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Old September 10th, 2010, 12:27 PM   #1
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DJ Mic splitter

Has anyone used a mic input splitter for the mic feed into a DJ's board? Sooo-oooo-oooo often the DJ screws up the mic audio in his board. Some of the 'stunts' they seem to enjoy pulling are sudden blasts of feedback, excessive effects such as reverb, sudden changes in volume punctuated by no sound at all. The wedding reception toasts and speeches are important to the B&G. I hate being dependent on the 'DJ show' for good audio. In many cases the DJ passes around a wireless mic to the various speakers. It would be great to use the mic board input as the sound source into a recorder or wireless plug-on. The DJ can then 'hink' with the sound as much as he wants in his board without ruining the audio for the video.
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Old September 10th, 2010, 02:12 PM   #2
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As a former wedding dance DJ, I would not allow you to connect such a device. I would gladly give you access to a line-out from my board, but you're not going to introduce anything into my sound chain.
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Old September 10th, 2010, 02:19 PM   #3
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My advice, don't rely on the DJ.

Make sure you've covered the speeches using your own sound coverage - onboard or external. Either way it will avoid your issues. Yes, it might appear to be convenient, but...

Using a 1:2 mic splitter introduces more problems - what mic specs for example? Introducing a mic splitter is going to introduce 6db of (voltage) loss from the start (for both you and the DJ). How do you know the DJ thinks his hi Z unbalanced mic is the best and he's been using it for years?

Don't.

:)
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Old September 10th, 2010, 02:20 PM   #4
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I use mic splitting on a daily basis - two mixers from one set of mics. There's no problem apart from the occasional phantom power issue when both desk try to power the same mic - but that's operator error. The only problem I ever had was when somebody dragged some scenery over a cable, and sliced through it - shorting it out - which killed the audio to both mixers.

The wedding DJ might let you plug one in, but as you can see, it's not something veryone would allow - and it's their kit. The options are mixers that have a direct record out from each input channel, but one I've used quite often is when the DJ uses a radio mic - which many do, despite rarely moving!

If you have a similar system, then just tune to their channel and do with it what you wish.

It won't cure the feedback, of course. If their mic feeds back, then you get that too - but you can apply your own eq and effects later.

Simply being nice usually works for me - please, thank you and would you mind seems to work.
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Old September 10th, 2010, 03:06 PM   #5
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Paul has it spot on, there's absolutely no reason why there should be any loss by splitting the mic feed. We've produced a number of conert performances on commercial DVD and we split up to 30 lines in the performer's PA desk (simply taking direct outs fro the desk into our own desk) for our operator to mix for the the recording.

Our desk is often bigger because we'll often have to mic up the instruments the group plays unmiced and also because we'll replace clunky piezo pickups in guitars for the recording with large and small condenser mics at the sweet spots on those instruments. Done professionally there's no reason for gain or quality loss though Paul's caveats regarding feedback are true but given the option, like Claire, I would always prefer to put in our own gear solely for the recording.

Other than the best tripods you can afford, sound gear is the best investment video people ever make - the amortisation is much longer and technological change is much slower.
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Old September 10th, 2010, 03:26 PM   #6
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"...there's absolutely no reason why there should be any loss by splitting the mic feed..."

There certainly is: a 1:2 impedance matching transformer coupled passive mic splitter will lose you 6db.

:)
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Old September 10th, 2010, 04:28 PM   #7
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I agree that micing your own sound is always the best. I will give two examples at a wedding I recently shot. I miced the officiant, groom, podium (for readings) and the string ensemble. When I met with the B&G prior to the wedding they mentioned that the DJ would have a mic on the officiant as well as on the podium. They asked if I needed to have my own mics as well. They were puzzled about why the officiant and podium needed two mics. I told them it was the only way I could be be sure to get good audio for their video. Thankfully I did because the DJ royally butchered the audio during the ceremony. When the couple saw my finished production, they made note of what I had said and profusely thanked me. That is my only concern. Whether or not a DJ likes it or not is entirely irrelevant to me.

HOWEVER

Space forward to the reception:

There is just one little problem with getting your own audio at the reception - It's called the toasts and speeches. In many cases, the DJ has a wireless mic which gets passed from one person to another who make toasts and speeches. Since these people are often located in different places, it's not practical to have separate sound coverage. Sometimes people even walk around while holding the wireless mic. Believe me, I don't want to "introduce anything into the DJ's sound chain," But I don't want him hacking up my sound either - which gets me back to my original question about splitting his board mic in. I know there are uncooperative primadonnas that get something out of being uncooperative. I just want a way to get good sound dependably. I hate explaining somebody else's problem to brides. They hire me to get good video AND audio of their wedding which is what I try to do. I have spent too much time including, in extreme cases, voice-over editing to try to cleanup mangled sound from a DJ.

On an alternate path, I have wondered about some sort of piggyback on the DJ's wireless mic. Does anyone have any ideas in this respect? My objective is quite simple. I want to be able to reliably get good sound for the toasts and speeches without having to depend on the 'DJ show.'
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Old September 10th, 2010, 05:13 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Snow View Post
I know there are uncooperative primadonnas that get something out of being uncooperative. I just want a way to get good sound dependably. I hate explaining somebody else's problem to brides.
On a distant DJ forum, some DJ just posted the exact same description of their problems with the video guy. ;)

Quote:
On an alternate path, I have wondered about some sort of piggyback on the DJ's wireless mic. Does anyone have any ideas in this respect? My objective is quite simple. I want to be able to reliably get good sound for the toasts and speeches without having to depend on the 'DJ show.'
Yes, you can receive and record the audio from the DJ's wireless mic. There is not a one-to-one relationship between mics and receivers, one mic can be tuned by an infinite number of receivers. You just need to know what the frequency is. I carry an Icom receiver for this purpose.
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Old September 10th, 2010, 05:33 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Davis View Post

Yes, you can receive and record the audio from the DJ's wireless mic. There is not a one-to-one relationship between mics and receivers, one mic can be tuned by an infinite number of receivers. You just need to know what the frequency is. I carry an Icom receiver for this purpose.
Thanks Chris. That's a great idea. Can you suggest a model and source for the Icom receiver? I suppose they have models with a wide tunable frequency range to insure reception of the DJ's wireless mic. Do many DJ mics use a pilot tone? I know on my Sennheiser wireless systems, there is a pilot tone scheme which squelches any signal into the receiver that doesn't have the pilot tone. I suppose it doesn't matter if the receiver doesn't use a pilot tone. It would receive the signal just as well even if transmitted with a pilot tone.
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Old September 10th, 2010, 09:32 PM   #10
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This is a great thread, with opinions from both sides of the board.

I find DJs have been almost universally friendly and accomodating to requests to plug in. Often, however, they have no idea how to do it. I guess many companies hire inexperienced (technically) DJs to run equipment that they are not familiar with.

I try to plug in as a backup sound source, but sometimes you have to cross your fingers and hope, and that can be nerve wracking. One wedding I did, I was unable to plug in, so I mic'ed the podium directly. Thank God I did, cause the DJs wireless kept cutting in and out during the speeches, but I was okay.

I think most experienced DJs like Chris wouldn't let you plug in to the sound chain, and inexperienced ones would have no idea what you were talking about.
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Old September 10th, 2010, 10:35 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Claire Buckley View Post
"...there's absolutely no reason why there should be any loss by splitting the mic feed..."

There certainly is: a 1:2 impedance matching transformer coupled passive mic splitter will lose you 6db.

:)
Claire, I don't understand what your agenda is but selective quotation isn't very productive or interesting for other readers. I continued my quote above to explain that by simply taking direct outs from the DJ desk (if it has them, of course) there was no loss.

I've always understood one of the principal benefits of forums like this is to help other people avoid the mistakes we've made along the way. There are many ways to do a job wrong, rarely more than a few to do it right so in this case I expect you're saying that using an impedance matching transformer isn't a good idea..
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Old September 10th, 2010, 10:51 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Snow View Post
(snipped) There is just one little problem with getting your own audio at the reception - It's called the toasts and speeches. In many cases, the DJ has a wireless mic which gets passed from one person to another who make toasts and speeches. Since these people are often located in different places, it's not practical to have separate sound coverage. Sometimes people even walk around while holding the wireless mic. (snipped) On an alternate path, I have wondered about some sort of piggyback on the DJ's wireless mic. Does anyone have any ideas in this respect? (snipped) '
Jim, you appear to have four channels of radio; with a similar set up this is our solution. We've recently invested in three boundary layer microphones (U851RW) which, by careful engineering we supply with phantom power from our radio transmitters (Audio RMS 2000). We made white felt covers for the transmitters and white cable which means we can "hide" the kit on the top table quite effectively (with a strip of white gaffer to fix the transmitter to the table cloth). The sound is excellent and because the mics are cardiod (strictly half cardiod) much of the output from any other mics is missed.

If the speaker decided to walk around with the mic our solutions would be a) dissuade him on grounds of avoiding feedback apart from anything else) or b) stick a Sennheiser MKE2-3 on him. The trouble is that they're omni and will pick up most of any PA he's getting.

Finally whilst I think the idea of piggybacking is a sound one, my instinct is that you'd have to have a receiver matching his and that might be impractical. Maybe one of the gurus from the audio section has more experience.
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Old September 11th, 2010, 12:12 AM   #13
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This thread reminds me of why I don't even ask to plugin anymore. Too many DJs I worked with don't really know their gear well enough to get you good quality, some don't want you to plugin and others are fine with it, so what to do to get good sound? A few years ago I got a sennheiser E604 drum mic, put my plugin transmitter on it (set to -6db) place it about 4 to 6 inches from the top speaker, put my wireless receiver on belt camrea on my multirig, run that to channel 2 on my camera. I use a Blueline (AKG300SE/CK93) hypercaroid set to 0 for intros and toasts and since I'm standing less than 10 feet away the combo works like a champ. For Dancing when the DJ kicks up the volume I set the hyper to -10db and drop the level on the E604 at the camera, to taste, somewhere about -12 on the meter and of course wear my trusty 7506 cans.

I've had no issues at all using this setup. BTW, my wireless is the AT18XX series dual channel receiver so for ceremonys I run 2 lavs. One on the groom and one on the podium. I kill the hyper and use my B camera with an AT897 strictly to get the music in the church. Again never a problem.

One other reason I do this is so if the audio goes south I have no one to blame but me.

YMMV
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Old September 11th, 2010, 12:46 AM   #14
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I use a Blueline (AKG300SE/CK93) hypercaroid set to 0 for intros and toasts and since I'm standing less than 10 feet away the combo works like a champ.
Interesting. I use an AKG D5 for hand held interviews etc. and really like its sound. I gather you think the AKG300SE with the CK93 is better for this than the more typical shotgun. How does the CK93 compare to the CK98? Even if you are using audio from the DJ's board, it's good insurance to use something like this on one camera channel.

One thing that concerns me about anything from the DJ is that some DJ's use some really cheesy wireless mics. Even though it isn't optimum micing for sure, a high quality and very directional mic 8 or 10 feet away is a good insurance policy. If nothing else, you have something to fall back on.

Last edited by Jim Snow; September 11th, 2010 at 01:30 AM.
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Old September 11th, 2010, 06:22 AM   #15
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There are a couple of important technical issues here. A passive mic splitter does introduce some loss - the old rule of something for nothing being quite valid, however, the loss is pretty insignificant and in practice makes no difference. At worst we're talking about a minute tweak of the input gain. Direct outs need a little more care as most desks have their direct out post the desk gain pot, and although ops don't normally adjust gain once set, I've done it myself reasonably often - and this does impact on the output level. Some desks also have direct out pre-eq, but not all. Some have direct out post eq. So it's not 100% foolproof.

John Willett and I had various conversations about using different receivers. Sonically, a few things have to be taken into account. Most of the better quality systems compress the audio to some degree and add pre-emphasis before they transmit the audio - then in the receiver they expand it and apply some eq to maximise signal to noise ratio. They all have differing settings. The official guide is that you do need to have matching companding - but in practice, some opposing makes work quite well. My own experience is that Sennheiser transmitters work very well with Trantec 4000 series receivers - I have a rack of Trantec receivers permanently fitted in a venue, and for simple convenience one day, tried them rather than rig up the separate rack with the correct receivers in. The difference was a little extra compression, but that was actually quite good and a little shift tonally - easily sorted with some very gentle eq.

Using a communications receiver is not so good. I too have an Icom that I use for checking radio packs, but there is no expansion of the audio and the frequency response is a little curtailed top and bottom - so although these work, they don't sound as good as a proper receiver. They're good for emergency use, but the quality, for me, is very much inferior to a proper receiver. Pilot tone can normally be switched off, so on G3 Sennheisers, it's an easy job to disable this and receive something supplied from another manufacturer. There's also bandwidth to take into account - again, they're not all the same, but they're usually close.

From choice, a Sennheiser G2 or G3 portable receiver - the clip on the back of the camera type is the easiest thing to 'steal' audio with.
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