Stage miking for worship

Published: WORSHIP

Stage miking for worship

Stage miking for worship - Larry Blakely, president of the Blakely Consulting Group, offers a practical guide to Stage miking for worship service...

Why is miking a piano in a house of worship so complex? What are some common challenges faced in a worship environment? Typical challenges in miking pianos for live applications include: having ample gain before acoustic feedback; obtaining a uniform sound level of all the notes of the piano; minimum visibility of microphone stands and booms; and being able to close the piano lid with microphones inside the piano (if necessary). It is nearly impossible to get a good piano sound with the lid closed (with mics inside the piano using conventional microphones).

 The goal

Ambient piano miking: in this process the microphones are outside the piano and typically placed three-to-six feet away from the piano. This approach is good for recording, but for live performances, there will be acoustic feedback problems.

 Live performance piano miking: the goal is two-fold – to get a uniform sound level from all the piano notes (not having some notes louder than others) and having enough sound level without acoustic feedback. In some applications, the visibility of microphone stands and booms is a visual distraction.

For both recording and live sound applications, the use of high quality omnidirectional microphones will provide the best results for close miking inside the piano. Omni microphones have no proximity effect, and will provide a more even overall balance between all the notes of the piano. As directional (cardioid) microphones do exhibit proximity effect, it will be nearly impossible to have all notes at a uniform level using one or two cardioid microphones inside the piano.

The use of high quality omni microphones placed two-to-three inches above the strings and two or three inches away from the piano dampers will provide a minimum of sound leakage. In addition, if the piano lid can be closed, leakage will be further reduced.

High quality omni microphones placed two-to-three inches above the strings and two or three inches away from the piano dampers will provide the best results. This mic placement will provide the best overall sound, a more even balance between the notes of the piano and the least amount of pickup of sounds outside the piano.

To minimise the likelihood of feedback, microphones should be placed close to the strings (approximately two-to-three inches above the strings and two-to-three inches away from the piano dampers. This mic placement will provide the most gain before acoustic feedback. If possible, close the lid of the piano as much as possible as this will give you more gain before feedback.

 

Drums

Drums are a key element of contemporary worship. What are the best ways to get a good drum sound but not have the drums overpower the rest of the band? One of the most popular ways is to use electronic drums, by this method the sound engineer can have complete control the amount of drum sound in the band stage monitors and also in the house sound. If you are using live drums, close mike the drums and try to keep the drummer from playing too loud.

Woodwind and brass

Many churches have praise bands though sometimes the mix of instrumentation varies depending on which volunteer musicians are available. Close miking horns or horn sections is the best approach to bringing up the sound level of acoustic instruments in a band. Placing a microphone six-to-12 inches in front of a horn will be sufficient.

Orchestra

 Some houses of worship feature orchestras in their worship experience. Here, the use of multiple close-placed directional (cardioid) microphones will provide the best sound and also the largest amount of sound level before acoustic feedback. A common practice is to close mic each section (strings, woodwinds, horns, percussion and so on).