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Old August 23rd, 2006, 02:50 PM   #1
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How to get clear wedding reception audio

I am a videographer, with an audio question.

I am constantly trying to improve my audio recording setup at events, and was wondering about patching into DJ's boards.

My current setup at receptions, I use a Samson Micro 32 handheld wireless on a tripod recording a speaker and sending to my camera.
I also use a new Edirol R-09 digital recorder to record backup ambiant audio.
I have always been affraid to patch into the DJ's board ( as in my travels, many don't know their board too well) for fear of an overload signal coming back to my recorder (which is unmonitored) or my camera via wireless.

I was told recently by a fellow collegue that I could patch into the back of one of the DJ's speakers, either via XLR or 1/4, and send that signal to my camera.

For my setup I would use:
1. 1/4 or 3 pin XLR cable
2. Rolls Passive Direct Box (2 1/4 inputs, 1 X:R output)
3. XLR splitter
4. Samson Micro 32 wireless transmitter
5. Edirol R-09 digital recorder
6. 3 clamps to attach gear to mic stand or DJ speaker stand

1. I would patch out of back of the speaker (either via XLR or 1/4 balanced cable),
2. to the Rolls Passive Direct box (for small form factor, set to -20bd pad), I could use my Promix 3 field mixer for larger needs like live recital work.
3.Send the signal via XLR output (with XLR splitter), and split a signal to my wireless transmitter and the other to my recorder.

Do you evenly split the same audio signal to both L/R speakers, or do you send a true stero L/R signal out?

Will my signal feed from your speakers be stereo or mono mixdown?

And lastly is this a feasable option for clean audio?

Thanks for the input
Michael
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Old August 23rd, 2006, 04:02 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Liebergot
I am a videographer, with an audio question.

I am constantly trying to improve my audio recording setup at events, and was wondering about patching into DJ's boards.

My current setup at receptions, I use a Samson Micro 32 handheld wireless on a tripod recording a speaker and sending to my camera.
I also use a new Edirol R-09 digital recorder to record backup ambiant audio.
I have always been affraid to patch into the DJ's board ( as in my travels, many don't know their board too well) for fear of an overload signal coming back to my recorder (which is unmonitored) or my camera via wireless.

I was told recently by a fellow collegue that I could patch into the back of one of the DJ's speakers, either via XLR or 1/4, and send that signal to my camera.

For my setup I would use:
1. 1/4 or 3 pin XLR cable
2. Rolls Passive Direct Box (2 1/4 inputs, 1 X:R output)
3. XLR splitter
4. Samson Micro 32 wireless transmitter
5. Edirol R-09 digital recorder
6. 3 clamps to attach gear to mic stand or DJ speaker stand

1. I would patch out of back of the speaker (either via XLR or 1/4 balanced cable),
2. to the Rolls Passive Direct box (for small form factor, set to -20bd pad), I could use my Promix 3 field mixer for larger needs like live recital work.
3.Send the signal via XLR output (with XLR splitter), and split a signal to my wireless transmitter and the other to my recorder.

Do you evenly split the same audio signal to both L/R speakers, or do you send a true stero L/R signal out?

Will my signal feed from your speakers be stereo or mono mixdown?

And lastly is this a feasable option for clean audio?

Thanks for the input
Michael
I think you'll need to consult with each DJ as to whether they're using dual-mono to their speakers or true L/R stereo. Likewise, it's going to be important to know if they're sending a line-level signal to powered speakers or the high level outputs of a power amplifier or powered mixing board to a set of passive speakers.

Some boards have a mono line-level output sending a mix of the main L/R mix, tapped off the bus before the output level controls and having it's own level setting independent of the main level faders. Something like that would be ideal since the signal you'd be getting from the sound system would have a constant level independent of how the DJ rides the main levels to his speakers.
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Old August 23rd, 2006, 04:14 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Steve House
I think you'll need to consult with each DJ as to whether they're using dual-mono to their speakers or true L/R stereo. Likewise, it's going to be important to know if they're sending a line-level signal to powered speakers or the high level outputs of a power amplifier or powered mixing board to a set of passive speakers.

Some boards have a mono line-level output sending a mix of the main L/R mix, tapped off the bus before the output level controls and having it's own level setting independent of the main level faders. Something like that would be ideal since the signal you'd be getting from the sound system would have a constant level independent of how the DJ rides the main levels to his speakers.
"Likewise, it's going to be important to know if they're sending a line-level signal to powered speakers or the high level outputs of a power amplifier or powered mixing board to a set of passive speakers."

Why would it make a difference if the speakers are powered or passive? Would one speaker output a 0db signal compared to a hotter signal?

The rest makes sense, especially the part about the line tapped off the bus before the faders. Constant signal feed would be great, especially when inrodyctions are down and the DJ's are usually screaming into the mics, distoring teh audio badly.

The main problem I see, is that most DJ's don't seem to know any of the ins and out of how their board works, so the only answer I might be able to get from them might be if their speakers are powered or passive.
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Old August 23rd, 2006, 07:14 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Liebergot

Why would it make a difference if the speakers are powered or passive? Would one speaker output a 0db signal compared to a hotter signal?
ACtive speakers take a line level signal to the speaker and the power amplifier is internal. Passive speaker are driven by a high power external power amplifer and the signal sent to them is many many MANY times stronger than line level. If you are taking the signal from a splitter inserted at the point the cable feeds into the speaker and sending the result to a line level inut on your mixer etc, there's going to be a tremendous difference in level between what you'd have tapping the INPUT signal of a power amplifer, the level appearing at the terminals on the back of an active monitor, and the OUTPUT of a several hundred watt power amplifier, the level appearing at the terminals on the back of a passive monitor.
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Old August 23rd, 2006, 07:36 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve House
ACtive speakers take a line level signal to the speaker and the power amplifier is internal. Passive speaker are driven by a high power external power amplifer and the signal sent to them is many many MANY times stronger than line level. If you are taking the signal from a splitter inserted at the point the cable feeds into the speaker and sending the result to a line level inut on your mixer etc, there's going to be a tremendous difference in level between what you'd have tapping the INPUT signal of a power amplifer, the level appearing at the terminals on the back of an active monitor, and the OUTPUT of a several hundred watt power amplifier, the level appearing at the terminals on the back of a passive monitor.
Ok I understand now. So basically my ideal situation is patching into a power driven speaker system, as the signal won't be nearly as hot and over driven like that of a passive speaker system.

If a passive speaker system is used then it would be best to take a feed from somewhere else on the baord like a tape out RCA port.

I was looking to patch into the speaker system to avoid having my recorder and transmitter in the way where a DJ could bump or mess with them.

I might look into bringing along my PSC Promix 3 Field Mixer and take a feed or 2 from the board, and feed 1 signal to my R-09 and another to my wireless. Just place them in the mixer bag with the antena sticking out for the transmitter and everything should be safe.
What the hell, just another piece of equiptment to bring along. =)

Let's see, 3 cameras, 9 batteries, PAG C6 camera light system with 3 brick batteries, tapes and recording media, adapters, 2 tripods, 2 mic stands, 4 mics, cables (you name them), more cable adapters, recorder, direct box, wireless system, and now my filed mixer. God I love video...=)
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Old August 24th, 2006, 04:30 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Liebergot
Ok I understand now. So basically my ideal situation is patching into a power driven speaker system, as the signal won't be nearly as hot and over driven like that of a passive speaker system.

If a passive speaker system is used then it would be best to take a feed from somewhere else on the baord like a tape out RCA port.

I was looking to patch into the speaker system to avoid having my recorder and transmitter in the way where a DJ could bump or mess with them.

...
IMHO, regardless of the speaker system he uses, taking a line level signal off of the DJ's board and sending it to your Promix and from there to your camera and backup recorder is the way to go. With balanced cables between the two mixers you don't need to worry too much about noise pickup and can move it far enough away from the DJ he won't kick it or play with it.

Not sure where the direct box enters into your equation. I think of that as something used to take a high impedence direct feed off of an electric guitar and drop it to low impedence mic level to feed your mixer. Unless you're shooting a live band it's not of much use.

I think the weakest link in your audio chain and the one where you're going to suffer the most quality loss and potential noise pickup is the wireless link over to your camera.
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Old August 24th, 2006, 08:12 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve House
IMHO, regardless of the speaker system he uses, taking a line level signal off of the DJ's board and sending it to your Promix and from there to your camera and backup recorder is the way to go. With balanced cables between the two mixers you don't need to worry too much about noise pickup and can move it far enough away from the DJ he won't kick it or play with it.

Not sure where the direct box enters into your equation. I think of that as something used to take a high impedence direct feed off of an electric guitar and drop it to low impedence mic level to feed your mixer. Unless you're shooting a live band it's not of much use.

I think the weakest link in your audio chain and the one where you're going to suffer the most quality loss and potential noise pickup is the wireless link over to your camera.

Steve thanks again for your knowledge, it's very helpful.

I agree that the weak link in the sound chain would be the wireless. But I am not able to run a direct cable line to my camera, because it wouldn't always be stationary on a tripod. All of these options would be better than me just placing a mic in front of a speaker and recording that way. A little noise with a strong signal is better than an ambiant signal with noise.

I should have said that the main reason I was asking this question, would be an alternative to the DJ's board (if there is no avilable port), then I would use the speaker port.
The Rolls DB25 would be used as a smaller alternative to the field mixer, as I could clamp all three small things (R-09 recorder, wireless transmitter, and Rolls DB25) to the speaker stand itself.
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Old August 24th, 2006, 08:38 AM   #8
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As a side note, a passive direct box or two is very useful to have in your kit. It will allow you to take an unbalanced line-level signal from a mixer or computer and convert it to balanced mic-level.
Depending on the model you choose, it can also isolate the ground connection and eliminate ground-loop hum if you're also using AC power on your end of the setup or if there's hum leaking in from a computer AC adapter.
Some models also have enough attenuation to handle a moderate speaker-level signal, but probably not a monster DJ-level speaker signal.
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Old August 24th, 2006, 09:44 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Massengill
As a side note, a passive direct box or two is very useful to have in your kit. It will allow you to take an unbalanced line-level signal from a mixer or computer and convert it to balanced mic-level.
Depending on the model you choose, it can also isolate the ground connection and eliminate ground-loop hum if you're also using AC power on your end of the setup or if there's hum leaking in from a computer AC adapter.
Some models also have enough attenuation to handle a moderate speaker-level signal, but probably not a monster DJ-level speaker signal.
Good point!
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Old August 26th, 2006, 11:54 PM   #10
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Personally I would prefer a "room mic" instead of solid DJ sound. It gives the feel of actually being in the room.

Two Shure SM81's in A/B pattern (mid far left and right of room, probably oppesite of the side the speakers are on) and then a NAT mic on the camera - then handheld or what have you for SOT (speaking.)

But that's just me.
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Old August 27th, 2006, 10:54 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Daniel Wang
Personally I would prefer a "room mic" instead of solid DJ sound. It gives the feel of actually being in the room.

Two Shure SM81's in A/B pattern (mid far left and right of room, probably oppesite of the side the speakers are on) and then a NAT mic on the camera - then handheld or what have you for SOT (speaking.)

But that's just me.
Personally I preffer room audio also, but at times it sounds too hollow.
Last night I had the best results ever, as I had a patch into the tape out port of the DJ's board, fed to my camera via wireless on my left channel, then my shotgun mic on camera was fed into right channel. Reviewing the footage is a nice mix, in my opinion expecially for a (non production) wedding video.

In regards to my recorder, this is used just for the purpose of getting clean backup audio that can be mixed into the video if neded.
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Old October 21st, 2006, 12:01 AM   #12
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In a small comedy club in which I am going to do a recording, the sound system is pretty much a black box with just a pair of RCA connectors labeled "Tape Out". From there, I need to take a signal into my TASCAM FireWire mixer which has balanced 1/4" TRS inputs. The output is stereo, but I am only interested in the stage mic, so one of the two channels would be fine for what I have in mind. My mixer will have to be around 50 feet from the club's sound system, so I assume balancing is a must to get a clean signal.

From what I've read around here, I assume I also need to worry about matching the signal from consumer level to what my mixer expects. This is where my confusion begins. I've read about transformers, impedance matching devices, level matching devices, and I am beginning to think they are all the same, but I am not sure. There are active and passive units, and I have no idea which one is the best for me.

One of the first devices I found is the "Rane Balance Buddy 2" ($139 at B&H), which to me seems to do exactly what I want. But there are less expensive options, such as a variety of devices from Rolls (DB25 Passive Direct Box, ADB2 Active Direct Box, and DB14 Director Stereo Direct Box/Signal Separator, that also might give me what I need.

Any suggestions on what I should try, as well as explanations that can help me understand this topic a little better would be much appreciated!

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Old October 21st, 2006, 12:37 PM   #13
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If you can take XLR-mic level into your mixer as well, an easy approach that will yield good results is a passive direct box. You'll want one with switchable pads.

RCA/phono male to 1/4" mono male cable into the direct box. XLR out of the direct box to a mic input on your mixer. There you are with low-impedance balanced signal. Switch in the pads, probably at least -20db, listen for distortion, check that the signal is not overloading and clipping the input of your mixer.

Sorry I don't know anything about performance of a Rolls direct box. I've been happy with Whirlwind Director and EWI. Proco is another good name, Stewart...
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Old October 21st, 2006, 01:16 PM   #14
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There is quite a bit of sensible stuff in this thread but a few facts are being confused. There are some DI boxes that have the facility to accept speaker level input - a 20dB pad is nowhere near enough, and although capable of taking a pro spec +4dB outpute down to something a bit more sensible, can't cope with the hundreds of Watts (sometimes thousands) that might be present at the speaker terminals. There is also a safety issue - voltage can peak quite high with considerable current available - so any attempt to connect amp outputs to mic inputs using any interface needs to be done with care, especially if the audio equipment is of unknown quality and repair standard.

If the DJ uses active speakers, then unless he severely overdrives them most pro camcorders can be switched to accept this level quite happily. If you have a camcorder or other device with unbalanced mic inputs on 3.5mm mini-jacks, things get more difficult. The feed to the active speakers may well be balanced - certainly in better kit it will be. You need to unbalance it. an xlr-jack lead wired (in the UK) 1 +3 ground, 2 hot(signal) works - BUT the level is too high. If you use a DI box this will also need an unbalanced input - and level wise this is then fine, with the output being suitable for the camcorder. Snag 2 is that your bal-unbal cable will cut down the output volume from the speaker as you have grounded one of the legs. The DJmay object to anything that cuts the volume, even if it isn't causing any damage to his system. He may not understand this.

So the problem isn't as simple as it appears - you'll need different leads, and enough skill to evaluate the equipment on site and devise a method of 'sniffing' the output.

I don't think it is all doom and gloom - as a room mic has one major advantage - atmosphere! it sounds real, and energetic. The DI approach has no audience contribution at all, sounding to my ears sanitised and clinical. Me - I'd have a combination of the two. It is possible to do very good recordings using a pair of mics in the room - with careful placement and quality equipment.

When I do my live show video shoots, I feed one camera with the left/right from the desk, and the others take in room sound. One has room sound from a couple of boundary mics on the stage edge. I've covered all bases, but mostly use the direct sound mixed with some general cover from the built in camera mics
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Old October 21st, 2006, 02:15 PM   #15
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There is some great info in this thread and I wanted to share our setup for reception audio. We tap directly into the djs board whenever possible. Of course some djs are more accommodating than others.

Often we work with the same djs and when they see us arrive at the reception they begin removing the access panel on their mixer since they know I will soon be approaching them with an rca cable.

The advantage of a direct feed from the dj is the clean sound, sometimes even a mic place in front of the speaker will have distortion, especially if the quality of the speaker is questionable.

I take the rec out or headphone out of the mixer, typically the line out is either dual rca, xlr or quarter phone. This line out is then split with one feed going to our sennheiser transmitter, the other side of the split goes to an iriver.

The iriver continually records, the wireless is sent to the receiver on the main camera. I also place a sennheiser 604 in front of the speaker and it record directly to an irver.

The two irivers are redundant and are used only if the wireless fails at any time. These are great for spontaneous events that may occur. For instance if someone gives a toast that was not scheduled I may not be ready with the camera, but I can use the iriver audio of the toast.

The receiver on the camera (direct form the dj) records to left channel on the gl2, the right channel is the shot gun mic mounted on the camera. I use a beachtek to isolate the audio to left/right channel. We edit in premiere and the integration with audition makes it easy to mix both channels.

Before we purchased the sennheiser I used the samson uhf32 mic and never had an issue connecting directly to the djs board. I had considered purchasing a direct box but never did.

When connecting to the djs board be sure to get an out that has the main mix. Last month we mistakenly connected to the rec out of the cd player and had no mic for the intros and toasts.

Hope this helps and I look forward to learning what works for others.
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