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VinsGirl
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Using L1 Compact + T1 for online teaching

I'm working on solutions to vocal fatigue now that I'm in my 5th week of teaching private and group piano lessons online. So far, I'm resisting the idea of having to wear headphones or a headset all day long - the only headphones I have are wired, and I'm trying to be as "free" as possible while teaching because I do a lot of off-piano movement-based activities with my students when I'm teaching. I also just don't love having something on my head for hours every day. So today I started using my L1 compact + T1 (as audio interface with my Macbook Pro) with Audix OM3 mics (hypercardioid) on my voice and the acoustic piano so I can be better heard (and also hear myself) when teaching. It accomplished what I wanted: it amplified my voice so that I could speak at a normal volume instead of the elevated volume that we tend to create when talking to people online. 

However, this setup doesn't feel sustainable to me. The main problem is that I'm now bound by a mic at the end of a boom stand all day long that I have to speak straight into to be heard, and it's nowhere near as easy for me to move around; I find that I'm moving in much more confined ways than I need to for my style of teaching, and so I definitely need a better solution. Here are options I've considered; I'm looking for feedback on these ideas (or other suggestions if you have them):

OPTION A) Replace my 2 Audix mics with ONE mic that has options for stereo, unidirectional, cardioid, etc. (something like a Yeti), with the thought that it could pick up both my voice and acoustic piano. This is currently my preferred choice because I can also use the Yeti for recording projects in the future.

-Would this just lead to a bunch of feedback if I'm using my L1 as an amp, or might it effectively amplify my voice and piano through the L1 (while also allowing my students to hear me well)? 

-Can I get a Yeti X (USB only), run it through my laptop, and just use the L1 as output, or do I need to get a Yeti Pro (USB and XLR) so I can run it through the T1? 

OPTION B) Replace my vocal mic with a lavalier mic and keep the 2nd Audix amplifying the piano.

-If this is the preferred solution, can anyone recommend a good lavalier mic? I'm thinking it would have to be an XLR connection so I can run both it and the Audix through the T1.

OPTION C) Something else altogether? 

Thanks for your suggestions!

Rebecca

34 REPLIES 34
ChetDude
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Re: Using L1 Compact + T1 for online teaching

Try a headphone, microphone combination?

A whole bunch of them here:  Sweetwater headset microphones

VinsGirl
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Re: Using L1 Compact + T1 for online teaching

@Chet I'm trying to avoid having to wear something on my head all day long if possible - sometimes I can't even wear a loose hat all day without my head getting sore. Also, I'd just like to not have the ambient outside audio world shut out for hours on end every day - that's why I'm searching for a solution at this time that doesn't require me to wear headphones or a headset.

ChetDude
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Re: Using L1 Compact + T1 for online teaching

There are very light headsets with ear bud on only one side, attach with over the ear loops and leave the other ear free.

ST - Pro
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Re: Using L1 Compact + T1 for online teaching

Hi, Rebecca.

VinsGirl posted:

I'm working on solutions to vocal fatigue now that I'm in my 5th week of teaching private and group piano lessons online. So far, I'm resisting the idea of having to wear headphones or a headset all day long - the only headphones I have are wired, and I'm trying to be as "free" as possible while teaching because I do a lot of off-piano movement-based activities with my students when I'm teaching. I also just don't love having something on my head for hours every day. So today I started using my L1 compact + T1 (as audio interface with my Macbook Pro) with Audix OM3 mics (hypercardioid) on my voice and the acoustic piano so I can be better heard (and also hear myself) when teaching.It accomplished what I wanted: it amplified my voice so that I could speak at a normal volume instead of the elevated volume that we tend to create when talking to people online.

Let's talk about vocal fatigue and why we like amplification in the room.

  • I do a lot of public speaking in rooms of various sizes.  I found it was easier to do when I could hear myself clearly. For most settings, I preferred to hear my voice amplified a little (L1 behind me or have a monitor).  I could relax and assume I was being heard.  That's an unconscious thing. You may have experienced the same thing as a singer. When you can't hear yourself, you unconsciously sing louder, or in your case, you speak louder. 

    It's challenging when your voice is amplified to the audience, and you can't hear it. This happens when there are house speakers and no monitors, or when using online conferencing tools.
    • I worked with a speech pathologist to come to understand why I was straining my voice and I was exhausted in some settings and not in others.  The solution was to trust the sound system or carry a personal monitor. Eventually, I learned to trust the sound system unless the people in the room told me, they couldn't hear me.


  • I use Bose Hearphones to enhance conversations in noisy environments, for example - when visiting with people in the audience in a bar between sets. One of the side-effects of the way Hearphones work, is the wearer tends to hear their voice in the Hearphones louder than without them. Most people tend to speak softly when they are wearing Hearphones.
    • When wearing Hearphones in a noisy restaurant with family, the family would 'complain' they couldn't hear me. I was speaking too softly
    • I had to learn to speak a little louder when wearing Hearphones even though it felt unnatural at first.


The point is: It takes understanding and training to overcome vocal fatigue.

Okay - back to you. If we can convince your brain you were being heard well enough, then you can work without the L1 Compact for amplification in the room.



However, this setup doesn't feel sustainable to me. The main problem is that I'm now bound by a mic at the end of a boom stand all day long that I have to speak straight into to be heard, and it's nowhere near as easy for me to move around; I find that I'm moving in much more confined ways than I need to for my style of teaching, and so I definitely need a better solution. Here are options I've considered; I'm looking for feedback on these ideas (or other suggestions if you have them):

OPTION A) Replace my 2 Audix mics with ONE mic that has options for stereo, unidirectional, cardioid, etc. (something like a Yeti), with the thought that it could pick up both my voice and acoustic piano. This is currently my preferred choice because I can also use the Yeti for recording projects in the future.

-Would this just lead to a bunch of feedback if I'm using my L1 as an amp, or might it effectively amplify my voice and piano through the L1 (while also allowing my students to hear me well)? 

-Can I get a Yeti X (USB only), run it through my laptop, and just use the L1 as output, or do I need to get a Yeti Pro (USB and XLR) so I can run it through the T1? 

OPTION B) Replace my vocal mic with a lavalier mic and keep the 2nd Audix amplifying the piano.

-If this is the preferred solution, can anyone recommend a good lavalier mic? I'm thinking it would have to be an XLR connection so I can run both it and the Audix through the T1.

OPTION C) Something else altogether? 

Here is what I get from your thoughts above.

  • You don't want to be wired up
  • You don't want to wear a headset and that rules out wireless in-ear monitors





Thanks for your suggestions!

Rebecca

Suggestions:

  • Turn off (don't use) the L1 Compact (so no in-the-room monitoring)
  • Train yourself to trust the person at the other end of the online connection to control the volume as necessary.
  • I haven't tried a Blue Yeti USB microphone, but since you have other uses for it, you might start with that and try picking up all the sound (you and the piano in the room).
    OR
    Continue to use the T1 and
    • OM3 for the piano
    • Get a microphone for your voice with a cardioid polar pattern (wider than the hypercardioid polar pattern of the OM3)
      • Set the microphone in a position where it can pick up your voice wherever you move in the room
  • Consider treating the room to minimize unwanted reflections. That's another topic entirely.
  • Since you won't have amplification in the room, work with someone online to help you with microphone placement to get the balance right. You could do that by doing recordings with the computer too.



Notes about using one or two microphones:

  • With one microphone you may have trouble getting a good balance for both the piano and your voice. However, you may be able to resolve this with a microphone with a switchable polar pattern, microphone placement, and acoustic treatment in the room.
  • With two microphones (and the T1 as the interface) you have
    • More control over the relative volumes of your voice and the piano
    • More control over the tone of your voice and the piano
    • You could have acoustic issues (phase cancellation) if either microphone can pick up both your voice and the piano. Here's a video that describes some of the issues. Although this addresses two or more microphones for two or more people, the issues will be similar for you with the piano.
    • The usual approach to avoid the problems with multiple microphones is to put the microphones close to the source. That's easy to do with the piano, and not easy to do for you because you don't want to be stuck in one place or wired up.



ST

tradbanjo
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Re: Using L1 Compact + T1 for online teaching

Hi Rebecca,  If you use a decent lavalier it will pick up your voice and the piano.  I have workrd with piano players who use that set-up.  Good luck with your voice fatigue.  No fun.

Oldghm
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Re: Using L1 Compact + T1 for online teaching

Hi Rebecca,

You've made me think about a situation I would never have considered previously, and one I am unfamiliar with as far as connecting to the computer. 

Looking at the Yeti Pro it seems to provide options that include your desired setup as well as some others that might work in spite of your reluctance to be tied to a wire. Having options is almost always good, So I'm thinking out loud about a subject I've never even considered before. Take my comments with a grain of salt.

The first option would be a figure 8 pattern picking up the piano and your vocal, running through the T1 and Compact at a very minimal volume, just enough for you to be comfortable.  This is assuming you can connect via line out of the Compact or the T1 to the computer. Placement of the Compact might be a critical piece of the puzzle or, another way to put it, the relationship of mic placement vs Compact placement would be critical.

Another option might be Yeti direct to USB using stereo, or figure 8 polar pattern, picking up piano and vocal with you monitoring from headphone out on the mic through earbuds. Without a live speaker to create a feedback loop you might be able to achieve a volume level that includes ambient sounds, so you do not feel isolated in the headphones. Keep in mind that birds, barking dogs, loud cars, lawnmowers etc. can be startling distractions, especially if monitoring in stereo

There is one drawback that I see to the Yeti Pro. It is desk mount (flat surface) only. This limits setup options unless there is a stand mount option that could be purchased at a reasonable cost.

No solutions, but maybe an idea or two you can utilize in you decision making.

O.. 

 

tradbanjo
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Re: Using L1 Compact + T1 for online teaching

I should mention I have a Yeti and it works really well.  If you can find a place to put it, it would certainly cover the piano and your voice.

ChetDude
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Re: Using L1 Compact + T1 for online teaching

Check out the pictures, the Yeti Pro has a microphone stand socket on the bottom - it can be removed from the brackets and mounted on a mic stand.

VinsGirl
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Re: Using L1 Compact + T1 for online teaching

Wow - thanks, everyone; I really appreciate your support and suggestions (like you always come through with!). I'm continuing to collect ideas and sit with them. Today I've actually shut the L1 off and am instead running sound from the T1 out through my Bose Revolve Soundlink ?? It's a ridiculous setup, I know, but the L1 was just overkill for what I'm wanting to hear in this setting all day long; the Soundlink is MUCH better (and is what I've always used to hear my online students up to this point). 

For vocal mics, I'm starting to think more seriously about a condenser mic that's larger than the Yeti. If I could get one with multiple polar patterns, that'd be great, but the better brands are pretty expensive for what I'm trying to do right now, so I might need to stick with just a cardioid. For now, I'll probably just keep one of my OM3's on the piano, but an actual instrument mic might also be in my future, too, to replace that. 

ST, you are absolutely correct that this is an issue of speaking more loudly because I either can't hear myself (singing that way is the worst!) or I don't trust that folks on the receiving end can hear me. I'm fascinated by the Hearphones - wasn't aware of those - and have a question for you about them. Might these be a possible solution for my situation if I were open to wearing something on my head? My primary complaints about headphones/headsets and in-ear monitors are that they hurt my head after a while (especially when they go over the top of my head) and that they tend to cut out ambient sound and leave me feeling like I'm spending all day in a hermetically-sealed cave of sorts, which kind of exhausts me.

Also, if I were open to in-ear monitors, do you have any to suggest, and is it possible to get some that don't completely block out all other sound? 

All for now - got to get back to work!