Microphone for student studio recital

September 7, 2021, 1:10 PM · What would be a microphone to use at a studio recital?

My studio just had. hybrid recital. Some people playing in-person; some people played at home/zoom and were shown on a screen in the venue. The whole recital was visible to watch on zoom for people at home.

The people at home had a difficult time hearing the people playing in-person. I am thinking I need a microphone for the people in person. I know nothing about microphones.

I am guessing I would also need a microphone stand that could be adjusted up and down for the height of the student performer.

I don't know if a bluetooth would be a possibility? I already am using bluetooth for the speaker for the people at the venue to be able to hear the people on zoom. It says I can have more than one bluetooth device connected to my laptop. I worry about people tripping over cords.

What would be a microphone that would work for this purpose and not be expensive. Preferably under $100. Ditto for a stand if needed?

I do plan that hybrid recitals of this type will be a permanent fixture of my studio.

Replies (8)

September 7, 2021, 1:21 PM · You'll need a USB mic if it's live in the moment. Under 100 I'd try the snowball. Here is my snowball sound wise.
September 7, 2021, 4:52 PM · All of these USB microphones in the $60-80 range are going to be fine. I suggest that you further investigate the settings for Zoom such as "original sound" and so forth. And of course, set up a "meeting" with a listener you trust so that you can check mic placement, etc., and optimize these empirical parameters.
September 8, 2021, 3:17 PM · Thanks. I didn't even know to look for a USB microphone.

James - that sounded great. Thank you for the info.

Paul - I just need to remember to pass on the notes about zoom to the people listening at home. Mic placement is one of the things I am concerned about. I teach ages 4 through adult so a big difference as far as the size of the student. I don't know if it is possible to find a place in front of where they are performing where the mic could just be the entire recital or if the mic has to raise and lower based on the height of the performer.

Thank you too much for your info. I feel much more confident as far as what needs to be done for the performers to be heard by the people at home.

Edited: September 9, 2021, 7:30 AM · I think you'll be able to find a place that's good for all in-person performers. You really don't want it to be all that close. That's one of the common mistakes. We've all seen pictures of violinists in studios with the microphone boomed 3 inches above the bridge of the instrument. Yeah but that's also probably a $12,000 microphone. The $75 USB mic can't do that. When my kids and I have had to perform on Zoom we've typically had the microphone about 8 feet away from the performer. And yes, you need to provide instructions to all of your participants -- step by step -- about how all the settings that you want them to apply in Zoom. Another recommendation is to deputize a tech-savvy parent to be your meeting chairperson -- admitting participants from the waiting room, managing people who unmute themselves at inopportune times, etc.

My microphone is this one:

When I was doing Skype lessons, my teacher noticed my sound was suddenly terrible from the previous week. It was because I had switched from my built-in laptop mic to the Fifine USB mic! I assumed it would be better. But the Fifine wants to be further away from the violin. Remember that these USB mics are optimized for people talking in their normal voice. Not for us violinists blasting out concerto cadenzas at 110 decibels.

My daughter used the mic for her cello lessons. I noticed that I had to set the "volume" knob on the microphone down to about the 25% level otherwise the sound was all distored, at a placement distance of about 3 feet. I didn't think of trying that for my violin lessons because I'm too stupid, and now, fortunately, we're back in person.

September 9, 2021, 9:11 AM · Yes about checking the volume level on your system. I put my USB at around 60-70 depending on the context. If on 100, which I've done by mistake, the sound waves are massive on my editing software and it just distorts.
September 9, 2021, 9:12 AM · I've found the snowball needs to be reasonably close, but every microphone and room you are playing in will be different. Takes trial and error.
September 9, 2021, 9:18 AM · If you are using Zoom, you get a level meter in the audio settings that is semi-useful. It won't hold peaks for a second or two like a real audio console but you can tell if it's always pegged or if the level is way too low. And it lets you see what's going on as you adjust the gain in Zoom vs the gain on the mic. With our Yeti which everyone says sounds good, the mic gain at 9 o'clock or ~25% with a fairly high gain setting in Zoom is what seems to work for us.
September 10, 2021, 6:30 PM · Thank you all so much. That is so much helpful and useful information. I very much appreciate it.

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