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Old November 30th, 2007, 05:39 AM   #1
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mackie based firewire system, concept ideas

Hi all. New to the industry, I'm building my studio. Have cameras (2 jvc hd110's) a macbook pro 2.4, tower dual quad-cor 3.0 Adobe master collection, FCS2, quality monitors, good lights, yadda,yadda, yadda. Ive avoided audio till now. But not for the normal reasons. I figure I can learn many other elements and make it my own, but i KNOW that Ill be hiring audio work for all my true professional gigs. Ive seen the effects of poor audio work, and know there are plenty of talented people in my area waiting to get to work. However, for those times when its just me and my studio guys, I want to get a better sound than just plugging into the XLR's on HD110. So after what I think is carefull study and research, and probrably misinterpreting everything, Ive come to the purchase point, and wanted to ask everyone out there whether this would work, and improve my capture. Ill try to keep it all concise.
1. I am leaning away from the small flash or even most low end HD recording units (i.e Zoom H4, Fostex Mr8-MkII, that 2-400 price range), and more towards a firewire based mixer to direct into laptop. that way i can put more into the mixer, the laptop will be onsite anyway since I use it to calibrate video with Adobe On-Location. Also, Ive not heard much good about the capabilities of the mic inputs on them. The unreleased as of yet M-Audio Microtrack MkII may change all my planning with its spdif in. I assume its spdif is 24 bit capable and not just 20, since the device record s 24bit.
2. Here is where I may sound like a complete idiot, but thats why im here. The new Onyx Satelite by Mackie is a firewire pod with 2 xlr/trs onyx inputs and gain, and 2 trs outs. it plugs into a base station that has more inputs, and other features i dont necisarilly need, but both pieces have a 6pin firewire out. The pod is what interests me the most. Im hoping that at the very least it alone would offer improved control over the mics, and the Onyx inputs better signal than straight into the camera, while capturing to the laptop. THe big question is can i run a mixer before or after this device for more finesse over the input, as well as number of inputs. attack this idea before my choice of mixers below.....
3.Budget, inputs+outs, name quality, capture, portability and other factors have narrowed me down to these 4, from 1st choice to last-
Mackie1202-VlZ3--plenty outs, great reviews on vlz mic pre's- mid-weight
Mackie DFX-6 xlr out's (only one of the 4) decent mic pre's ,low cost
Edirol M-10DX- most $$, low # inputs, Room Acoustic analyze and compensate for room acoustics via dsp
Alesis Multimix FW or usb2.0- probl lowest qual inputs (dont know for SURE), on par with other features, this one offers another firewire (or usb2.0) method. One question is the usb 2.0 multimix. It claims 24 bit, which I though usb uncapable of. I know that firewire is better, but 50 bucks less.....
OK, there it is, tear it apart. I work well with criticism :) There are more ideas and subltelties to my decision, some based on as-of-yet unanswered question... will the Onyx base station function without the pod(giving me 2 firewire devices)..is the microtrack II the way to go.... and more.
My aim with this setup is to improve my audio capabilities for a minimal cost, (add another 3-400 for mic and still under 1000) with the knowledge that any serious work is going to require hiring a pro. I pride the rest of my system on being incredably flexible and modular, and would like a mildly effective and versatile system. being able to run just the pod for speed, all the way to base station and mixer for music vid and larger scene work. Thanks for any advice, I am sorry for the size of the post and sheer amount of info I am asking about. Its been a long week of midnight to 6am research, and I hope its been somewhat effective.
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Old November 30th, 2007, 10:57 AM   #2
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Trying to take a step back, I'd look at two setups:
1) Studio - Mixer and A-D conversion to laptop.
2) Field - mics straight to camera, sometimes through mixer?

I look at it as a question of staffing and mobility. When you're in the studio, you have your laptop available, so you have a recorder already.

When you're in the field a laptop is pretty cumbersome... but if you're out there solo without an audio pro, so is any device that's outboard to the camera. Lots of people will say "you just *can't* go to the camera with HDV". I started in pro audio for TV broadcast over 25 years ago and I say you *can* for dialog when you're solo. Don't get bogged down with too many wires and devices, keep your eyes on the viewfinder VUs if you don't have an audio op with you.

Get good mics. That'll get you much more audio quality than adding a flash recorder to your field setup.
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Old November 30th, 2007, 06:04 PM   #3
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Thanks Seth. Though not well stated, i THINK i have created a system that should work both studio/field. late night posts are always questionable in clarity

My hope was that the Onyx pod would improve mic to cam sound while allowing laptop recording. When necessary. And then when back at studio, it mounts to its base station, which is recieving mixer signal (also located at studio ,2 of the 4 contain built in a/d, d/a conversion). And with a light enough mixer, I could take it with me for those few scenes where I need total control onsite. I dont see this happening too often, but I will be doing SOME music band work.
However.... what i truly need is improvement to audio sound, when mostly I am recording vocal. I thought i would achieve this through better pre-amps, and minor eq control on 2x200-400$ items, using a 200$ mic. Would i be better off spending that 800 on a variety or single mic rather than the 3 piece Mixer/firewire/mic ideas?
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Old December 1st, 2007, 05:50 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Damon Mentzer View Post
Thanks Seth. Though not well stated, i THINK i have created a system that should work both studio/field. late night posts are always questionable in clarity

My hope was that the Onyx pod would improve mic to cam sound while allowing laptop recording. When necessary. And then when back at studio, it mounts to its base station, which is recieving mixer signal (also located at studio ,2 of the 4 contain built in a/d, d/a conversion). And with a light enough mixer, I could take it with me for those few scenes where I need total control onsite. I dont see this happening too often, but I will be doing SOME music band work.
However.... what i truly need is improvement to audio sound, when mostly I am recording vocal. I thought i would achieve this through better pre-amps, and minor eq control on 2x200-400$ items, using a 200$ mic. Would i be better off spending that 800 on a variety or single mic rather than the 3 piece Mixer/firewire/mic ideas?
I don't see how the satellite pod can help your in-camera recording. One of the biggies is power. You either have to have access to AC mains or power it through its firewire port which of course requires you to use it with your laptop. I also don't notice any line level outputs on the pod, other than the headphone and monitor outs so how will you get signal to the audio inputs on the camera in your field scenario?

I'd go with Seth and suggest you deal with your field recording and your studio recording situations separately as they each have unique challenges.
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Old December 1st, 2007, 07:15 AM   #5
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What about S/PDIF?

Much obliged guys! Im now looking more into mics, and portability as opposed to studio. *sigh*

Im also leaning away from firewire. From audio to video, its just too darn easy to blow out. How about S/PDIF (toslink, not rca on everything Ive got, as if that made a difference) Is this suitable for capture? On specs alone it appears so, but I haven't seen anyone talking about using it in the video world.

Now looking at Edirol M-10DX for its size, batt power, and spdif/toslink in/out. The macbook Pro has spdif in for 24 bit. AND, i can bump that money into something better in Mics. I'm interested in the AKG Blue Line and Sennheiser K6 lines.
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Old December 1st, 2007, 07:35 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Damon Mentzer View Post
Much obliged guys! Im now looking more into mics, and portability as opposed to studio. *sigh*

Im also leaning away from firewire. From audio to video, its just too darn easy to blow out. How about S/PDIF (toslink, not rca on everything Ive got, as if that made a difference) Is this suitable for capture? On specs alone it appears so, but I haven't seen anyone talking about using it in the video world.

Now looking at Edirol M-10DX for its size, batt power, and spdif/toslink in/out. The macbook Pro has spdif in for 24 bit. AND, i can bump that money into something better in Mics. I'm interested in the AKG Blue Line and Sennheiser K6 lines.
S/PDIF is digital but if you're recording to the camera it's still an analog world. So first step is to define just what sources you'll be recording and whether you want to go single system, recording it in-camera, or double system, recording to an external device such as a dedicated audio recorder or your laptop. What is the subject matter of your anticpated films - dramatic dialog, weddings and events, music videos, concert performances, what? Will you have a crew or will you work as a one-man band, perhaps with an assistant? Clearly define your exact requirments and the equipment selections will become much simpler to resolve.

AKG Blue lines are good, Senn K6's are popular starter mics for work at the serious level but many users feel the urge to upgrade to something better fairly quickly - think of them as entry-level professional mics.
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Old December 1st, 2007, 04:09 PM   #7
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Sorry, should have clarified....
I intend to go with a double system recording to laptop via s/pdif. I really want a doule system recording.
Q: Is there any advantage to running a line from the mixer into the camera (to get the same signal as the laptop), or should I use the camera's mic input to create a completely second recording? I understand that is affected by each components quality and noise, but assuming they are of a comparable quality, which is recommended?

As for what I will be shooting, pretty much anything that will stay still for me :) I anticipate commercials, music video's, and event recording will be my bread and butter. Mostly ill be working with other production groups whos equipment does not meet the needs. But audio seems to be extra cursed in this town.... I have yet to see anyone but our local Movie house using anything more than mics into cam input. Only one other guy even understood why i was so keen to get a second sound recording. Even though there are MANY talented audio techs, most of them are live stage experienced but Ill work with them ;)

Usually I have one other person with me, though I can foresee shooting alone.

Finally,I will be hiring sound for any pro work I get. I know how crucial sound is for true professional work. Was a sound op for live shows (elvis impersonators, stage theater, karaoke and dj) so ive got an ear for audio, its just not trained yet for video purposes. Its one of those "I know enough to know I dont know anything" situations. I want to upgrade the sound a bit on my own (those who have viewed footage all ooh'd and ahh'd over the video and said "Oh the sound is just fine" but to me thats not good enough) but Ill rely on a trained pro for the "beautiful" work

Thanks ALLOT Steve. Great advice, and one heck of a sounding board. Lordy i love this forum!
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