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Old April 10th, 2011, 11:20 PM   #1
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Off the board, or off the speakers?

Good evening....

I've got a wedding event coming up, and the industrial setting of the venue, requires a bit more attention to audio detail (due to the hum of the lighting and vows being spoken).
I've got a Sennheiser Evolution G2 Series Basic Kit, with a Canon XH A1 video camcorder.

I was planning to capture ambient audio with my Rode NTG 2 via channel 1, and capture the DJ/MC and vows through channel 2..
The DJ is going to be very helpful, and guide me through his gear. He will fix any shortcomings of cabling for me.

That being said, i was wondering if, rather than worrying about coming off the mixing board, and having to worry about levels, or potential movement of swithces, why not capture the signal directly off the speaker?
Since most speakers have an XLR output, why couldn't I attach the SKP100?

I have been assured that everything (including drums) will be micd up. Therefore everything will be driving out through the speakers anyways..

That being said, since i will require mic level signals for my camera, will dropping the sensitivity by 40 decibels help??
Yeah, i thought i'd slide that second question in....

Thank you...
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Old April 10th, 2011, 11:28 PM   #2
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Re: Off the board, or off the speakers?

The board wil sound clean and controlled. You never know what's up with the speaker. You have a mic in air adding noise, and wind may happen... You may be pointing at the wrong part of the speaker and bee too boomy. Board feed is best. talk to the DJ ahead of time and get the cables needed. Your ambient mic will pick up the rest.

Still I don't think 2 mics is enough for a serious wedding job. You basically need at least 4 recordable tracks of audio. 2 wireless lavs, a board feed, and ambient mic on the camera. One lav on the groom, one on the officiant. The bride will be picked up on the grooms lav. But short of that, a board feed is the way. Make sure you either have a recorder that can take a line level, because soundbpards put out line level. If your camera is mic level, you need a line-to -mic level converter. Very important.
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Old April 10th, 2011, 11:37 PM   #3
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Re: Off the board, or off the speakers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Manojlovic View Post
Since most speakers have an XLR output, why couldn't I attach the SKP100?
As far as I know, speakers are not a source of electrical signal, they are transducers which are intended to convert an electrical signal (from the amp) into an acoustic sound wave.

As such, speakers do not have an output, they have an input. All kinds of connectors are used. And you never know what level to expect.

The DJ's mixer, at some point, has a line level signal, which you could feed directly to your recorder (if the recorder has an appropriate input). That line level signal then goes through a master gain control. If the crowd gets noisy, the DJ turns up the master. At that point, unless you turn down gain on your recorder, you're liable to have some bad clipping. Then the signal may go through some equalization (intended to correct for shortcomings in the speakers, or for acoustical problems in the room)... that will just make your recording unrealistic. Finally the signal goes through a power amplifier, which adds some electrical noise and distortion, and the output of the power amp feeds to the speaker. So if you tap off the signal at the speaker, it will probably have non-flat frequency response, more noise, and more distortion than if you use the line level feed from the mixer, and it may at some point have some bad clipping that makes it entirely unuseable. In other words, that's not the best idea.
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Old April 10th, 2011, 11:53 PM   #4
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Re: Off the board, or off the speakers?

I thought the OP was talking about micing the speaker. But if it's a powered speaker, often there IS a line out on that, and that is totally fine. I put a alr cable out of the speaker's out, to an inline atenuator, like this:
Audio-Technica AT8202 In-Line Attenuator AT8202 B&H Photo Video
Set to -20db.

Then I went from that to the plug-on transmitter for my G3 wireless. Then I had the receiver on my camera. That worked great for the toasts, where the D gave them a mic to talk through his PA.

You could also skip the wireless and go into a recorder, but if it's only mic level inputs you still need the attenuator.
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Old April 10th, 2011, 11:56 PM   #5
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Re: Off the board, or off the speakers?

Yes, the board feed plus ambient (on independent channels) is the way to go. The board alone is too dry and clean. The ambient alone is an echoey mush. Blend the two and you can get a clean, live sound.
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Old April 11th, 2011, 12:06 AM   #6
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Re: Off the board, or off the speakers?

Thanks everybody....
@Chad..You're correct...
In the past, I actually micd speakers with a dynamic mic, and sent it remotely via the SKP100..It worked fine, but the audio had a lousy dynamic range..I figured it was a combination of bad mic placement, and mic quality. Lots of lows, and mids to highs were muffled.

But that being said, I noticed XLR outputs at the back of the speakers, and thought that this would be the best way to get the true sound coming out, without worrying about clipping my "on camera" speakers..

On a second note Chad. I had a fellow at the local PA rental company, assure me that i didn't need attenuation, and that adjusting the sensitivity in the transmitter would be appropriate. That being said, i noticed the SKP100 transmitter has sensitivity from 0db to -50db.

Is your experience different, or do you recommend the attenuator?
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Old April 11th, 2011, 12:22 AM   #7
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Re: Off the board, or off the speakers?

I recommend you have 2 attenuators in your kit generally speaking. You don't always know know what you're going to get and what things happen in emergencies. The reason I used one with the sennheiser because it's already set to mic level, and I don't like fiddling with things on the job. But you could set your 20db lower than you usually set it for the same result. But I also want the plug-on for my own mic to pass around for best wishes type things and don't want to forget to set it back then hand my mic to Grandma and she's too low. Weddings are hard work and I try to minimize my own fiddling. My own camera and Tascam DR-680 have line in, but one just never knows when attenuation will help ya know? If you have a DSLR or a cheaper recorder it could come in handy.
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Old April 11th, 2011, 05:55 AM   #8
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Re: Off the board, or off the speakers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chad Johnson View Post
if it's a powered speaker, often there IS a line out on that, and that is totally fine.
Even so, if it's a loop through from the board's PA feed, don't a few of my comments still apply? namely

(1.) the DJ might change the level to accomodate for a noisy crowd, which would make your gain settings wrong; and

(2.) any EQ applied to the speaker would also be applied to your recording, which would probably be better flat.

I still think you'd be better taking a flat "record" feed from the board, if the DJ can give you that.
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Old April 11th, 2011, 07:32 PM   #9
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Re: Off the board, or off the speakers?

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Originally Posted by Greg Miller View Post
I still think you'd be better taking a flat "record" feed from the board, if the DJ can give you that.
Yes, of course...This will be the first avenue i follow.
Since the DJ is a professional, and has done this before for other videographers, i'm sure i don't need to worry about anybody bumping or fiddling with the line out..

Thanks for everybody's suggestion. It definately boosts my confidence...
Until then, i'll be reading up on some of the stickies on the top of the audio section....

There seems to be so much more to understanding audio than video IMHO...
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Old April 11th, 2011, 08:02 PM   #10
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Re: Off the board, or off the speakers?

Sound is much more complex. It's 70% of any "Video" project.
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Old April 11th, 2011, 08:19 PM   #11
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Re: Off the board, or off the speakers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Manojlovic View Post
There seems to be so much more to understanding audio than video IMHO...
Of course. That's what makes it fun!
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Old April 11th, 2011, 10:22 PM   #12
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Re: Off the board, or off the speakers?

Do you have a separate recorder to get the audio feed? If you have a recorder that does 24 bit just go line out from the mixer into the recorder at 24 bit and set your levels conservatively. The noise floor is lower is lower at 24 bit so you can amplify in post and still get a clean recording. That way you won't have to worry about whether the DJ is going to change his levels.
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Old April 12th, 2011, 11:24 AM   #13
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Re: Off the board, or off the speakers?

One thing to keep in mind is that first and foremost, DJs are entertainers. Some have very limited knowledge of the equipment they use. In their zeal to entertain, they 'stunt around' with their boards to put on a show. One of my pet peeves is their use of their turntable to add a scratching noise to the music. The stunts they pull is a bad combination for those who expect good sound from a DJ. A multilevel approach is the best 'defense'. Sound recorders are cheap so you can easily use multiple recorders. You can record from the board as well as a speaker. You can also use a small recorder with a lav mic attached to the mic stand if one is used for the toasts. Some wedding planners and sound engineers like to put the mic on a stand for reception toasts. It creates a controlled focus point for the toasts.

There are times the music from the board is so hacked up that I use key songs from the original song files to sync when I edit the dancing segment. NEVER trust the DJ as your only sound source. If you do, you WILL be screwed, probably sooner that later.
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Old April 12th, 2011, 06:38 PM   #14
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Re: Off the board, or off the speakers?

Yeah, I get the couple to make me a CD of the songs they will use for all the 1st dance type things. All that is planned already for the DJ, so I get the songs and use those in my video. It works much better.

Here's a demo of one wedding I did...

YouTube - Wedding Demo - Long Version
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Old April 13th, 2011, 09:10 AM   #15
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Re: Off the board, or off the speakers?

I just answered a post elsewhere about someone who came to shoot video and expected a certain amount of audio support only to find they couldn't get it.

This raises the question of preparedness. What are you responsible for? What do you want to tell the client when your work is compromised by your expectations that the audio was someone else's job? Who's fault is it? In the best of situations, you'll be fine. But you really can't count on that.

Before I take a gig, I do a lot of Q&A about what's going to happen. What needs to be miced. How it's going to work. Only after I understand fully what's involved and am sure I have a game plan (with backup) do I take the gig. If there are problems I see, we talk about them and try to work out better audio scenarios to avoid them.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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