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Old May 1st, 2006, 08:28 AM   #1
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General advice on monitoring sound level

Hi, I have a DVC30 with shotgun mic.

I can monior the sound through headphones and adjust the sound input level and monitoring level.

How do you know when you have a good level of sound? I am guessing that loudness isnt appropriate as a guide as you can change the level of sound you hear through the monitoring level but this doesnt change the level of sound you record.

Do you judge sound by adjusting the input level until you dont get distortion? How do you compare the level of sound you get through the headphones monitoring the sound to the level you are recording.

Any guidance appreciated, thanks
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Old May 1st, 2006, 10:55 PM   #2
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You need use the headphones to listen for distortion and use the audio level meter to see if it's loud enough. On the DVC30 you want to see the average sound you want to hear well peak just into the red but not distort or overload.
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Old May 2nd, 2006, 03:49 AM   #3
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I've been having recording audio too. The past few projects I've been working on involve recording a festival/showdance/stage performance. The way these events work is that many groups will go up one at a time to perform there thing, with an MC between acts (groups).

Obviously, at the end of a performance (or even during the middle if it's really good), there will be lots of loud clapping, cheering, and screaming. This is where I have problems. Their screaming, etc. makes my audio go way into the red zone and distorts it.

The room is large, fits about 500 people I'd say. And there's even a second floor you can watch the stage from. I usually put a shotgun (though I'm going to change to a hypercardioid or cardioid as I've heard those perform better indoors) near the front of the stage, connected to a Marantaz recorder.

I know that I can manually adjust the audio levels by moving the knob around, but that seems tiresome. The events are usually 1.5-2.5 hours long, and for someone to be constantly looking at the levels and turning the knob down if it gets too loud seems difficult. Not to mention that turning down the audio levels brings everything down. The problem I've had with this is that the audio is so inconsistent throughout the entire event (many parts where the MCs talking is far too soft, or even completely silent because the levels were turned so low to compensate for the cheering, or if a singer is in a middle of a performance and she gets to a loud part, the audio guy turns down the levels causing the song to suddenly change volumes). Furthermore, even if there is a guy monitoring levels constantly, wouldn't he still miss the unexpected loud cheers (at least for the first second or so and he realizes it's too loud and goes to turn down the levels?)

Basically, how do I record such an event without distortion (because it was too loud) and without having the audio volume seem so inconsistent throughout the event?

Also, I am mostly a one-man crew, so I have to film and do audio by myself. That pretty much makes it impossible for me to touch the audio once it starts recording since the camera is several hundred feet away from the Marantz recorder. I also record audio with a camera-mounted mic, but that audio sounds much more distant, often un-intelligible, and usually not as good (unless my main audio distorts, which it often does).
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Old May 2nd, 2006, 08:43 AM   #4
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What I do in this instance is use a little mic pre compressor. I have a Joemeek VC3, it's a mic pre and compressor in a half rack space. It requires a 12vDC wall wart, but i'm sure if I had to, I could probably rig up a battery pack for it. But I usually just run an extension cord from the stage. This will control the volume with compression and is much quicker than turning a knob.
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Old May 2nd, 2006, 08:43 PM   #5
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Sounds like Alex could use a limiter. The Marantz doesn't
have that?
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Old May 3rd, 2006, 01:46 AM   #6
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Michael, could you explain a bit more about how the mic pre-compressor works?

Dave, I think the Marantz actually does (or should, but I'll have to check) have a limiter. So I should just limit the noise next time? But limit it how much? How would I know how much to limit it? What exactly does limiting do anyways? Does it chop off sounds higher than the mic/recorder can take without distortion or does it bring the loud noise down to a bearable level?

I'm still wondering how to manually control levels without having the volume noticeably go up and down (bad continuity) throughout the recording also.
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Old May 3rd, 2006, 02:09 AM   #7
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A limiter brings the loud noise down.
Which model of Marantz do you have?
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Old May 3rd, 2006, 04:02 AM   #8
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Brings everything down or just the sounds that are going over (into distortion zone) down?

I use the Maranatz Professional PMD670 Portable Solid State Recorder.
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Old May 3rd, 2006, 04:24 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Thames
Brings everything down or just the sounds that are going over (into distortion zone) down?

I use the Maranatz Professional PMD670 Portable Solid State Recorder.
Just the sounds that are going over.
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Old May 3rd, 2006, 05:07 AM   #10
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What should I set the limiter to?
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Old May 3rd, 2006, 05:57 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Thames
What should I set the limiter to?
Well, I'm not familiar with the Marantz but my
understanding is that there are no settings
you can do other than have it either "on" or
"off". I think you have 3 settings: "auto level",
"manual (no limiter) level", or "manual with limiter level".
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Old May 3rd, 2006, 06:42 AM   #12
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Can you explain the three?

From what I understand (let me know if this is correct):

Manual (no limiter) means you have full control - whatever you turn the knob (level) to is how loud the sound will be, but if you set it at a lower level to compensate for loud sounds, the other sounds will be turned lower proportionally.

Manual with limiter means you have most full control, but sounds that are too loud will be lowered so that it does not distort (but this lowering will not be proportional to the other sounds).

Auto means - no clue.
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Old May 3rd, 2006, 06:56 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Thames
Can you explain the three?

From what I understand (let me know if this is correct):

Manual (no limiter) means you have full control - whatever you turn the knob (level) to is how loud the sound will be, but if you set it at a lower level to compensate for loud sounds, the other sounds will be turned lower proportionally.

Manual with limiter means you have most full control, but sounds that are too loud will be lowered so that it does not distort (but this lowering will not be proportional to the other sounds).

Auto means - no clue.
You're right about the two manuals. Auto means
the Marantz turns the level knob for you, constantly
adjusting it. Where you set the knob when in
auto has no effect. What happens in auto is
when the Marantz senses that the sound
is quiet it will turn the knob up to make it
louder. When something is loud it will turn
the knob down. One problem here is that
everything gets set to an average level
when in reality some of the sounds are
suppose to be quiet and others are supposed
to sound loud.
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Old May 3rd, 2006, 07:00 AM   #14
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One thing. When the limiter kicks in it will
turn down what is loud so it doesn't
distort but it will turn down all the sounds
not just the one that was loud. But it is
better than distortion.
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Old May 3rd, 2006, 07:03 AM   #15
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Wait, so it seems that you just said a contradiction. Does the limiter turn down sounds proportionally or disportionally to the other sounds that are not too loud?
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