Serving the NW suburbs of Houston, the Houston Family Arts Center (HFAC) is a non-profit, family friendly community theatre and actors academy that was founded in 2006. With a diverse schedule designed to appeal to a wide range of audiences, HFAC is currently running the drama A Lesson Before Dying, an adaptation of Ernest J. Gaines’ novel, which looks at the status of African Americans in the South after World War II and before the Civil Rights Movement.
The theatre group relies exclusively on earset and lavaliere microphones from Menlo Park, CA-based Countryman Associates.
Tracy Clayton, technical director for the Houston Family Arts Center, is a former radio broadcast engineer who joined HFAC in 2007. Clayton is responsible for all aspects of audio and sound reinforcement at the theatre. Since his initial experience with the theatre’s E6 Omni Earset Microphones (which were purchased in 2006), he has purchased a sizeable Countryman arsenal.
“I’ve been very impressed with Countryman micas,” said Clayton. "In the six years I’ve been here, we’ve expanded our microphone collection to include thirteen E6 microphones, eight B3 models, and four E2 Earsets. With each model, we have a variety of colors to match the skin tones of the various performers and we’ve also purchased the mics in various sensitivities. This way, we can readily outfit the talent with the best possible microphone choice—depending upon whether they’ll be singing or speaking.”
“We frequently have a lot of child actors,” Clayton said. “With many children, the boom on the E6 may be a bit long. The E2, by contrast, has a shorter boom and, as a result, works really well on their smaller faces. The audio performance is first rate on both models, so by having the added flexibility of using the E2 with its shorter boom, we can readily accommodate every performer. I find our actors love the Countryman E6 and E2 microphones. They’re very comfortable wearing them, they like the way the mics fit on their faces, and they remain in place very well, so they’re never distracting.”
“The B3’s are incredibly versatile,” said Clayton. “We can hide them in the hair, place them on clothing, or even tape them to one’s face. These mics are tremendously flexible and they sound terrific. They can be placed just about anywhere—no matter how involved the situation with wardrobe may be. We use all our Countryman mics with Shure ULX-P wireless systems. We have a total of twenty channels and the combination of Countryman microphones and Shure wireless couldn’t be better.”