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Using PZM mics for live sound Dynamic Microphones
Old 3rd September 2007
Using PZM mics for live sound

I've never really used PZMs before and I would like some feedback on their use in a particular situation. I've been struggling to find the best way to amplify a folk duo that uses an acoustic guitar (no pick up), vocals and cello (does have a pick up, but I don't like it). They sound best in rooms that are small enough to not need micing and also benefit greatly from the freedom that no mics allow. The solution I want to deliver will provide a consistently good sounding performance in any venue. Monitors will probably not be used (in place of them we will use in-ear monitors). Would one or two PZM mics work for live sound reproduction for vocals, acoustic guitar and cello?
Old 3rd September 2007
Lives for gear
LX3's Avatar

I would try "clip-on" mics of some kind.

PZMs are good for recording in some very particular circumstances, but for live amplification they have limited applications... usually when there's a large flat surface close to the sound source (e.g. inside of piano lid, on the floor under vibes). They have a very even hemispherical pickup area, so unless the sound source is close to the surface they're attached to you get lots of background sounds and not much of the instrument you want. Gain before feedback is not good.

IMO, for both the acoustic guitar and the cello, a DPA4061 fixed to each instrument would sound awesome.

For vocals... dare I suggest... a vocal mic?!

If the performers want more freedom and less wires, run the mics to wireless transmitters on a body-pack or better still, attached to the instrument somehow.

Old 3rd September 2007
Lives for gear
Jim vanBergen's Avatar

PZM mics will be VERY hard to deal with for amplification. The best in this class of designs is the Bruce Bartlett-designed PCC 160 made by Crown. PCC stands for Phase-Coherent Cardioid, and in essence, you can try the EXACT same result by taking a cardioid condenser and placing it on the floor on a square of small foam or soft rubber matting and taping it in place.

Personally, I know these designs quite well and it's easier to get good volume from a close-positioned omni than a cardioid condenser that's 6' from the subject. But you won't know until you try. These mics are quite common in theatre so a local theatre sound guy may have one you can borrow, and they are inexpensive (couple hundred dollars) to buy so renting one would be cheap for a demo. Again, I'd try the 'mouse' first (mouse is the name for the customized foam design for a cardioid condenser to slip into on the floor, a furry elongated gray body with a cable tailing down, you can see how the name originated).

In dealing with a PCC or floor mounted mic, you have to work very hard to get the mics and the act as far UPSTAGE from the PA as possible. A well-tuned PCC or PZM will give you a very subtle amount of reinforcement, say 6 to 9 dB maximum, which is often enough of a lift for a medium room that is incredibly quiet, but not when people see speakers on sticks and expect 18+dB of gain like you'd get from a close-miked vocalist with a Shure Sm58.

Next, you might want to look at, consider or even attempt getting good mics in closer to the instruments. If you really want better live sound consistency regardless of cost, I'd look at higher quality pickups mounted on the two acoustic instruments, but my personal preference would be to use Earthworks SC series, Neumann KM series condensers, or Beyer M series ribbon mics in near proximity for the instruments.

Hope these thoughts help!thumbsup

Old 3rd September 2007
Here for the gear
triton's Avatar

As mentioned earlier Pzm's work better in the flat.
U cld tape em to the inside of a piano or simply taped to the floor for tap dancing.
However a pzm with a gate, can also be nice on a kik drum for some styles

Clip ons work well but also amplify sounds u dont want in your mix say squeeks and handling noise.
Now an Ev 468 on a stand is magic on acoustic instruments with lo output and u cld even drive monitor wedges with them.
They hv a strong output, beautiful lo mids and their polar response pattern will also help to isolate the instruments.

If u wish condensors, akg c393 for this.U cld also combine the C393 with the cello's ketchup
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