Monthly Archives: January 2013

Sennheiser MKE2, my favourite lavalier, or ‘One Man and a Mic…. How hard can that be?’

Over the years I have had the privilege of touring with many well known comedians, raconteurs and actors, performing one man/woman shows in theatres and concert halls.  Very often it has been said to me….                              ‘One Man and a Mic…. How hard can that be?’                                                                Well this is my reply……………… If I am mixing a band and the guitar is a bit low in the mix, or doesn’t sound too great, most people probably won’t notice, and certainly no one will complain. If on the other hand a solo voice sounds wrong for 2 hours, or even worse people can’t hear properly, then all hell will break loose! Not only will droves of people complain, they may even demand their money back !  The human ear is fine-tuned to the sound of human speech and in the case of a well known performer, the entire audience knows exactly what that person should sound like!……….. Therefore ‘One Man and a Mic’ requires a level of expertise and perfection not found in other types of performance. It has to sound right from every seat in the house!

Whilst all the links in the audio chain in a theatre are important, there is none more so than the choice of microphone. Get that wrong and everything else is down the pan!

Many performers like the freedom of a lavalier radio mic. As with any mic it may be necessary to EQ the system in order to counteract anomalies caused by the loudspeakers or the acoustics of the auditorium. Also if the mic is pinned on the performer’s chest there may be a certain amount of chest resonance to deal with. Female performers very often prefer the mic fixed to their forehead with micro-pore tape  and covered by their hair…….. which nicely solves the chest resonance problem! Wearing the mic on a headset is a great way of getting it close to the performer’s mouth and thereby greatly increasing the possible gain. Unfortunately I have seldom worked with a solo performer who likes wearing a headset!

Over many years the Sennheiser MKE2 has become an industry standard in British theatre. The MKE2  delivers an almost flat frequency response from 20hz to 20Khz (apart from a gentle presence peak at around 12khz) and has a superb transient response due to its tiny size. Also being omni-directional it is capable of sounding very neutral and uncoloured, with no proximity effect.

Sennheiser MKE2=4 Gold  Tech Spec.

Here are a couple of examples of this excellent workhorse microphone in action.

Telephones and Microphones How to Make and Use Them (circa 1910)

With the gradual increase in the popularity of the telephone, and early experiments in radio, by the beginning of the 20th century the mass production of microphones was well underway. These were almost exclusively of the simple carbon variety found in telephones right up to the 1980s. There was even an appetite amongst hobbyists and enthusiasts for making your own!

This charming little book (circa 1910) contains all sorts of useful information and suggestions;  including a method, ( based on an 1878 experiment by Professor Hughes), for making a microphone out of 3 NAILS, a battery and some wire!! ……….. So much cheaper than a Neumann U87 !!!

M- Microphone, B-Battery, T- Telephone receiver.

M- Microphone, B-Battery, T- Telephone receiver.

As sound hits the middle nail it vibrates, causing tiny fluctuations in the current on its way to the receiver………

Let me know if you get this to work!!!! Maybe give me a ring!

Sennheiser MKH 815T-U. A Monster T-Powered RF-Condenser Shotgun from the 1970s !

Looking forward to pointing this fabulous vintage shotgun at some wildlife !!

Looking forward to pointing my fabulous new vintage shotgun at some wildlife !!……….. Though it does feel like maybe I aught to have some kind of license for this!

Sennheiser MKH 815T Manual

This is a test recording of my own footsteps in the snow. There is a busy main road only a 100yds away and an industrial estate. The MKH 815 has very largely attenuated everything but the sound of my foot steps crunching through the snow.
Hoping to do some wildlife recording when the weather gets a bit better!!