yet another SPL

I recently read some comments about Radio Snak spl meters and how they can be off by "X" amount in their readings. I understand the concept of wanting an accurate reading or an accurate piece of equipment, but what gets me is the underlying thought process.

It is like people think that some person out there in the crowd is walking around with their own personal dosimeter (which if read my previous comments about SPL you know is the only legal way to determine spl) and is going to call the cops and have someone arrested that very hour. Now, admittedly, I do not live in a military state here in the USA. So, maybe someone in one of those dictatorial situations might have to be worried about this. But here in the USA and most other free nations, it takes proof and time (lots of time in the US) to get to that point of a new pair of bracelets.

Without going into it again about how a real spl is determined, if for some reason someone complained and found a lawyer, then that lawyer will compose a document (more than likely a cease and desist) and send it to the offending party. But then someone who owns a dosimeter and is qualified to run it will have to show up to the next event and take readings. Even if this person is hired and brought in before a document is constructed, it would seem pretty obvious when someone shows up with a testing device mounted on a tripod is set up in your house of worship. BTW, most live events are not weekly in the same room except for those in the religious world.

So you went out and bought a Rad Snak meter and, Oh No!, it is off by 6 dBspl. Then someone comes by and makes a stink. There is this little concept called "due diligence". The fact that you even bought anything and are aware of what is going on shows that you care and that if you happen to fall into a grey, let alone harmful, situation, you are adequately showing that it wouldn't be intentional.

Alarmism isn't the prudent process here, folks. If you really want to cover your tail, then just keep a box of those squishy ear plugs in the booth with a little sign somewhere stating that hearing protection is available. Maybe charge them for it. We live in a free country, no one is forcing these folks to stay in the loud environment anyway. So how are they going to sue you intentionally. The only lawsuit that could stand would be where someone could state that they didn't know about the harm of loud environments and they can prove hearing damage. But if they own any personal music device they can't make that case since everyone puts in that little warning card in their packaging.

You want to watch your volume. That is great. I am all for it. But if you really want the true deal then go out and spend the money to get the true test equipment and stop worrying about the Snak. You know that they sell consumer level equipment anyway, it would be absurd to assume their gear be professional.

Look, you change your tires on your car to a different size, your speedometer is no longer accurate. Besides, your speedometer may or not be accurate with the factory tires anyway. Change the air pressure and it will make it wrong as well. That is why the cops usually go after folks going 5 or more over. Its all about intention. They know that there is that fudge factor.

My whole point is that you should use your ears and make the volume feel good and right. 95% of your crowd will go willingly to whatever that volume falls into. I have never heard a non-audio professional say, "Man if that was only 2.5 dBspl quieter, I would have been in heaven!" Its all perception.

Choir mics

I have a new favorite mic for choirs.

Recently, I have been dealing with a church that has a decent sized choir but they sing primarily with tracks. They want a decent amount of monitor thrown back at them (unfortunately, not unusual) plus they don't project a lot of volume in their singing. Part of this is due to the arrangement of being spread out and standing in straight lines vs. in a choral arrangement. So even with all of my experience in feedback control, I wasn't getting quite the level that I needed to make the pastor happy. Due to the stage design, the pastor didn't want to use hanging mics either.

I started looking at all of the options that I could find out about, calling friends and such. Throughout this, I heard that a large church of the same denomination of this church had done a mic shootout and had settled on the Earthworks SR series hypercardiod mics. Knowing that it would be an easier sell to this church, I thought that I would take a serious look at these mics.

Well, after looking a many polar plots it became obvious that the cool feature of the the earthworks hyper mics is that they basically have a cardiod front pattern with the hyper pattern on the back side. So really wide front pickup but great rejection on the back. Their rejection is fairly even across the frequency spectrum which most of the smaller mics don't have.

Here's the kicker that Earthworks doesn't want you to know. They have a series called the Flex series, which is designed for podium purposes. Upon looking at the costs of their mics, I noticed that the flex series is priced almost half of the SR series. This is more than likely due to the SR series picking up to 30Khz (but what PA speaker can adequately reproduce and throw such high freq's?) Also, the flex series has an option called "stiff center" that isn't really noted on the site. The stiff center only had a short gooseneck section then a straight tube followed by a goose section at the mic head.

So here's what I ended up getting. I bought the Earthworks FM720/HC stiff center. I bought the 27" version so that I don't use a boom arm on the mic stand. I let the 27" of the mic due the reach out. It looks actually very nice as noted by the pastor and his wife.

As I stated at the top, I now have a new favorite choir mic. These things performed extremely. During rehearsal, I could barely hear the choir director talk since she was standing within 6 feet of backside of the mic. Yet, it felt like I could hear the choir breathing - got them to about 85dBspl at FOH. The church is in heaven with the performance of their choir now. Plus the money that I saved them by finding the flex series.

I would like to thank the guys at Earthworks for helping me in this venture especially Dennis.