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Location of audience mics? Condenser Microphones
Old 28th August 2007
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Question Location of audience mics?

I've recently been doing a good amount of remote location recording, and although the recordings are turning out good, I'm consistently upset with how the audience mics sound. I've tried at least a half dozen ways to setting them up, using X/Y, spaced pair, suspended, on the floor, etc. The three best choices I feel I have as far as mics go are a pair of SM81's and an AKG 414, which I run through two Presonus Firestudio mic pre's. Still, the results are less than satisfactory. I know there are many factors that can effect the house mics, but any tips or ideas would be awesome.
Old 28th August 2007
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What do you not like about them? Where are you placing them? Are you time aligning them (if necessary)? Maybe it's the sound of the room that you don't like.
Old 28th August 2007
Gear Head
JP66's Avatar

like almost everything else it's very situational. there isn't one correct answer. generally speaking I prefer near coincident stereo pairs in a perfect equilateral triangle with the PA. However there are number of factors that may cause me to change my opinion on that. One thing I can say with relative certaintity is that it is very very hard to get a good sound from a pair of audience mics particularly for loud rock music.
Old 28th August 2007
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tnjazz's Avatar
Are you using the mics to record the stage sound, or are you pointing them outward to record just the audience response?

I set up hypercardioid or shotguns at the edge of the stage and typically compress the hell out of the two channels later to get good results in the final mix.
Old 29th August 2007
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hey guys (and gals) thanks for the responses. Well, that is one of the issues. I can't decide whether to point the mics towards the band or toward the audience. The last show I ended up suspending two SM81's from some rafters about 10 feet from the ceiling, roughly 5 to 6 feet apart, and about 30 feet from the front of the stage, pointed at the band. I had each mic pointed at each PA stack. It sounded kinda hollow and thin. Truthfully, I don't really know what i'm going for, which could be a problem in itself. I usually combine the house mics with the 16 direct signal outputs from FOH.
Old 29th August 2007
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Graham Tobias's Avatar

There's definitely a distinction between a room mic and an audience mic. In my opionion I'd say it's a room mic if it's facing the band and if you want to record the audience, the mic needs to point at the audience. I usually put audience mics on the stage, spaced wide pointing in at the audience.
Old 9th October 2015
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Audience mic position

In tv work, it is not uncommon to use 20 of them, SNL studio has 60 permanently installed, so audience response can be as free of room ambience as possible.

But for music recording I typically use 6 in 3 pairs. Pair 1 are high quality cardioid condensers on the stage in the speaker-free zone just onstage of the PA, aiming toward the center of the crowd. Pair 2 are cardioid concensers halfway back pointed at the floor from 20' up IF I can hang, or omnis at the FOH mixer position as high as possible. Pair 3, if a large hangable room, are cardioids as pair 2 but 3/4 back. I track them individually, but when mixing them pan hard L/R and close to equal in level.
Old 9th October 2015
Gear Maniac

Audience room microphones

A pair of 414 microphones or equivalent in FIG 8 configured as a Blumlein pair.

One microphone will give you front right and rear left and the 2nd microphone will give you front left and rear right.

As, you move the microphone pair toward the stage you get more of the direct band sound and as you move the pair back you get more audience and room.

As, usually place them were the balance in the room sound the best to my ears.

Cheers, Dave Thomas
Old 9th October 2015
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Fig 8s alongside the low level PA line arrays
Old 10th October 2015
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JCBigler's Avatar
Holy necro-thread, Batman!
Old 16th October 2015
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If it's a wide stage (more then 30ft), I use four shotguns placed at the front of the stage facing the audience and if possible, a stereo pair of condensers in X/Y at or close to stage centre. I also try to fly my Soundfield between half and 2/3rds the way down the hall facing the stage. The Rode NT4 is great for this job. Try to keep the shotguns on a pair of tracks for later eqing and then hope that the crowd make lots of noise (and it's not a metal band!).
Old 16th October 2015
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JamesClark1991's Avatar
There's a good guide in Mixing With Your Mind (Mike Stavrou) if that's of any use.
Old 28th October 2015
Back in LA doing sit-coms I set up pairs of B+K 4006's over the audience to add "realism". They all used those laugh boxes and this made those sound more real. Each show included several "ringers" in the audience. They were paid to look like they came in off the street and laughed loudly at each joke, all pre-arranged. That way jokes that missed the mark still got laughs.

Touring with Wonder we used mics on stage facing the crowd. For acoustic jazz or classical, the on-stage mics get enough, maybe too much. CYA and put them up, but you may find you don't need them.
Old 12th January 2016
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Have a look at hauptmikrofon. de , ambience, ambience paper.
Old 13th January 2016
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The OP raises a very important point: ambiance is a critical factor in all audio recording and it is particularly important in capturing live performance. Micing an audience to blend in ambient crowd response is a direct by-product of isolating primary performers with tight card mics for several reasons. (Hot back lines with punchy percussion, Have always used SM58s, etc. etc.) In studio work one school of thought is to create a "dead rubber room" and electronically add back ambient effects, Reverb and Delays, as opposed to building a tracking room designed with attractive acoustic dimensions and furnishings that produce natural ambient effects. Adding back needed elements is always more diffacult to manage than capturing it well initially. I am impressed with the depth of expertise several contributors have demonstrated with their extensive experience in network broadcast work: However the limited every day practioner will not have the resources to set-up and process appropriately most of these protocols. The good news is in acoustic performance several high end mics in card pattern will naturally pick up ambient audience response in a much more realistic way while capturing a detailed quality recording of the subject performer or performers. This is another case of less being more IMO.

Last edited by hughshouse; 13th January 2016 at 11:31 PM..
Old 14th January 2016
Gear Guru
jwh1192's Avatar
2x Senn 416'2 .. done .. they reject in all the right ways .. just my .02

or in the spirit of GS i had to EDIT ... make that 4x 416's
Old 15th January 2016
If you are recording a rock show in a medium to large venue, you need to choose "audience mics" as opposed to "room mics".

For years, I hung a variety of mics from many different locations all over the venue. That never gave me an audience sound that could be blended into my mix without time smearing. The closer you get to the crowd, the better the audience sound. Hanging mics from a lighting truss or balconies never gave me much more than nasty PA bleed.

If the audience's average age is under 30 years old, nobody in the rear of the hall is listening to the show anyway. They're all chatting on their iPhones. The folks in the front of the stage are energetic and involved in the music.

My primary strategy is two pairs of condenser shotguns, one long and one short. I place a long (Shure SM-89, Audio-Technica AT835b) and shorter shotgun (AKG C-568, Rode NTG-1) on the same tall boom stand located stage left and right inside of the PA stacks. The long shotgun mounts on the boom arm, the short is attached lower on the straight part of the stand with an On-Stage MY550 clamp. The short shots are aimed at the center of the audience about ten rows back, the long shotguns are aimed at the center about half way back. Shock mounts are a must.

If possible, I'll add a pair of cardioid condensers or a stereo mic in the center. I'll clamp a pair of Shure SM-81s with Manfrotto Super-Clamps to the front lip of the stage aiming at the center of aisles. Or I'll gaff tape a pair of Crown PCC-160 plate mics to the stage deck slightly left and right. We put lumo-tape on the tops of the Crown mics so they won't get stepped on in the dark.

If the show is outdoors, you need to use dead cat windscreens.

If you're recording a jazz or folk gig at a smaller venue, swap regular cardioid mics for the shotguns.

If the show is in a funky venue with a rowdy crowd, try using cheaper Chinese mics. That's better than getting your expensive mics doused with beer!
Old 15th January 2016
Gear Guru
jwh1192's Avatar
Tim Powell .. this is John, formally of House of Blues in Los Angeles .. Prince show many years ago, Chicago, dead of winter, people lined up around the block, he went on 3 hours late .. he had the Twins on this tour .. kerry directing .. i was running the camera in the Pit .. he put on a great show that night .. and you made a really sweet recording of that .. who knows where that is .. Tim has done few great recordings for us, Kool and the Gang was another memorable one .. hope you are well .. sorry to hijack ..

i will stick to my 416's ...
Old 15th January 2016
That was a really cold day! The artist was a female singer named Tamar, who was produced by Prince. He was her musical director and lead guitarist. 2006 at the Congress Theater...
Old 15th January 2016
Gear Guru
jwh1192's Avatar
thank you for the clarity on that one .. and yes, it was Damn Cold .. that is where i fell in love with Prince as a Gtr Player again ..

Originally Posted by Timothy Powell View Post
That was a really cold day! The artist was a female singer named Tamar, who was produced by Prince. He was her musical director and lead guitarist. 2006 at the Congress Theater...
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