Although the Giovanni Quartet performs on world-class violins, viola, and cello made over 200 years ago by the Gagliano family in Naples, Italy, such acoustic magic was no match for the large space and the background noise of the huge crowd at this year’s event. Karl Winkler, the quartet’s manager and violist, decided to employ DPA microphones and Lectrosonics wireless equipment—not only to be heard through the PA, but to preserve the sound quality of the group’s priceless instruments. As Winkler puts it, “For the past couple of years, we relied entirely on the sound system provider for reinforcement. The challenge has been the fact that that miking and mixing strings is a specialized application. We’ve been miked up with SM58s, and while it worked OK, it was no way to present a string quartet at its finest. Not only was gain before feedback an issue, but sound quality was not what we had hoped for.”
For this year’s event, Winkler selected four DPA4061 miniature microphones and MHS6001 string instrument microphone mounts. For the wireless system, Winkler used four SM transmitters because of their small size, compandor-free sound, and ease of use. According to Winkler, “The Lectrosonics SM transmitters are so small that the quartet members hardly know they’re there. In addition, the sound quality was miles beyond what we had at this event during the past two years. Sight lines were also greatly improved. I always think it’s best if there aren’t any boom stands all over the quartet.” The wireless receiver was a Lectrosonics VRM Venue single-rack-space master frame loaded with four receiver channels and set up off stage at the splitter rack with simple whip antennas.
The sound company for the event was Audio Excellence of Albuquerque. Bo Farley, front-of-house mixer for the event, commented that, “Usually with strings, we end up using a small condenser mic or an SM57 on a boom stand, and the string instruments just don’t put out enough level. This, however, was probably my best experience ever in miking strings—they sounded airy and natural. I’ve never had any problems when I’ve used Lectrosonics gear in the past, so I had great expectations for using their stuff again at this event. I wasn’t disappointed in the least!”