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Old February 7th, 2013, 02:01 AM   #1
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I need a solution for live PA and recording

I have a situation that seems to have conflicting needs. I'm doing work for a church and they have a Mackie mixing console with a few wireless mics going in. They need to keep the sound reinforcement going and I need to add recording of everything and there are no trained people besides me to run it all.

I want to mix it down to two channels for editing straight from the cam but I also would like the capability to record the 4 mics separately. I must get some sort of limiting on all 4 mics as early in the chain as possible. I also need to go out to 4 places: the camera, the amp, a computer for live streaming, and to the snake that goes to another mixer/amp in another part of the building.

I'm having trouble getting my mind wrapped around all of this as it seems there is no one piece of equipment intended for this and a cluster of devices, each with 4 inputs and outputs and the associated cables, is not going to work in the tiny space provided. There is currently a six-space rack with the mixing console on top as their sound booth. I have two chairs and the space in front of them for me and the camera. I can get a helper on the board for PA, but they aren't going to be audio people.

Is there anything available that has: at least 4 mic inputs (preferably 6) with good limiters, recording for each channel, and 4 sets of outputs each with volume control? Oh, and it needs to fit under/next to my tripod so I can reach it since it will mostly be me running the show. I don't want it to require a laptop as I will already have to wrangle one for the live stream. I know this sounds ridiculous, but it probably needs to have budget in mind but I'm interested in hearing any sane idea regardless of cost just so I know what is out there.

If you got this far, thanks in advance!
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Old February 7th, 2013, 03:23 AM   #2
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Re: I need a solution for live PA and recording

Use a /tascam , zoom, or even a personal voice recorder and tap into the church mixer- if the have an extra out input.
Or find a speaker where toy can pick up the service with great clarity and place a mic and recorder near that.

I use Plural Eyes from Red Giant to sync my video and audio if I need to in such situations,
Plural eyes 3 is out for Mac and the Beta Test for PC is starting. If you write an email to red giant and are a PC user I am confident they may let you in on the Beta testing.

I am sure if you have time to test out these suggrestions and if my ideas dfo not make sense I can give you some products that you would need to do it at the least expense.

Good luck
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Old February 7th, 2013, 04:48 AM   #3
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Re: I need a solution for live PA and recording

Try a Presonus StudioLive board. They come in a variety of sizes, different numbers of inputs. They connect to your computer via Firewire, and come with basic multi-track audio recording software. The converters are very good, and you can choose to print audio with or without the on-board suite of digital effects (EQ, compression, gating, reverb).
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Old February 7th, 2013, 12:00 PM   #4
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Re: I need a solution for live PA and recording

Let me summarize what you want to do:

1. Record the mixer's output directly to your camera
2. Record at least 4 of the mics directly to a separate 4-channel recorder

Recording the mixer's output to your camera will (unless it accepts line inputs) require a direct box with signal attenuation to knock the line level output down to mic level. ART makes one that works well for video use: ART Pro Audio

Recording to an external recorder is a little more involved.

You could use a mic splitter, but they start at about $200 and you may need extra adapters if your receivers have line level 1/4" outputs. Passive 8-channel mic splitter: ART S8 | Sweetwater.com

The approach I would take is to tap into the mixer's Insert buss and feed that directly into an external recorder. You will find Inserts on each (or on a few, if a low-end mixer) channel. Inserts are clearly labeled 1/4" jacks adjacent to the mixer's mic and line inputs. Channel inserts let you pull a Line Level feed from the mixer (right after the preamp, before the EQ, Aux Sends, and Fader), feed it to an external processor (compressor, reverb, vocal processor, etc.) and back into the mixer – all through the same connection.

Insert cables have a stereo 1/4" jack on one end, and the cable Y's into two mono 1/4" jacks on the other end. One of the mono 1/4" jacks is the Send and it feeds the signal into your external device. The other jack is the Receive, and it plugs into the device's output and send the signal back into the mixer.

If you plug the cable into the mixer 1/2 way (first click), you can grab a send from the insert jack - and the rest of the signal will pass through to the mixer. You would take the Send and feed it into your external recorder.

Of course, this is living dangerously... If the mixer or cables get bumped you could lose the feed to the recorder or, if the cable gets pushed into the insert jack all the way, you interrupt the signal going into the mixer.

If you don't want to live dangerously, you can buy or make a specialized cable that will give you a send from the mixer's Insert while passing the signal through to the mixer. You can find a great article on that right here: Using an Insert Jack as a Direct Out | Late Reflections – the Silent Sky Studios Blog

EDIT: You can find Tascam multi-track recorders for $100 (4-track) to $150 (8-track) and they will accept line level inputs: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search...op+Nav-Search=
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Old February 7th, 2013, 06:42 PM   #5
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Re: I need a solution for live PA and recording

Markus:

If your church expects you to do all that, in ridiculously limited space, and with a limited budget, they must believe in miracles! Unfortunately, I do not. I think you're "up against the wall of science" and something needs to give.

Meanwhile, I'm not so sure about the above-cited prices for recording more than 2 tracks at once.

The Tascam DP-008 ($150.00) calls itself an "8-track Portastudio Recorder" but the specs say it records only "2 tracks at a time."

The Tascam DP-03 ($356.00) "captures 2 tracks at a time."

The Tascam DP-24 has "Eight tracks of simultaneous recording" but costs $555.00.

Good luck!
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Old February 7th, 2013, 08:28 PM   #6
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Re: I need a solution for live PA and recording

Good call on the Tascam specs, thanks!

A less costly option would be to rent a multitrack recorder. If you don't have a local source for that, you might consider recording to a laptop via a computer interface. The ART Dual USB Pre ($69 on Amazon) is a two channel device (you'd need two to record 4 tracks) that can handle mic and line levels. The unit can be powered from a 9v battery and can provide +48v phantom power, making them useful for video with the proper cabling.
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Old February 8th, 2013, 12:41 AM   #7
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Re: I need a solution for live PA and recording

These are all great, creative suggestions. The ideas for the PreSonus and Tascam DP-24 are the closest to what I need. I don't like that the PreSonus requires a computer as that is one more complicated box that I don't want to rely on and have taking up space. I already need one computer for the live streaming and I don't think I can deal with a second for recording. It would be nice if some company would make something simple that does what really needs to be done for live PA with recording built in. What I see as necessary are:

Input limiters
Recording on each channel to its own track
Sliders for fast changes and to see levels at a glance
Multiple outs - perhaps with USB or Firewire for the computer

Recording to the computer for added effects would be great, but I don't want to drag a cantankerous laptop everywhere for everything. I mostly just need a small mixer with limiters and 4-channel recording with lots of outputs.

Thanks for the suggestions so far. I think you may be right in that this is getting close to an impossible request, but I have to come up with something.
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Old February 8th, 2013, 09:50 AM   #8
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Re: I need a solution for live PA and recording

I do agree that the multi-track recording (for later mix/editing) is most simply done with a dedicated recorder, rather than using a PC with interface devices.

You can certainly find a mixer with enough inputs, and inserts on every input channel, and you can add some small modular limiters in the chain if you feel that's necessary.

The part of this that sounds unrealistic is that you want a live PA mix, a live streaming mix, a 2-channel camera mix, and video, all happening simultaneously in real time.

I suspect that the streaming mix and the camera mix are probably the same mix, "complete and well-balanced" mix of all the elements. That mix requires one set of controls and one operator.

The PA mix is likely different, because some of the elements (e.g. a pipe organ, congregational singing, etc.) will be audible to the audience without going through any PA system. So the PA mix calls for another set of controls and another operator.

If you think that you can provide the above two (or three) mixes, while operating a camera at the same time, and produce good results, I suspect it might be time for a reality check. Nothing personal; no single human being can do all of that simultaneously and well.

If the outcome of all this technology is really important to the church, then they need to provide you with appropriate resources and manpower, not just two chairs, a small rack of inappropriate equipment, and an unqualified helper. If they are not willing to provide the resources, then if I were in your shoes I'd gather my courage and tell the church they need a reality check.
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Old February 8th, 2013, 01:27 PM   #9
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Re: I need a solution for live PA and recording

The OP doesn't specify which Mackie console is in the church. Most of them allow for a direct out by using an insert cable and putting it in only half way. There are others that have direct outs on them. The only problem with the direct outs is that they tend to be post-fade (which is borderline useless for recording IMO). means that as the person is mixing/EQing, etc... it will be committed to the recording.

My suggestion would be to get something like the Tascam DR680, Sound Devices 744 (if you have the money) or similar. Either take the direct outs from the console or get a small 4 channel splitter (there are a ton of these on the market) and run one output of the split to the console and the other output to the mic pres in your recorder. Splitting will get you a better result, but many churches won't let you in to do anything to their gear.

From there, you have a choice for the mix version
1. split the main outs of the console
2. Use a post-fade Aux send to make a mono mix
3. Send to a second set of buss outputs for a secondary mix out.


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Old February 9th, 2013, 12:22 AM   #10
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Re: I need a solution for live PA and recording

I've decided I just don't like the idea of using the returns halfway plugged in. I also want the ability to use them for effects so what I need are direct outs in addition to the returns. The current mixer is a 1402-vlz and I looked at a 1604 tonight and it has much of what I need. The ability to gang channels onto sub groups gives me exactly what I would like as far as signal routing is concerned.

Here are the mics I must deal with, there could be more but I can manage with just these:

2 lavalier wireless
2 handheld wireless
1 omni room mic on the ceiling for hearing the congregation

Here is how I would do it:

Main mix (everything) - live stream
Send out everything but room mic over aux for PA (this is how it is done now)
Send secondary Aux to other room's mixer
Subgroup 1 of primary lav to camera L
Subgroup 2 of secondary lav and handhelds to camera R (handhelds are used less and are muted)
Direct outs to multi-track recorder

This gets everything to have individual volume control to make its input levels happy and allows for the use of effects. Everything gets its own cables and can be set up and left alone indefinitely and adjusted by me when necessary. While operating the camera, I can do fine adjustments on the cam and a trained assistant can monitor the aux sends to prevent feedback. The laptop is handled by someone that does a text chat along with the audio and they can be trained to adjust their levels if they get complaints. I would have to supervise everything and run the camera, but this is the most hands-off a system I can dream up.

Thanks so much to everyone for the help. As Greg stated, this is not an easy task and unrealistic without trained people. The one advantage I have is that the camera work is fairly simple (as far as pro cameras are concerned) and the celebrants are fairly good at working their own mics. If I set up a good system, they really just need one person who knows all the ins and outs plus a camera operator. If I can keep the wrangling minimal, I should be able to keep a decent shot running and monitor the camera levels.
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Old February 9th, 2013, 12:26 PM   #11
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Re: I need a solution for live PA and recording

You're making this a lot more complicated than it needs to be. First thing you need to find out what the Mackie actually is. If it's one of their bigger ones, the it will have direct outs (and even if it doesn't, simply make some cables up linking the tips and sleeves and you have instant directs). Most of these mixers also have prefade sends that you can put into use for separate mixes. Personally, I'd forget limiters. Live sound people rarely use a limiter unless there is a real problem to solve - to do what you want means somebody will need to operate the mixer, and listen to what is coming out. The larger analogue mixer I have can have up to 12 outputs, and my new behringer X32 (getting rave reviews) has at the moment more ins and outs than you'll ever want - it also can output via firewire or usb to a computer - up to 32 separate outs and 32 ins. It can handle the PA and everything in one box and costs less than less than a decent camera. If you really have to use the Mackie, then it's going to be a bit of a challenge, but somebody with the usual live sound audio skills can set up multi mixes fairly easily - unless the Mackie is a very small, baby one!
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Old February 9th, 2013, 04:46 PM   #12
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Re: I need a solution for live PA and recording

If I'm understanding the OP correctly, they have a working sound system that does what they want now with the existing Mackie with the exception of getting separate channels recorded and a mixdown to the camera. Direct send from the board to a multitrack recorder would be a way to do it. But another that may work would be to get something like the SD 664 which has direct outs (pre-fader I believe, at least the 552 and 442 are) and take the mics into the SD then use the direct sends to the Mackie board. Then, from the 664 they can send a two channel mix to the camera.

It isn't cheap but it would give all of the requirements. And if they really wanted, the 664 can send the main output to three camera's or devices, and it has an additional two output buses. I haven't had the chance to work with one of these units yet but I was on set (not in the sound department) on a production where they were using one. In talking to the production mixer it seemed like a really great unit. Like I said, it isn't cheap but for what you get and what you can do with it, it's very impressive.
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Old February 9th, 2013, 08:54 PM   #13
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Re: I need a solution for live PA and recording

Marcus,

It sounds if you're evolving a workable solution. Maybe the camera requirements are less than I had visualized (no pun intended) and you can attempt to do it essentially as a one man band.

A small detail concerning the omni room mic. If I understand your description, that will get fed only to the live stream. If so, is the live stream in stereo or in mono? If the stream is in stereo, and if there is a lot of content from the room mic (congregational singing, pipe organ, etc.) then it might be worthwhile to consider a coincident pair or X/Y stereo mic for the room, as it will give you a much more realistic and interesting sound downstream. Having an entire church (probably rather reverberant space) with many people singing (or responding), all coming out in mono, would sound rather dull compared to stereo. (Of course the ministers, each with a single voice, would be expected to render in mono... stereo would be a mistake there.)

But I'm curious. Aren't you recording from the camera? And yet the room mic now seems to be missing from the mix fed to the camera (although you mentioned it in your initial post). What will be the ultimate use of the camera footage? Just wondering...
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Old February 10th, 2013, 02:24 AM   #14
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Re: I need a solution for live PA and recording

Paul, the Mackie they have is the 1402 so it is a bit of a baby. It has no direct outs and no sub mixes. It is just a bit too limited. Even though it could take on one more task using the insert outs rigged as direct outs, I need it to do two more jobs. The Mackie 1642 (or something similar) has all the various outs of the more sophisticated boards so it should be able to do what I need and it will fit in a rack (actually, on the slanted top rack).

Garret, the SD 664 looks great in that it has input limiters and records to several channels, but it is out of the budget. They sprung for a new camera recently and multi-track recording a live mix was not figured into the budget. If I can use a better mixer to get the control I need, I can use a more affordable multi-track recorder and they get the double benefit of the live PA getting the upgrade.

Greg, I was not expecting such a detailed understanding of our situation from what I wrote. There are actually two room mics up on the ceiling. They are sent out for the live stream but brought down while the person speaking is on the lav. Plenty of room noise gets through the lav to keep the presence of the place intact. I don't know how to include this in the camera mix, but with a better mixer the live stream could get all the mics. Obviously, the PA can't get the omni room mics so there is already a need for more than one output setup. Currently, the AUX sends go to the PA with the room mics turned down (and the knobs removed). The previous sound guy did a perfectly decent job setting things up and labeling it all, but they have been coasting along with nobody really understanding how it works. They have been without an A/V person for months and I am putting the picture together of how it all works. The one limitation that I'm having trouble getting around is how to get a decent mix to the camera that can be edited quickly. Their events are long-form and will take too long if I have to use pluraleyes and the multi-track files for everything. I need a simple mix on the camera's two tracks so I figured I would put the primary lav on one track and throw everything on the other. The biggest problem I've had so far is handling noise from the lavs as one presenter switches over to another. If both lavs are on one track, it makes it impossible to remove the handling noise and other unwanted strays from the unused mic. The problem with the room mics is that they must be ridden expertly because of the location being so exposed to traffic noise. Except when there is audio from the congregation, those mics are useless and need to be turned off. I figured they are too much of a liability and have written them off for simple edits. I wish the Sony FS-100 had 4 inputs, but that would make it too cumbersome a camera. Any ideas?
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Old February 10th, 2013, 02:43 AM   #15
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Re: I need a solution for live PA and recording

If I was doing this I would be splitting the mic's so they feed the PA and a second mixer for the video production.

This can be done properly with transformer splitters but you will also probably be able to get away with just some XLR Y cords.

The PA can then do what it likes and is not affected by any camera recording.

As the second mixer I would use my yamaha MG124c that I bought off e-bay for around $150, it has limiters on the first four channels and also insert points for direct out, It also has two more mic channels but is also multi output with a stereo mic out, a stereo sub group that could be used for audience ambience and two aux outs.

I would record to several channels on my camera (HPX 371) main mics mixed to channel 1 and stereo ambience to 3+4, if needed I would do the split channels to my pro tools set up and a main mix could be fed via an aux to ch2 of the camera or wherever it needs to go. If it is not possible to split then the second aux could be used to feed a PA but this would be better set separately with the mixer the already have.

It may be that if you split the main mics and any ambience mics across four tracks you may not need to do sep recordings of every mic and this is how I have done numerous recordings in the past as performing my own mix away from the PA means I can set levels and leave them without any interference.

A lot of this would be a compromise but to do it properly would involve a lot more hardware and require a lot more space.
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