Time to buy a field mixer. which one? at DVinfo.net

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Old February 23rd, 2008, 06:07 PM   #1
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Time to buy a field mixer. which one?

I'm about to be hired to video a choir, and a jazz band. this is new to me. I have the canon xha1, and i think i need to get a mixer. I'd like at least four inputs. I have limited knowlege of the black art of audio. is the sign eng 44-4 good enough? I like the price point. I also see the Rolls MX422 and a PCS model. what would be good in that price range, or should i budget more?
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Old February 23rd, 2008, 07:28 PM   #2
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I'll be the first to say that this is a time when a dedicated sound person, with the equipment and some experience, is indispensable.

First, it's a two person job if you want good audio and good video.

Next, it's an opportunity to learn while not messing up the job. Working with someone will give good insight into what's involved and begin to clarify the equipment you will want in the future when working alone.

This is a case where it's best to take a cut in pay if necessary to pay a sound person. In the end, clients are much happier to pay more for an excellent job than to get a bargain rate for a poor job.
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Old February 23rd, 2008, 09:50 PM   #3
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while you can in theory mic a choir with a pair of properly placed mics, a jazz band is a whole other story. even a 3-4 peice band is an different thing. you could go with a basic stereo setup, but in reality, each instrument needs to be mic. drums are really a 1/2 dozen instruments, not one. you could easily use about 8-12 mics to do it right. upright on bridge mounted mic ? or floor mounted ? or electric bass ? and direct feed from the amp as a second feed ?
complicated, and more then one good way to do it.

you might get away with 2 mics and something like the SD MixPre, but not ideal for a band.
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Old February 24th, 2008, 10:21 AM   #4
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Doug, People are going to tell you to hire a sound person. Since you did not mention that as an option, then we'll have to assume you are flying solo.

Practice makes perfect. As others have pointed out, there are many ways to accomplish a mission. May I suggest that you attend a rehearsal or two and assess your needs. Is there an audio system already present that you can just tap into? Can you mount mics on the stage etc etc.

Only then can you make an educated decision about how much and what type of gear you will need. When I saw your post I was going to respond that the Sound Devices 302 is an excellent entry point into mixing, but it won't help you if you need more than 3 inputs....which it sounds like you might.

Finally, don't feel that you have to buy anything. Rent it. Renting allows you to see if you like the item before purchasing and, in situations where you need a lot of gear at once, it prevents you from going bankrupt!
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Old February 24th, 2008, 10:30 AM   #5
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I would say that there's a good chance a field mixer wouldn't be the best choice for this at all. It would be unusual for a choir and jazz band to be performing in a venue where battery power is required. I think I'd look first to a compact mixing desk such as the Mackie compact mixers. They require AC power, of course, but you're likely to have it available and they'll give you far more input channels and routing options.
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Old February 25th, 2008, 12:00 PM   #6
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Thanks for all the replies. Steve, which model mackies do you reccomend? Hopefully getting these jobs would allow me to save for a good field mixer, which I would like in my kit since I am interested in documentary work. I also think I need to aquire better mics for different applications. right now all I have is a sm58 and a rode nt1. I'm getting some new gigs from web development and plan on putting every penny toward quality equipment, however knowing what is practical for these varying types of work is a bit daunting for someone new to this. but I have to start somewhere I guess.
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Old February 25th, 2008, 12:20 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Rose View Post
Thanks for all the replies. Steve, which model mackies do you reccomend? Hopefully getting these jobs would allow me to save for a good field mixer, which I would like in my kit since I am interested in documentary work. I also think I need to aquire better mics for different applications. right now all I have is a sm58 and a rode nt1. I'm getting some new gigs from web development and plan on putting every penny toward quality equipment, however knowing what is practical for these varying types of work is a bit daunting for someone new to this. but I have to start somewhere I guess.
There are several models with different number of channels and buses depending on what you forsee as your needs, hard for me to step into your shoes. http://mackie.com/products/vlz3series/splash.html A field mixer for doco work is a whole different kettle of fish.
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Old February 25th, 2008, 01:26 PM   #8
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As the other Steve :) I highly recommend against Crackies. They have poor headroom and will clip in an instant. their meters are all but useless unless you are talking about one of their high end units when you look at the meters on the mixer, and whats going to a camera or deck. Beringers are not much better, or Eurodesk. go check out G&L, soundcraft or yamaha if you want a small board 12-16 mic inputs with better performance.

yet another route is a Motu 896HD which will give you 8 mic/line inputs and record to laptop. they have a 8 channel input only unit to use as an expander on the 896 or other interfaces. if you are going to record bands a lot, this might be a nice setup to look at too.

it all depends on how portable you want to be, but basically doing location recording / PA work is rather different then a bag mixer for production work.
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Old February 25th, 2008, 01:41 PM   #9
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well it sounds like the desk mixers would be a start and would accomplish the upcoming jobs. then i could start saving for a quality field mixer for doumentary work like the sd 302 or better.

I hadn't heard about the problems with the mackies Steve O. After Steve H made a good suggestion, I was eyeing the 1402 (though not ultra compact) at around $300, seemed to have plenty of inputs.

Any suggestions on what other mics to aquire for this and future use?

And yes, I need to get to a rehearsal and do some testing, although the performance will probably be at another venue. I'll visit there as well and see if they'll let me record something. There is just so much to learn.
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Old February 25th, 2008, 01:51 PM   #10
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I've worked with and installed a lot mackies, and the low end ones are by far the worst. don't take the word of some guy in a music store because they sell a lot of them. find some one who does recording and talk to them. the 1402 has a couple of stereo line level inputs, its not all mic inputs. you need to look at how many mic level inputs there are.

another thing is the short 60mm sliders, you want 100mm ones. 60mm sliders are very touchy, and hard to get repeatable settings. thats another problem with the mackies, hard to repeat levels. better to get a used mid level board then a new cheap one because you get what you pay for. sure it works... sort of, but the sound quality and problems you'll have with it are another thing. don't take the word of some one who has really only used the low end stuff, talk to some who has used a wide range of gear.
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Old February 25th, 2008, 02:12 PM   #11
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I'm not sure how you are going to mix 8 to 12 channels (and what are you recording on) and operate the camera, not to mention do all the setup ahead of time) all by yourself.

I think the project(s) is being looked at backwards.

First:
1. Are you doing this alone or with a crew?
2. What kind of production is this
--videographer record keeping video, with the camera set on a tripod not touched, and a general sound capture recorded to tape
--music video type production, with major editing done to the video and a respectable, listenable (from a music point of view) soundtrack
--something in between
--is this a recording of a live performance or do you have the music groups to yourself for making the video

Second:
1. When is the first job
2. How much do you want to spend

Third:
1. How many mics do you see it feasible to use?
2. Are you recording into camera or to an external recorder
3. How many tracks do you want to record (only 2, or more)?

---------------------------
Now, my guesses are:
1. You are doing this all yourself
2. You are recording into the camera
3. You are going to try to get different shots and edit.
4. You would like listenable sound, but not necessarily perfect sound.
5. The rest I can't guess

----------------------------

My best recommendation -- that will get the job done now, and will be of most value to you as you use your camera for other things -- would be:
1. Two Sennheiser G2 wireless systems with body pack transmitters. I wouldn't recommend using the included mics, but you could use most any other mics
--a better lavalier could be used
--regular mics could be used, adapted to plug into the body pack (or a plug on transmitter could be used)
--can be used to transmit a board output to the camera
--will always be useful into the future and can be resold

OR

2. Same thing, but get a two-channel Audio Technica wireless system (body pack or plug on):
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...#goto_itemInfo
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc..._Wireless.html
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc..._Wireless.html
(Note: if using plug on transmitters, mic must be dynamic or have a battery or must use also use a phantom power box -- though some high end plug-ons do have phantom power built-in)
--If the mic included by AT is the same one they have included in the past, it is good enough to use
--You can use the lavaliers hanging in the air, for example, to record the group. This may not be the best setup, but it would work and get you going with a system that is versatile.

--------------------------------------------------------------------
If you want to record multitrack into a laptop, I can recommend the E-MU products. I have this unit and it is great (though has a relatively high learning curve to get it's full benefit):
http://www.emu.com/products/product....&product=13552

If you are considering a desk top mixer, I suggest going into Guitar center and looking at them. Many are much bigger than one imagines.
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Old February 25th, 2008, 02:40 PM   #12
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First:
1. Are you doing this alone or with a crew?

At the moment alone. Although as suggested, I may hire a sound person. the choir gig is more critical. The jazz band just wants a reheasal taped with maybe a few interviews, and the edit would be used for promotion. But I don't want poor sound.

2. What kind of production is this
--videographer record keeping video, with the camera set on a tripod not touched, and a general sound capture recorded to tape
--music video type production, with major editing done to the video and a respectable, listenable (from a music point of view) soundtrack
--something in between

something inbetween. I was thinking of locking down one camera and possibly roving with another for broll. Thoughts?

--is this a recording of a live performance or do you have the music groups to yourself for making the video

all music will be live.

Second:
1. When is the first job

In May

2. How much do you want to spend

I'm open to spending as much as needed to get the right equipment for the long haul. Musical recordings (which if I do a good job, means others to come, so I don't care if I lose money on the gig. I would learn and possibly get rehired for future dates.

Third:
1. How many mics do you see it feasible to use?

The chior gig should have a good sound system present, and I suspect I could place mics where needed if necessary. I will learn that soon.

Forgot to mention I do own one set of the wireless G2 with the mic body plug. I'm open and was thinking of getting another set as well.

2. Are you recording into camera or to an external recorder

Initially I was thinking of taking the feed directly into the camera, but I do have a Zoom H2 I could record to if that would be better. I've never synced audio from another device, but I'm sure i could learn.

The jazz as mentioned will soley rely on what I bring to gather sound. they rehearse without mics or any sound equipment.

3. How many tracks do you want to record (only 2, or more)?

I think two tracks are fine. But again, maybe I should place mics and get a reasonable mix either to the camera or the Zoom.


I hope that helps. Thanks.

Last edited by Doug Rose; February 25th, 2008 at 02:55 PM. Reason: edited
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