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Tech: amplifying acoustic ceilidh bands

Les in Chorlton 13 Mar 15 - 10:45 AM
Will Fly 13 Mar 15 - 11:21 AM
GUEST 13 Mar 15 - 11:27 AM
Will Fly 13 Mar 15 - 11:31 AM
Les in Chorlton 13 Mar 15 - 12:15 PM
Will Fly 13 Mar 15 - 12:30 PM
breezy 13 Mar 15 - 05:07 PM
Tootler 13 Mar 15 - 07:00 PM
GUEST,rewster 14 Mar 15 - 06:00 AM
GUEST,rewster 14 Mar 15 - 06:01 AM
GUEST,Tootler 14 Mar 15 - 08:36 AM
CupOfTea 14 Mar 15 - 09:44 AM
GUEST,rewster 14 Mar 15 - 10:34 AM
Leadfingers 14 Mar 15 - 11:08 AM
GUEST,Tootler cookieless 14 Mar 15 - 01:21 PM
GUEST,rewster 15 Mar 15 - 07:08 AM
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Subject: Tech: amplifying acoustic ceilidh bands
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 13 Mar 15 - 10:45 AM

We have a loose collective of around 50 musicians - squeezers, fiddles, whistles. guitars, banjos, bass, percussion and so on. We play as a ceilidh of whoever turns up. This generally gives a band of between 10 and 20 and surprisingly a good cross section of instruments.

In small halls we simply play acoustically but for larger halls I think we need some PA. In terms of mikes and so on what is the best way of collecting our 'group sound'?


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Subject: RE: Tech: amplifying acoustic ceilidh bands
From: Will Fly
Date: 13 Mar 15 - 11:21 AM

Les, I would have thought that, with 10, 20 or more players, you'd fill all but the biggest of halls. Presumably your caller uses a PA in any case - just to be heard above the band?

If you really want to go down the amplified route, you'll have to work out who might use mics and who might have DI (Direct Input) into the PA.

Do you have a mixer? Our band has a 16-channel mixer - the sax/melodeon player uses 5 of them - one mic for each side of his two boxes, and one for his sax! We occasionally use an extra muso who plays various instruments, and he brings his own 8-channel sub-mixer - which then plugs into the main mixer. You may want to go down this route... group mixers into a main mixer.


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Subject: RE: Tech: amplifying acoustic ceilidh bands
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Mar 15 - 11:27 AM

what about the old timey method of 2 or 3 omni mics spread evenly amongst the massed players ?


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Subject: RE: Tech: amplifying acoustic ceilidh bands
From: Will Fly
Date: 13 Mar 15 - 11:31 AM

That's certainly an option, if the volume balance can be maintained among a group of players.


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Subject: RE: Tech: amplifying acoustic ceilidh bands
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 13 Mar 15 - 12:15 PM

Thanks Will and Guest - maybe we should just play smaller Halls?

What is an omni mike?


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Subject: RE: Tech: amplifying acoustic ceilidh bands
From: Will Fly
Date: 13 Mar 15 - 12:30 PM

An omni is an omni-directional mike that will pick up sounds from a very wide angle, or even from a full 360 degree circle. Many mics have a narrow field, so you have to be fairly in front of them to get a reasonable sound.

The mics on my little Zoom H2 (for example: the front mic has a 90 degree angle sound "catchment", while the rear mic has (I believe) a 120 degree angle catchment.

The principle problem, with whatever amplification you use, is sound balancing - and the pre-dancing sound check. Our band has 6 musicians and a caller, and we can more or less leave the mixing controls in a set position from gig to gig, with just some minor adjustments dependant on the individual hall acoustics. And our sound check takes us about 10 minutes or so. Whereas, if you're constantly varying the number and type of musicians from gig to gig, the balance will be more complex and the sound check much longer!

I believe there were some symphonic recordings made in the 1950s in Canada where there was just one supermic for the whole orchestra - suspended from the ceiling. The records sounded great!

For bigger venues of course, you could recruit more players - rather than stick to smaller venues... :-)


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Subject: RE: Tech: amplifying acoustic ceilidh bands
From: breezy
Date: 13 Mar 15 - 05:07 PM

have a mixer desk out back of hall with a soundman who knows what to do.
Hint ,

The guitar is always drowned out by any instrument !

Thats an orchestra not a band you got there mate

You'll need a conductor too !


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Subject: RE: Tech: amplifying acoustic ceilidh bands
From: Tootler
Date: 13 Mar 15 - 07:00 PM

I have, on a couple of occasions been involved in bands such as the OP describes and on a couple of other been in the audience when such bands were performing.

In each case a small number of band members acted as principles and either had instruments plugged in directly or were close miked with mics attached to the instruments or by standing close to a mic. They were the "engine" of the band. For the rest, mics (presumably omnis) were distributed round the band to pick up the remainder of the band. The sound was balanced so that the principles stood out but the remainder of the band could still be heard so that they sounded like a band and not a few soloists with some also rans. Will Fly makes a good point about needing time to set up and sound check.

It's worth using time in a practice to set up your PA and get some basic settings so that you know where to plug everything in and what approximate settings to start from (and where everyone is to sit/stand) so you don't waste time setting up and with your sound check when you're doing it for real. It's important to start on time, after all.


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Subject: RE: Tech: amplifying acoustic ceilidh bands
From: GUEST,rewster
Date: 14 Mar 15 - 06:00 AM

I've played in large folk orchestras and it may help to group like instruments together so that the omnis are easier to balance. All the boxes together etc.

DI the pricipals as stated.


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Subject: RE: Tech: amplifying acoustic ceilidh bands
From: GUEST,rewster
Date: 14 Mar 15 - 06:01 AM

principals...


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Subject: RE: Tech: amplifying acoustic ceilidh bands
From: GUEST,Tootler
Date: 14 Mar 15 - 08:36 AM

Yes, I got it wrong. I should have said principals.


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Subject: RE: Tech: amplifying acoustic ceilidh bands
From: CupOfTea
Date: 14 Mar 15 - 09:44 AM

I play in the US version of the OP's sort of group - an open contra dance band. We mostly play unamplified, with the caller having her own mic system. If we lack a piano in tune, we bring an electric keyboard, as piano sets the pulse and pace of the band. We typically have 12-36 players - hammer dulcimers, fiddles, recorder, banjo, mandolin, upright bass, single autoharp & concertina. Only 4-10 will show up at a rehearsal, though.

We use our sound system when we play dances in spaces with horrid acoustics - like a gymnasium - or for family dances with streams of screaming wee girlies. Piano has it's own amp. We use about 8 mics, placed between members, who sit closer than usual. The melody players get more attention, particularly if they're outnumbered by rhythm players - then our stronger hammer dulcimer players may get a mic of their own. We get to the amplified gigs an hour ahead for setup and sound check. Those who don't bother to get there early may not be near a mic at all - part of the risk of an open band - not everyone has the same level of dedication. (wish we could dole out the pay with the same negligent attitude)

What having the sound system requires, outside the considerable cost, is having someone who knows how to set up and run it available for all gigs,& someone to store and transport the system. All of those are big commitments. The advantage is being able to play a wider range of gigs. YMMV.

Joanne in Cleveland


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Subject: RE: Tech: amplifying acoustic ceilidh bands
From: GUEST,rewster
Date: 14 Mar 15 - 10:34 AM

Not you, Guest Tootler - me: I wrote "pricipals".
Mea culpa typo crappo.


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Subject: RE: Tech: amplifying acoustic ceilidh bands
From: Leadfingers
Date: 14 Mar 15 - 11:08 AM

If you are mixing acoustic with D I , DONT let any of the D I'd people anywhere near the controls as they always tend to turn themselves up too much - some one with a good ear should do all the mixing . Ideally , every one should be D I'd and running trough a mixer ,though with as many musos as Les is talking about that can be difficult AND expensive .
At a push , a collection of smallish mixers (Maplins do a Four channel for less than £100) into a decent sized mixer could work , and make a note as to settings which suit instruments so that you are not mixing from scratch for every gig .


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Subject: RE: Tech: amplifying acoustic ceilidh bands
From: GUEST,Tootler cookieless
Date: 14 Mar 15 - 01:21 PM

Subject: RE: Tech: amplifying acoustic ceilidh bands
From: GUEST,rewster
Date: 14 Mar 15 - 10:34 AM

Not you, Guest Tootler - me: I wrote "pricipals".
Mea culpa typo crappo.

Yes but I was the one above who,wrote "principles". Wrong term; I'm always getting them mixed up.

Cookieless because on iPad and CBA to reset said cookie.


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Subject: RE: Tech: amplifying acoustic ceilidh bands
From: GUEST,rewster
Date: 15 Mar 15 - 07:08 AM

Guest Tootler, you are a noble soul....


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