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Old August 2nd, 2004, 01:48 PM   #1
Fred Retread
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Hartford, CT
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$770 audio for amateur -- please tell me I'm not crazy

Well, I've been reading these boards for a month now, and just placed an order for these to go with my GL2:

--The BeachTek DXA-8 w/ phantom power and limiters

--The AT897 shotgun

--A mic stand and some Hosa XLR cable runs (10, 50 and 100) for flexibility on camera and mic placement without depending on the venue to supply cables.

Wireles lavs will have to wait--I'm tapped out.

In a way, these items seem a little rich for my blood--My current applications are mainly school and community theater events, and I don't get paid for my work. But I like to get it right, and I think that soon after I get the stuff what I paid won't matter, only the capabilities they give me will.

The GL2's on board mic actually does fine if I just want the sound that fills the auditorium. And for something like high school kids doing a Broadway musical revue without dialog, that has been good enough. I spent the money to get better dialog coverage, better balance with live orchestration, and the ability to take a line feed.

The DM-50 was not an option because, like with the on board mic, using the mic jack turns it off. It would be nice if you could opt to put them in one channel, and the jack input in the other.
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Old August 2nd, 2004, 05:27 PM   #2
 
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Both are wise choices. Good tools without breaking the bank. Servicable, without wasteful or needless features. You're not crazy. Not if you really use the tools. The audio will be far better than your camera, even when the "sound fills the room."
You still want to practice good technique though. Get the mic as close as possible. Don't get hung up on the "my camera is sexy now, so I'll put the mic on it all the time" thought. Get a cheap micstand, and maybe a short boom to hold the mic closer to the source.
Congrats on your next step into the world of sounding better!
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Old August 2nd, 2004, 09:53 PM   #3
Fred Retread
 
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Auditorium placement of AT897

Thanks, Douglas. No danger of sporting the mic on top of my camera--I didn't even get a shock mount. I'll have to rely on the BeachTek, the cables and headphones to impress ;>]

My first field exercise with the new equipment will be a community theater production of "Footloose" Thursday or Friday. I'll set up the camera at the rear, drop a line down from the control booth and run another line out to the 897 wherever I place it. Where to place it is the question. If I put it right in front of the stage, the PA speakers with be broadcasting behind it, well outside the lobe. I'm inclined to think that's okay because it'll be picking up chorals, solos and dialogue directly. I should get some great stage-stomping percussion, and I may appreciate the limiters. The accompanists will be 90 degrees to the left, but presumably they have their own mic(s) feeding the board, and I can get them on the other channel.

Applause and audience ambience will be catch as catch can.

If I muck it up, I have access to several subsequent shows, but I'd like to do as well as I can the first time. Any advice?

Is there much difference between aiming down (I could probably get theater access to rig it) and simply aiming up from an offstage mic stand if the angle and distance is about the same?
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Old August 3rd, 2004, 01:41 AM   #4
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Maybe you should join Gear Sluts Anonymous ;-) you'd be in good company.

The DXA-8 is a nice piece of equipment and so is the AT shotgun
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Old August 3rd, 2004, 01:52 AM   #5
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The biggest potential problem you have is getting a ground loop hum from the board feed if you have any of your grounded equipment plugged into AC power from an outlet that's distant from the sound booth. You should check that as soon as possible.
If you detect this during testing, the solutions are to run everything on battery power (including video monitors) or to run a heavy grounded power cable from the sound booth to your location. Keep it separated from your audio feed cable.
It's not safe to defeat the ground connection if any of your equipment uses a 3-prong grounded plug. Ebtech also makes an inexpensive hum eliminator, but you'd need the proper XLR to TRS cables for both in and out.
I would generally choose to point my stage mic up rather than down. You'll pick up plenty of foot sounds even with the mic pointing slightly upward. I aim for a spot about chest high on a performer standing on the front of the stage. You have to balance your distance from the stage to get good coverage of the spread of performers versus getting too far away. Of course keeping the audience from tromping all over your stand and cables is essential, it's always a compromise. Invest in a roll of professional gaffers tape. It's expensive as far as tape goes, but very effective at protecting your cables and people. Remember to pull your tape up first when cleaning up, rather than pulling the cable and tape up together. The tape will wrap around the cable and be a nightmare to get it loose.
If you have a good relationship with the house sound people, you can sometimes use the house wiring to keep from running your mic cable through heavy traffic areas. This may make your total signal distance longer but still easier to rig. Don't run this cable into their board, keep it independent and simply use their patch bays and house wiring.
Lastly it's helpful to be able to monitor a situation like this in mono. It's not a necessity but it certainly makes it easier than trying to listen to two separate full-strength feeds in each ear. It will also let you know how the balance of sound is from your mic versus the board sources and whether you're getting any major phase issues. Your final product will probably be a mono mix of your mic and the board. It's good to know live that you're not creating problems for yourself later. It would require a small mixer (or headphone amp with mono control) to do this and cables to take the output from your camera, but they are available without too much expense. You can also use this mixer ahead of your camera to get smoother control over your sound levels versus using the BeachTek alone. You just have to know how to do your routing with input/output and monitoring correctly. It's probably something to look forward to after you get this first project done with your new equipment.
I would of course recommend that you don't RECORD in mono, only MONITOR in mono. You should keep your BeachTek controls separated so you can do the mix properly in post-production. The only exception to this is if you know you won't be doing any post and the tape you're shooting must be close to the final version that's needed without additional work.
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Old August 3rd, 2004, 09:57 AM   #6
 
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Fred,
having a mic on a camera is HIGHLY overrated in most situations anyway, unless it's run n' gun.
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