Last time, we talked about some of the things you’ll run into for the big Good Friday/Easter weekend; specifically, vocal and instrument mic’s. And that’s all good, but what happens when you have more things to mic than you have mic’s?
What To Do When You Run Out Of Mic’s?
Easter is a great time to rent mic’s. It’s hard to justify the purchase of a big mic locker if you only use some of the specialty mic’s once or twice a year. Microphones are one of the cheapest pieces of audio gear to rent, and most large cities have a couple of production houses that have a good selection. Don’t be afraid to go outside your city if you need to, either. Mic’s aren’t heavy or expensive to ship, so you can get them from almost anywhere.
If you are unsure what mic to use for a particular purpose, ask your rental house, or contact an engineer at a nearby church known for good sound. Keep in mind that everyone has opinions on the best mic for a given purpose, and you may have to compromise based on budget and availability.
The Wireless Option
Often, people will want to try to put everything on a wireless mic for big productions. I generally advise against this, for several reasons. First, wireless is hard. You have to frequency coordinate everything, deal with batteries and hope your antenna distribution system is up for the task. Second, they simply don’t sound as good as a wired mic. Instruments and sources that don’t move, have no real reason to be wireless.
For big events, we often switch our worship leaders from the usual wireless mic’s we use for services to wired just to give us a little more security—and to accommodate the additional vocalists we always end up with. The rule of thumb should be, if you can wire it, do.
Mic’s Can Make The Difference
It’s really amazing how much difference the right mic can make, even if the sound system is less than ideal. On the other hand, if the sound system is good, a poor mic choice will produce harsh and brash results or make it sound like there is a blanket over the speakers. I’ve watched many a production and thought, “Oh that voice would sound so much better on a different mic.”
And it is important to note that we’re not talking about “good” mic’s and “bad” mic’s here; we’re talking about the right mic for a particular source. I’ve personally replaced $2,000 worth of mic’s with ones that cost less than $400 on our Leslie cabinet and the resultant sound improvement was dramatic. It’s not that the expensive mic’s are bad; they were simply not the best choice for that instrument. The cost of the mic is a surprisingly unhelpful indicator of whether or not it will be suitable for a source.
It’s almost always going to come down to experimentation and a willingness to try something that doesn’t seem like it would work. My current favorite snare mic is marketed as a tom mic; but I love it on the snare. We tried it based on the recommendation from a friend who though, “I wonder what this would sound like here?”
Preparation is Key
Of course, Easter Sunday morning is not the time to be trying out new mic’s or looking to rent them. You must start working on this now. By the time you read this, we’ll be less than two months from Easter. There is no better time to start figuring out what you will have to put mic’s on, and which mic’s to use. And remember, this is the fun part of our job!