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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » Using a handheld-microphone (29 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Alexxander
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A few weeks ago I had a gig at a small restaurant/bar type venue. Intimate, but very nice.
During the sound check, the sound engineer and me just couldn't get my headset mic to work without getting horrible audio feedback.
So I was pretty much put on the spot there - I never performed with a handheld mic before. I was very nervous.
I thought about all the moments in my performance where I need to have free hands!
But the audience was already coming in, so I just had to wing it.


...And it actually went well!
Of course, there was some fumbling on my part, but I think I managed well (The audience even asked for an encore, which I did not expect at all!).

So I did two other gigs with handheld mic since then, not even bothering to try the headset.

I must say, there are a lot of benefits to it.
I can perform in a lot of venues with minimal preparation - they always have a handheld mic and usually have the sound settings already set up for it.
My participants can easily be heard by the audience because I can simply hand them the mic.
The sound quality is much better.
I can mute myself very easily if I have to cough, sneeze or want to do a stage whisper.

Of course, there are some things that I can't do with a handheld.. but I noticed that I don't always have to speak during an action which requires both of my hands... with body language and facial expressions I can still communicate what I need the audience to know in these moments.

I guess this is nothing new to many of the pros here, but maybe someone can take something from my experience.
If you always perform with a headset microphone, I would definitely recommend trying it once with the handheld Smile


Alex
Magical Dimensions
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There are tricks in using a hand held. You just have to block it when you practice.
I much rather use a hand held along with a mic stand. The stand can be your friend if you turn the mic sideways facing left or right. Just stand next to the stand with the mic pointing left or right, and you now have room to use your hands. Or tuck the mic under your arm.

The point is simply to block it out. Uhh, you know what block means, yes?



Ray
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On this and many other real-world topics, the wise entertainer will want to read Ken Weber's justly famous Maximum Entertainment.
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Magical Dimensions
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Quote:
On Mar 16, 2016, ddyment wrote:
On this and many other real-world topics, the wise entertainer will want to read Ken Weber's justly famous Maximum Entertainment.



You would only read that book if you just wanted to look and act professional. Smile

That is a great book with amazing advice.


Ray
Alexxander
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I agree, great book. Smile

Even though I actually did know what Ken Weber wrote about microphone technique, I did not take his advice seriousy.
I thought I was good to go with my headset - after all, so many performers use headset mics effectively.
But there are some advantages I did not consider before.
Sometimes, you only learn swimming by being thrown in the water...
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Alexxander, welcome to a great new technique to master.

Far more important than the latest imp p*d or the electronic toy, for stage performers, the proper handheld use is an essential tool that can transform your look in the stage. The handheld is a symbol of power and control. Use it wisely and you will visually appeal your audience, use it poorly and you will show your lack of competence.

Watching stand up comedians is a pure lesson.


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Robb
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While I love Maximum Entertinament and agree we should use hand held mics if we can make it work, I can't myself. My hands are just too busy on stage. I like the freedom of movement my headset mic gives me. No amount of creative blocking will work for some performers and I'm one of them. I wish I could make a hand held work, but I've tried and it just ain't happening.
Last Laugh
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Bob Cassidy has spoken about preferring a hand held for a number of reasons. It can act as a magic want and facilitate billet switches for one, also the ability to say things on and off mike is valuable.

Personally, I like them too, but it's nice to have a stand as well in the event that you need both hands.
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Robb
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Ok, say you need to use both hands *while in motion*... A mic stand won't help you there.
David Thiel
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I've used both...and each has its pros and cons. I greatly prefer my headset. It feels much more natural to me. I have a handheld onstage for the volunteer to use...and a backup in case I ever have an issue with the headset...although I neve have.

I use a Shure headset with the transmitter built into the headpiece, so there are no wires to crackle and rustle. It was very expensive and worth every cent. Crisp clean sound. I also have complete freedom to go anywhere onstage or into the audience...and I like that too.

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Last Laugh
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Quote:
On Mar 16, 2016, Robb wrote:
Ok, say you need to use both hands *while in motion*... A mic stand won't help you there.


You certainly have a point. I've not performed in front of audiences so large I can't project enough with my voice to be briefly off mike if necessary.

I'm sure a headset or lapel mike is the best for most larger audiences.
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Mindpro
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On Mar 16, 2016, Last Laugh wrote:
I'm sure a headset or lapel mike is the best for most larger audiences.


Couldn't disagree with you more. A lapel mic is rarely ever best for much other than broadcast.

Handheld is typically best in most situations. Especially when using volunteers or spectators in the performance. Other than that it is a matter of preference. Headset mics rarely have the same strength or sound quality of a decent handheld.
Last Laugh
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Makes sense. I was just imagining what Robb said, needing to use both hands and speak. In my experience, which is for smaller crowds, it doesn't matter if I go off mic for a minute, as I can project.

Good to hear the different perspectives.
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Cervier
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Quote:
On Mar 17, 2016, David Thiel wrote:
I've used both...and each has its pros and cons. I greatly prefer my headset. It feels much more natural to me. I have a handheld onstage for the volunteer to use...and a backup in case I ever have an issue with the headset...although I neve have.

Same here!
I like to move around, and when I do, I will most of the time need both hands, so a handheld --esp. on a stand!-- would be a burden. I do have a "neck stand" but I haven't used it yet and feel it looks a bit awkward...

I used a lapel mic once, it was the only one available that night... I did a version of Al Koran's Headline prediction, not realizing I was tearing the paper right in front of the mic Smile Let's say it stressed the drama of the routine Smile
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Robb
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Quote:
On Mar 17, 2016, Mindpro wrote:
Quote:
On Mar 16, 2016, Last Laugh wrote:
I'm sure a headset or lapel mike is the best for most larger audiences.


Couldn't disagree with you more. A lapel mic is rarely ever best for much other than broadcast.

Handheld is typically best in most situations. Especially when using volunteers or spectators in the performance. Other than that it is a matter of preference. Headset mics rarely have the same strength or sound quality of a decent handheld.


Not sure about that MindPro... My Countryman combined with AudioTechnica System 10 sounds incredible. I also run my mic through a dbX channel strip with compression and EQ. This helps the dynamics stay dynamic and gives my vocal tone a subtle boost.

I think this is one area where the performer's preference is what really matters. I think Ken Weber and Bob have good points in this regard, but they are not the final word on everything. Times change and the presence of a headset mic these days is not perceived as unusual.
Mindpro
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My main point was about the lapel mic being "best for larger audiences" as someone mentioned. Which it is simply not true. If anything a lapel mic for large audience is the worst.

As far as headset mics, there are performers that love them, but it always requires the use as David said, of a second handheld mic anyhow for on-stage spectators and helpers. Even if you use a headset, most always have a handheld standing by for back up. One of my companies is a A/V production company and again the general consensus from sound crews is traditionally a handheld is typically preferred for the best, most controllable sound. That was the point I was trying to make. More things can go wrong with headset and lavs typically than handheld as well.

Now of course if you are using a Happie Amp or some sub-par sound quality and all you are going for is basic amplification, not true good sound quality, it doesn't matter what you use, but these guys also tend to use a headset mic.
Looch
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Alexxander

What pack were you using? On ones such as Sennheiser's there is a very small toggle switch that will adjust the DB range (-20,-10,0,+10) etc. By toggling down you can massively reduce the feedback through the system

HTH

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Mindpro
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Unfortunately sound and production are an art and science few performers take the time to master or understand well.
saysold1
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Quote:
On Mar 16, 2016, Robb wrote:
While I love Maximum Entertinament and agree we should use hand held mics if we can make it work, I can't myself. My hands are just too busy on stage. I like the freedom of movement my headset mic gives me. No amount of creative blocking will work for some performers and I'm one of them. I wish I could make a hand held work, but I've tried and it just ain't happening.


Completely agree with you Robb.

But I always request 2 mics as Mindpro mentions - one handheld with a stand and a wireless countryman style.

A lapel mic (lavalier) would be my least preferred.
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Al Desmond
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A handheld and stand has multiple advantages.

When the mike is on the stand, it gives you a home spot, helps you command the stage and gives the audience a focal point.

When the mike is in your hand, you have the opportunity (as mentioned above) to catch a spectators verbiage.

When the mike is in your hand, you can gesture with it, use it as a pointer at the right moments, once again you are controlling audience focus

Things not to do with a handheld.

Put it down your pants.

Bop an uncooperative spectator with it.

Sneeze on it.

That's all you need to know Smile
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