Practical live performance pickup techniques

Practical live performance pickup techniques

Summary

The placement of the microphone in the live performance is a very important part of it. If it is not placed properly, it will be irreparable later. This article will provide you with some common-sense guidance, which can help inexperienced friends or friends who are constantly changing performance venues. It can save you a lot of time when you need it.

Practical live performance pickup techniques
The placement of the microphone in the live performance is a very important part of it. If it is not placed properly, it will be irreparable later. This article will provide you with some common-sense guidance, which can help inexperienced friends or friends who are constantly changing performance venues. It can save you a lot of time when you need it.
Normal operation

One of the biggest challenges in live performances is how to increase the gain as much as possible without overloading. This has two advantages. The first is that in the current era of loudness wars, large gains can allow you to quickly gain a loudness advantage. , Make your live performance even higher! Improve the effect of live performances. The second is that it can cover various local noises in the field environment to a certain extent. So increasing the gain is one of the simplest and most efficient ways, but you must be careful not to overload!


Because the gain is increased, the adjustment of equalization and compression in a live performance is completely different from that in a recording studio. Since the ambient sound will obscure most of the small details of the sound, it will sound bad to move the parameter settings in the scene into the recording studio. Then you can use a low-sensitivity dynamic microphone to pick up the sound of stage instruments. Condenser microphones are used in live performances. The environmental interference is too serious (especially pop music).

No matter which microphone you prefer, a normal cardioid microphone is a must. This kind of directivity can discard a large part of the off-axis, that is, the sound that is not the main pickup sound range, and effectively block the interference from the stage monitor or the sound reinforcement box. The reason why novices are not recommended to use super cardioid and super cardioid microphones is that these two directivity will absorb the sound directly behind, which may cause trouble for the performance.

Another important point is the distance between the microphone and the sound source. In most cases, the closer the microphone is to the sound source, the better. This can increase the ratio of the main signal source. The larger the ratio, the greater the gain you can turn on the mixer, and the less likely it is for sound feedback to be false.

There is also a principle of following the trend. Just like recording in a studio, we need to find the "sweet spot" of the instrument. All instruments have one or two best pickup positions, and pickup at this position can express the most beautiful side of the instrument.
Looking for "desserts", we need to constantly move the microphone up and down, left and right, and we need a spirit of perseverance and perseverance. Find an assistant to help you adjust the placement, and you can direct it in front of the console. If you are familiar with certain musical instruments, it only takes a short time to set up the microphone.
Vocal pickup part

The vocal pickup is very simple, you only need to find the correct microphone and place it in the right place. Because the vocal microphone is often held in the hands of the singer and there is nothing to adjust, the importance of communication is far greater than the placement. If the singer does not know the equipment well, explain clearly to her/him in advance.

One uncontrollable factor is that you cannot control the distance between the singer's mouth and hands when picking up the human voice. When the mouth is too far away from the microphone or not directly facing the microphone, the ratio of direct sound to background noise is reduced, and acoustic feedback becomes inevitable. Conversely, too close a distance will bring about the proximity effect. When the singer eats the microphone, a lot of low frequency enhancement is produced. They may sound great on their own, but the overall mixing effect will deteriorate. At this time, the mixer may have to perform a lot of low-cutting.

We can't correct the bad habits of singers, but we can suggest that they use designated microphones, find a microphone suitable for the singer, and then set the corresponding settings to get as clean, clear and direct sound as possible.
Singers need to be aware when picking up the microphone, they may grip the microphone head and gradually move it to the front of the speaker. Doing so will greatly increase the chance of howling, so we need to remind them and draw insurmountable markers in advance.
The human voice is the sound we are most familiar with, and the above situation will make the sound pickup more complicated. Even head-mounted or ear-mounted microphones will have their own difficulties.

Electric guitar pickup
The pickup of an electric guitar on the stage is the same or can be the same as in the studio. The difference is that more condenser microphones are used in recording studios. It is recommended that you try with a ribbon microphone placed a little farther away to get a dynamic, ethereal and passionate sound. You can also use the recording method of trying figure 8 or more, but you must think carefully before designing, and always pay attention to the placement of multiple microphones.

Generally, two microphones are required in large venues: one intermediate frequency and one low frequency. Smaller venues do not need to pick up low frequencies separately, because if the performance space is small, the medium and high frequency sounds are absorbed more than the low frequencies, and the sound from the speakers will appear to be too low or not enough. At this time, you need to place a microphone at the center axis of the speaker or slightly off the center axis to find the sound component you need to add. If possible, move the guitar case off the ground to reduce ground (low frequency) reflections, and the sound improvement effect is obvious when the performance stage is hollow on the ground.

Acoustic guitar pickup

Small vibration mode condenser microphones are very common in acoustic guitar pickup

It is already difficult to record authentic acoustic guitars in the studio, and the difficulty is further increased in the field. The location of various parts of the live performance is constantly changing, and it is difficult for you to find a truly safe pickup location. So we need to place a microphone as close as possible to the bridge or neck, so that the guitar sound can be picked up with a lower gain. Blocking the sound hole of the guitar is also a method, which is very practical in harsh environments.


Do you think the above method sacrifices a lot of guitar tone? It doesn't matter, use a pickup to transmit a clear and transparent sound, and solve the large amount of sound loss caused by the guitar signal due to the long cable. Match one or two condenser microphones to pick up the sound at the same time, adjust the mixing ratio, you can get professional performance.
Drum set pickup part

Well, the drum set is the biggest challenge. Whether it is live or recording, the main reason is that there are too many drums. The number and placement of microphones required should be constantly changed according to the musicians and their baby drum sets. On-site sound pickup tends to focus on the key point, that is, we need to know what the main sounds we need in this performance. If it is in a relatively small occasion, it is very simple and does not require pickup. Maybe you have to add some sound-absorbing material to the drum kit to reduce the sound of a certain part, otherwise other instruments need to increase their volume in order to follow the drum kit, and the audience will be shaken away.

Furthermore, the placement of the drum set microphones is entirely dependent on listening to the sound. Don't worry about how strange their postures are. If the distorted placement can bring better results, Do It!
(Electric) Bass pickup part

The bass pickup is simpler than the previous one, of course, it is probably because there have been fewer people paying attention to this. First of all, as a bass instrument, we must make the pitch accurate! The root note difference of more than ten cents may be heard after extending to higher harmonics.

It is very important to check the phase offset

Next, you need to mix these two sounds in a certain ratio, and you can add compression and equalization adjustments to one of the channels in order to get a full and strong sound. Another important point is that we may need to attenuate the sound of certain frequency bands of the bass to reduce its impact on other instruments; on the contrary, other instruments must avoid interfering with the bass, which will cause the bass to become muddy.
Sum up
That’s all about the on-site pickup experience, and the main points mentioned above are in summary:
Use as few microphones as possible
Minimize the chance of acoustic feedback
Allow enough time to adjust the placement patiently