Boundary zone mics, on a surface

Discussion in 'Pro Audio' started by Walter Harley, May 8, 2004.

  1. I have the interesting problem of needing to mic a tap dance platform, for
    live reinforcement. The platform is a stage prop which will get a lot of
    abuse and needs to be quickly deployed, so I can't just put up some mic
    stands near it; even the idea of mounting little clip-on condensors like I
    might use on drum kits won't fly, because they're too likely to get damaged
    or lost. The construction of the platform, by the way, is very solid and
    deadened, so it shouldn't be resonant.

    I have some Shure MX391/C cardioid boundary zone mics that I could screw
    directly to the tapdancing surface, out of the way of the dancer. I also
    have a couple of old modified Radio Shack PZM's that I could use similarly.
    What I'm wondering is, how is the high-frequency response of these mics
    close to the surface they're mounted on? I want to pick up the dancer's
    feet, but I want to avoid as much as possible of his voice, his clothing
    rustling, the overhead speakers, and so forth. I'm afraid that a boundary
    zone mic will be relatively insensitive near the boundary surface, and
    conversely very sensitive away from it.

    Can anyone confirm or allay my fears? I don't have much experience working
    with these mics.

    Walter Harley, May 8, 2004
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  2. In my experience, the problem is keeping the tap sound OUT of the
    microphones :) But if you really want to feature it.....

    My local theatre keeps a couple of Crown mics for dancing school
    shows. I'm not sure if this is because they're optimum for the job,
    or just because they don't mind them being kicked :) I don't know
    the model number, but could find out if you want.

    "Possibly the world's least impressive web site": George Perfect
    Laurence Payne, May 8, 2004
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  3. What Scott said here...

    I'll just add one thing to it, though... I have had excellent results with
    Sanken's boundary mic- the CUB-1. I find it a bit more natural sounding and
    has even better off-axis (especially rear) rejection. They are tiny
    microphones too (about the size of a silver dollar and about 1/2 inch thick)
    so they can fit into just about any set design.


    Benjamin Maas
    Fifth Circle Audio
    Los Angeles, CA

    Please remove "Nospam" from address for replies
    Benjamin Maas, May 8, 2004
  4. Walter Harley

    Scott Dorsey Guest

    How about a contact pickup?
    Scott Dorsey, May 8, 2004
  5. I thought about that; it's an appealing idea, particularly from the
    standpoint of construction. But the concern is that it would pick up too
    much of the woodiness and platform sound, even with a relatively dead
    platform, and not enough of the high end. They want to hear the 'clack' of
    the taps on the wood, not the 'tonk' of the wood itself.

    The approach they've been using is lavalier mics mounted on the shoes, with
    a wireless transmitter beltpack; that sounds good, but it's kind of a pain
    and it's somewhat unreliable (Janet isn't the only one who has wardrobe
    malfunctions), so we're trying to go to this hardwired approach.

    Walter Harley, May 9, 2004
  6. Walter Harley

    unitron Guest


    Anybody know how much of the sound of tap dancing is the taps and
    how much is the surface being danced upon?
    unitron, May 9, 2004
  7. The surface they are dancing on makes a pretty huge difference in the
    sound... I did a TV shoot with some tap dancers (for a TV commercial) and
    the surface they put down was a couple pieces of plywood. It was no where
    near hard enough to get a sharp and percussive enough sound. For out shoot,
    we ended up having to mic with boundary mics, boom overhead and attach lavs
    to their shoes to get the desired effect. If we had a hard enough surface,
    we could have done it with the boundary mics and perhaps a touch of a


    Benjamin Maas
    Fifth Circle Audio
    Los Angeles, CA

    Please remove "Nospam" from address for replies
    Benjamin Maas, May 9, 2004
  8. Walter Harley

    Mike Rivers Guest

    Sadly, most dancers want to feature it. I've not had a problem hearing
    plenty of foot noise from Irish step dancers without any dedicated
    pickup, even on large outdoors stages, but I guess my impression of
    how much they should be heard is not the same as their egos (and most
    have BIG egos) dictate. I've stopped arguing with them, put up a mic
    that looks like it's doing what they want, and use as little of it in
    the mix as I can get away with without some jerk from the audience
    coming up to me saying "I can't hear his feet."

    Then the dancer asks for his feet to be turned up in the monitor.
    Clearly he (nor anyone else in the band) has a need for it. He's just
    checking to be sure that I have the mic "on."

    I recognize that there are some shows where the feet are the focus of
    the sound design, and those should (and usually are) be treated with
    care and respect - usually first by the music director who will assure
    that there's acoustic space for that sound.

    I'm really Mike Rivers ()
    However, until the spam goes away or Hell freezes over,
    lots of IP addresses are blocked from this system. If
    you e-mail me and it bounces, use your secret decoder ring
    and reach me here: double-m-eleven-double-zero at yahoo
    Mike Rivers, May 9, 2004
  9. Try tapping on a carpet. You'll find out :)

    "Possibly the world's least impressive web site": George Perfect
    Laurence Payne, May 9, 2004
  10. Walter Harley

    Guest Guest

    OK, so what's the best flooring material for under $4 per square foot to
    mic tap shoes on? :)

    Neil Henderson
    Progressive Rock
    Guest, May 9, 2004
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