The student-led orientation of Belmont University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts program in Nashville, Tennessee is the ideal environment for students to learn the trade of theater production and acting. But the benefits of this hands-on educational approach were coming at an increasingly higher cost for the school, as students were regularly rendering the school’s lav mics unusable by hastily removing the taped-on mics after performances and rehearsals. The result was student actors uncomfortable with taped mics to the face, and a rash of defective mics and cables. The problem was ultimately solved by the school upgrading from the low-tech manner of taping mics to the face, to the highly concealable and stable EMBRACE™ earmount microphones by Point Source Audio.
The High Cost of Low Tech
“After a show or rehearsal students are generally in a hurry to rush off and do their own thing,” says Belmont production and facilities manager, Rusty King. “We’ve used other brands of lav mics in the past taped to the student’s cheek. More often than not, when a student pulled those mics off in a rush after a show or performance, they would tear out the cable or break it off at a point, making it totally unusable. This regular breakage was costing the school a lot of money to replace the mics.”
Student Voices are Heard
King knew something had to be done. His research into finding an alternative mic placement solution led him to the Point Source Audio EMBRACE EO-8WL Earmount Microphone. King initially bought 16 EMBRACE mics for the department, and has been steadily adding to the collection after positive experience and reviews from the students. Featuring a patented custom-fit ear mounted design, the EMBRACE EO-8WL lav mic solved the problem of requiring the mic to be taped on the cheek, which immediately led to the benefit of less breakage and more consistent high-quality audio.
“We were regularly breaking other manufacturer’s microphones because they were small and not very pliable,” says King. “I had to find something that would be more durable, without sacrificing audio quality and placement versatility. I heard about the Point Source Audio EMBRACE microphones and thought the versatile design would be the perfect solution to address the problems we were having, and I was right.”
Broadway-style Mics On the Money
The EMBRACE microphones initially appealed to King because the design allows for the lav mic to be either attached to the earpiece or removed from the earpiece for taping to the face. “The EMBRACE design basically gave me the option to still tape the lav on the cheek if I needed to,” says King. “And the EMBRACE has a sturdy cable, so it’s not so much of a big of a deal if a student does pull it off.” The audio quality and durability of the EMBRACE mics have paved the way for King and the department to gravitate away from other lav mics that tended to be less durable. “I needed something like the EMBRACE that sounds great but still fits our budget, so I could buy 16 or 20 at a time if needed.”
The size of the Broadway-style productions that Belmont puts on does require a higher level of wireless mics to be used at one time. “We do basically two big productions for musical theater every year, one in the spring and one in the fall,” says King. “Each are huge productions with 40, 50, sometimes 60 channels of wireless. Generally the entire cast is singing and the EMBRACE mics work out really well because they easily fit over the ear and are inconspicuous. And, they tie right into our Shure ULXD system really well. As a matter of fact, we just finished our Spring production of “On the Town” at the Troutt Theater, and the extensive number of EMBRACE mics we used worked flawlessly every night!”
Less Repairs, More Repertory
Since selecting the Point Source Audio EMBRACE microphones as the go-to lav of choice, King has been able to focus less on microphone repairs and replacements and more on repertory. “With the EMBRACE microphones, we’re now able to do productions at a better quality than we’ve ever been able to do,” says King. “Additionally, the EMBRACE has helped us in both concealing the microphones and making the actors and singers sound really good. And, probably most importantly for us because of the nature of our hands-on program is that durability has been a major factor in our plan to buy more. If students can’t tear them up, that’s one of my biggest criteria when I decide what to buy. And students can tear up just about anything. EMBRACE has really done a great job of helping us keep the audio quality in our productions consistently great.”
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Located in Nashville, Tennessee, Belmont University is home to the College of Visual and Performing Arts, a vibrant creative community offering accredited programs in Art, Music, Theatre and Dance. The College houses two performance theaters, the 300-seat Troutt Theater and 1000-seat Massey Hall. The Troutt Theater is a proscenium-style space that hosts mostly theatrical productions and speaking events for the university, as well as providing a place for regional organizations to perform, including The Nashville Shakespeare Festival, The Actor’s Bridge Ensemble, The Nashville Children’s Theatre and The Nashville Ballet to name a few.
The extensive number of Embrace mics we used worked flawlessly every night!