I totally agree with Greg on cutting the low frequencies. I also appreciate the info on
ringing out the room. I have wondered: do men need to hear higher frequencies and women
not so much?
--- On Thu, 5/7/09, gregmck(a)earthlink.net <gregmck(a)earthlink.net> wrote:
From: gregmck(a)earthlink.net <gregmck(a)earthlink.net>
Subject: Re: [Callers] How to "Ring out a (microphone) channel"
To: "Caller's discussion list" <callers(a)sharedweight.net>
Date: Thursday, May 7, 2009, 7:01 PM
"Your overall goal is to adjust the sound coming out of the house speakers
get as much volume as you can without any 'ringing' sound."
Thank you Will for this information. I understand how this process would work
for most PA system setups at musical concerts and other performances. It is
certainly targeted at minimizing feedback--a worthy goal in any situation.
I have concerns, however, if this is the best way to set up a caller's
mike. When I attend dances I find that the caller's mike is often set up
with a lot of low frequency response and little high frequency. I wonder if
that may be because the audio person has followed this very advice.
With little high frequency response the caller is likely to have difficulty
being understood clearly because the highs are essential for hearing the speech
articulation sounds that help us to distinguish between words. The words
"left" and "right," for example, will sound almost identical
when the high frequencies are removed.
A concert is a very different situation than a social event. At a concert the
fans already know the words and those who don't can simply buy the album and
read the insert, (if that kind of thing is important to them). The voice is
really being used as a musical instrument and clear articulation is not vital.
The context of words in a song will often reveal the meaning without being able
to make out every word. In any case there is no pressure to catch every word
either sung or spoken.
Do you remember the sound of a PA system on a military ship? You've heard
it in movies. The voice is transmitted through metal horns that are very tinny,
reproducing all of the high frequencies with great effectiveness. This may not
sound soothing or melodious but in a critical situation--where lives depend on
instructions being understood clearly--this setup is perfect for cutting through
the roar of the sea, the engines, and the wind to make the message
At a contra dance we don't need the blare of a ship's PA system, but
the principle is an important one. English is not a tonal language and
fricatives, stops, and glides are essential for communication. We need to hear
these speech elements clearly, and they all occur in the higher frequencies.
Contra dances are social events. As such the PA system is really there for
reinforcement only and high volume does not need to be the primary goal.
Perhaps our efforts would be better directed at discussing the skills a caller
uses to earn and hold the attention of the hall so that we can lower the overall
volume. For many dancers this would be greatly appreciated. It would lower
stress levels in the hall and encourage a more sociable and gracious tone. I
find that at a lower volume I can crank up the treble on my mike without
feedback problems. It is much easier to be understood at a lower volume with
the high frequencies emphasized.
Thank you Will for educating me on this technique. I can see why it is done
and I can also see how it can create problems for a dance caller.
I would be very interested to hear what others think of all this.
Just a thought,
At 06:42 PM 5/6/2009, Will wrote:
A very knowledgeable pro audio person just gave me a
mini-course on how to
do basic sound setup for a mike, something I¹ve always wanted to know
about. At many dances there is a sound person who will
do this for you but
sometimes there isn¹t and this little bit of info may be of help. It
certainly demystified things for me. I wrote this up and then edited it a
bit more after getting his feedback. Others may have additional comments.
How to ³Ring Out a Channel² for a microphone
You overall goal is to adjust the sound coming out of the house speakers
get as much volume as you can without any Œringing¹
sound. Every room is
different in terms of what frequencies it absorbs and reflects, so the
necessary settings will differ from place to place. Different mikes will
also require different settings. The adjustment described below can be
systematically and in just a few minutes.
1. Setting Initial Gain from the Mic (aka input level or ³trim²)
> * Turn house volume (for your mike) completely down usually the
> * Set all EQ controls to flat (middle position)
> * Turn up Gain - usually the first control knob or slider for your
> Œchannel¹ - while speaking into mike until you
see levels on the
meter or the
> clipping light flashes. Adjust gain to just below
clipping or 0db
> depending on what kind of feedback level meter
or clipping light -
the sound board.
2. Setting EQ (balancing the sound for the room by getting rid of
> * Turn up house volume on the mic channel until you hear a ringing
> your voice
> * Reduce level on first EQ slider/dial (often labeled Œhighs¹) to
see if it
> reduces or eliminates ringing. If it does,
increase house volume
> ringing is again apparent. If no change, reset to
flat and go to next
> * Reduce level on next EQ slider/dial to reduce/eliminate ringing.
> house volume again until ringing occurs.
> * Repeat for each subsequent EQ range available on sound board
> have highs, mids and lows, others may have
> may not need to adjust all the EQ¹s, e.g. the low
> just keep running up the volume and adjusting out
the rings until you
> plenty of volume. Your objective is to get as
much volume as you need
3. Fine-tuning: If time permits after you¹ve rung out the channel
then play with the EQ to adjust for sound quality. Keep talking into the
and make very subtle adjustments to the EQ until you
get a smooth natural
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