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Dynamic mic for crowd laughs during comedy show


Nick Ray Harris
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I'm working a show that films standup comics who have live reinforcement in a medium sized venue.

 

They would like the most natural crowd laughs they can get, but previously the problem is bleed from the monitors getting into the crowd mics and then needing to add in post.

 

They cannot turn down the reinforcement because of the live nature of the show. So my instinct is to add less sensitive mics close to the audience.

 

My question is what dynamic mics come to mind that would be wide and sensitive enough to grab a bunch of folks laughing at comedy show, but be able to negate the reinforcement?

 

 

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If you get them closer to the audience the pick up will be more localized and may not yield the results you want.  What are you using for crowd mics now?  I've recorded a few comedy shows for CD release in smaller clubs.  The producer provided me with a Shure Beta 58 for the comedian, a splitter so I could feed the house and my recorder at the same time, and two AKG C-214 large diaphragm condenser mics for the audience.  I was always careful to place the crowd mics so the back of the pick up pattern was towards the speakers so they wouldn't pick up so much of the speakers.  The two AKGs did a great job and they're only $350 each.  I also used a laser level to precisely aim the mics towards the center of the room so I didn't get too much front row pickup.  The result is a very natural sound.  Of course you do get some bleed from the reinforcement but its overcome by the good direct sound from the Beta 58 and the smooth off axis coloration of the crowd mics.  I also made sure the mic stand wasn't wobbly and loose and provided my own mic cord to be sure it was flexible and in good shape.  I would also remind the comedian that mic technique was important and demonstrated how to best work the mic.  They were paying part of the fee for recording so they were willing to listen to my advice.  You may also see if the front of house mixer would be willing to turn down the PA 10% or so if you think they're blasting it.

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I've had some varying good results, assuming I'm running the FOH PA on a decent digital console and recording through the same, by putting the ambient mics on a compressor with a sidechain being that of the talent's main microphone(s).  This way, the audience response quickly and "automatically" opens up the moment the talent pauses for a reaction, and quickly is pushed down when the talent begins talking again thereby also greatly reducing the "hollowness" normally associated with recording and a live PA.

 

Tom

 

 

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