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Old April 24th, 2005, 09:51 PM   #1
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Setting audio levels between mixer and recorder

I have an Qktava and a 416t going through a Shure FP-42 then into a Marantz PDM-660, not at the same time though.

Both the PDM and the 42 have peak meters. I need to know how to set the levels between them for consistant recordings during production.

The 42 has a tone generator. I can guess what I might need to do but that would take many more words.

It's been like internet college in these forums. Thanks for the continuing education everyone.

john h
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Old April 25th, 2005, 08:16 AM   #2
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The FP42 meters are mechanical, so even if they are peak (I was thinking they were VU), they won't react the same to transients as the meters on the PMD. Use the tone generator on the 42 as a guide to get started. You're still going to need to experiment on actual sounds to get a firmer idea.
You'll also need to know how high you can push not only the recording level on the PMD, but the inputs too before you hit distortion on peaks.
In addition, the FP42 has a limiter and a line/mic level output switch. You'll need to conduct some tests and listen for the best results. In the end you'll have to become familiar with the allowances between the old and the new and give yourself some leeway.
You'll get best performance from the FP42 by keeping the master at 6 or preferably lower and opening the input controls more to increase volume. You will have to watch out with the 416, it has a much hotter output than what the FP42 inputs would normally see.
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Old April 25th, 2005, 09:41 AM   #3
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I did notice the 416 is hotter. With the master gain set at 5 the tone generator puts the VU meters at 100 db, the botom of the red line.

I'm guessing that this is the basis to start the 42. I was figuring the tone between all recordings wanted this 100db tone at the head just light color bars to video prior to laying tracks? So 6 sounds about right. I understand the relashionship between the 42 and the pdm must be esablished. the pdm has a nice array of leds but no accurate means of knob position, I guess i could fake that with a silver sharpe' pen and make some dots on the body of it. So I'll use the individual gain knobs to adust mike levels.

If my settings are too "hot", then I'll get distortion and if too "low" I'll find hiss when I bring up the gain in post? does that sound about right?

thanks for the reply.
jh
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Old April 25th, 2005, 12:01 PM   #4
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Yes, sounds like you've got the idea.
You also need to establish how much headroom you want to leave yourself on the Marantz. In other words decide what level like -20db, -12db or even -6db you want to use as your digital equivalent to analog 0db 100% level.
If you're using this material yourself and the dynamic range of what you're recording is very even, you can push it to -6db. Normally I work around -12db as a solid level, with peaks going to -10db to -8db. Any higher than that and there's too much risk for most situations.
In addition to the recording levels on the Marantz. It's a similar situation with these inputs as with most digital mini-cameras. You can overload the input with too hot a signal and this won't show up on the meters, especially if you have the record level controls turned down. You'll have to listen for distortion that can come from having the mixer output too hot for the recorder input. Once you've established that point, then you can make sure that turning up the Marantz levels stays clean all the way to digital -1 or -2db (even though you'd never knowingly record that hot in the field).
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Old April 25th, 2005, 03:12 PM   #5
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"If you're using this material yourself and the dynamic range of what you're recording is very even, you can push it to -6db."

So if I understand basic recording then a -20db recording would leave me with that much to push the signal in post if dialoge got a little soft on volume and still avoid distortion besides the headroom for the ocasional peak in the field?

thanks for the reply, I'm getting there.

jh
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Old April 25th, 2005, 06:47 PM   #6
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-20db gives plenty of headroom, many would say too much and that you aren't utilizing the full quality of your digital recorder. It all depends on the situation, but I almost always work around the -12 to -10 area. That allows for a cleaner recording and still gives headroom.
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