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Old January 3rd, 2006, 02:37 PM   #1
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what about mixers? little ones.

my professor in location sound at my film school sez that mixers cost 1500 bucks, but i suspect he is two sheets to the wind.

can i buy a mixer that is acceptable for less? i am a bit panicked because i bullshitted my way into a shoot as the sound guy--and I don't want to mess it up.

all i have is a mk12, not even a real boom or mixer. my professor insists you have to have a mixer. i don't have a credit card that will take the 1500 charge, so i can't rent. is there a sort of entry level mixer that might serve me well for the next half dozen short films i make in the coming months?
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Old January 3rd, 2006, 03:09 PM   #2
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What kind of production? What're the conditions in which you'll be shooting? "Mixers" can range from simple 1 or 2 channel devices - more mic preamps really - worn by a boom operator to complex multi-channel boards. The nature of the shoot is what will determine it.
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Old January 3rd, 2006, 03:11 PM   #3
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There are some field mixers available for $800 or less. The best of these is the 2-channel SoundDevices MixPre. The 3-channel PSC DVPromix3 is a little less and there's also a model by Rolls that's even lower cost. Sound quality drops with each drop in price.
In battery-powered mini desktop mixers there is the Behringer MXB-1002 and someone else has mentioned the UBB-1002. I don't think the Oktava will like running on less than 48-volt phantom though. The MXB-1002 doesn't make full 48-volt power when running on batteries.
There is also the Samson MixPad4.
What are you going to do about a shockmount and wind protection, as well as a good boom? The Oktava really needs those in a bad way.
Headphone monitoring is also important, as well as knowing which camera you're trying to connect to and how to best accomplish that.
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Old January 3rd, 2006, 04:29 PM   #4
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The Behringer 602A is about $60 and you could beat somebody to death with it, if you needed to. It also has an outboard powersupply so is inherently silent. I like it.

http://www.behringer.com/MX602A/index.cfm?lang=ENG
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Old January 3rd, 2006, 04:34 PM   #5
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I have a 602a that I use as a desktop mixer for monitoring purposes, and it is obviously an inexpensive system and pretty well made. My issues are that there is a certain amount of crosstalk between channels, and it doesn't have a power switch on the unit. Plus, Behringer has an uneasy reputation for reverse engineering other company's technologies which may or may not bother a given end user, sort of a business ethics thing. After learning this I made my next mixer purchase a Mackie. There's an old thread here that details this, try doing a search under Behringer.
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Old January 3rd, 2006, 04:57 PM   #6
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What are you recording the audio on to? DAT, a DV camera? Make sure the mixer will suit whatever you use.
My first concern would be a boom though. I've done several shoots w/o a mixer, but you have to have a boom. Nice to have one that you're familiar with as well.
Also, though I've never used it, I've heard the Oktava is not the best for outside.
Good luck!
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Old January 3rd, 2006, 05:00 PM   #7
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If you're looking for a portable mixer, no advice, but I own a MXB1002 (also a Behringer) that someone recommended. It's a little more than the other Behringer that was recommended, but it has quite a few inputs and whatnot. It was still around $100 at B&H.

I see now that's it's been discontinued. Greaaaaaaaaaat
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Old January 3rd, 2006, 05:41 PM   #8
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Mackie is one of the most familiar names in mixers, and you can get a new 12 channel (4 mic inputs) Mackie for $300, assuming you'll have access to AC power. That should shut the Prof. up.

Browse B&H's encyclopedic online catalog for mixers, boom poles, shock mounts and everything else audio/video at bhphotovideo.com
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Old January 3rd, 2006, 06:15 PM   #9
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the Behringer sounds just my speed.

i wanted to ask in class today:

can you get away with not having a mixer? the professor was saying most EQ'ing is really just for roll-off. there's no roll off switch on the mk12, andd i guess EQ'ing for that purpose is pretty critical, right?

it's all indoors, and it's on a varicam. I don't know anything about varicams but I'm assuming it has phantom power. Is that correct?

am I in trouble? Am I going to mess up the shoot? I obviously will get a boom somewhere somehow, even if it means getting a $15 painter's pole at home depot. But if I get it at home depot, will people notice and think bad things?

The thing that worries me more than the boom pole is getting a very long headphone cable.

Last edited by Fischer Spooner; January 3rd, 2006 at 07:28 PM.
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Old January 3rd, 2006, 07:12 PM   #10
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Roll off is more often a matter of taste than of criticality. IMO you don't need a mixer if you're only using one mic. If you just get good audio it can be adjusted in post.

One arrangement is to run XLR cable from the mic down the boom to something like the $65 preamp linked below, which can be suspended from the boom operator's belt, then XLR cable from that to the camera. The boom op (you, I presume?) just plugs his phones into the box. Yes, the varicam supplies phantom power, and so does this box. With the Varicam supplying power, you may be able to use this box without AC power--you can call B&H and ask. It will certainly work with its included AC power supply and the varicam's phantom turned off:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...ughType=search

So you'd need the pole, a shock mount, the preamp, some gaffer tape, headphones, a 20 foot XLR cable and, I'd say, a 50 foot XLR cable.

People using a $60,000 cam might notice that you're using a cheap rig, but they're bound to know that freelancers come in a lot of shapes and sizes, and with the outfit mentioned you'll look like you know what you're doing.


BTW, If you do a search on the "f" word here, you'll find it used seldom if at all.
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Old January 3rd, 2006, 07:35 PM   #11
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10-4, Fred. I had a strong suspicion that there would be some who might say that a mixer wouldn't be necessary such a situation.

One thing that continues to bother me is it seems to me that it would be better to do that roll off at the point of committing something to tape, rather than later in post. Maybe I'm wrong. The question is, is EQ'ing better done in production or in post?

I guess I really just want to know what mixers are critical for, and what you give up when you don't use them.
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Old January 3rd, 2006, 07:39 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred Retread
So you'd need the pole, a shock mount, the preamp, some gaffer tape, headphones, a 20 foot XLR cable and, I'd say, a 50 foot XLR cable.

People using a $60,000 cam might notice that you're using a cheap rig, but they're bound to know that freelancers come in a lot of shapes and sizes, and with the outfit mentioned you'll look like you know what you're doing.
What about a wind thingie?
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Old January 3rd, 2006, 07:53 PM   #13
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Wind "thingies" come in various styles and flavors, ranging from the foam screens that usually come shipped with a mic, to 'dead cats' (see, there are more technical terms for 'thingies') and ZEPPELINS.

The foam screens are little better than useless, and the fuzzy covers that fit over them are much better at deadening wind noise. The hard shell zeppelins are better still, and then you can cover zeppelins with fur too...

Yeah, there' s a lot of gear that you might need.

A mixer is best used for 'mixing'. (See, it's getting technical again.) Especially usefull for MIXING two or more mics, and feeding them to the deck/camera/recording storage solution du jour.

Some bass rolloff can be accomplished with a base rollof switch on a mic itself.

The most important aspect of 'mixing' on the shoot, is maintaining proper levels. A skilled mixer can do this without 'riding the pots' too drastically. It's s subtle skill, and you won't pick it up in one shoot... or two. (See, "Pots" are slang terms for ... well potentiometers... which is a fancy word for volume knob)

Additionally, the mixer will balance with eq to get a desired tone, send tone to the camera or deck, and on a film shoot, will have to keep slate records for synching... it just gets harder.

Are you going to "F" up the shoot? I certainly hope not. I think everyone of us has probably lived to regret writing a check his a$$ couldn't cover at some point.(Usually well before the age of 25 I should think) I hope this isn't yours.

I didn't catch how much time you have to become the expert you claimed to be, but my advice is to start reading, studying and soaking up everything you can from now until the shoot.
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Old January 3rd, 2006, 08:11 PM   #14
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there's no roll-off switch on a MK-012. people have commented that they thought that mic looks small in the past, which got my dander up. i'm just really worried because on the last short I shot, I really did "f" up the sound, and I would hate to do that on this project, because a lot of people's hopes are riding on this project's success.

i didn't actually claim to be an expert--I think the director just likes me, is more like it, but maybe didn't know the right questions to ask of me, while I claimed a passionate regard for high quality sound and offered some technical jargon that made me sound knowledgeable. i have about two weeks.
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Old January 3rd, 2006, 10:21 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fischer Spooner
...people have commented that they thought that mic looks small in the past, which got my dander up...
LOL, I can see why the director likes you, Fischer.

I didn't worry about the wind thingie because you said it was all going to be indoors. Although I hear that the Oktava is particularly sensitive to air movement, the foam screen should suffice indoors.

Like Richard said, mixers let you balance the average levels of the inputs, ride the gain in real time in response to program loudness, pan each input as much to the left or right as you want for stereo, and to adjust the tonal qualities to balance them out or to enhance them to taste. You're going to want one eventually for various gigs, but you can't run one and be the boom operator at the same time.

It would be a good idea to make sure you know everything you can about the shoot. What talent is going to be where and when? How far back is the cam going to be? Is it going to move around? Are there opportunities for repeated takes?

Your job is to keep the mic pointed at the talent as close as you can get it while keeping it out of the frame. I've never done this myself, so I'm beginning to talk through my arse here, but it seems to me that communications with the cameraman would be important. I suspect he'll wear headphones too, and has level meters to monitor. When he changes from close to wider, mic distance may have to change. I don't know how these things are handled, but I suspect they're planned and executed scene by scene. Well, I'm rambling out of my depth here. Best of luck. Ask some more when you know more specifics and maybe the heavyweights here will help you out.

One last thing. It would be highly, highly advisable to practice with whatever rig you devise. Borrow a camocorder if you can, and feed it. If someone can assist, all the better. Make sure your stuff works reliably and that you develop a bit of comfort in your moves with it. That will have you in a much better state of mind for the real shoot.
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