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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old July 27th, 2014, 05:21 AM   #1
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Securing your audio

My last wedding had a outdoor ceremony, They had a soundsystem in place and I had a direct feed from their mixer to my tascam dr40, I was there during soundcheck, asked specifically for speecherecording, checked the levels, tested with the mike and all was fine.

I had a zoom h1 with lav attached to the lectern, a sony ic recorder with lav on the altar, a yahama c24 with lav on the groom and a tascam dr05 in front of a soundspeaker.

Rule nr one, never trust on a live feed you get from a mixer, why, after 10 minutes when the ceremony started I finally find time to check up on my dr40 and see I have no incoming sound, I show the sound technician my recorder, point at the levels and then to my ear trying to make it clear I get no sound in. He just shrugs his shoulders and that's it. No sound...

I just checked up on my zoom h1 in post which was on lectern and I have a very weak signal, what happened? I was under time pressure setting my sound and camera's up and the zoom's audio was set to manual and I thought it was on auto, only manual levels where set very low so if I push the gain in post I get a lot of noise as well.

But, luckily there is my dr05 in front of the soundspeaker which always is my last resort, soundquailty is not as good as my other sources but still a lot better then the onboard mike from the camera's, I also have the vows clearly from my yamaha c24.

A few weeks back I put my yamaha c24 in the grooms inside pocket but I forget to lock the recorder and probably pushed the record button making the recorder stop recording, also here I had to use my tascam dr05 which was positioned in front of a soundspeaker.

I seriously think I should make it easier on myself and only see that the groom has a lav mic and then just 2 backup recorders attached to one lightstand in front of a soundspeaker. The direct sound I get if I mic the lectern and altar are so much cleaner and better but if one of these 2 would fail the other one would become useless as well. If I have to replace one of these mics with the recording of a recorder in front of a soundspeaker the difference in clarity is too big to mix them together, I"d have to settle for the soundspeaker recording for the entire ceremony.

Also, if I record in front of a soundspeaker I have to rely on the quality of the church or venue soundsystem and those are sometimes not good at all so it happens I have to deal with noise, cracking sounds or even no sound if their wireless mike loses connection.

I can say that in 90% of the cases I get clear enough sound directly from the soundmixer in a venue but I never would trust it blindly because I know I will get burned eventually. Getting good sound can be such a pain.
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Old July 27th, 2014, 06:37 AM   #2
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Re: Securing your audio

Hi Noa

I still trust my wireless packs as I can monitor the sound all the time! I know it might be a tiny bit disruptive BUT I would rather sneak in and reconnect the cable if it was disconnected by mistake (hasn't happened so far thank goodness!) Most celebrants have no idea where to put their PA system but I do often drop a lav near the speaker as a 2nd backup.

I have never used mixer feeds at weddings, only at dance recitals ...unless you have a professional sound engineer that are usually a disaster.

Can you not monitor what's coming into the Tascam at all?? I have a neat little Bluetooth dongle that plugs into the phones connection of my main camera and then a BT set of earphones that I wear so I can be on second camera and hear the audio from the first camera. Works pretty darn well and lets me know all is well with audio coming into the main camera.

Chris
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Old July 30th, 2014, 05:45 PM   #3
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Re: Securing your audio

Noa,

If you simplify don't do it by cutting those backups. Sound is not easy, that is why it separates the amateurs from the pros. This board is littered with posts all over the place from guys that destroyed their audio and are screaming for help because they did not have enough sense to run a back up.

Yes, some back up systems may be a generation of quality less than your main but at least your doing it. Keep doing it. It is shameful to come away from a live event with no usable audio but it happens all the time. Blows me away.

You know I don't do weddings but I do a lot of live events. A feed from the mixer is actually one of my favorite sources, Except when it comes with circumstantial problems like a guy that "shrugs his shoulders" at you. Thanks a lot buddy!!! That would really piss me off. I can run a board better than most of the guys behind them at small venues but that does not mean I can touch it if they don't want me too.

You have recorders all over the place so monitoring is hard. That is to bad because I monitor everything I can at all times. I even have a pair of high quality Shure ear buds I use WITH my Senni 280HD headphones so I am always monitoring something.

Why is everything going to walk away recorders you can't monitor? I thought you also had at least a couple of wireless lavs? If you are going to drop recorders all over and move away from them you could feed a lav transmitter from the recorders output and monitor the receiver.

Audio disaster stories often start with "It was all good when I set it but 10 minutes later....". Monitoring lets you know your audio went in the toilet so you can fix it. I know you did not have a disaster but that is because you are backing up properly, but not monitoring. I know you are super into working with small, light, and less gear. But after what you described I don't see a need for less, I think you need to add monitoring. Just my opinion Noa, I know you are a pro that does great work.

Steve
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Old July 31st, 2014, 03:47 AM   #4
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Re: Securing your audio

Sorry for the later reactions, I only see now Chris had already responded a few days back.

The problem with weddings if you monitor your sound during a ceremony and hear it would fail, it's almost not possible to do anything about it, if a priest would be talking at the altar or lectern, I can't just go up to him in the middle of his speech and replace a recorder. Same in a venue, I can't ask people to redo their speech because I noticed during their speech my recorder stopped working, also there I secure at least 2 recorders for my sound. But you are right that monitoring your sound, or at least one recorder, can prevent further damage, I might miss the first speech at a venue but could fix it for the second speech as there I would have the time.

I cover a big business event every year and need to get clear sound from the stage and for my interviews at the end of the event, there I get in contact with the soundtechnician weeks before the event and tell him what I need, it's a requirement from the client who pays them as well so when I arrive I have a feed from their soundboard at the location I tell them. I"m there during soundcheck and that feed is my only sound source. There I monitor my sound constantly and if it would fail I only can go to the technician but since there are professional guys who always have to deal with light and sound for big events I know they will fix it for me.

With weddings it's hope for the best and prepare for the worst :)

Chris, about that Bluetooth dongle, how does that exactly work and do you have a link to such a device? Could I plug that one into my tascam dr05 or dr40 and listen from a distance what they are recording? That actually sounds like a good alternative to monitor sound from non wireless recorders, especially the one which is in front of the soundspeaker since that one is my last resort and I need to have sound from that one. That's also the only recorder I have access to the entire ceremony without being disruptive.
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Old July 31st, 2014, 02:36 PM   #5
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Re: Securing your audio

I always set my recorders on manual and adjust the input gain accordingly depending on what it is my source is (live feed, speaker, lav mic). I know manual sound is preferred to auto levels, but do any of you prefer to do auto just for the safety factor?
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Old July 31st, 2014, 05:54 PM   #6
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Re: Securing your audio

Auto levels on my tascam dr05 is pretty useless, it adjusts quite aggressively in moments of silence so that one is always on manual, my zoom h1 however and my yamaha c24 do very well in auto mode and I prefer that over manual, this because I can't adjust levels while they are recording and rather adjust a bit in post then to have to deal with over modulated sound that's often hard to impossible to fix anymore.
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Old August 1st, 2014, 04:37 AM   #7
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Re: Securing your audio

Hey Noa

This is the "transmitter" part of the setup and simply plugs into the headphone jack on your recorder (I plug mine into the headphone jack of my camera)

Bluetooth 3 5mm A2DP Stereo Audio Adapter Dongle Transmitter FOR TV Speaker Hifi | eBay

The other half of the setup is just a pair of blue tooth headphones you can get from anywhere. You simply pair the headphones with the dongle and you are ready to go ...the dongle is pretty small too so it would add too much bulk if the recorder is in the groom's pocket (it's about the size of a USB thumb drive at most)

Chris
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Old August 1st, 2014, 04:49 AM   #8
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Re: Securing your audio

Thx chris, that could be a very helpful accessory, what is the max distance you can be from the recorder before the signal breaks up?
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Old August 1st, 2014, 06:48 AM   #9
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Re: Securing your audio

I've never tested it as during a ceremony you are never that far away from a camera but tech specs for Bluetooth state that max range is 300' (100m for us) and we would never be that far away. It has always been good quality and means I can roam around with the second camera on my shoulder and still listen to the audio on the first camera which saves me going back and forth to pick up headphones and check that audio is still running.

If you get the dongle from HK or China it will be a LOT cheaper too ..local suppliers here put a big markup on stuff they get from China and shipping here is crazy too ..I got mine from China and it was something like $15.00 including shipping but took 10 days to get here instead of our normal 6 days.

For the price it's worth a try I think .. I don't use mine all the time ..mainly in Churches where I'm more spread out.

Chris
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Old August 1st, 2014, 06:53 AM   #10
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Re: Securing your audio

Fascinating. I guess you could use an existing usb Bluetooth dongle with a usb to 3.5mm jack cable. On a note of caution some of my TRRS 3.5mm mini headphones do not work well with recorders; the straight TRS ones are OK though. So I would make sure I get one which is TRS ( 2 rings ) rather than TRRS ( 3 rings like Apple ). Hope I got the terminology right :- )

Pete
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Old August 4th, 2014, 10:27 AM   #11
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Re: Securing your audio

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Harding View Post
I've never tested it as during a ceremony you are never that far away from a camera but tech specs for Bluetooth state that max range is 300' (100m for us) and we would never be that far away. It has always been good quality and means I can roam around with the second camera on my shoulder and still listen to the audio on the first camera which saves me going back and forth to pick up headphones and check that audio is still running.

If you get the dongle from HK or China it will be a LOT cheaper too ..local suppliers here put a big markup on stuff they get from China and shipping here is crazy too ..I got mine from China and it was something like $15.00 including shipping but took 10 days to get here instead of our normal 6 days.

For the price it's worth a try I think .. I don't use mine all the time ..mainly in Churches where I'm more spread out.

Chris
Chris- could you point us to the dongle you used, and where you bought it? Also, is the one you have rechargable or can it have rechargable batteries put in it?
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Old August 4th, 2014, 08:42 PM   #12
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Re: Securing your audio

Hi Max

5 posts up I have to link to eBay here. I'm sure it would also be on eBay everywhere ..they are quite common. The dongle has a USB socket in the end and has integral Li-ion battery that you can recharge with your computer or any USB charger ...seems to last a whole wedding with no issues but I tend to only use it for the ceremony and sometimes for the speeches.

Chris
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Old August 5th, 2014, 05:21 AM   #13
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Re: Securing your audio

Back when I started weddings audio was my worst nightmare since you never seem to know what to expect. I'm now rather confident in my setup (listed below) so much so that I just set it and forget it (no monitoring involved). Do keep in mind that this mostly applies for catholic weddings.

- Sennheiser G3 on groom running into Tascam DR40 with dual recording (-12dB) for backup (also makes it easy for selecting groom's and bride's vows)
- 2x Audio-Technica ATR3350 lapels connected to altar mic and speeches mic each running into Zoom H1
- Shure SM58 running into H4N with XLR splitter to record to dual tracks (no built-in dual recording unlike tascam) as backup track in front of church's speaker

Apart from this I also use a Rode VMP on my safe camera which works surprisingly well when the camera is quite close.
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Old August 14th, 2014, 05:41 AM   #14
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Re: Securing your audio

Chris, thanks for the idea of connecting the Bluetooth device. I will be picking one up. To others considering this, read the specs of the particular device before purchase. The transmitters have different range abilities. Not all devices can handle the Bluetooth max of 300' (100m). Make sure the range works for you. The one linked in this thread has a Class 2 transmitter with a range of 10m.
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Old August 14th, 2014, 08:12 AM   #15
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Re: Securing your audio

Shure SM58 running into H4N with XLR splitter to record to dual tracks (no built-in dual recording unlike tascam) as backup track in front of church's speaker

Malcolm, how close does the SM58 need to be to the speaker to get decent sound. I'm not familiar with this old favourite but last weekend when piggybacking off a similar venue (wireless) Sennheiser I found the people making the speeches had to have the mic very close indeed to their mouth otherwise they might as well have not used it at all as it just didn't pick them up.

Pete
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