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Old October 10th, 2004, 02:12 AM   #1
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First shoot of band with external sound..Help!!

I've looked around awhile and didn't really see my answer so here goes.

I shot a live band outdoors last night for the first time. I thought I would plug in to the board for some good sound. The board only had rca outs available so I used them and adapted down to the 1/8" input using "line level" on the camera and not "mic".

The sound is disappointing. It is not clear and sharp but is more lifeless, kinda dull, left channel is a little weak, no sense of "presence"....just pitiful. I was shocked! Sometimes the levels would drop off and come back but this definately didn't happen with the real sound. I was expectin live sound! I checked the sound levels and they seemed to be peaking several bars below 0db. I thought that to be ok?

What went wrong? Is RCA the wrong way to go?
Should I have used a "y" on the xlr out on the board to get xlr to the camera and then converting down to 1/8"?

For the last song I unplugged and used the built-in mic. Now this has presence !!!! BUT...it lacks low end big time. It just doesn't sound like digital should.

I really want to get it from the board and get it right.
Please help so I can get it right next time! Thanks
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Old October 10th, 2004, 07:35 AM   #2
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Piggy Back

Hope you don't mind if I piggy back on this thread. I've had a couple of sound issues with line feeds from sound boards too on my PD170's so maybe these are related. I get crackling unclear sound. Tried all settings per manual and all comb of inputs and switch settings. Typically I take a feed from the 1/4 inch headphone jack on the board to an XLR on the camera preamp. Don't know if it's too much signal or what but I get same results from both cams so I think it must be me doing something wrong.
Thanks for letting me piggy back and again, hope you don't mind.
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Old October 10th, 2004, 11:27 AM   #3
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When we shoot videos we pull group or channel outs fro the bands board into our own 12 cahnnel board, and mix that with one or two uni-dir room mics. the channel outs from our board are fed into a ten channel sound card and each track is then recorded using cakewalk on the PC for later tweaking. Remember when the bands sound man is mixing, he is mixing for the sound in the venue. The ausio that comes direct from the board does not include all the nuances the acoustics of the room include, hence our use of the room mics The worst situations we have run were when we could only get a master out from the sound board, there was nothing we could do in post to really tweak that sound, and in fact a couple of times we have had to synch the video track to a studio audio cut. Straight to camera from the board will give you a generally 'flatter' sound. As for pos and craks, no good explanation for that one, other than don't use the auto gain settings, set the gain manually, keep the levels low and boost it slightly in post if needed.
Now that being said, the rig we use is a beast, with everything built into a plywood box that looks more like a coffin. A 15" LCD screen and rack mounted PC as well as the board itself makes a rather unwieldy combination if you shoot solo. In fact beyond unwieldy, one man can't move it :) Unfortunately we haven't found a multichannel sound card that we can use in the laptops though so this is the next best thing. Audio is the biggest issue you will face shooting videos, we're still working on our methods, slowly getting it together... key word here is slowly... You might want to try taking the board feed into one channel and a mic onto the other channel if you really want to record into camera, then you could try mixing those. we've done a couple of trips witout the cameras just to do audio tracks and get the mixing as close as we have it, and still have a ways to go to be honest.
If you want to see a couple of low res examples go to
http://www.theundergroundtv.com on the bands pages.
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Old October 12th, 2004, 07:42 PM   #4
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Bud and Lamar, you really need to mention what brand and preferably what model the board is. At least mention how the jacks were labeled.

I'm not the expert around here, but I think the following advice is pretty good, and if any of the heavyweights want to check in and correct me on anything that would be great.

Lamar,
any board's headphone output is usually an amplified output, not line level. Guaranteed to be too hot for your cam's input. The crackling makes sense, because that's the sound of clipping. The cam's meters show recording level, not input level. So you can turn them down and the indicators will look fine even if the signal is being clipped at the input. Also, the headphone jack is an unbalanced output. The XLR's are balanced inputs. Chances are that the cable you were using is wired for a balanced signal at both ends.

It's hard to suggest where to take the output, especially stereo, without knowing the board. But Balanced Mono Out is usually a good choice if you want to take an output from the board for one channel on the cam and put your own mic into the other channel. The correct cable will have a three-section 1/4" plug going into the Mono Out jack and an XLR at the camera end. You should perform your setup audio adjustments with the cam right next to the sound board, then move the cam to where you want it. You'll need some kind of audio signal going into the board, so maybe the sound guy can play a CD or something. Start with the Mono Out's gain turned all the way down. Set the cam's audio control for the channel you're using to about 3/4 of max. Then turn up the board's output gain control, if necessary, until the peaks on the cam's meters start to blink above 0dB. Then use the cam's control to bring the peaks down to just below 0 dB. That should give you an unclipped input. If the level from the board is too high even when turned down, you will have put an attenuator in line. If you want stereo from the board there are a bunch of considerations and you or the sound guy will have to know what you're doing.

Robert,
if the RCA jacks were labeled "tape record" they would be the right choice, probably operating at -10 dB. That's the arrangement on the ElectroVoice board at my school. Your level setting at the cam sounds a little low. You don't want to go above 0dB, but some peaks should hit it. I also wonder if the adaptor that goes from L & R RCAs to 1/8" could be wired wrong. If the polarity of one is backwards, that could give weakness, flatness, and tinniness with occasional passages that seem to drop off a lot
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Old October 13th, 2004, 12:11 AM   #5
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Thanks Fred.

How do you check polarity of the "y" connector (rca female x 2 into one mini jack)? I tested it by plugging in the mini-jack to a portable cd player's headphone out and taking the rca to stereo inputs. It played fine with no drop-outs even when wiggling the wires. I don't have a wire tester.

I don't recall the brand of board the band was using. I do think the levels were recorded too low. Another weird thing is that when I play in true stereo and not some digital sound field I notice the left channel is totally dead. I can't mimick this using any of the wire I used. I'm going to have to trial/error some I see.
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Old October 13th, 2004, 08:08 AM   #6
 
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First, the kind of board won't matter at all, not if it's got auxes or buses that you can access.
Second, house mixers/desks, except in large venues, aren't terribly useful for video recordings, because they are there to supplant existing audio. If the band is acoustic at all, then you'll have acoustic sound in the room as well as augmented sound from the sound system. So, if 70% of the guitar heard in the room is coming from the guitar or it's amplifier, and only 30% is coming from augmented/enhanced sound in the system, you're missing a good portion of the room.
So...
Mix off of either a separate mixer multed off of the original or that uses a splitter snake.
OR
mix off of auxiliary outputs from the console, having checked the mix fairly closely during sound check.
Some mixers have TRS send/returns on them. You can often use these by putting a cable halfway into the jack.
Either way, unless you're in a big room or in a small room working with an all-electronic group or group that is very well mic'd and the house mix knows how to mix for vid and mix for volume....you're better off having a sub/secondary mix fed by a mult, a splitter, or fed from auxes on the main desk/console/board.
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Old October 13th, 2004, 07:40 PM   #7
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Robert, the second paragraph of you last post was a little unclear. But anyway, if you have a commercially purchased adaptor cable it's probably right, unless it only has a two section mini plug.

If you wanted to test it, a multimeter or a continuity tester would be good. You can make a continuity tester by taping a flashlight bulb to the top an AA battery (the side threads against the positive battery terminal). Then touching the ends of a wire to the bottom of the battery and the button on the bottom of the bulb will show continuity in the wire.

For the adaptor, the center pin of one RCA should go to the mini's tip, the center pin of the other should go to the mini's middle section, and the outer ring of both RCA's should go to the mini's rear section.
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Old October 14th, 2004, 12:00 AM   #8
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Yep, sorry about that. I had the sound on the recorder set on auto which was recording a little too low.

This didn't cause the dropouts though. When I play the tape on a conventional 2-channel stereo the left channel is dead. I was fooled at first when I heard some sound in the left side but this was because I was playing the tape back through my stereo which was in some kind of digital soundfield mode which mixes channels to come up with left, right, center, rear, plus ambience.

I am beginning to wonder if the rca jacks on the board could be subject. I am going to get with the sound guy and run a cd through it and tape off the rcas and the xlr out. I'm using different cable too...so we'll see.
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Old October 22nd, 2004, 05:04 PM   #9
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Thanks Fred,
That cleared up some grey areas for me. Your explanation and advice really helped me out.

BTW - I bought a Behringer MXB1002 as a portable battery powered mixer and feel that I have quite a bit more control over the sound now. It seems like the added control helps the overall sound quality.

Thanks again.
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