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Old May 15th, 2003, 12:14 PM   #1
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Getting good audio

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been struggling to get good audio at the events that I am filming. The situation is usually a bit tricky, because there isn't a single good recording spot. Many of the performances that I film are school performances, typically kid's performances. Often there are microphones on stage that pick up and amplify the singers. The speakers for these microphones are on on the floor on each side of the stage pointing towards the audience. In addition, there is often a separate CD player with its own amplifier and speakers located on one side of the stage that provides background music for the songs. Often there is a piano player as well on one side. The front row of the audience is typically 10 feet or less from the stage. If you record the sound from the back of the auditorium, you get a good mix of the background music and singing. Unfortunately, you also get every baby crying, cell phone, ... in the audience as well. If you get right up close to the stage to reduce the audience noise, then you often have problems with the mix of background music to singing, because the proximity to the speakers can have a big impact. You also don't know ahead of time what mix is needed, because the teachers aren't reliable when it comes to setting volumes during the performance (hence you can't get it all figured out at the rehearsal). I am wondering what suggestions if any you might have on how to best deal with this situation. Here are some specific questions:
1. I know that I should be hooking into the sound board for the main stage mikes, but I'm not really sure how to do that. I am at the back of the auditorium filming and I can't run a cable to the sound board. I have a Sennheiser 100 Evolution wireless transmitter that is designed to plug onto the back end of an XLR microphone, but I'd be afraid of putting a line level signal into it. Any suggestions for how to deal with this? Are there attenuators designed to reduce the signal to an acceptable level? Often the only output appears to be a 1/4 inch plug for headphones. Is this what I would use if I had a suitable attenuator? Are there any good references where I can read up on hooking into sound boards? I've never done it and I'd like some more education on the best way to do this.
2. Should I try to capture a lot of audio channels so that I have a good selection for post processing? I only have two channels on my VX-2000, and they can't be controlled independently. They are either both auto, or both manual. If they are both manual, then it is tricky to get the levels set properly and if auto, then the loudest channel dominates the audio setting. Should I investigate getting a multi-track recorder or other recording device to have more channels? It would be better to figure out how to get good audio with proper hookups to my camera because additional channels mean additional work in post. Any thoughts on the direction that I should pursue?
3. I have two Sennheiser Evolution 100 receivers, a lavolier with transmitter, and the plug-on XLR transmitter mentioned previously. I have never tried to use both wireless setups at the same time. When I use a single receiver with my camera, I attach the receiver with a velcro tab to the side of my camera. Works great. I'm not quite sure how I would mount a second receiver. Could it be piggybacked with the first receiver, assuming I could get the velcro to support the double weight? Would I get any crosstalk or interference between the two if the receiver bodies were touching (assuming of course they were on different frequencies). If I did this, then I could get a second XLR transmitter and use a second wireless microphone at the performances.
Any responses would be welcomed... and many thanks for the responses that have been provided to my previous posts.

Alan
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Old May 15th, 2003, 12:24 PM   #2
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Alan, there are so many issues involved in your post, and I am not an audio expert, but if I were in your shoes, I would look to pay someone for on-site advice. If you can get a professional to help you out, it would be well worth your expenditure. I know this is not what you want to hear, but there are so many issues involved. What type of sound gear is the house using, for instance. Meantime, you could also pick the guy's brain for additional information on proper use of your gear. For instance, wireless mics are notoriously finicky, and he could provide you with a wealth of info on how to use them and avoid problems.

Maybe someone else has some concrete suggestions. Good luck.
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Old May 15th, 2003, 12:25 PM   #3
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You really need a sound person to monitor the sound while you focus on the video. Otherwise, unless you can do sound checks before hand and they don't change settings, you will always have problems. Multiple microphones into a mixer and then on to your camera or to a sound recorder or both.

I plug into sound boards with my Sennheiser plug-on transmitter all the time. It has a built-in attenuator plus a separate gain control. I also carry a selection of Shure XLR-connected attenuators so I can drop a signal down. They make one specifically for headphone level to microphone level adaptation.

I always plug an XLR cable into the sound board and then plug my attenuators to the other end and then the transmitter. Then I pull attenuators/change the plug-in transmitter's attenuators & Gain until I get a usable signal. Many times the signal you get out the back of the board is microphone level anyway. I don't know why.

You cannot use two transmitters simultaneously with one receiver. Buy another receiver if you must.
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Old May 16th, 2003, 03:41 AM   #4
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Thanks for the info. It is amazing to get replies to my questions so quickly! Of course I have more questions:

1. With regard to my Sennheiser wireless setups, I do have two receivers. My question is whether the two receivers can be physically piggybacked on the side of my camera. There is only one spot on a VX-2000 to mount a wireless receiver, and the first receiver pretty much takes up this spot. If I could mount the second receiver on the back of the first receiver, then I could use both at once. However, I'm wondering if the physical proximity of the receivers will cause crosstalk or interference of some sort. I'm also concerned that the velcro strip that I use to hold a single receiver might not support two receivers. Any experience that you can share with regard to mounting two wireless receivers to a VX-2000 would be appreciated.

2. I have a Beachtek to combine the outputs of the receivers and get them into the camera. However, some sort of adaptor cable would be simpler. The problem, of course, is how to get the two mono outputs from the Sennheiser modules into the single stereo jack on the camera. Do they make suitable cables? Any other ideas?

3. I had a somewhat Kludgy thought regarding the capturing of audio for my school performances. I was thinking that I might be able to use a boom setup to mount a wired microphone about 10-12 feet off the ground, back next to my camera at the back of the auditorium. This would give me a little isolation from the people close to me, especially if I used a super cardoid mike that rejected off-axis noise. If I could get a second pickup off the sound board for the other channel, then the two channels might give me reasonable audio. Does this sound like a workable idea or not? If so, what mike would you recommend?
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Old May 17th, 2003, 02:33 PM   #5
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2. I have a Beachtek . . . Any other ideas?

Sounds like you need a small mixer. Mackie makes pretty good inexpensive
stuff.

3 . . .what mike would you recommend?

Everything depends on budget. Low to high: audio tech 815b or 835b,
Sennheiser M67/K6, Sennheiser 416, Neumann USM 69i.
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Old May 17th, 2003, 05:12 PM   #6
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I've never seen any interference between the Senn receivers or transmitters.

2. I have a Beachtek to combine the outputs of the receivers and get them into the camera. However, some sort of adaptor cable would be simpler. The problem, of course, is how to get the two mono outputs from the Sennheiser modules into the single stereo jack on the camera. Do they make suitable cables? Any other ideas?

The more gear in the line, the more potential problems. You can make or have made a cable with two monoral mini-sockets feeding into one mini-stereo plug. The Beachtek is adding no value except the 2 into 1 adaptation.

3. I had a somewhat Kludgy thought regarding the capturing of audio for my school performances. I was thinking that I might be able to use a boom setup to mount a wired microphone about 10-12 feet off the ground, back next to my camera at the back of the auditorium. This would give me a little isolation from the people close to me, especially if I used a super cardoid mike that rejected off-axis noise. If I could get a second pickup off the sound board for the other channel, then the two channels might give me reasonable audio. Does this sound like a workable idea or not? If so, what mike would you recommend? -->>>

It will sound just as bad as it does now. To get good sound you must get close.

************* There are NO options. *************

Any directional microphone with the exception of the $3500 AT active shotgun, is only directional in the upper frequency ranges. As you get down to the bass noise a crowd makes, they are onmi in nature.

This problem is why people charge so much money to properly kitting up a concert. And why they need a pro (or more than one) running a large mixing setup to get everything right.

You might be able to hang microphones from the overhead directly over the performers. This is often done for choirs. The microphones (I use a Shure Sm81C) is unobrusive hanging down on the XLR cable. It does require phantom power though. One would need 2 or more of these for reasonable coverage on a large stage.
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Old May 17th, 2003, 11:02 PM   #7
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Alan,

if you have PA sound engineer, ask. he/she should know how to connect soundboard to your cam. I think hooking into the PA sound board is the way to do it, and its simpler than any other way you have mentioned here. you could use a compact mixer as sub so you could take control and monitor the sound. like Mike said, the more gear and channel in the line, the more potential problem. all you need is clean two channel stereo sound.

heres the way I would do. If they use PA on the stage, it's going to be little tricky to setup. but you could always try. ^-^ use two small diaphragm cardioid (if you are not a sound pro, avoid omni) mics as stereo X/Y or ORTF setup (it depends on size of ensemble and stage). if the PA soundboard has plenty of empty channel, use it as preamp. use directout port of each channel in the soundboard (so you don't need to worry about any setup such as eq or pan except gain of each channel )to feed audio to your cam. or stereo mixdown recorder (DAT or MD would be fine), so you could do it in post in case. carefull with gain control of cam and soundboard. and monitor the sound carefully. all you need to do is move mics back and forth (up and down) and find right spot and gain controls. tryout as much as you can when they have rehearsal. I cannot come up any simpler than this. all you need is two mics (or one stereo) and proper cables and a good microphone boom & stand. what mic would I recommend? well, it depends on budget and use. check http://www.proaudioreview.com/ but its great to have at least one matched pair of KM184 or SR77 for all around performer.

simple is always better.
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Old May 18th, 2003, 01:11 AM   #8
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Thanks to everyone who responded. You've saved me a lot of time exploring paths that sound like they won't work. I'll try to follow your suggestions and see if I can't make some real improvements. Thanks again!
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