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Tips for using lavalier microphones
Old 27th June 2011
  #1
Gear Nut
 

Thread Starter
Tips for using lavalier microphones

So I'm doing one of my first shoots as an Audio Engineer for Video. I've used a lav maybe once for a shootout. Does anyone have any insider tips for getting the best sound out of these. i.e. placement, room consideration etc.

the shoot takes place at a yoga studio
Old 27th June 2011
  #2
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 

Smile

The first important point is that you have to decouple the microphone from the cable to prevent any cable noise getting to the microphone itself.

The way to do this is to make a small loop and trap this by the teeth of the tie clip - if the mic. is pointing up, loop the cable up and then down again behind the clothing and trap the cable in the jaws of the crocodile clip (some clips, like the one supplied with the Sennheiser MKE 2, have a special cable slot on the end of the jaws to do this so the cable is not bitten by the teeth). This means that the cable beyond this point is totally decoupled from the mic. itself and any clothing or rubbing noises are not transmitted up the cable to the microphone.

The attached picture shows this - I clipped an MKE 2 to a frosty plastic sheet so you can see the cable both front and back.

If the mic. is pointing down, it's a single loop rather than a doublke loop - but the effect is the same.

This even stops the noises from the steel cable of the MKE 2.

Also - you could tie a loose knot in the cable. Surprisingly this also helps reduce cable noise.

If a tie mic. has to be hidden, the best way is to use Rycote Undercovers or Overcovers. If you use these, I would use two - the first to hold the microphone and a second a little way down the cable to decouple the cable. This does the same job as I described above - any cable beyond the second Undercover/Overcover is effectively isolated from the microphone itself. But make sure the cable between the first and second Stickie is not too tight.

I hope this helps.
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Tips for using lavalier microphones-how-fit-tie-mic.jpg  
Old 27th June 2011
  #3
Old 28th June 2011
  #4
Gear Nut
 

Thread Starter
thanks guys.

so i'm on a break right now. we're using a ****ty handheld recorder to record the wireless lav tracks into. we rented the equipment and its kind of beat to ****.

towards the end of the first shoot, I started getting a lot of interference from what felt like the wireless system. is there any way to avoid this? proximity or angle towards the transmitter? battery change etc.? does cycle hum occur with wireless system as it does on single coil guitars?
Old 28th June 2011
  #5
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hbphotoav's Avatar
 

It would be good to know what the RF system is... brand (Shure, Sennheiser, AT), band (UHF/VHF/2.4gHz), the mic, the placement of the transmitter on the body and in reference to the position of the receiver's antenna(s), the environment (small, live room; small, dead room; proximity to a radio station tower, cell phones ALL OFF?... etc) and whether the batteries are Energizer or Duracell (others need not apply in my case) and are fresh from the package. Then, is the interference only when talent speaks... only when talent faces a large window... totally intermittent... you get the picture. More info is better when none of us are in the room.

Otherwise, everything is a wild ass guess.
Old 28th June 2011
  #6
Gear Nut
 

Thread Starter
its an audio technica. im hoping its uhf, but its fairly cheap looking. i forget the name of the other system. it wasnt working but it had a much larger transmitter with an antenna that needed to be screwed in.

we're in a room for a small cycling class in center city philadelphia. and redoing cleaner vo audio in a quieter small office

transmitter was on the actors back waist, microphone through the shirt, clipped to the front of a tank top. at first i was within 10 ft. then 17 ft. then back to 10ft.

my cell phone was off but the producer had hers on silent.

it was intermittent noise. it would get worse if either of us moved around too much. im going to spray down of the cheap wiring and buy some gaffers tape
Old 28th June 2011
  #7
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John Willett's Avatar
 

Exclamation

Quote:
Originally Posted by tropics View Post

my cell phone was off but the producer had hers on silent.

Silent is no good - it can create as much interference as if it's on normally.

On any film or TV set all mobiles should be switched off completely - and smart phones, especially Blackberrys seem to be worse than others.
Old 29th June 2011
  #8
Gear Nut
 

Thread Starter
yeah it was a blackberry!
Old 29th June 2011
  #9
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John Willett's Avatar
 

Thumbs down

Quote:
Originally Posted by tropics View Post
yeah it was a blackberry!
That's the worst.
Old 29th June 2011
  #10
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hbphotoav's Avatar
 

I've actually had worse luck with GSM phones than with CDMA, as a rule. AT&T/T-Mobile/NexTel, some Sprint. If the producer wants the phone on, he/she will need to not be in the room. Period. IIRC, the interference happens through the mic element, and not the RF chain. I've had a wired Beta 87 and SM58s react badly as well as wireless mics. Have them listen back to a bit of presentation interrupted by the "dit... dit... dit..." and ask them if they can live with it. They'll say "No." You'll say, "Then please turn your phone off. We can't fix this in post." Be brave. Be firm. Be nice.

Best to have them off, as in "OFF"... it's the inaudible transmitter itself and NOT the ringer that's the problem...

Only other recommendation would be to have the receiver as close, physically, as possible (long BALANCED cable from it to the recorder position) and in line-of-sight to the transmitter... that is, if the transmitter is in the center of the presenter's back and the receiver is out front, there may be problems. Flesh absorbs radio waves. If the transmitter has a long-ish antenna wire (6-8" or 12-18cm... usually the sign of a VHF system) be certain it is NOT rolled up or wrapped around a belt or something. It needs to be fully extended, whether under clothing or not.

For best sound, if the production value will allow it, see about renting a properly terminated Countryman or AT ear-worn mic, or plant a SMALL (Sennheiser/PSC/Countryman/DPA) omni element at the ear or in the hairline. If the subject is moving about at all, twisting and turning, those solutions will allow for a more consistent pickup of the voice. Both require a bit more prep (taping the mic in place - I use BandAid brand Flexible Fabric adhesives, cut from 3/4 or 1" bandages - and securing the cable under the presenter's clothing) but are solid techniques.

Good luck.
Old 29th June 2011
  #11
Gear Maniac
EDGE noise

Quote:
Originally Posted by hbphotoav View Post
I've actually had worse luck with GSM phones than with CDMA, as a rule. AT&T/T-Mobile/NexTel, some Sprint. If the producer wants the phone on, he/she will need to not be in the room. Period.
When there is a loss of 3G service phones switch to using EDGE (2G). The interference is created by the phones power supply in EDGE mode, it can be blocked by placing the phone in or on an antistatic bag this will block the noise but not the data transmission.
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