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Old October 22nd, 2004, 11:41 PM   #1
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VX2000 video veteran audio amateur wants to rock

Okay, here goes. I have a VX2000 with no audio accessories as of yet. I am primarily a video guy, but I would like to start filming local rock-and-roll bands. After reading many different threads on many different forums, I'm more confused than when I started. I'm a seasoned veteran when it comes to video, but a novice when it comes to audio. I will be filming at different locations so I will never be sure that I will have access to the sound board. Can somebody suggest a configuration with a backup plan for those times when I do not have access? Money is not a primary concern, but with this being a new venture, I would like to start slow and work my way up. Around the $500 range. I kind of like the MD recorder idea, probably because I'm intimidated by the other complex scenarios, but what mic should I use? Should I go the XLR Route? I will probably have a decent location, but I'm not positive. I'm doing my first test run next week. Can anybody please help me?
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Old October 23rd, 2004, 12:42 AM   #2
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There is no one setup that's going to even WORK for all (or even MOST situations), much less be "best", unfortunately. That's why audio people have all that equipment. It's kind of like wanting to be an auto mechanic with a $29 Sears Craftsman toolset.

With that warning upfront, probably the best "inexpensive" way to go would be to buy a matched set of cardioid or supercardiod (i.e., directional) mics to be set out in front of the stage. In an ideal world, you'd want the mics about 1/4-1/3 of the way back fromthe front of the stage, at about a 30 degree angle, to pick up a stereo image. This theoretical ideal is rarely possible, though, because that would put your mics in the middle of the crowd, which would mean at the very least, excessive crowd noise, and more likely damaged or destroyed equipment. So, you have to figure out a compromise, and every venue will be different.

In an outdoor venue, you could use shotgun mics from the back, but this won't work indoors, due to all of the reflections from the walls and such (this *may* be a problem outdoors as well, depending on the setup). So, you'd need to go with less directional mics that are less susceptable to reflection echos.

You may also get good results from having two separated mics near the stage, separating the stage into thirds.

These are just guidelines though, because again, every place is different, and there will always be SOME experimentation.

As far as recording those mics, there are many options. If your camera is mostly going to stay in one place, you can record right to the camera (you already own it and will already be running it). If you don't have XLR inputs, you'll want a BeachTek or something similar.

If you're going to use an external device, then the sky's the limit. There are a whole lot of solutions here. Note though that many portable devices such as MiniDisc recorders and FlashMemory recorders only have a single mono mic input, which obviously limits you to a single mono track, unless you can convert your mics into a line-level stereo signal and record via the line-ins. A small mixer could do that, but you'd either need a fairly expensive but highly portable field mixer, or you'd need a small standard mixer and 110V power (i.e., an extension cord to a wall plug).

And there are many other solutions, from digital mixers with built-in harddrives and DVD-R decks to record to, to computer interfaces to record (and mix) directly to a PC or laptop.

It all depends on what you want to do and how much you are willing to spend and carry.

As other folks mentioned in other threads, audio from the main mixing console is very dry and flat (the room provides a ton of reverb, but that's not present in the console mix), and is only adding to the sound coming off the stage from the guitar, bass, and keyboard amps and of course the drums. For example, when I mix bands in small clubs, the guitar amps are often so loud that I remove them completely from the house mix (i.e., I turn the signal from the mic at the guitar amp all the way down), so a tape of the house mix would be very boring with no lead guitar! And the house guy never wants crowd noise in the house system.

That's why, to get good "live-sounding" recordings, you need to use mics in the room or in front of the stage.

-Troy
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Old October 23rd, 2004, 01:42 AM   #3
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The VX2000 has a few problems in the audio dept. Whatever the input is make sure that it allows you to run the manual gain at or below 60%. 40-50% will be even better. The camera preamp will give you a noticeable hiss if the onboard preamp is pushed much above 50%-60%.

Beach Tek designed their DXA-8 to get around this issue. the DXA-8 has enough gain to "take the weight off" the camera preamps. Without some form of preamp you'll be stuch with a high output shotgun which is the Sennheiser k6/ME66.

You have a few choices in preamps. The Beach DXA-8 is a two channel for $380 and it attaches to the underside of the camera. The Sound devices MM1 and MP1 are single channel preamps and cost $300 and $350 (one has a headphone jack).

The DXA-8 has limiters, preamp and phantom. The Sound Devices is only a single channel but has phantom, 66 db of gain, limiters and a high pass filter (80hz and 160hz). Sound Devices is a high quality rig, the Beach is good quality and has two channels for a few bucks more. The sound devices don't attach to the camera.

I was bitten by the audio bug and went hook line and sinker into the best audio I could possible get. if you're interested read my writeup on the DXA-8 and my subsequent upgrade. click here

I'm a full fledged gear slut and a member of Gear Slutz Anonymous which is a 12 step program designed to minimize financial hardship brought on by the overwhealming desire to buy more and better gear.
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Old October 23rd, 2004, 04:55 AM   #4
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Thanks Guys. I think these forums are the best. I think I'll go with the DXA-8. It seems like it was designed specifically for this purpose. As you said, there are so many options. Does the onboard mic still work when using the DXA-8? Oh Well, It's time to dive right in. I'll let you know how it goes. Thanks again.
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Old October 23rd, 2004, 12:51 PM   #5
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When you plug the DXA-8 into the mini jack, the onboard mic is disabled and the jack is enabled. You have to pull the mini jack to use the onboard mic.
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Old October 23rd, 2004, 05:59 PM   #6
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Troy, first, thanks for your characteristically clear post above (and, of course, thanks to all the other regulars too--I've learned a lot here). A few questions if you're still following this thread:

For musicals, a community theater venue I often work uses lavs on the performers, a few hanging mics and three stage mounted boundary mics going into a Mackie 1604. The sound goes out to stereo loudspeakers hung up on the walls about 10-15 feet back from the stage. I've been using the on-boad mic on my GL2 from a back corner. Frankly, in terms of reproducing what you hear live in that mileu, the on-board ain't that bad. But besides better tonal quality, I would like to be able to select a balance that has more direct sound and less reverb--more clarity, I guess.

1. To achieve that, which would you bet on--a good stereo pair up front (ahead of the loudspeakers), or a line feed in one channel and a mono mic in the other?

2. How do the limiters of the DXA-8 fit into the gain structure setting scheme?
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Old October 24th, 2004, 02:35 PM   #7
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I am a happy DXA-8 user. I have one situation where I over-drive the Beachtek and that is resolved using AT-8202 Attenuators. They are adjustable for -10, 20, 30dB. With those, I should also be set for any situation where I pull audio from a mixer board.

I have an A-T 835ST mic and Fred pointed this out,

"Even with its gain set at minimum, the BeachTek can only take a maximum of 0.92 volts without clipping, but the 835ST can dish out almost 1.3 volts at its maximum acceptable input sound level (137 dB SPL). So the mic can cause clipping in the DXA-8 without working up a sweat."

So, keep getting one or two AT-8202's in your mind depending on your mic or sound situation. Since the 835ST is stereo and I am using it as such for texture, I need two.

Oh, I find that I need a new battery for about every 2 tapes. That might be my combination though. When audio is critical (doing a marhcing band competition), I try to change it about ever 4-5 performances (which is almost a single tape.)
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Old October 26th, 2004, 03:09 AM   #8
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<<<-- Originally posted by Fred Retread :1. To achieve that, which would you bet on--a good stereo pair up front (ahead of the loudspeakers), or a line feed in one channel and a mono mic in the other?


Either way would work; it depends on which element is more important to you. If you take a feed from the mixer, you'll get very clear, but also flat, sound. That can be an advantage, though, as it gives you the ability to run effects on that channel in post, if you like. This can be useful in some situations, even in addition to mixing it with the room mic.

With a stereo pair, you can lose some of that clarity, especially from the vocals, but you'll get a true stereo recording, picking up the natural reverb of the room. I would suggest that this would be more important when recording a band or orchestra, while the mixer + room mic would be better for a play or a lecture. But you'd have to use your own judgement, depending on the elements you were trying to record.



2. How do the limiters of the DXA-8 fit into the gain structure setting scheme? -->>>

Normally, they should have little effect, as you're going to set up your gain structure as if they didn't exist. Then, if you get a really hot transient, the limiter should kick in and reduce or eliminate the clipping that would otherwise occur. Given that you have very little control over how the limiter works, you don't have much choice. In an ideal world (hehe), you'd use an external compressor/limiter, which gives you much more control on how the compression curve and ratio is set up. Money aside, this is easy to do when using an external mixer, but not when you're just trying to plug the mics directly into the BeachTek.

In working on a small music video TV show, we used a small Mackie and a cheap but pretty decent $100 Alesis compressor/limiter/gate for the hosts's mic channels, via the Inserts on the board. The compression helps make things sound like you're used to hearing them sound on TV, while also allowing you to raise the overall volume of the vocal in the mix, so that quieter vocals aren't lost. You do have to be careful not to over-do it, though. The gate is also nice for preventing the mics from sending noise to the channel when they aren't being spoken into.

-Troy
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Old October 26th, 2004, 03:14 AM   #9
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<<<-- Originally posted by Bryan Beasleigh : I'm a full fledged gear slut and a member of Gear Slutz Anonymous which is a 12 step program designed to minimize financial hardship brought on by the overwhealming desire to buy more and better gear. -->>>

Where are the meetings? I *really* need to start attending. :)

-Troy
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Old October 26th, 2004, 05:12 PM   #10
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Your in, meeting is next tuesday online, bring lots of refreshments.
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Old October 28th, 2004, 12:21 AM   #11
 
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BRian's just really full of GAS.

Gear Acquisition Syndrome.
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Old November 12th, 2004, 09:55 PM   #12
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Hi everybody. Sorry it took so long to get back, but I've been quite busy. Anyway, my first bar band concert went pretty well. I took the sound from the board, 2 RCA jacks into the 1/8 minijack and cleaned it up in post. Compared to the onboard mic, it's like night and day. I just bought an IRiver IFP-890 to try to get more of a live sound and I was wondering if anyone could suggest a good microphone or microphones that I should use if I don't know where I will be placing them. If you would like to see a clip from the concert, you can check out my website www.lafinc.net. Any feedback would be appreciated. Keep in mind, it is compressed to a 24 MB wmv file, but it still sounds pretty good. Let me know what you think and thanks again. Lazlo
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