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Chinese Idol
2014-12-17


Chinese Idol is a Chinese reality/singing competition program based on the British television series, Pop Idol.  Chinese Idol premiered on May 19, 2013 on DragonTV and is currently airing for a second season hosted by Lin Hai and Cheng Lei.

The show’s audio team, MAXTEAM, are led by the renowned sound engineer, Mr. Shao Yong. DMT has enjoyed a long cooperation with Mr. Shao and again we provided top level audio equipment and technical supports to him during the contest.

Now, let’s unveil the secrets behind this large-scale show. 

Microphones

As the first part in the audio chain, microphones are very important for what can be achieved later. Models and positions of microphones are crucial to the quality of the sound system. So let’s check the sound source used for Chinese Idol.

Vocal mic of the contestants

MAXTEAM made some comparison between different microphones before the show and decided to use DPA’s d:facto vocal mic from Denmark. D:facto’s reliable and excellent performance was recognized and endorsed by MAXTEAM.

According the Mr. Shao Yong:” d:facto has a supreme sound. The high frequencies are very natural and smooth and has great performance.”

The monitor engineer Mr. Shao Hua also liked d:facto very much:” This super-cardioid microphone is superb. Compared to other super-cardioid microphones, it has much better pattern control at 180° and has a very consistent off-axis frequency response, which makes it much less likely to cause problems on stage.”
 
OB audio engineer Mr. Lin Zhemin said: ”This mic has made my work much simpler. It captures the sounds I really want and it especially has great control of the proximity effect. I only need to do very small adjustments on the EQ and it reproduces vocals far better than other mics. We all like how it sounds.
 
Recording mics for the judges
 
The four judges in front of the stage used DPA’s 4011A cardioid condenser mics. The sound environment here was the most complicated and critical in the whole venue. Sounds from main loudspeakers, foldback system and all reflections all combined in this area. The 4011A has a maximum SPL capability up to 159dB and its linear frequency and phase response off-axis makes it perfect for situations where isolation is needed, but clarity is a must. 
 
 
Recording mics for the live band
 
Many DPA mics were deployed for the live band. The string instruments all used DPA 4099s and DPA’s new VO 2000 drum set (include 4 x low-sensitive 4099 and 4 x 2011C) were used for both drums and percussion. 
 
2011Cs were used for kick and snare, while low-sensitive 4099s were used for toms and two 4011As for overheads. Percussion were recorded by 4009s and 2011Cs.
 
Mr. Lin Zheming has extensive recording experience, so his demands on mics are very high. He is very good at exploring the potential of the mics and insists that all mics are installed and checked by himself before the show.
Mr. Lin installed DPA 2011Cs for percussion
 
Mr. Lin installed DPA 2011Cs for kick 
 
Mr. Lin installed DPA 4099s for percussion
 
 
DPA 2011C
 
2011C For Snare
 
DPA 4099 For Toms
 
Adjusting the position of the mics
 
Drums
 
 Mr. Lin spent a lot of time on positioning and adjusting the mics, while spending only very limited time on fine tuning the parameters on the console. He said:” The console is just a passive audio adjustment tool. Many things we need must come from the original sources and cannot be made or added by the console. So I prefer to spend more time on the positioning the mics, using different angles and distances to achieve what I want. When I started to do live shows, I found that people use same microphones in almost every show. I’m not against this, but I like to try different things. Our job is hard and monotonous sometimes, so I need to try something new – it’s fun. This will bring some unexpected effects to the show. I know DPA were deployed for miking drums on Metallica’s touring show so I was interested to do the same for this show and the process was very interesting. At the beginning we used some traditional drum mics, then we replaced them piece by piece with DPA mics. DPA was so easy to install - they’re so small yet they can handle SPLs up to 152dB. I turned off all the processing and effects on the console and it sounds so great, especially the spatial positioning. Though they’re condenser mics, they rarely have interference and by adjusting the physical position of the mics, I can really get the sound I want. DPA mics have very natural high frequency extension, which reproduce the punch and musicality of the drum very well. One of the advantages of condenser mics is they have wider frequency response, so I can pickup more detail. The 4099s and 2011Cs used on percussion performed really well too. The two drummers, Chris and Leo, said they liked this drum set very much. We’ve gained a lot through the process and I found DPA mics are like a skeleton key – they can effortlessly unlock the potential of any instrument. I tried to use a 2011C to capture the sound of a guitar amplifier and it was amazing. Then the band added a flute, I also gave them a 2011C, it was still amazing. I will try to use different combination of mics for more instruments. This is so exciting.”
 
Effect Processor
 
Mr. Lin also used a Universal Audio Apollo Quad on the main output bus. Apollo provided a wide range of plug-ins, simulating the legendary hardware. “I’ve used many of those original hardware devices, they’re vintage now, but still have great sound. However, because of their size, it’s very difficult to use them on site. The Apollo Quad is a 1U rack-mounted box that contains simulations of all the legendary hardware devices yet they are very convenient and the user interfaces are same as the original hardware, which is makes them easy to operate.”
 
 
Console in OB room
 
In addition, an SSL Live-L500 was deployed in the OB room. Mr. Lin said:” I’ve used SSL console since I started to learn recording. SSL is the standard of this industry. I will often use SSL plug-ins even when I use other consoles, but that cannot compare to processing in the SSL Live. Live has many powerful features.  For example, I can add Automix on the mics of the four judges, which allows me to concentrate on other areas making getting a good mix much simpler.”
 
 
A pair of PMC twotwo.6 monitors and ISO Acoustic speaker mounts were also used in OB room
 
 
 
The devil is in the detail. As a high-profile system integration company, DMT always focus on every detail, no matter how small. We will continue to provide turn-key solutions to our customers and first-class products and services to the industry.
 

 

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