Jan 30, 2007 by Millimeter Staff
Sometimes a piece of professional audio equipment comes along that, although only a small component, can be the key to the successful performance of an entire system. For Georgia-based Technical Services Audio Visual (TSAV), that item is Sennheiser's gooseneck-mounting ME 36 mini-shotgun microphone capsule, which has had a profound impact on the company's audio system designs, according to president Pete Dugas.
"That microphone has allowed for change in our approach to sound system design in a lot of applications," reports Dugas, whose professional audio-visual consulting, contracting, and integration company has been in operation since 1991. "When I'm working in a highly reverberant environment or a situation where there are a lot of novice users and operators, I go to this mic."
The Sennheiser ME 36 is a back-electret condenser microphone head that, mounted on the MZH 3015 gooseneck, offers an unobtrusive and highly directional solution to the challenges presented by a wide range of speech applications. For Dugas andTSAV, the discovery of the mini-shotgun microphone, which incorporates the proven ME 105 capsule from Sennheiser's series of modular lavaliere products, has been close to a life-changing experience.
In particular, he says, the supercardioid pattern ME 36 is often the only solution for certain voice-only applications. "In speech reinforcement systems where the system is designed for constricted bandwidth it's perfect. Not that the bandwidth of the mic is constricted, but I can adjust it to the point where the gain before feedback ratios are astronomically different than they are in a traditional condenser microphone in that sort of application."
That has allowed TSAV to implement trouble-free speech reinforcement in venues where the loudspeaker placement is far from ideal. For example, offers Dugas, "We used them in a '70s-era convention hall at the University of Georgia. The speaker cluster had been hung low over the stage in order to shoot back into an area at the rear of the room and the distance from the presenter's position to the cluster was 16ft. The speakers were lobing a little bit, and the only way for us to get gain before feedback ratios that worked in most public speaking setups [short of correcting the loudspeaker system design, which was cost prohibitive for the project] was to use the ME 36."
TSAV installed a digital front-end to the system so that a preset could be selected for full-bandwidth music applications. "But when it was a speech-only situation and you had novice speakers, you would use the Sennheiser microphone, click to another preset and it would bring up a limited bandwidth setup," Dugas explains.
Similarly, he says, at the 180-year-old St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Macon, Ga., which has the highest dome on the east coast south of Virginia and a RT60 measurement of just over five seconds, the ME 36 handled the close proximity to the loudspeakers with ease. "The line arrays are about 3 1/2ft. from the microphones. They're throwing 120ft. So at the microphone, the sound pressure level is 88dB in order to provide for adequate levels at the back of the room. And the speaker has a 160-degree horizontal dispersion. You put any other microphone up there and it would be difficult to make it work. It's a great mic."