Microphone Sleight of Hand

This will be brief since I’m in the final stages of prepping for a weekend full of Christmas services. With all the rehearsals and set building going on, I’ve not had as much time to write this week. The other night I came up with something that I think is kind of clever, and I thought I’d share it with you.

Our theme for Christmas this year is “Simply Christmas.” For our stage look, we’re going for sort of an “inside the barn, rustic, down-home, simple with a touch of retro-country” kind of thing. Maybe it would be easier to show you…

It’s a bit hard to see from the iPhone shot, but hopefully you get the idea. During our program, we are going to have a handful of readers tell the Christmas story. They will come to a podium that looks pretty rustic and a bit retro. All the bulbs hanging int he air are old-fashioned style bulbs, with huge filaments and cool orange colors. 

As I was thinking of how to mic the readers, I ran through a variety of options. At first I was going to mount a C414 on the podium as I knew it would sound great and pick up well. However, the shock mount is pretty ungainly, and the mic looks very modern. 

Then I remembered I have a few Shure 55SH’s lying around from a Christmas program a few years ago. The look is right on the money; very retro, big and shiny. However, those are close-proximity mics; standing back a few feet from them just doesn’t sound right (not to mention the gain before feedback issues I’d have). 

After having an think on this for a while, it occurred to me that I could use the 55SH as a prop. A carefully gaff taped DPA 4098 would be invisible to the audience, yet would pick up the readers perfectly. Gain before feedback would be well within acceptable limits, and the sound would be fantastic. Here is what that looks like.

The 4098 is on the upstage side of the 55SH, so it will be pretty much invisible to the audience. Since the cable of the 4098 is so small, it was easy to conceal. Because the boom of the mic is so flexible, I simply bent it match the shape of the 55SH and gaffed it in place. 

Now, I could have taken the 55 apart and mounted the 4098 inside somehow, but I’m short on time and help this week, so this will have to do. And it’s much easier to un-do as well. 

What are some of your last-minute tricks that you’ve pulled off for your Christmas production?

Today's post is brought to you buy Heil Sound. Established in 1966, Heil Sound Ltd. has developed many professional audio innovations over the years, and is currently a world leader in the design and manufacture of large diaphragm dynamic, professional grade microphones for live sound, broadcast and recording.