Gurus of Tech
by Dave Horn
I will be in Chicago at the Gurus of Tech conference on Tuesday, May 21, and Wednesday, May 22. Gurus is one of the largest gatherings of church tech people in the country and it's being held at the Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, IL.
Registeration is still open and it's as cheap as free. $25 donation suggested. The lineup of speakers is world-class, and I'll be there, too. If you see me, stop me and say hello; it'll be great to see you there.
And if you need something while I'm gone, just call the office. Gary Williams will be handling my calls, the guys will still be installing equipment, and the warehouse crew will be making sure that your orders get shipped on time.
Shure Apps Tech Tip: Microphone Distance Factor
What is the Distance Factor for a microphone? In brief, it means that a directional microphone may be placed farther away from a talker than an omnidirectional microphone and still produce similar audio results. This assumes two microphones of equal quality and sensitivity.
As an example of the Distance Factor, let's consider a simple application: recording a talker's voice in a meeting room. Through experimentation, an omnidirectional mic is found to produce an acceptable recording when placed 2 feet away from the talker.
Acceptable recording = minimal level of background noise in relation to the talker's voice level. Rule of thumb: the talker audio should be at least 20 dB louder than the background noise.
Now try a cardioid microphone in place of the omnidirectional. The Distance Factor for a cardioid is 1.7. This means the cardioid may be placed 1.7 times the distance of the omnidirectional and produce the same audio quality. In this example, the cardioid may be located 3.4 feet away (2 feet x 1.7) from the talker and produce an acceptable recording. The Shure KSM141 is the perfect microphone for this experiment as it can be switched from omnidirectional to cardioid.
Next, try a supercardioid mic in place of the omnidirectional mic. The Distance Factor for a supercardioid is 1.9. So it may be placed 3.8 feet away (2 feet x 1.9) from the talker and produce an acceptable recording.
Then, put a hypercardioid microphone in place of the omnidirectional. The Distance Factor for a hypercardioid is 2.0. It may be placed 4 feet away (2 feet x 2.0) and produce an acceptable recording.
Finally, try a shotgun microphone in place of the omnidirectional microphone. The Distance Factor for a typical shotgun is 3.0, which allows the microphone to be placed 6 feet away (2 feet x 3.0) from the talker and produce an acceptable recording.
Remember that the Distance Factor is a multiplication function that directly relates to the audio quality obtained with an omnidirectional mic in a given acoustic environment. If an omnidirectional mic must be used at 1 inch from the talker for acceptable results in a noisy setting, then a hypercardioid mic must be used at 2 inches for the same results... not, not, not the 4 feet mentioned in the previous example above.
IMPORTANT: The increase in Distance Factor for a directional mic is due to its greater rejection of ambient (background) noise, not due to any increase in sensitivity to the desired sound source. In other words, the directional mic does NOT reach out and grab the sound emanating from the talker's mouth. Really, it does not…
When a mic is placed farther from the talker, more amplification is necessary to maintain the same output level. In a public address application, it is loudspeaker positioning that often dictates microphone location and overrides the Distance Factor in determining the maximum distance from microphone to talker.
SUMMARY OF DISTANCE FACTOR
Omnidirectional = 1 Cardioid = 1.7 Supercardioid =1.9
Hypercardioid = 2.0 Shotgun = 3.0
Shure Tech Tip: A Small Slice of Ohm's Law
The sound system designer required the power consumed (in watts) from each Shure product in the design. This information was required to satisfy the local electrical inspector that the sound system would not overload the electrical circuits in the vintage building. In most cases, the watts rating can be found on the Shure User Guide for the product. If it is not listed, it can be calculated; all that is required is simple multiplication. First, here is a lesson in basic electronics using water as the analogy:
Current, measured in amperes, is the amount of water flow.
Voltage, measure in volts, is the water pressure.
Power, measured in watts, is the amount of work the water can do.
Water power is "water pressure" multiplied by "water flow."
Electrical power is "voltage" multiplied by "current."
Example 1: A kitchen toaster needs 120 Vac (volts alternating current) to operate and consumes 10 amperes. 120 multiplied by 10 = 1,200 watts.
Example 2: The Shure UA844SWB needs 18 Vdc (volts direct current) to operate and consumes 3 amperes. 18 multiplied by 3 = 54 watts.
Example 3: The Shure ULX4 needs 15 Vdc to operate and consumes 0.550 ampere (550 milliamps.) 15 multiplied by 0.550 = 8.25 watts.
The math also works in this way:
Example 4: The SCM800 is rated at 24 watts when connected to a 120 Vac source. 24 divided by 120 = 0.2 ampere or 200 milliamps.
If the voltage and amperes are known, the wattage can be calculated. If the wattage and voltage is known, the amperes can be calculated.
Wired Guitar + Wired Microphone = Electric Shock
A Tech Tip from Shure Applications Engineering:
The musician was bewildered…more than usual. "When my guitar is connected to my amp with a cable, and I sing into a wired mic, I get an electrical shock through my lips. If my guitar is wireless, it does not happen. If my mic is wireless, it does not happen. Why do I get shocked when the guitar and the mic both use a cable?"
Of course, the mic gets blamed because it touches the lips. But the culprit is not the mic, nor the cables. The culprit is the guitar amp.
Because of the electric design of many vintage guitar amps, it is not uncommon for a small amount of current (120 VAC) to "leak" onto the amp chassis.
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What others say
Those Heil mics are "da bomb"! Unbelievable difference. Thanks so much for pointing us to them.