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So I'm working on a musical and about three out of 10 face mics continue to produce pops when the actors move quickly or over-enunciate consonants. Yes I have added wind guards, yes I have lowered the gain, fine tuned the eq, and changed the taping/placement. I'm running into a wall with the show opening this Thursday, and any help getting rid of these unwanted pops would be much appreciated. Has this happened to anyone? Does anyone know how to get rid of it?

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If you are using an earset, the #1 thing you can do is to get that boom out of direct line with the mouth. That's assuming what you are getting is breath noise.

You said you have already looked at the gain structure, so I will leave that one alone.

If you are using traditional lavalieres with tape or floral wire, try going for a temple mount (capsule on the hard part of the cheekbone, just past the ear) or even better, a wig mount (capsule located centered on forehead hidden right at the hairline.)

For quality of sound, the wig mount will usually give you the most natural sounding result, albeit with a loss of gain via a vis the earset mount.

All of this assumes your pops are breath noise, and that you have performers who can project well enough for the wig mount, and that you are not going for the close-miked rock show aesthetic. (that said, I have used the wig mount successfully with 10 year old kids, so your performers should be able to handle it.)

And as Fred said earlier, it could be a cable break, if your popping sound is clean and transient that might indicate an electrical fault instead. More info could definitely help.

  • Awesome answer. Thanks - gives me ideas for future shows I might do. – Utopia Nov 15 '11 at 6:25
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Define "face-mic"? Is it a lapel in someone's hair? Is it a mic gaffer-taped to someone's cheek? Are they mics that reach out from the person's ear and in front of their mouth like a headset situation? Face-mic means nothing - please specify what exact mics you're using.

What's your roll-off at?

What wind guard are you talking about? A cheap piece of foam or a professional-grade rycote mini-windjammer made for lapel mics? There is a big difference.

Don't worry. There are ways of fixing it but first I need to know what exact mic and what exact position you have it on the person.

It can also be something totally different than a wind problem - on a show I was doing we had the same "wind problems" - low bursts of low-end that sounded exactly like overloads on the capsules of our mics - but nope, it was a faulty piece of equipment spitting DC into the signal chain.

  • It's this the-microphone-guide.com/images/…, medical taped to the cheek, with the wind guard in the picture. The mic is about two fingers width away from the corner of the mouth. – gahoolecat Nov 14 '11 at 22:31
  • @gahoolecat lol well, I just thought of this one - Get the director to agree to give those characters who are troublesome with wind a beard so you can put that over the mic! Perfect solution. Otherwise, I would try speaking to the actors to have them not expel as much air towards the mic and see if you can ride the fader down while they run around on stage? Hopefully their lines aren't during their running... Otherwise try swapping cables, mics, equipment chains, see if it's a mechanical problem and if it's wind, research more windscreen options than just that foam - perhaps some sort of nylon – Utopia Nov 15 '11 at 6:23
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It might be a cable break? If so, get the trusty soldering iron out!

You should also try swapping out everything you possibly can to see what the problem is. Swap the actors, swap the wireless transmitters (assuming they're wireless), swap the batteries etc. This will help you narrow down the problem to a specific item or component.

Cheers

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What Lavs are you using? I have a pair of DPA 4060s that will pop/clip on loud material (such as an actor yelling) simply because they can't handle the SPL.

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We use the same mics for our pastors and some of our shows. Countryman makes some good mics, but they definitely pop every once in awhile. If it is in the ultra low end, try setting your high pass filter higher. You already mentioned that you placed the mic about an inch or so behind the actor's mouth, which is definitely the right spot. Double check the cabling and rf equipment as well. Can you swap out the mics to try and localize the problem? If it is always the same 3, swap them out for some that never have problems.

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Just did mics for a high school production and had 3 mics busted and several actors had bad popping/crackling, but only in certain scenes... it turns out they had their clothing and collars so tight the mic wires were rubbing and pinching under the tightness of certain outfits... just loosened clothing a bit... put gaff tape around wires in pinch areas ans no more issues or wires pulled out of connectors !

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Noise gating will greatly reduce the number of contributors to the problem at any given time.

Also be sure to use a high-pass filter and don't be scared about pushing the roll-off frequency higher: even if you have bass voices, you want them comprehensible but don't need to rumble the audience: even with the cutoff frequency solidly above the fundamental frequency comprehensibility does not really suffer.

Of course, unless you need such a rumble effect at some point of time but then the actor must be quite careful not to cause rumbling by other means than his (possibly processed) voice.

Pops will still be audible even with high-pass filtering but they won't make you skip a heartbeat.

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