Do you have any tips for miking a theater and staged productions?
As a matter of fact, we do! In order to achieve consistent, high-quality audio for your performance, you need to develop a plan, just as with all other aspects of your show. There are a few schools of thought on how to achieve the best audio quality of a staged production and, as always, it depends on – and should be based off of – your specific situation. But using the best audio tools for your application will produce the best results.
Boundary and hanging microphones are often the go-to choice for enhancing audio of staged productions. Using hanging and boundary microphones that are stationary can provide general pickup of the entire performance area, allowing the performers to be heard in the audience. This, of course, requires good microphone placement and a well-tuned sound system. Remember, microphone placement is key! You may refer to our blog here on miking a choir; a lot of the same principles we outline for using mics on stands should be observed when using boundary and hanging microphones as well. The boundary/hanging microphone setup works well when the performers project their voices and the microphones are used to enhance the speech or singing.
Small boundary and lavalier microphones may also be used as “plant” microphones hidden in scenery or props onstage. Low profile lavalier microphones, such as the BP896, which has a microphone diameter of only 2.6 mm (0.10″), are easily hidden on actors, props, or scenery. The low profile of the microphone keeps the visual aesthetic appealing to stage directors as they often “want to hear the microphone, but not see it.” The planted microphones may be wired or wireless. Wireless mics may make it easier to move set pieces on and off stage, but using standard XLR audio cable where possible will reduce the need for a large number of wireless signals, which could be problematic.
The most common microphone technique used is to have individual performers wear lavalier or headworn microphones. This is popular in performances where the number of personal microphones is not extravagant. With any and all wireless microphones, you must work within the limitations of the individual RF environment (see blog about using wireless). The individual performers are freely able to move around the performance area with consistently even audio reproduction. The difficulty with this technique lies in budget restrictions and in using the personal microphones in conjunction with the other types of microphones previously mentioned. This combination of techniques often creates an uneven audio level between those performers wearing personal microphones and those not. This may be done correctly, but it makes planning the placement of planted, boundary, and hanging microphones much more difficult. (See blog discussing which wireless microphones to use.)
There may be applications where microphones for sound reinforcement are not even used. This allows the performers to use their instruments (i.e., their voices) to project and properly fill the performance area. Remember, microphones are often best used to enhance the sound! For further information on which microphones will best suit the needs of your theater production, you may contact the Audio Solutions Department.