Fremont CA – June 2014… With a wide range of on-campus activities that include concerts, theatrical productions, worship services and more, natural sounding audio with a high level of speech intelligibility is an ongoing requirement at Fremont Christian School/Harbor Light Church. Recently, Fremont Christian School presented The Wizard of Oz, the timeless story of young Dorothy, who lives on a farm in Kansas where a large tornado picks up both her house and her dog, and deposits them in the Land of Oz. While the actors and actresses wore microphones, several instrumentalists were outfitted with direct boxes for the purpose of feeding their instrument’s sound into the house mixing console—all of which were drawn from the product catalog of Menlo Park, CA-based Countryman Associates.
Randy Benitez is the Audio Director at Fremont Christian School/Harbor Light Church, where he oversees audio production for all activities on campus. In this capacity, he interfaces not only with church and school officials, he also works closely with the students, who range from elementary level through high school. For the multitude of activities that occur throughout the year, Benitez depends on a collection of Countryman E6i and E6 Earset microphones, a B6 Omni lavalier microphone, plus Type 85 Direct Boxes. He discussed the school’s recent production of The Wizard of Oz.
“Our presentation of The Wizard of Oz involved students from the elementary grades all the way through high school,” Benitez explained. “Depending upon the role each student was playing, I outfitted the talent with a combination of thirteen Countryman E6i Earset mics, eight E6 Earset mics, and one B6 Omni lavalier, which I purchased specifically for the Lion. I’ve been a big fan of Countryman microphones since the mid 90’s and, over the years, have used these microphones in all sorts of applications.”
“I’ve always chosen Countryman mics for my production shows because I know I can count on the quality and reliability of Countryman products,” Benitez continued. “I find them to be visually discreet and easy to hide. Most importantly, the mics have a very natural sound quality and they work beautifully in a pinch for violin and other instruments. Both the E6 and E6i hold up great with the rough handling typically encountered with students. Here at Fremont Christian School/Harbor Light Church, I use the Countryman mics with a combination of Shure and Sennheiser wireless systems and they work beautifully together. I always know what I’m going to get when I put a Countryman mic on a performer.”
For The Wizard of Oz, outfitting the Lion was particularly challenging due to the nature of the costume. Ultimately, Benitez deployed a Countryman B6 Omni lavalier microphone. “The Lion costume was quite a challenge,” he recalls, “but the B6 came to the rescue! By placing the mic on the actor’s forehead just below the costume’s head dress, it picked up every nuance of the character. I simply couldn’t have done that with just any mic. And the B6’s moisture resistance capability was definitely needed. Between the lights and the costume, the actor perspired quite a bit—to the point where perspiration was actually dripping from the mic! And, yet, I never experienced a single issue. That mic just kept on performing night after night!”
In addition to the various microphones, Benitez used four Countryman Type 85 Direct Boxes on members of the orchestra. “The Countryman Type 85 DI’s are a great tool for feeding various instruments into the mixing console,” he said. “Like all Countryman products, I know I can count on them for a clear, musical sound.”
Benitez was equally complimentary of Countryman’s customer and technical support services, “The customer service I receive from Rosa Pimentel and the rest of the Countryman crew is second to none. They are extremely responsive to any questions or concerns I may express. They are a pleasure to work with.”
Before turning his attention back to the business of the day, Benitez offered these final thoughts on the school’s production of The Wizard of Oz, “Countryman has, once again, made my production shine. By providing superb mics and DI’s, I can focus on creating an atmosphere of imagination and not worry about a mic quitting on me or quality that leaves something to be desired. Everyone involved in the production was very pleased with the audio quality—and we couldn’t have done it without our Countryman gear.”
About Countryman Associates
For more than 30 years, Countryman has focused on developing microphones and accessories that deliver maximum gain before feedback, with the highest possible rejection of wind, vibration, interference, and other unwanted sounds. The result is warm, clear vocals in speaking and singing applications, delivering natural audio reinforcement that requires almost no attention from the sound engineer or the performer. For additional information about Countryman Associates, visit the company online at www.countryman.com.
Photo Information: Randy Benitez miking Dorothy (Rachel Sue)