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Old May 8th, 2006, 04:13 PM   #1
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Audio off Mixing Board

Ok, I'm totally frustrated at trying to get audio to my Z1 or A1 from a Mackie or any other mixing board. I've tried all different types of things and was finally able to get some audio which was a very low level and sounded really soft through my headphones attached to the camera.

Can any of you audio guru's out there help me with the proper way to connect my camera to a mixing board to get audio to my camera? Also what should I be setting my camera's levels to? I have a Sony Z1 and A1 camera, and I've noticed that on the Z1 I'm able to set one channel to auto and the other to manual. On the A1, its one or the other for both channels. Can anyone help?
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Old May 8th, 2006, 05:21 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Paul Chun
Ok, I'm totally frustrated at trying to get audio to my Z1 or A1 from a Mackie or any other mixing board. I've tried all different types of things and was finally able to get some audio which was a very low level and sounded really soft through my headphones attached to the camera.

Can any of you audio guru's out there help me with the proper way to connect my camera to a mixing board to get audio to my camera? Also what should I be setting my camera's levels to? I have a Sony Z1 and A1 camera, and I've noticed that on the Z1 I'm able to set one channel to auto and the other to manual. On the A1, its one or the other for both channels. Can anyone help?
First off, what is the scenario and which mixer? Are you shooting a concert or a stage production where you're trying to take audio from the house board or is the mixer being used by the sound person in a "film style" shoot specifically to mix camera audio from various mics that are on your talent or being boomed?

Mackie compact mixers XLR main outs can be switched to either mic level or the normal professional +4dBu line level. The mixer's meters read 0dB at an output of 0dBu and according to the Z1U manual thats what the camera expects for a line level input that reads 0dB on its meters as well. The Mackie compacts also have a second set of main outs on TRS connectors, a mono TRS output that's the sum of the main left and right mains, and also a pair of RCA unbalanced Tape Out connectors. All of these are +4dBu line level only. So set the camera to line level and take a feed from any of the mixer's various mains outs into the camera's XLR connectors and you should be good to go as far as signal level compatibility is concerned.

Don't have an A1 manual and couldn't find any info on the A1's input sensitivities. What's your manual say for its 0dB reference?

To preset the levels, have the board send you tone at 0dBu on its meters. With the camera on manual, set the level to read 20dB below full scale.
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Last edited by Steve House; May 8th, 2006 at 05:53 PM.
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Old May 8th, 2006, 07:25 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply Steve. I'm going to have to re-read your post several times before I can digest what you just explained. I'm not familiar with all the inputs and ouputs of the mixer so I'm at a disadvantage.

The scenario was this basically, I was trying to capture audio from the mixing board from a presentation at a school. We had several mics and a boom box playing cd's through the mixer going to the school's PA system. I wanted to get better audio from the presentation so I had setup my A1 to capture audio from the board. I basically was shooting with two cameras, my Z1 and A1 both running on free time code sync'd to each other. The A1 was primarily capturing the audio for the program while the Z1 was on video duty. While monitoring the audio through my headphones I did notice that the audio was soft even when I increased volume all the way. Not sure if this is normal or not. I would like to be able to do this again for future presentation but I'm not really familiar with these mixing boards and nobody at the school can help me either. So I'm on my own trying to do it by trial and error. I wish I had something similar that was cheap that I could play around with at home to give me some practice and some knowledge about the basic functions of these mixers.
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Old May 9th, 2006, 05:25 AM   #4
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Thanks for the reply Steve. I'm going to have to re-read your post several times before I can digest what you just explained. I'm not familiar with all the inputs and ouputs of the mixer so I'm at a disadvantage.

The scenario was this basically, I was trying to capture audio from the mixing board from a presentation at a school. We had several mics and a boom box playing cd's through the mixer going to the school's PA system. I wanted to get better audio from the presentation so I had setup my A1 to capture audio from the board. I basically was shooting with two cameras, my Z1 and A1 both running on free time code sync'd to each other. The A1 was primarily capturing the audio for the program while the Z1 was on video duty. While monitoring the audio through my headphones I did notice that the audio was soft even when I increased volume all the way. Not sure if this is normal or not. I would like to be able to do this again for future presentation but I'm not really familiar with these mixing boards and nobody at the school can help me either. So I'm on my own trying to do it by trial and error. I wish I had something similar that was cheap that I could play around with at home to give me some practice and some knowledge about the basic functions of these mixers.
Mackie mixers aren't that expensive - their 1402 runs about $400 from B&H and the 1642 (I'm intending on purchasing one of those soon) is $600. If you can find out what model board you're dealing with at the school, all the manuals and hookup diagrams for Mackie's current lineup are available for download from their website.

The one thing that nags in the back of my mind in your circumstance is you're dependent on the guy running the board to know what he's doing. If you're going to set levels based on what he's sending you, you need to touch bases and find out exactly what he's GOING to send you. Especially in high school, all too often they think "good sound" equals "loud sound" and setting levels means pushing the volume sliders up until the speakers just start to crackle and then backing it off a hair. See if you can sit through a dress rehearal with the op at the board and see what he's doing.
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Old May 9th, 2006, 11:48 AM   #5
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Paul,

I'm not familiar with the A1 or Z1, but I'm going to take a stab that the output from the board was mic level while your inputs for your camera are line level. *Note to audio engineers reading the rest of this post. The next word is BASIC :-) *

Basically, a mic level signal is a "less loud" signal and is usually fed to equipment that will amplify it. A line level signal is a "louder" signal and requires less amplification. Examples of mic level equipment includes mixers, professional recording decks, and amps. Examples of line level equipment includes CD players, computer audio cards, and consumer audio equipment.

An "easy" hookup is to use a line level output on the mixer. The Mackie mixer should have an RCA jack on the back labelled tape out. This is a line level output that will give you the same mix as the main output.

You could also use an extra headphone output on the mixer. These are 1/4" line level outputs. Usually they output the main mix. However, if the audio board person is actually "using" the board, he could be monitoring any channel on the headphones at anytime.

If you want more control and the the audio engineer knows what he is doing, he can send you individual channels or a mix of some or all channels to your camera. This can be done as a feed to one track or as multiple feeds to multiple tracks.

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Old May 9th, 2006, 11:52 AM   #6
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Paul,

I'm not familiar with the A1 or Z1, but I'm going to take a stab that the output from the board was mic level while your inputs for your camera are line level. ...

Barry Oppenheim
FYI - at least in their compact series, the Mackie mixer's main outs are all nominally line level. The XLR main outs are switch slectable to mic level but the TRS mains and RCA tape outs are line level only.
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Old May 9th, 2006, 12:34 PM   #7
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Thanks guys! This has been very helpful. The problem I have is that no one at the school is a dedicated person that is really able to run the board and "know" what they are doing. So, if I say "hey, I need some audio off the board to my camera." they look at me like uh ok.

I believe I pulled audio from a 1/4" Aux Send and it was a bit soft. Not sure if there was another switch I needed to change that or if I should have pulled audio from another source. You mentioned pulling audio from the RCA tape outputs. Do I need to get a stereo RCA to XLR adapter for this? How would this work? The adapter I currently have is a 1/4" TRS to XLR adapter that feeds directly into the XLR box on the A1. Thanks again guys!
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Old May 9th, 2006, 01:48 PM   #8
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Thanks guys! This has been very helpful. The problem I have is that no one at the school is a dedicated person that is really able to run the board and "know" what they are doing. So, if I say "hey, I need some audio off the board to my camera." they look at me like uh ok.

I believe I pulled audio from a 1/4" Aux Send and it was a bit soft. Not sure if there was another switch I needed to change that or if I should have pulled audio from another source. You mentioned pulling audio from the RCA tape outputs. Do I need to get a stereo RCA to XLR adapter for this? How would this work? The adapter I currently have is a 1/4" TRS to XLR adapter that feeds directly into the XLR box on the A1. Thanks again guys!
The RCA tape out is unbalanced so if possible use the 1/4 TRS instead - it will be balanced and less subject to noise pickup on a long cable run. The Aux Send is NOT a main out and I believe it comes pre-fader and has its own independent level control. So even if the PA is cranking along full blast the level at the Aux Send could be very low. You can use it to feed your camera and there might be advantages to doing it that way since level adjustments of the main levels won't affect it
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Old May 9th, 2006, 01:50 PM   #9
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Steve,

Thanks for the FYI. I have not had the opportunity to use the compact series. Good info to know if I ever need to. I guess I should have qualified my statement with "the Mackie live sound reinforcement systems or live mixing boards that I have used..." :-)

Paul,

Without knowing the specifics of the particular board, what follows is a generalization. Each aux send has a gain control. Also, each channel feeding to the aux send has a gain control to determine the "mix" of each channel into each send. To make it more complicated, some sends are pre- mix from the board, and some sends are post- mix from the board. If no one know how to correctly route the sends and adjust the gain for each send, you might want to stay away from the aux sends.

I took a quick look at the A1 audio specs. It said it should accept line level or mic level. Don't know if you have to switch this manually or not. You might want to look at your manual to determine this.

I think the best way for you, especially if you plan to do this more than once at the same location, is play around with it and become the "audio expert".
As for connections, the A1 specs say that it has a 3.5mm miniplug audio input as well as the XLR input. You could try an RCA to 3.5mm cable.

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Old May 9th, 2006, 01:57 PM   #10
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Barry,

I do not know the exact model of the board we have. And nobody really knows how to use it so it could be that it was not properly adjusted or screwed up while being used. I guess I'd need to dive in a little deeper to figure out how to really use this since nobody else at the school is gonna help me. Is there a better alternative to the Aux Send if I just want a basic mix of whatever is connected to the board?

I had the camera sent on Line In and had channel 1 sending the signal to both channels and also adjusted the levels manually. I was also throwing around the idea of using a wireless setup like the Sennheiser G2 system using a transmitter on the board and having the receiver on the camera so I could do this wirelessly. If I'm having problems with this wired setup, I could only imagine the headache I'd have with the wireless one.
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Old May 9th, 2006, 02:24 PM   #11
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Paul,

If you want to keep it very simple here are some choices:

Board------------------------->Camera/setting for audio

RCA tape out 3.5miniplug /line level
RCA tape out XLR/line level
XLR main out XLR/mic level
1/4" TR(S) main out XLR/mic level
1/4" Headphone out XLR/line level
Booth monitor out (1/4 or XLR) XLR/mic level

Try em all out and see what works best.

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Old May 9th, 2006, 02:41 PM   #12
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Paul,

Took a quick look at the A1 manual. There is a input level switch to allow selection between line level and mic level input sources.

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Old May 9th, 2006, 03:00 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Barry Oppenheim
Paul,

Took a quick look at the A1 manual. There is a input level switch to allow selection between line level and mic level input sources.

Barry Oppenheim
Is there an online source for the A1 manual? Been looking for one with no joy. (Like to keep pdf's of popular gear when I can find 'em - never know when it'll come in handy!)
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Old May 9th, 2006, 03:45 PM   #14
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The one I found is http://pdf.crse.com/manuals/2639668111.pdf

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Old May 9th, 2006, 04:09 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Barry Oppenheim
Paul,

If you want more control and the the audio engineer knows what he is doing, he can send you individual channels or a mix of some or all channels to your camera. This can be done as a feed to one track or as multiple feeds to multiple tracks.

Barry Oppenheim
Barry,

How would this work exactly? I am not an audio expert or even a camera expert for that matter. I actually run the sound board and the camera for the church that I attend. The board is a Berhringer EuroDesk 24 and I use a Z1U. When I use the 1/4 outputs (XLRs are going to the main speakers) to the XLR inputs on the camera, the audio is VERY hot and peaks to the point when I get pops. When our Pastor is talking it sounds fine, but when the worship band starts playing the signal is too hot, with no way to lower it. Meaning I can lower it on the camera to the point where it is too soft to hear it or turn it up where you can hear it, and you get the pops. Any ideas??
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