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Mic stands - why so tall?
Old 29th September 2019
  #1
Lives for gear
Mic stands - why so tall?

I had a look around on the forums and couldn't really find an answer to this. Why does everyone seem to be using very tall (>2.5m) mic stands?

Nobody has ears that high up, so I don't think it's a representative capture of what would be heard if you were actually there listening to the piece in that venue.

I'd appreciate some insight into the matter - I really don't understand the reasoning behind it at the moment, and yet everyone here seems to think it's a good idea.

TIA,
Chris
Old 29th September 2019
  #2
Lives for gear
 

Mics signals are not ear signals. They are loudspeaker signals. The best sounds often come out of instruments upwards and the best ensemble balance is up there too.
Old 29th September 2019
  #3
Gear Maniac
 
Stradivariusz's Avatar
Mainly back to front balance I guess, since mics are much closer placed than any of the listeners to get similar sound representation.
If you don't go high enough front of the group will sound much louder and with much more high frequencies than the back of the ensemble.
Another thing which you can control with it is amount of the floor reflections you catch with the mics. Lower will get more of them.
Old 29th September 2019
  #4
Lives for gear
 

IMO, the primary reason is that mic stands are designed to accommodate stand up performance. The relationship between "average audience ear height" and an optimal height for mic capture is a ridiculous notion because they are both moving targets. Atlas offers short stands for sit-down performers: buy what you need and quit bitchin!
Hugh
Old 29th September 2019
  #5
Lives for gear
 

what has been said - i'd like to add that there are plenty of situations in which mic stands need to go up much higher/need to be larger than what you mentioned!

(when recording an organ in a church with a marble floor, to get mics out of the way for a camera shot, to get mics to pick up sound from the balcony or the stage if you cannot put stands up there, to get mics into/over the ensemble/orchestra/choir with a dense seating, using large stands from behind, to put mics at critical distance without going far back, to avoid some reflections from the floor and/or walls etc.)

i'm with the op though regarding some scepticism about exaggerated height of main mics: going high up can rend the sound into something which i consider to be 'anemic' (an yet this sound gets favoured by many engineers)...
Old 29th September 2019
  #6
Engineers discovered decades ago that one had to place a mic high and relatively close to achieve the proper inner-ensemble balances and to avoid floor early reflections. There are some ways around this for certain ensembles and production types, but by and large that’s the best way to do it.

Try setting a pair of mics at ear level in the middle of a concert hall, you’ll quickly understand why the higher, closer placement is desired.


Quote:
Originally Posted by chris661 View Post
I had a look around on the forums and couldn't really find an answer to this. Why does everyone seem to be using very tall (>2.5m) mic stands?

Nobody has ears that high up, so I don't think it's a representative capture of what would be heard if you were actually there listening to the piece in that venue.

I'd appreciate some insight into the matter - I really don't understand the reasoning behind it at the moment, and yet everyone here seems to think it's a good idea.

TIA,
Chris
Old 29th September 2019
  #7
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chris661 View Post
I had a look around on the forums and couldn't really find an answer to this. Why does everyone seem to be using very tall (>2.5m) mic stands?

Nobody has ears that high up, so I don't think it's a representative capture of what would be heard if you were actually there listening to the piece in that venue.

I'd appreciate some insight into the matter - I really don't understand the reasoning behind it at the moment, and yet everyone here seems to think it's a good idea.

TIA,
Chris
Hi, your brain is capable of filtering the sound you hear in a live situation. What bothers you is suppressed as much as possible. Microphones cannot do that that way. Once the sound is canned the acoustic information is no longer available in the same way as 'live' and the disturbing elements are just as loud as the sound you record. To prevent this, try to find a microphone location that records as few disturbing sounds as possible, but the correct placement, depth and color of the source or sources. Often that is a few meters higher and more towards the source to be recorded than where you listen on the floor.
Old 29th September 2019
  #8
Gear Addict
 
lukedamrosch's Avatar
 

Some very eloquent responses so far... I would only add:

Quote:
Originally Posted by chris661 View Post
Nobody has ears that high up, so I don't think it's a representative capture of what would be heard if you were actually there listening to the piece in that venue.
There is a subtle but fundamental difference between a "realistic capture" and a "representative capture". The former is often preferable to the latter.

In a similar way, many hyper-realistic "au naturel" portrait photographs are taken with lenses whose fields of view do not correspond at all to that of human vision, or from camera positions in which human viewers would never place themselves.

In other words:
Attached Thumbnails
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Old 29th September 2019
  #9
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In a live-record there is less audience noise up there too.....
Old 29th September 2019
  #10
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Yannick's Avatar
 

A few other reasons that come to mind are violinists are not going to start beating the mics with their bows to make a joke, and the double bass players are not going to do a louad sneezing sound into your ribbon mic, just for fun.

I would at least go for 3+ meters height.
Old 29th September 2019
  #11
Gear Maniac
 
Stradivariusz's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yannick View Post
A few other reasons that come to mind are violinists are not going to start beating the mics with their bows to make a joke, and the double bass players are not going to do a louad sneezing sound into your ribbon mic, just for fun.

I would at least go for 3+ meters height.
They still, the violinists, might move your stand away if it's not high and heavy enough, because they think that it won't change a thing and they don't feel comfortable. I've been one of those...

3+ meters for the omni mics as well?
Old 29th September 2019
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris661 View Post
Nobody has ears that high up, so I don't think it's a representative capture of what would be heard if you were actually there listening to the piece in that venue.
Microphones pick up sound differently from what a person would hear from the
same position.
Old 29th September 2019
  #13
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Yannick's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stradivariusz View Post
They still, the violinists, might move your stand away if it's not high and heavy enough, because they think that it won't change a thing and they don't feel comfortable. I've been one of those...

3+ meters for the omni mics as well?
3m+ for the only omni mics I use: flankers in orchestral setups.

Of course, they should weigh 200 kilo as well, with a 2m wide base. I have had a cellist thinking the stand was something to hold on to, while stepping off the 0,8 m high stage and being near his pension.

I think everyone can guess what happened.
Spoiler: the cellist and his instrument were OK.
Old 29th September 2019
  #14
Gear Maniac
 
Stradivariusz's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yannick View Post
3m+ for the only omni mics I use: flankers in orchestral setups.

Of course, they should weigh 200 kilo as well, with a 2m wide base. I have had a cellist thinking the stand was something to hold on to, while stepping off the 0,8 m high stage and being near his pension.

I think everyone can guess what happened.
Spoiler: the cellist and his instrument were OK.
Speechless...sorry to hear. Hope your mics survived.
Old 30th September 2019
  #15
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boojum's Avatar
An easy answer to the question can be had. Just do what one does in a new hall. Set up your array and move it backward and forward and up and down until you get the best sound as heard on earphones plugged into your recording device. This is a tried and true way to place mics. And up high is where they most often sound best.
Old 30th September 2019
  #16
Lives for gear
Hi all,

I'd just like to say a big thank-you to those that have replied. It's furthered my understanding, and I can see why it makes sense now.


To that end, I have the following:

- 3x K&M 20800 (3m vertical stand, no boom)
- 2x K&M 23560 (long stereo bar)

In my shopping basket.

I feel those would give me plenty of flexibility, ranging from a Decca tree (2x bars combined) plus outriggers, or coincident stereo techniques plus a couple of spots, or AB spaced mics.

Would that set of hardware be a good combination, or am I better off with something else?
It seems that you pay exponentially more to get the mics higher and higher. For the sort of venues I've worked in so far, I think 3m is a reasonable balance.

TIA,
Chris
Old 30th September 2019
  #17
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chris661 View Post
To that end, I have the following:

- 3x K&M 20800 (3m vertical stand, no boom)
- 2x K&M 23560 (long stereo bar)

In my shopping basket.
Hi Chris,

For that sort of height (slightly more at 3.66m), I like the Manfrotto 1004bac (and you can get triple packs of these at a good price).

Best wishes,

Roland
Old 30th September 2019
  #18
I was doing a recording of a professional string quartet. I was in a control room about 100 feet from the venue with no camera. The 2nd violinist kept complaining that he was not loud enough in the recording when we did a listen. We take a break and when we started again I noticed a big change in the soundscape so I came into the venue and the stereo XY microphone was moved from where I had it to directly in front of the 2nd violin. After some discussion I moved the microphones back to where they were and we continued the recording session. Talk about EGO!!! FWIW
Old 30th September 2019
  #19
Gear Maniac
 
Stradivariusz's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by norfolksoundman9 View Post
Hi Chris,

For that sort of height (slightly more at 3.66m), I like the Manfrotto 1004bac (and you can get triple packs of these at a good price).

Best wishes,

Roland
They are very light though, what's a good and a bad thing. Very transport friendly, but keep people feet away or stabilise it with something heavier. Otherwise they are really great.
And Manfrotto makes a fantastic microphone bar too, very flexible.
Manfrotto Microphone Support 154(B)

Last edited by Stradivariusz; 30th September 2019 at 02:24 PM..
Old 30th September 2019
  #20
Gear Maniac
 
Stradivariusz's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
I was doing a recording of a professional string quartet. I was in a control room about 100 feet from the venue with no camera. The 2nd violinist kept complaining that he was not loud enough in the recording when we did a listen. We take a break and when we started again I noticed a big change in the soundscape so I came into the venue and the stereo XY microphone was moved from where I had it to directly in front of the 2nd violin. After some discussion I moved the microphones back to where they were and we continued the recording session. Talk about EGO!!! FWIW
Just play louder, boy
Old 30th September 2019
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stradivariusz View Post
They are very light though, what's a good and a bad thing. Very transirt friendly, but keep people feet away or stabilise it with something heavier. Otherwise they are really great.
And Manfrotto makes a fantastic microphone bar too, very flexible.
Manfrotto Microphone Support 154(B)

We take these to every gig for our mic stands https://www.amazon.com/StudioFX-SAND...ateway&sr=8-24

Works GREAT!
Old 30th September 2019
  #22
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stradivariusz View Post
They are very light though, what's a good and a bad thing. Very transirt friendly, but keep people feet away or stabilise it with something heavier. Otherwise they are really great.
And Manfrotto makes a fantastic microphone bar too, very flexible.
Manfrotto Microphone Support 154(B)
Yes, a bit lighter than the K&M 20800 (3.000kg vs 3.786kg): I would add weight via something such as Thomas suggests for either stand if around an audience etc.

And I agree re the 154b bar: I use one.

Cheers,

Roland
Old 30th September 2019
  #23
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by norfolksoundman9 View Post
Hi Chris,

For that sort of height (slightly more at 3.66m), I like the Manfrotto 1004bac (and you can get triple packs of these at a good price).

Best wishes,

Roland
Hi Roland,

Thanks for the recommendation. It looks like a good bit of kit, but I do have a reservation - how do you go about mounting standard mic hardware?
The K&M stands I mentioned above have the usual 3/8" thread, which would make it nice and easy to interface with mic bars, clips, etc.
The Manfrotto stand appears to be designed for photography lighting, so I assume I'd need some special adapters to be able to attach mics etc. It's difficult to find much information online about this stuff, so any guidance there would be appreciated.

Cheers,
Chris
Old 30th September 2019
  #24
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chris661 View Post
The Manfrotto stand appears to be designed for photography lighting, so I assume I'd need some special adapters to be able to attach mics etc.
Hi Chris,

The Manfrotto website describes it fine: https://www.manfrotto.com/uk-en/phot...ioned-1004bac/

It has a standard (i.e. 5/8") brass stud/spigot with 3/8" and 1/4" threads (can be reversed). The stud/spigot fits neatly and quickly into the 154b stereo bar, which is how I normally use it.

Cheers,

Roland
Old 30th September 2019
  #25
Gear Nut
The 154b is very flexible in use, also stout and quick to reconfigure... but rather... uh, bulky looking. I'd rather not use it for live concerts if I could help it?
Old 30th September 2019
  #26
Lives for gear
Oh, yes, of course. It really is written right there. Sorry for the daft question.

After shopping around a bit, I found a supplier that had one of those stands in B-stock, plus plenty brand new at a good price, so I've got three in total on their way.

I took a look at the Manfrotto mic bars, but decided to go with the K&M model for the additional length, and options to use quite a few mics on one bar.

Currently I have 3x Beyer MC930, with another two on their way. They have served me well so far, working as the main pair for recording work, as well as for live sound reinforcement (which is the majority of my work at the moment).

Looking forward to putting all this to use.

Thanks, all.
Chris
Old 30th September 2019
  #27
Lives for gear
Don't overlook the Rode Boompole Pro Mini, which gives you 3 (?) extension arms with the right threaded ends and carbon fibre lightness, for not much cost. Good height extension for lightweight SD mics
Old 30th September 2019
  #28
Gear Addict
All but one of my mic adapters will take a 3/8-16 bolt quite happily provided there is a nut to fix the direction - and I certainly have attached any number of mics to a number of ad hoc structures via a simple bolt you can get down at your hardware store. . .

Nowadays, I only use domestic ASME B18.3 certified Hex Socket Drive Cap 18-8 stainless steel - none of those questionable knock-offs from shady sources.
Old 30th September 2019
  #29
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RayHeath View Post
Nowadays, I only use domestic certified Hex Socket Drive Cap 18-8 Asme B18.3 stainless steel
...but what should now happen with all those poor children struggling in a central african zink mine?!
Old 1st October 2019
  #30
Gear Addict
 

[QUOTE i'm with the op though regarding some scepticism about exaggerated height of main mics: going high up can rend the sound into something which i consider to be 'anemic' (an yet this sound gets favoured by many engineers)...[/QUOTE]

Because it's safer for the engineer, especially on live things, but is not as involving!

There was a time when it was thought that going high gave a false impression of the sound from a listener's point of view, but that idea seems to have fallen by the wayside now.
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