Field Mics for Entire Ensemble


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11 minutes ago, Quad Aces said:

I think it’s interesting that most people guessed the corps that I was referring to in the original post (Colts).  I didn’t mention them by name because I didn’t want to single any corps out.  But that is the corps that some of the audience in Rockford last night around me oohd and ahhd at with their amped sound (and probably some of the natural effect of being the first larger WC hornline to follow two smaller OC hornlines).  But some others in the audience literally plugged their ears because it was too overbearing.

I’m all for loud hornlines, and while I didn’t quite plug my ears yesterday during Colts performance, I did feel that by the end of the performance it was just too much.

It makes everything sound a little strange and texture-less to me.  A whole lotta loud, though.  

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Maybe it is about both....  

I read this topic as “field mice for entire ensemble “, and I was both mystified and a tad creeped out. I see that my reaction was similar to those that understood the actual premise.

Are there really this few of us who recognize the complete absurdity of amplifying an ensemble of 65 to 80 brass players, most of whom are playing instruments that are actually designed to be be, well

5 hours ago, One n Done said:

Weeeellll....Front ensembles are about double the size they were 25 years ago and they are amplified.

Very true. Cadets '83 was the first true Front Ensemble (and actually came up with the name) where they combined percussion ensemble writing and instrumentation with the corps. They had 6 members and it stayed that way for a few years until the late 80's when 8 became the norm. Today's front ensembles have more staff today than there were members back in the 80s.

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There is a difference between how the corps are using amplification. Some are using it to get more volume. A few are using it to get more clarity and even dispersion of sound across the stadium without blowing out any one groups ear drums. Colts are just "turning up the volume" while Bluecoats, Crown and most recently Cadets are using the dispersion model.

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9 hours ago, Cadevilina Crown said:

So to answer your question...

At the annual meetings, most directors were kind of ambivalent about micing the entire ensemble. Eventually, it was determined that the reason designers were trying to do this in the first place was not necessarily to make the corps louder, but to ensure everyone in the stadium is getting the same quality of sound (i.e. brass sound quality does not suffer if you’re sitting far away from the 50). Tom Blair even held a session in which he explained effective ways of using amplification for modern-day DCI. By the end of the meeting, it was said that there was a shift in philosophy amongst directors on this issue, and that corps would work to better incorporate A&E without damaging ears and/or alienating fans.

it was the brass caption at Cavaliers who put in a motion to the designers and staffs to vote on to limit the number of brass players that can be micd and it was completely voted down. meaning almost no one wants to limited how many people in the brassline  you can Mic

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23 minutes ago, Triple Forte said:

it was the brass caption at Cavaliers who put in a motion to the designers and staffs to vote on to limit the number of brass players that can be micd and it was completely voted down. meaning almost no one wants to limited how many people in the brassline  you can Mic

Are there really this few of us who recognize the complete absurdity of amplifying an ensemble of 65 to 80 brass players, most of whom are playing instruments that are actually designed to be be, well, sound cannons? 

And please don't think I'm just another grumpy dino. I absolutely love most of what today's corps are doing. For example, I think what Cadets are doing with their vocalists this year is absolutely beautiful, and I love the occasional trombone or French horn feature. But amping your giant brass line just strikes me as goofy.

 

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11 hours ago, Fred Windish said:

I accept this (overuse) is what happens with any endeavor so creative. Decision makers stretch the limits of what they can get away with. Artificial enhancement really should be carefully limited.  Amplifying a soloist makes very good sense, for example. 

 This is why so many don't want to go into new areas because they know staff will abuse not use use the tools.  When they push too far things look, sound and move like cr#@ and that's why I don't like it.  Also micing every solo  is absurd imo.  there are times where there's no reason to have a micd solo. so we don't get the purity of the person's individual tone we get an amped sound which is a shame 

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I’ve said for a while now that we aren’t that far away from a corps putting a wireless mic on every instrument and getting the “perfect” balance via the sound board.

I would imagine the only thing holding a corps back from doing this right now is cost.  So once the wireless mic technology comes down in price from where it is currently or a corps gets a nice sponsorship deal from Shure like they do today from say Yamaha, we probably will see a corps do this - then the arms race will escalate, and then all corps will be micing every instrument.

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6 hours ago, Quad Aces said:

I’ve said for a while now that we aren’t that far away from a corps putting a wireless mic on every instrument and getting the “perfect” balance via the sound board.

I would imagine the only thing holding a corps back from doing this right now is cost.  So once the wireless mic technology comes down in price from where it is currently or a corps gets a nice sponsorship deal from Shure like they do today from say Yamaha, we probably will see a corps do this - then the arms race will escalate, and then all corps will be micing every instrument.

The band I worked with the last 24 years did that in 2002. Our HS split into two separate schools, and we ended up with a marching band of 32, including 6 guard, 6 percussion, 19 winds and 1 DM. We wireless micced the clarinets, our one baritone and tuba, our two alto saxes, our single tenor sax, our only mello and our one 2nd trumpet. The only winds NOT micced were the 2 1st trumpets and 2 piccolos. 

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1 minute ago, MikeD said:

The band I worked with the last 24 years did that in 2002. Our HS split into two separate schools, and we ended up with a marching band of 32, including 6 guard, 6 percussion, 19 winds and 1 DM. We wireless micced the clarinets, our one baritone and tuba, our two alto saxes, our single tenor sax, our only mello and our one 2nd trumpet. The only winds NOT micced were the 2 1st trumpets and 2 piccolos. 

You guys are an example of how to get it done with a smaller ensemble using microphones. Always handled well, whenever I've seen the band. 
 

I do wonder why corps with 70-80 well-trained brass players need to be miked as an ensemble... other than what I stated earlier about the admirable goal of trying to reach folks outside the "impact zone" between the 40s. But I'd prefer that miked audio not be as tinny and artificial-sounding  as it has tended to be for me, with several corps on several occasions.  IMO, it actually lessens the visceral impact those great horn lines can have on an audience, instead of enhancing that impact.

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I'm glad this topic is already created, as I was going to start one.

Was at the Moonlight Classic two weeks ago.  Totally unaware of the new "rules/allowances".  I noticed the mic-ing first with the Mandarins.  We sat on the 35 side 1 (or A, depending on your upbringing).  They were very loud, which is good, because I like loud.  At one point I noticed the drum line was playing on the opposite 40...but it "sounded" like they were playing on my 40.  That's when I noticed the mics picking up their sound and throwing it through a speaker.  THEN I realized that's how my hometown kids had suddenly become so loud...cranked to 11!

I chose to ignore the infraction, thinking that there's no way DCI was letting groups use mics to artificially enhance their volume.  "Must have been a mistake at the ol' sound board," I thought.

Then...the coveted Blue Devils.  "Mics up!" I said to myself.  And sure enough, there I am, sitting on  the 35, hearing things I shouldn't.  The brass was positioned on the other half of the field.  I expected to hear the awesome BD brass out of my right ear, but oh no no.  Here was the full sound, emitting from the stack of speakers squarely placed in front of me.  You know what wasn't in front of me...the HORN LINE!!!  It doesn't make sense.  I asked my wife what she thought about the mic situation.  The word cheating came to both our minds.  Not just cheating by making sound louder, cheating the audience, giving the auditory appearance of things that are not.

If a horn line is opposite field, it should sound like it is! 

If a drum line is parked right in front of me, it should sound like it is!

If a drum corps is made up of 70 marching brass, 20 marching drums and an awesome pit...IT SHOULD SOUND LIKE IT IS!!!

...breath...

That same night, The Academy came out and blew our face off.  No additional mics.  The show was questionable, but I'll be darned if they weren't every bit as loud as the Mandies and Devs.  And it felt AUTHENTIC.  This notion that an entire drum corps needs to be micd for the betterment of the crowd is ridiculous.  Before reading this thread, I was seriously going to send a note to the DCI offices regarding what I and other "old folks" like me (38 btw) considered unfair...again, not unfair to the judges or corps members, but unfair to us paying customers.  But come to find out DCI chose to make this ok.  DCI is allowing this deception, rationalizing it as yet another "design element".

Mic the pit, that makes sense.

Mic the soloists...IF it's a "voice" that under normal circumstances would be drowned out (ex. BD french horn soloists, or actual voice)...NOT if you need one sop or mellow to be heard over all the others.  Something like that should happen naturally, and if it doesn't, design drill that helps showcase who and what is supposed to be showcased.

If live corps start sounding no better than Youtube corps, I'll save my money and watch at home.  Gas is expensive.  And If I think a corps should be louder...I guess I'll do what "modern" drum corps do now...turn the knob.

--end rant--

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