’t think it can be done with one mic, your best bet is to mic individually. In a noisy bar, you’ll still be in a battle with the crowd, because they can fairly easily talk over you, and then you will have to boost even more. Not a very pleasant playing experience for you.
A better idea would be to quietly set yourselves up some speakers so you can hear yourselves. You’ll be able to hear, anyone else who actually wants to hear you can stand or sit close to you and everyone else who just wants to talk can talk away blissfully oblivious to what’s going on in your corner.

Re: micing a session

Individual mics sound like they’re out of the question from the original post, but even if plausible, they add a lot of complications, both technical and ergonomical, not to mention social.
Technical: who gets the job of minding the balance? Who gets to pull out all of the gear and put it away again? Do you store the gear at the bar? If not, who has to haul it to the bar and back home again? None of that is worth doing unless you’re getting paid - not after you’ve done it enough to know how it’s done, anyway.
Ergonomical: wires, stands, table, pints. Extra instruments, occasional standing up to get another pint or get rid of one of the old ones, or to go out for a breath of fresh air - the usual contortions of getting up from a crowded table just got a lot more contorted. Is it worth it?
Not for a session, in my book. Now if you’re getting paid, then you have to make another sort of decision, but then you’re talking about a gig.

Getting into the specifics of omni vs. cardioid vs. moebius vs what-not - it depends on the configuration of players and how much you care about getting them all in the mix. If the bar is loud, you want to be in a circle so you can hear everyone, and the only way to get all of those people into the mix is something that adds up to omni-directional. If you don’t care so much, cardioid might reduce feedback - but if the band’s in a corner, don’t point the mic into the corner, or you’ll get some fun low-end ugliness. Point the business end at a flat surface, and hope for the best.

Re: micing a session

The "gig" vs "session" dichotomy is awfully tired. I’ve been to plenty of great sessions that were also "gigs" (I’m going to one tonight, in fact). But to answer the question:

If you just want to improve the presence, and be audible at the other end of the bar, I’ve seen the single hanging overhead condenser (like an AT-ES933C) mic work really nicely in at least 6 different establishments, but the requirements are:

1) the musicians need to be sitting in a corner (or even better, in a three-walled cubby), preferably with a not-too-high ceiling so they can hear each other without needing any supplemental volume from the sound system.

2) the volume can’t be turned up very high at all, certainly not higher than a loud conversation (It’s still quite audible in a noisy room, but not an overriding presence). This is probably for the better, since people will want to hear themselves talk, and will otherwise raise their volume accordingly.

3) the speakers need to be far enough away from the mic so as not to feed back.

This is the setup used at McGann’s in Doolin, the Druid in Cambridge (MA), and the new Littlest Bar in Boston; they all work just fine. The overhead mic isn’t intrusive—it’s very easy to forget it’s there—and the mix is really a non-issue since it’s not really a huge presence to the musicians. Loud patrons will still be annoying, but not as annoying as a table full of mic stands.

If you need it louder, then you’ll need the full setup: individual mics/pickups, a mixing board, monitors, cables galore, etc. You should also expect a volume war with the clientèle. Yuck.

Re: micing a session

Thanks for info/comments folks. Just to say that the lounge isnt that noisy. A group of about 50 of us from church are having a social gathering in the back section of lounge and the trad group will be in corner in a semi circle and i just want to be able to mic the group so tat people at far end of room will be able to hear us. I like the idea of using the Zoom recorder. A friend of mine recorded us practicing a few weeks ago with a Zoom H4 stereo recorder and the sound came out really well, i was impressed. I also like the idea of the suspended mic.