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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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Robb
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Quote:
On Mar 17, 2016, Mindpro wrote:
Unfortunately sound and production are an art and science few performers take the time to master or understand well.


Probably true... A workshop at MindVention would be a good idea. I have extensive experience in live sound production (recording as well) as I've been a touring musician for decades. The key is to keep it simple, understand speaker placement, EQ, compression, etc. Lapels are always the toughest as the mic is so far from your mouth, it's going to have a hard time rejecting feedback and not picking up ambient noise. A good quality headset will reject feedback quite well when worn properly. A little EQ and compression helps me but not too much. Compression can actually worsen feedback if you don't know what you're doing.
Mindpro
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On Mar 17, 2016, Al Desmond wrote:
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


Also Al, don't forget the use of the mic switch (as in "like lighter").

(Extremely hard to do with a lav or headset mic, lol!)
David Thiel
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Mindpro makes a good point: it's odd how many pro performers will take whatever sound system happens to be available. I'm frequently surprised when I'm sharing a bill with another performer and they have requested 'use of house system.' When I'm on the road and can't reasonably bring my whole sound system, I at least bring my own headset along with all possible patch cords...AND I ensure there's a sound check on-site well in advance of the show.

It's a mystery to me that same performer who is perfectly fine with dropping several grand on the latest greatest 'whatever' doesn't take the time to at least study sound systems and get himself an excellent sound kit. If the audience can't hear you -- you ARE going to lose them...especially in mentalism where a huge percentage of the presentation depends on being heard and understood.

I also think that, as previously posted, headset mics are common enough now that they don't look unusual.

Finally -- lavs are, in my experience, ALWAYS a terrible idea. I have yet to see one that isn't a horrid little thing.

David
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Mindpro
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Man do I agree and you can't say that loud enough David. I have my own sound systems at two location across the country so I always have access to either even when traveling by plane. I always carry my own mics and never leave it to chance. I've paid more fro my mics than most people pay for their cars but I have piece of mind knowing what I will be using. Even in a decent theater with top quality production, I still insist on using my own.
dmoses
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A handheld mic is the mentalist's magic wand.
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Ray Pierce
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As a performer AND a sound man for over 40 years, there is a reason for both. You need to become fluent in each much as you need to know both a f*rce AND a *****r*l for cards. When I am traveling with my own system and sound engineer I always prefer a headset mic as it frees up my hands for other things. In my particular case it is critical that you are working with a soundman that knows you very well and knows exactly when to mute the mic on cue. On the other hand, when I'm doing a one nighter with a house crew, I will typically always request a handheld as it puts me back in control of the mic. Cueing is easier, I don't have to worry about it being left on when I run into the wings for a quick change, it has better gain before feedback as it is as directional and close to the source as it can be and I can aim it away from the monitors and mains to eliminate feedback issues, something you can't always do with an E6. For one night events when I must use a handheld, I have a neck loop that allows me to be hands-free in an instant. I will also always remind the soundman to set a different level for when it is down around my neck as it always requires more gain. Learn the options and learn how to work with multiple solutions for the best show.
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Looch
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Mindpro I'm trying PM you, could you clear some space please Smile
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Magical Dimensions
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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.



What do you mean by in motion? Do you mean that you are walking around or just moving your hands and arms?

I love using a stand and handheld. When using both hands, sometimes I will extend my arms out in front of the stand. I can now talk in the mic that is seated in the stand and use both hands. Or, when the time comes to use both hands, I will turn the mic to face stage right. Now I can stand to the side of the stand with the mic pointing at the side of my face. I can still talk and use both hands. At other times, I will simply place the handheld under my left armpit as I do something. It all comes down to blocking. If a person is set on using a handheld, they will work out the method to use it. I can't see how anyone would say that it can't be done. A handheld and stand has been used for a very long time in history.

In 1923, the first practical moving coil microphone was built. So people has used a stand and handheld since then.

Ray
ddyment
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I will -- again -- strongly urge folks interested in this topic to read Ken Weber's Maximum Entertainment. Even though there are no magic tricks to be found therein.

It is pretty obvious from the comments here that most have not read the book (or weren't actually paying attention when they did so). One clue: the two major reasons for using a handheld are tellingly absent from the opinions expressed thus far.

High audio fidelity is certainly important, but can be achieved in multiple ways; this is not the point of the hand-held vs body-mounted issue.
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MichaelCGM
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Quote:
On Mar 16, 2016, David Thiel wrote:
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.

David


I can't remember the name of mine, but it also has the transmitter built in. (About $400.00) The wires and belt-pack were always a hassle. I'm glad I switched.
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Alexxander
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Here is a video on microphone technique I found on youtube, which is very clear and helpful:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQV4Z9JNrvc



And this one, I know she might be a little weird, but I really liked her tip on hand switching:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oevSZUU72k
bunkyhenry
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Quote:
On Mar 17, 2016, ddyment wrote:
I will -- again -- strongly urge folks interested in this topic to read Ken Weber's Maximum Entertainment. Even though there are no magic tricks to be found therein.

It is pretty obvious from the comments here that most have not read the book (or weren't actually paying attention when they did so). One clue: the two major reasons for using a handheld are tellingly absent from the opinions expressed thus far.

High audio fidelity is certainly important, but can be achieved in multiple ways; this is not the point of the hand-held vs body-mounted issue.


Those two reasons might be...

1) A handheld can be moved closer or farther from the mouth, giving more control over the power and dynamics of your voice.
2) You can capture reactions of people on stage with you.
Robb
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Quote:
On Mar 17, 2016, ddyment wrote:
I will -- again -- strongly urge folks interested in this topic to read Ken Weber's Maximum Entertainment. Even though there are no magic tricks to be found therein.

It is pretty obvious from the comments here that most have not read the book (or weren't actually paying attention when they did so). One clue: the two major reasons for using a handheld are tellingly absent from the opinions expressed thus far.

High audio fidelity is certainly important, but can be achieved in multiple ways; this is not the point of the hand-held vs body-mounted issue.


Doug, I have read Maximum Entertainment, many times. Yet, I choose to use a headset mic. I tried to use hand held mics but I did not like what it did to the dynamics of my performance. Ken is brilliant but there's no rule that says we have to agree with every dictate of even the most brilliant advisor.
ddyment
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Not saying that anyone's opinions should be followed with blind allegiance.

Just pointing out that the arguments put forth in the comments here do not even address the important reasons why Ken recommends hand-helds.

Rather, they seem to focus on audio fidelity (something of a moot point, since both hand-held and body-mounted microphones can be had with pretty decent fidelity -- though you're unlikely to see a recording studio switch to the body-mounted versions), and the peculiar (to me) notion that the convenience of the entertainer is somehow of more concern than the quality of the performance.

Most entertainers, of course, have difficulty measuring the quality of performances, particularly their own: this is why the role of a director is so essential.
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IAIN
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I've seen people use both at the same time...as in, the performer has a headset and then a hand-held for participants...
I've asked to be banned
Robb
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Quote:
On Mar 18, 2016, ddyment wrote:
Not saying that anyone's opinions should be followed with blind allegiance.

Just pointing out that the arguments put forth in the comments here do not even address the important reasons why Ken recommends hand-helds.

Rather, they seem to focus on audio fidelity (something of a moot point, since both hand-held and body-mounted microphones can be had with pretty decent fidelity -- though you're unlikely to see a recording studio switch to the body-mounted versions), and the peculiar (to me) notion that the convenience of the entertainer is somehow of more concern than the quality of the performance.

Most entertainers, of course, have difficulty measuring the quality of performances, particularly their own: this is why the role of a director is so essential.


Doug, well, my concern is most definitely the audience. To say that the quality of the performance would necessarily or even likely suffer because of one's choice of microphone... well, I think that's going too far. And frankly, I think it's insulting and disrespectful to imply that those who use a headset mic are somehow less concerned with the quality of their performance and, apparently on top of that, not even objective about their performances. All this from the type of mic they choose to use?

Regarding your statement that recording studios would not use body-mounted mics, nor would they use the typical dynamic handhelds (Shure SM58 being the most common). They would use a quality consdenser microphone to record, which in a live situation would produce uncontrollable feedback in most situations. So that point simply makes no sense.

As I stated, I use both equalization and dynamics processing to give my headset maximum tone and sensitivity. I can go from a whisper to a scream, no problem.

All that said, if I COULD use a handheld *without compromising the dynamic I want in MY performances*, I would do so. Perhaps future shows with allow for it. My current show does not.
Mindpro
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Another problem with a headset mic is the possible perception. I was once showcasing at a NACA conference. I was in the audience waiting for my spot and another mentalist went up wearing a headset mic. About three minutes into his performance three of the people seated in front of me said to one another, someone is telling him the information in the earpiece of that headset.

Now I know there was no earpiece, but it could look that way from the audience. I've also heard the same for in-ear monitoring systems. Why give the audience something to suspect, real or imagined?
Robb
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That's a concern, sure. Every choice we make has it's pros and cons.
ddyment
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Robb claimed:
Quote:
To say that the quality of the performance would necessarily or even likely suffer because of one's choice of microphone... well, I think that's going too far.

Robb and I simply disagree here. I fervently believe that the choice of microphone (along with the choice of most other aspects of one's performance) definitely affects the quality of the performance.


Quote:
And frankly, I think it's insulting and disrespectful to imply that those who use a headset mic are somehow less concerned with the quality of their performance and, apparently on top of that, not even objective about their performances.

I would find this insulting as well. But it's nothing I've ever claimed. And to suggest otherwise is likewise insulting and disrespectful.

Not once in this topic have I denigrated the users of body-mounted microphones. Or even, if you take the time to read what I have written, advocated the use of one style over another. I have merely pointed out that the arguments that people were making had almost nothing to do with the reasons why advocates of hand-helds hold that position.

Finally, the reason that we have directors in the performing world is because, as I did write, "Most entertainers [not just those who favour one particular mic style or another] ... have difficulty measuring the quality of performances, particularly their own ... ".
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Robb
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Doug, I apologize if I misconstrued your meaning. As a person that does agonize over these choices, I'm of course sensitive about them.
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