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Old July 27th, 2003, 11:17 AM   #1
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mixers and compression

Okay, so I have a boom mic. How does one handle varying volume levels during dialogue recording? Is this what a mixer is for? Does a mixer also compress?

Let's say you have a scene where dialogue goes from whispers to yelling. Is there a device that will help you record all this, without having to manuallly ride the sound levels, to a certain dB level (for example, whether whispering or yelling, I didn't want anything to fall below -12dB or above -2dB). Anyway, don't know jack diddly poop about this stuff, so help is appreciated.
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Old July 27th, 2003, 12:26 PM   #2
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Most high end field mixers have built in limiters which will help with controlling the peaks.As far as regular mixers by like Mackie or Behringer they do not but usually come with a set of inserts in which you would patch a stand alone compressor into. A compressor used correctly will even out the sound but when used incorrectly will cause a breathing/pumping effect to the audio.(You can really muff up the sound ) Just have a listen to a radio DJ. They are heavily compressed and when they whisper or scream into the mic you still basically hear it at a constant level. A lot of compressors have presets built into them which help a lot if you are new to dynamic processing.The general idea is to cut the decibal ratio.2:1, 4:1, 10:1 etc. Meaning for every 2 decibals going in over the threshold setting one is going out. You also set the attack time for when the compression takes place and release for the compressor to stop taking effect. Compressors/Limiters are used in every aspect of audio recording from tracking to mixdown.
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Old July 27th, 2003, 02:02 PM   #3
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Your performers should be able to modulate their levels such that you don't have to ride the gain. If you do, you take a lot of the drama out of the recording. Assuming you have a quiet stage or booth, and you are recording with good equipment, you can experiment with compression in post and not limit yourself to a possible screw-up during the recording session. If you have to compress, do so as lightly as possible.

A good film or video actor has learned to control emphasis by inflection rather than large swings in volume so they are easier to work with. A stage actor creates other problems like moving around a lot during their performance.

I use the small DBX MC6 Mini-Comp portable compressor when I need something along these lines. But I much prefer trained talent.
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Old July 27th, 2003, 02:34 PM   #4
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Well, I'm not working with trained talent, and probably won't be for a long time. So I'd be looking for a portable compressor as opposed to a field mixer? How much was the one you mentioned? Any other recommendations?
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Old July 27th, 2003, 06:31 PM   #5
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I think I paid around $150 for it. Takes 1/4" inputs but handles balance and unbalance inputs. It is stereo too.
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