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Old February 18th, 2005, 08:13 AM   #1
Still Motion
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Toronto, Canada
Posts: 1,186
Using the various mic levels in combination?

I have had a hard time for a while trying to figure out the best way to combine the various mic levels. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

I'm using a wireless sennhieser lav mic for weddings. Before that, I used the entry level azden system which had a total of two frequencies to select and an on switch. Going to the new mic setup is proving to be quite the complicated transition. With the Sennhieser, the transmitter has a senesitivity function- from 0 down to about -40 I believe. Then receiver then has a AF out level which cango from +12 down to -30 I believe. In addition, on my PD170 there is the gain control. (There is also the headphones volume but I'm trying to learn how to just use the levels to check for volume of the recording.)

What I am trying to figure out is the optimum way to go about this to get less noise. There are just so many permutations. Any ideas on where to start would be of great help.

What audio levels should I aim for the end result- I was under the impression that the average should be -20 with highs around -6??

Lastly, a question about manual vs auto controls. I understand it is always best to record manually if possible. With an event like weddings where people speak in turns and the volumes vary so much, do you try to set the system for the highest volume in manual control and leave it there? Or possible continually adjust the manual control, although that seems impossible considering the other things that need ot be done.

Thanks so much to anybody who can help me out here.

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Old February 18th, 2005, 11:53 AM   #2
Inner Circle
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Richmond, VA
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Gee, I was going to post the same question. Instead I'll just ditto this post. I have a sennheiser/GL2/shotgun combo.
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Old February 18th, 2005, 03:32 PM   #3
Fred Retread
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Hartford, CT
Posts: 1,227
The camcorder is the boss. Set its gain controls to from half to three quarters toward max, regardless of the input signal. If the camera has a MIC Attenutaion option, turn it off. Now adjust the output of whatever device is feeding the camcorder's input until the camcorder's meters read -6 to -12 dB for average sound levels, with peaks up to about -3 dB. In situations where you know there is going to be a wide dynamic range of sounds, decrease the above suggestions by 3 dB. If the meters read too high even with the feeding device turned down, then turn on MIC Attenuation.

This approach assures that the input to the camera is in the range "expected" by the designers of the camcorder's circuitry. You're neither overloading nor starving the camcorder's input.

I'm not sure whether the PD-150 has switchable XLR inputs like the PD-170, but if so, the correct setting of the the receiver's output would be at the low end for mic level input to the camcorder and near the high end for line level input. If all you have is a mini jack then that expects mic level.

I'm not sure about the transmitter. I gather that its "sensitivity" contol should be set to the same dB level as the source that feeds it. For mics that's somewhere around the -40 dB level, so I'd start there unless someone who knows better kicks in and says otherwise.

Once you have all the levels reasonably centered, you can make adjustments during the event by riding the cam's level controls.
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