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Old January 24th, 2006, 03:54 PM   #1
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GL2 audio-in from soundboard question

I'm preparing to videotape a band's performance at a small club this week and I'd like to know what I'm doing wrong, since during a test run last week the audio was horrible.

I'm using a Canon GL2 with sound provided as an output from the venue's Allen & Heath board. The sound engineer was only able to give me a single mono mix of the band via a phone plug (I used an adapter to plug this into the GL2's miniplug receptor). The incoming audio was way hot, so I turned on MIC ATT and manually monitored the sound through headphones. There was an annoying hum coming from either one of the band's amps or some attachment on a pedal-steel guitar that nobody was able to eliminate. When the band played loud, it wasn't all that noticeable, so everyone accepted this. "Just fix it in post," the sound guy advised me.

Results: Music is on top of the vocals throughout, bass is nonexistent, loud moments border on distortion (clipping?).

I had hoped that the sound guy could provide a stereo pair out on XLR so I could use my Beachtek, but that doesn't seem to be likely. If I'm stuck with this arrangement again this week, is there anything that I could be doing differently to get better results?
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Old January 24th, 2006, 04:13 PM   #2
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There are several things you can buy to go between the house board and your BeachTek.
First, if it's a balanced mono out on a 1/4" jack, get a TRS 1/4" male to XLR Male adapter cable. Then use your regular XLR cables for the rest of the distance. If he can give you a stereo feed on two balanced jacks then you'll need two of these cables. You may run into a ground-loop hum doing it this way if your camera is connected to any grounded AC-powered equipment that isn't powered from the same outlet as the house sound. If the house board itself has a ground-loop hum in the audio then you will get it in your signal no matter what.
If it's an unbalanced mono output, then there are two ways you can go. Both involve a balancing transformer. Hopefully your BeachTek has a line-level attenuation switch. If that's the case you can use an Ebtech Hum Eliminator and the proper mix of TS, TRS and XLR cables to go from the board to the Ebtech to your BeachTek. This is a two-channel box so you just need one of them for stereo, but you'd need twice the cables of course.
If time or money is short and you must buy locally, get a couple of passive direct boxes with ground lift switches and switchable attenuation.
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Old January 24th, 2006, 04:33 PM   #3
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It sounds like the sound guy is trying to mess you up. A bad mix on a mono 1/4"? What good will that do. Insist on getting stereo out to XLRs. Talk to someone in the band that can persuade him to give you a feed and mix that is usable. Then go into your camera at line level following Jay's instructions. The audio should be as clean as the board when you listen to it with headphones. The "Fix it in post' comment sounds sarcastic. Although, I do like it as my signature.
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Old January 24th, 2006, 04:53 PM   #4
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Thanks for the help, guys.

I don't think the soundman is messing with me. He tried to be genuinely helpful and simply might not have a lot of experience in providing an audio feed to camcorders. (Although he did seem to be more interested in getting a signal that he could use to burn an audio CD.)

He also suggested that I use his CD to sync to the visual, but I'll be damned if I'm going to resort to high-tech Vitaphone just because I can't get a decent feed. None of this should be rocket science.
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Old January 24th, 2006, 04:53 PM   #5
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Here's what is going on. The bass is really loud coming from the stage so the sound guy isn't mixing it in at all. The singer can't hear himself so he's got the sound guy to turn him way up in the monitors. The monitors are so loud that you can hear them in the house, so the soundguy has turned them down as well. The guitar is loud as well, but the amp he's using is so directional that even though he's blasting people out on stage (and directly in front of him in the audience) the sound guy has him turned up as well.

Your easiest solution is to put a stereo mic on a stand (or two mics on separate stands) near the soundman and pointing toward the stage. It will sound just like the soundguy hears it and capture the audience reaction as well.

If you have your heart set on a board mix, you could set up a little four channel mixer with these three signals as your inputs: 1)the house mix, 2) the monitor mix, 3) an aux send from the bass. The bass gets panned center, separate the house and monitor mix slightly to your right and left, set levels with the meters giving equal weight to all three.

A decent soundguy would already be giving you something like this, but seeing has he hasn't, maybe a gentle suggestion to give you a mix like the one I just outlined. If he's got a decent board, setting up a recording mix like this isn't that hard. Be careful giving advice to sound guys. They all believe that they're superior beings. There is a good chance you will be in for an earful of jargon and will end up nodding and going away just to make it stop!

If it was me, I'd stereo mic it!
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Old January 24th, 2006, 04:59 PM   #6
 
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I agree with Laurence, I'd shoot for a stereo mic mix rather than a board mix if the band is that badly mixed on the stage. At least a stereo mix will give you what the audience is hearing, not what the board is sending.
Additionally, if you really want a board mix, see if the sound guy has a separate set of auxes that he's not using. You could build a submix there, but I can guarantee you the sound man isn't going to want to mess with it.
And Laurence, I spent the first 10 years of my life as a touring sound guy with everyone from local bar bands to Showco, and soundpeople don't think they're superior beings. That's a complete and total myth perpetuated by wanna-be sound people.
A good sound person IS a superior being. ;-)
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Old January 24th, 2006, 05:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Douglas Spotted Eagle
That's a complete and total myth perpetuated by wanna-be sound people.
A good sound person IS a superior being. ;-)
LOL! I was a Soundguy for about ten years myself. I remember feeling like a superior being. I have no idea if was true or not ;)

I would have sent the camera guy a good mix though.
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Old January 24th, 2006, 07:28 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurence Kingston
LOL! I was a Soundguy for about ten years myself. I remember feeling like a superior being. I have no idea if was true or not ;)

I would have sent the camera guy a good mix though.
Superior beings or not, sound guys are usually nice and helpful, but you've got to remember that the video is generally NOT their top priority; and they often don't have time or equipment to make a nice submix for you... and the mic for the house is usually not an optimal recording mix at all, as has been pointed out. Recording with your own stereo pair will get the best live sound to match the video...
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Old January 24th, 2006, 07:29 PM   #9
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I didn't mean that to look like I was disagreeing with Laurence; the message was intended for other folks who haven't been sound mixers...
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Old January 24th, 2006, 07:44 PM   #10
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If he is just a volunteer recording for fun then I can see why the FOH dude would not cooperate. When I get hired to record a concert or stand-up comic or somthing, I coordinate with the facilty to ensure I can get a good feed. That way there are no surprises when I get there. I would not throw X/Y mics by the board for a professional recording. I have spend too many hours trying to salvage recording from others who have tried this and failed. I do use x/y for classical or choral with good results though.
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Old January 24th, 2006, 08:16 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn Davidson
When I get hired to record a concert or stand-up comic or somthing, I coordinate with the facilty to ensure I can get a good feed. That way there are no surprises when I get there. I would not throw X/Y mics by the board for a professional recording. I have spend too many hours trying to salvage recording from others who have tried this and failed. I do use x/y for classical or choral with good results though.
Yes, that's the best way if you can do it. But I'm imagining the question regards smaller clubs and many other situations it doesn't always work out that way... y'know, where the band barely gets a sound check, if the sound guy shows up at all before the show, or in the typical jazz scene, where you're lucky if the performers show up more than 8 seconds before their particular first note...
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Old January 27th, 2006, 08:52 PM   #12
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Well, I went with the suggestion to use a stereo mic and the results were 100 percent better than last week when we used the audio-in from the soundboard. The sound guy is nice and tried genuinely to be helpful, he swore that he had been giving me the same signal that he used to burn a CD -- although he allowed that since the signal passed from the sounboard and then through an iMac and an external mixer before reaching my GL2, there *might* have been some difference.

Then, he said something that floored me. He categorically stated that what did I expect, anyway, since "camcorders like the GL2" aren't designed to handle high-quality sound.

That's when I decided that however helpful he was trying to be, he just didn't know what he was talking about.

Thanks to all for the suggestions to rely on a stereo mic.
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Old January 27th, 2006, 09:52 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leigh Hanlon

Results: Music is on top of the vocals throughout, bass is nonexistent, loud moments border on distortion (clipping?).

I had hoped that the sound guy could provide a stereo pair out on XLR so I could use my Beachtek, but that doesn't seem to be likely. If I'm stuck with this arrangement again this week, is there anything that I could be doing differently to get better results?
Um, think about it. The sound from the board (and PA) is mixed with the sound from the amps and stage monitors. Usually a board mix is the wrong mix for your purposes.

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Old January 28th, 2006, 02:36 AM   #14
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Ty, my understanding from the sound guy was that what he was supposedly passing on to the GL2 was the same mix of the mics for vocals and instruments that he was using to create a music CD. He didn't mention the monitors, although those could indeed have been included, for all I know.
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Old January 28th, 2006, 07:19 AM   #15
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Leigh,

Well let's not leave out the possibility that he's a crummy mixer. Was he mixing in the same room as the band? If so, even if he wore headphones, he'd not get a good mix because of the ambient sound of the band. With enough low end in the room, he might well have felt it in his body and reduced the amount of bass in his headphones, leacving you with a bad mix.

----
you said: although he allowed that since the signal passed from the sounboard and then through an iMac and an external mixer before reaching my GL2, there *might* have been some difference.

Then, he said something that floored me. He categorically stated that what did I expect, anyway, since "camcorders like the GL2" aren't designed to handle high-quality sound.
----

The signal path may well have been compromising your audio. He's also right about the GL2 and most video recorders.

This sounds like a political situation as much as a technical one.

Good luck.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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