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Old October 10th, 2012, 07:13 PM   #1
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Getting a Direct Feed - What's your usual setup?

We've been doing it a few ways, just depending on what's available at particular weddings, but wondering what your basic set up is for getting a direct feed, either from a DJ, or even a sound board at the church?

We've used the Zoom a couple times, and our Sennheiser wireless set, but both yield "ok" results. Sometimes both ways sound AWESOME, and sometimes it clips, but I'm not sure what we're doing wrong. With the Zoom, I know we need to use a pad cable (right?) if we are coming from a line-in...but does anyone have experience with the sennheiser packs at all..or something similar?

I try to switch our camera inputs to Line-In, but it's always like there's no audio source so we end up putting them back on mic...we're using HMC150s, so any advice on what we are doing wrong our should be doing, would be great.

We always have a back-up zoom near the speakers, so we've never come out with anything completely unusable, but it's been a problem this year, to say the least, and something that I want to get figured out.

Thanks in advance for any help!
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Old October 11th, 2012, 01:24 AM   #2
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Re: Getting a Direct Feed - What's your usual setup?

From the times I was doing bar band videos I learned that no two set ups were most likely the same. So I began collecting cables and connectors to fit just about all options.

The biggest problem with taking a feed is getting the right level coming to you so you can record it. The level is set on the board, but it takes some trial and error to find out what they give you and what you need. We typically did this early during a sound check, which a band or DJ would do, before they kick it off. I also did this during the dinner while background was playing, as long as there was someone around to make adjustments to the level.

As I am sure you learned XLR will give you a right or left channel, or if you get both, it's in mono. RCA set ups typically give you both, which I used a connector that brought it to the recorder/cam as stereo. 1/4" can go either way if you have the cables, typically though it's one channel. Where I got the absolutely best results was having a 1/4" stereo Y cable, and getting a feed from the headphone jack. The Y cable was to allow the sound guy to also be able to utilize his headphones at the same time.

But I would have to say there really wasn't anytime where I walked up and just got a "plug and play" from any board. On an average I would guess I spent 15-30 minutes getting audio set up before being able to record. You see, we are the LAST thing on any sound guy's list of things to do before a show.

Now as far as what we used to do for audio, was take a board feed as well as use our mics to give us ambient audio from the room. A pure board feed is too sterile, IMO. You can see people in attendance doing something, but can't hear them in a board feed audio track. So we grabbed both and them mixed in post to give us something more realistic. We would either record these two audio sources to either our cams, or one to a recorder.
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Old October 11th, 2012, 10:50 AM   #3
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Re: Getting a Direct Feed - What's your usual setup?

I'm with you, Chip...direct feed only sounds too plain, and not authentic without the crowd and a little bit of echo from the hall. We do always mix in feed with live audio. And we're no stranger to the various connectors to have on hand.

I guess our popular set up, and by far our favorite and easiest, are the speakers that have the XLR outputs on the back of them. But even with an audio test before hand, we always seem to wind up with something that clips. And like i said, we leave the camera input to mic, instead of line, because we never seem to get anything on line inputs, with both cameras.

Are we doing something wrong?
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Old October 11th, 2012, 01:12 PM   #4
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Re: Getting a Direct Feed - What's your usual setup?

You are taking a level of audio that is sent to the speakers, that is meant to have those speakers heard well everywhere in the room. The boards have "volume knobs" for lack of a better term at the moment, where the sound guy cranks up the levels sent to the speakers, to compensate for the size etc. of the room and what the output is supposed to be. In a church you have a static set up so the sound board need not be adjusted often once everything is dialed in. The DJ or band, they have to readjust for every "room" they play in.

Try to get a separate feed from the sound board, and then have the sound guy get it set to where your gear doesn't clip. When I got to use the headphone jack, that was set to a level much lower than the speaker output was and I rarely dealt with clipping.
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Old October 11th, 2012, 01:21 PM   #5
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Re: Getting a Direct Feed - What's your usual setup?

Ok, thanks for the advice, Chip!
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Old October 11th, 2012, 05:33 PM   #6
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Re: Getting a Direct Feed - What's your usual setup?

As we do both live audio and video, we often are on both ends of the problem. Only last week, the video guy came up at the last minute and asked for a feed, my sound man ran him a couple of xlrs from a spare couple of sends, but forgot he had them on a pre-fade send, so he accidentally sent the camera his fader down cueing up of some tracks, the video man's assistant ran up to him just as he was about to take a sound cue - a verbal cue on a specific word - while the video person was trying to explain, he missed the cue - and got a bollocking from me for spoiling it for 1400 people sitting there, plus spoiling it for the video people who would see the mistake for ever more! He should have checked, but all he had time for was a rough level and a thumbs up before we started. The other problem was that some tracks were really low level, and hadn't been heard before until used for the live first time - and he had to suddenly up the gain, which again send too much to the video camera. Sound was very difficult live, with no rehearsal, and the added workload of trying to monitor the camera feed was frankly too much - and as a result live sound and cameras sound were below par.

Direct feeds need planning in advance, not doing it at the last minute.
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Old October 13th, 2012, 11:13 AM   #7
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Re: Getting a Direct Feed - What's your usual setup?

I've found that if you can get an auxiliary channel from the board for your use only, you can set the levels of the individual mics and other sound inputs to suit your needs. Of course, this takes more time and the "sound guy/gal" usually know nothing about it. In many cases, I've used this technique in situations where I only need certain mics recorded and others muted.
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Old October 13th, 2012, 03:12 PM   #8
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Re: Getting a Direct Feed - What's your usual setup?

A quick thought to add: for at least two DJs I met, the best they could do was supply a USB copy of the night's sound. So now, in addition to 1/4" jacks, XLR, RCA, etc I make sure to carry some flash disks with me.
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