DV Info Net

DV Info Net (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/)
-   All Things Audio (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/all-things-audio/)
-   -   what about mixers? little ones. (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/all-things-audio/57361-what-about-mixers-little-ones.html)

Fischer Spooner January 3rd, 2006 02:37 PM

what about mixers? little ones.
 
my professor in location sound at my film school sez that mixers cost 1500 bucks, but i suspect he is two sheets to the wind.

can i buy a mixer that is acceptable for less? i am a bit panicked because i bullshitted my way into a shoot as the sound guy--and I don't want to mess it up.

all i have is a mk12, not even a real boom or mixer. my professor insists you have to have a mixer. i don't have a credit card that will take the 1500 charge, so i can't rent. is there a sort of entry level mixer that might serve me well for the next half dozen short films i make in the coming months?

Steve House January 3rd, 2006 03:09 PM

What kind of production? What're the conditions in which you'll be shooting? "Mixers" can range from simple 1 or 2 channel devices - more mic preamps really - worn by a boom operator to complex multi-channel boards. The nature of the shoot is what will determine it.

Jay Massengill January 3rd, 2006 03:11 PM

There are some field mixers available for $800 or less. The best of these is the 2-channel SoundDevices MixPre. The 3-channel PSC DVPromix3 is a little less and there's also a model by Rolls that's even lower cost. Sound quality drops with each drop in price.
In battery-powered mini desktop mixers there is the Behringer MXB-1002 and someone else has mentioned the UBB-1002. I don't think the Oktava will like running on less than 48-volt phantom though. The MXB-1002 doesn't make full 48-volt power when running on batteries.
There is also the Samson MixPad4.
What are you going to do about a shockmount and wind protection, as well as a good boom? The Oktava really needs those in a bad way.
Headphone monitoring is also important, as well as knowing which camera you're trying to connect to and how to best accomplish that.

Stephen Finton January 3rd, 2006 04:29 PM

The Behringer 602A is about $60 and you could beat somebody to death with it, if you needed to. It also has an outboard powersupply so is inherently silent. I like it.

http://www.behringer.com/MX602A/index.cfm?lang=ENG

Charles Papert January 3rd, 2006 04:34 PM

I have a 602a that I use as a desktop mixer for monitoring purposes, and it is obviously an inexpensive system and pretty well made. My issues are that there is a certain amount of crosstalk between channels, and it doesn't have a power switch on the unit. Plus, Behringer has an uneasy reputation for reverse engineering other company's technologies which may or may not bother a given end user, sort of a business ethics thing. After learning this I made my next mixer purchase a Mackie. There's an old thread here that details this, try doing a search under Behringer.

Ashley Cooper January 3rd, 2006 04:57 PM

What are you recording the audio on to? DAT, a DV camera? Make sure the mixer will suit whatever you use.
My first concern would be a boom though. I've done several shoots w/o a mixer, but you have to have a boom. Nice to have one that you're familiar with as well.
Also, though I've never used it, I've heard the Oktava is not the best for outside.
Good luck!

Josh Bass January 3rd, 2006 05:00 PM

If you're looking for a portable mixer, no advice, but I own a MXB1002 (also a Behringer) that someone recommended. It's a little more than the other Behringer that was recommended, but it has quite a few inputs and whatnot. It was still around $100 at B&H.

I see now that's it's been discontinued. Greaaaaaaaaaat

David Ennis January 3rd, 2006 05:41 PM

Mackie is one of the most familiar names in mixers, and you can get a new 12 channel (4 mic inputs) Mackie for $300, assuming you'll have access to AC power. That should shut the Prof. up.

Browse B&H's encyclopedic online catalog for mixers, boom poles, shock mounts and everything else audio/video at bhphotovideo.com

Fischer Spooner January 3rd, 2006 06:15 PM

the Behringer sounds just my speed.

i wanted to ask in class today:

can you get away with not having a mixer? the professor was saying most EQ'ing is really just for roll-off. there's no roll off switch on the mk12, andd i guess EQ'ing for that purpose is pretty critical, right?

it's all indoors, and it's on a varicam. I don't know anything about varicams but I'm assuming it has phantom power. Is that correct?

am I in trouble? Am I going to mess up the shoot? I obviously will get a boom somewhere somehow, even if it means getting a $15 painter's pole at home depot. But if I get it at home depot, will people notice and think bad things?

The thing that worries me more than the boom pole is getting a very long headphone cable.

David Ennis January 3rd, 2006 07:12 PM

Roll off is more often a matter of taste than of criticality. IMO you don't need a mixer if you're only using one mic. If you just get good audio it can be adjusted in post.

One arrangement is to run XLR cable from the mic down the boom to something like the $65 preamp linked below, which can be suspended from the boom operator's belt, then XLR cable from that to the camera. The boom op (you, I presume?) just plugs his phones into the box. Yes, the varicam supplies phantom power, and so does this box. With the Varicam supplying power, you may be able to use this box without AC power--you can call B&H and ask. It will certainly work with its included AC power supply and the varicam's phantom turned off:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...ughType=search

So you'd need the pole, a shock mount, the preamp, some gaffer tape, headphones, a 20 foot XLR cable and, I'd say, a 50 foot XLR cable.

People using a $60,000 cam might notice that you're using a cheap rig, but they're bound to know that freelancers come in a lot of shapes and sizes, and with the outfit mentioned you'll look like you know what you're doing.


BTW, If you do a search on the "f" word here, you'll find it used seldom if at all.

Fischer Spooner January 3rd, 2006 07:35 PM

10-4, Fred. I had a strong suspicion that there would be some who might say that a mixer wouldn't be necessary such a situation.

One thing that continues to bother me is it seems to me that it would be better to do that roll off at the point of committing something to tape, rather than later in post. Maybe I'm wrong. The question is, is EQ'ing better done in production or in post?

I guess I really just want to know what mixers are critical for, and what you give up when you don't use them.

Fischer Spooner January 3rd, 2006 07:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Fred Retread
So you'd need the pole, a shock mount, the preamp, some gaffer tape, headphones, a 20 foot XLR cable and, I'd say, a 50 foot XLR cable.

People using a $60,000 cam might notice that you're using a cheap rig, but they're bound to know that freelancers come in a lot of shapes and sizes, and with the outfit mentioned you'll look like you know what you're doing.

What about a wind thingie?

Richard Alvarez January 3rd, 2006 07:53 PM

Wind "thingies" come in various styles and flavors, ranging from the foam screens that usually come shipped with a mic, to 'dead cats' (see, there are more technical terms for 'thingies') and ZEPPELINS.

The foam screens are little better than useless, and the fuzzy covers that fit over them are much better at deadening wind noise. The hard shell zeppelins are better still, and then you can cover zeppelins with fur too...

Yeah, there' s a lot of gear that you might need.

A mixer is best used for 'mixing'. (See, it's getting technical again.) Especially usefull for MIXING two or more mics, and feeding them to the deck/camera/recording storage solution du jour.

Some bass rolloff can be accomplished with a base rollof switch on a mic itself.

The most important aspect of 'mixing' on the shoot, is maintaining proper levels. A skilled mixer can do this without 'riding the pots' too drastically. It's s subtle skill, and you won't pick it up in one shoot... or two. (See, "Pots" are slang terms for ... well potentiometers... which is a fancy word for volume knob)

Additionally, the mixer will balance with eq to get a desired tone, send tone to the camera or deck, and on a film shoot, will have to keep slate records for synching... it just gets harder.

Are you going to "F" up the shoot? I certainly hope not. I think everyone of us has probably lived to regret writing a check his a$$ couldn't cover at some point.(Usually well before the age of 25 I should think) I hope this isn't yours.

I didn't catch how much time you have to become the expert you claimed to be, but my advice is to start reading, studying and soaking up everything you can from now until the shoot.

Fischer Spooner January 3rd, 2006 08:11 PM

there's no roll-off switch on a MK-012. people have commented that they thought that mic looks small in the past, which got my dander up. i'm just really worried because on the last short I shot, I really did "f" up the sound, and I would hate to do that on this project, because a lot of people's hopes are riding on this project's success.

i didn't actually claim to be an expert--I think the director just likes me, is more like it, but maybe didn't know the right questions to ask of me, while I claimed a passionate regard for high quality sound and offered some technical jargon that made me sound knowledgeable. i have about two weeks.

David Ennis January 3rd, 2006 10:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Fischer Spooner
...people have commented that they thought that mic looks small in the past, which got my dander up...

LOL, I can see why the director likes you, Fischer.

I didn't worry about the wind thingie because you said it was all going to be indoors. Although I hear that the Oktava is particularly sensitive to air movement, the foam screen should suffice indoors.

Like Richard said, mixers let you balance the average levels of the inputs, ride the gain in real time in response to program loudness, pan each input as much to the left or right as you want for stereo, and to adjust the tonal qualities to balance them out or to enhance them to taste. You're going to want one eventually for various gigs, but you can't run one and be the boom operator at the same time.

It would be a good idea to make sure you know everything you can about the shoot. What talent is going to be where and when? How far back is the cam going to be? Is it going to move around? Are there opportunities for repeated takes?

Your job is to keep the mic pointed at the talent as close as you can get it while keeping it out of the frame. I've never done this myself, so I'm beginning to talk through my arse here, but it seems to me that communications with the cameraman would be important. I suspect he'll wear headphones too, and has level meters to monitor. When he changes from close to wider, mic distance may have to change. I don't know how these things are handled, but I suspect they're planned and executed scene by scene. Well, I'm rambling out of my depth here. Best of luck. Ask some more when you know more specifics and maybe the heavyweights here will help you out.

One last thing. It would be highly, highly advisable to practice with whatever rig you devise. Borrow a camocorder if you can, and feed it. If someone can assist, all the better. Make sure your stuff works reliably and that you develop a bit of comfort in your moves with it. That will have you in a much better state of mind for the real shoot.

Glenn Chan January 3rd, 2006 11:43 PM

How come your film school doesn't have mixers to borrow?

Or a decent boom pole?

*Caveat: If students are using the equipment, it may not necessarily work.
You may be able to get the production to rent some gear for you. And if you're a student, you can sometimes get some gear rentals for a low price by striking a deal with rental houses. Sometimes they will give you a break to develop a relationship with their future clients.

Or at a few hundred bucks you can buy one. Although if you buy all your accessories, the costs really add up (headphone, windscreen later, mixer, cables). Ideally you might want to get a wireless too (or another microphone which you can plant somewhere).

Quote:

But if I get it at home depot, will people notice and think bad things?
I think they'll notice. If the cameraperson is listening on headphones and your do-it-yourself boom isn't any good, he'll be able to hear any rumble caused by handling noise.
If the boom is heavy, your arms will get real tired real quick. It helps if you bring some stuff to stand on... some people use appleboxes (they're just hollow wooden boxes). Milk crates are good because they can hold gear too.

The people will say bad things about crappy gear if the sound ain't so great.

2- It might help to experiment and see how you can get bad and good sound.

Common scenarios (roughly in order of magnitude):
If the mic isn't under 4ft to the talent, you're highly likely to get bad sound. Room echo/reverb and background noise will be very apparent. On wide shots, it's impossible to get the microphone close by boom. So you either shoot around it, or move the microphone closer via a wireless or wired connection (hide the mic somewhere on set).

The location background noise is really bad. Scout the location ahead of time, and try to anticipate what the sound will be like when you shoot (i.e. rush hour traffic).

Handling noise on the boom (use headphones and practice/listen).

Cheap shotguns indoors tends to sound bad.

Technical problems- levels too high/low. With the Varicam you should have a lot of range, but watch out for the times when actors are inconsistent in their levels (i.e. suddenly they start yelling because they're acting angry). And you probably want to monitor off the Varicam somehow... get a microphone extension cable (i.e. cablewholesale.com???) and run yourself a headphone feed that way.

With a mixer, setting levels is easier because you can set the camera to tone. That way the levels on your mixer corresponds to the levels on the camera.

Quote:

my professor in location sound at my film school
If he/she teaches at a film school, I think that says something. ;)

Now in defence of film school profs, some people really know their stuff and teach because they enjoy teaching. I wouldn't know in your case.

Fischer Spooner January 3rd, 2006 11:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Fred Retread
You're going to want one eventually for various gigs, but you can't run one and be the boom operator at the same time.

It would be a good idea to make sure you know everything you can about the shoot. What talent is going to be where and when? How far back is the cam going to be? Is it going to move around? Are there opportunities for repeated takes?

Your job is to keep the mic pointed at the talent as close as you can get it while keeping it out of the frame.

I'm one step ahead of you--I've arranged to go to the locations with the dp. Well, maybe not a full step--that's great advice for asking questions--the bloacking, the number of takes, the distance of the camera.

Basically I'm paranoid because while I've operated boom several times, the one time I've used this Oktava, there was a shocking amount of noise, and I'm really worried about it. So I guess the advice to practice is a pretty critical suggestion, too.

For some reason my teacher said I should have a windscreen even for indoors. As I said, I am skeptical of some of his claims. Many times he fails to really justify his dictates. Nevetheless, my point is that a ZEPPELIN would probably make the whole thing seem more professional. That is my thinking. It bothers me to spend money on something where the purpose isn't primarily functional. So I'm torn. But those Oktava's are really small. And don't have foam screens incidentally/

(i wonder how much those ZEPPELINS cost...)

Fischer Spooner January 4th, 2006 12:44 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Glenn Chan
How come your film school doesn't have mixers to borrow?

Or a decent boom pole?

im working on it. normally equipment goes out in relation to a specific assignment, and im working to bend that rule, slightly.


Quote:

Originally Posted by Glenn Chan
You may be able to get the production to rent some gear for you.

I'm scared to ask; it's a slightly long story how I came into this position, but it involved a comment I made at one time which was that I had sound equipment, when all I really have is an xlr cable, oktava and beachtek.



Quote:

Originally Posted by Glenn Chan
2- It might help to experiment and see how you can get bad and good sound.

Common scenarios (roughly in order of magnitude):
If the mic isn't under 4ft to the talent, you're highly likely to get bad sound. Room echo/reverb and background noise will be very apparent. On wide shots, it's impossible to get the microphone close by boom. So you either shoot around it, or move the microphone closer via a wireless or wired connection (hide the mic somewhere on set).
...

Technical problems- levels too high/low. With the Varicam you should have a lot of range, but watch out for the times when actors are inconsistent in their levels (i.e. suddenly they start yelling because they're acting angry). And you probably want to monitor off the Varicam somehow... get a microphone extension cable (i.e. cablewholesale.com???) and run yourself a headphone feed that way.

With a mixer, setting levels is easier because you can set the camera to tone. That way the levels on your mixer corresponds to the levels on the camera.

Right. Thanks. I am really coming to that, that I need to do little experiments in my crash course here. The main thing is that I have had this one experience where I was responsible for sound on my own project, and then suffered the consequences when I came to edit it. I haven't had any experience except for that one, uncorrected negative experience (that is to say, where I did the production and post production sound; I have operated boom several times before, but I never had to deal with it in post, and those were not my projects). So I need to have some positive experiences. Thanks for getting me there.

Now, the main problem (at least so far as I can tell) in my negative experience is that the mic was placed at different distances from the actors. It was within four feet, but sometimes it was two feet and sometimes it was four and sometimes maybe five or something. This seemed to have a disastrous effect. From take to take, the noise levels and timbre varied greatly.

I have the beachtek dxa-8, which has limiters. wouldnt that be a safer thing to use than riding the pots? i tried to ask the teacher today what limiters sounded like but he refused to answer, saying it was subjective and i would have to decide myself (im not quite sure but they seem to sound artificial. i think they kicked in on this negative experience project i keep mentioning but im not quite sure). here is a link to the audio in question: http://solvemycase.com/case/oktava-nitemare.mp3 (there is music on the track which obscures the noise, but as you'll hear the noise is quite apparent. there are audio transitions applied from within FCP, but apart from that and some levels adjustment, no post audio work was done)

do you happen to know if the varicam has headphone outs, and if so what kind? it occurred to me that it might be more accurate to listen to the headphones out of the camera than out of a mixer (if there ends up being a mixer) but im not sure.

im still trying to figure out the setting levels tone thing. ive seen it demonstrated a couple of times but i dont get it.

Mark Utley January 4th, 2006 04:49 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Fischer Spooner
it's a slightly long story how I came into this position, but it involved a comment I made at one time which was that I had sound equipment, when all I really have is an xlr cable, oktava and beachtek.

Yikes! That's not a good situation. I think you've dug yourself in a bit of a hole here and are now trying to dig yourself out by asking a few people on the internet. I'm not sure if you'll be able to pull it off but there has been a lot of good advice given so hopefully things will turn out alright.

I personally can't give a whole lot of advice on this topic because I'm just starting to do non-stick mic audio on my shoots. Best of luck!

Steve House January 4th, 2006 07:27 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Fischer Spooner
10-4, Fred. I had a strong suspicion that there would be some who might say that a mixer wouldn't be necessary such a situation.

One thing that continues to bother me is it seems to me that it would be better to do that roll off at the point of committing something to tape, rather than later in post. Maybe I'm wrong. The question is, is EQ'ing better done in production or in post?

I guess I really just want to know what mixers are critical for, and what you give up when you don't use them.

True, equalizing and other sonic manipulation is best done in post but a high-pass filter on the mic itself to cut the lowest frequencies in order to minimize wind and handling noise or to reduce the "proximity effect" when close mic'ing is a good option to have. Those low rumbles and thumps can contribute to overload and clipping during the recording process yet contribute nothing to the desired signal. If you can get rid of those noises at the mic your recording will be cleaner.

Steve House January 4th, 2006 07:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Fischer Spooner
...

For some reason my teacher said I should have a windscreen even for indoors. As I said, I am skeptical of some of his claims. Many times he fails to really justify his dictates. Nevetheless, my point is that a ZEPPELIN would probably make the whole thing seem more professional. That is my thinking. It bothers me to spend money on something where the purpose isn't primarily functional. So I'm torn. But those Oktava's are really small. And don't have foam screens incidentally/

(i wonder how much those ZEPPELINS cost...)

The reason to use at least a foam windscreen even indoors is you're going to be moving the mic around during the shot as you follow the action. Wind noise is caused by air flowing past the mic diaphram and of course it doesn't matter if it's the air moving over a stationary mic or the mic moving through stationary air. Even if the mic is still, if the talent is speaking close to it their exhalation is air movement and if it impacts the mic you'll have noise.

Quote:

do you happen to know if the varicam has headphone outs, and if so what kind? it occurred to me that it might be more accurate to listen to the headphones out of the camera than out of a mixer (if there ends up being a mixer) but im not sure.

im still trying to figure out the setting levels tone thing. ive seen it demonstrated a couple of times but i dont get it.
It's best if you have the option for both. A "snake" or breakway cable between a boom operator/mixer and the camera will have a bundle of several cables. One pair is the signal going to the camera's inputs from the mixer. Another cable would be the headphone return from the phones output on the camera to a tape return input on the mixer. Some pro quality preamps and mixers like the Sound Devices MixPre have a headphone monitor switch where the boom operator can listen in his headphones either to the signal that the mixer is sending to the camera or to the return coming back from the camera.

Setting levels to tone simply means you have a standard reference tone in the mixer that when switched on goes through the mixer output stages and meters and on to the camera. If there's not one built-in to the mixer, you can get plug-on versions that plug into a mic input. During setup you turn on the tone and you'll see its levels on the meters on the mixer. The mixer gain control sets its output level and you adjust it so the tone reads 0db on the mixer's meter. Leaving the mixer alone you look at the camera meters and adjust the camera input level controls so the tone reads the camera's optimal recording level - for miniDV that's usually about -12 to -6db but check the camera documentation - I know nothing about varicams. Turn off the tone at the mixer. Now when the mixer operator see the meters bouncing at 0db during the shoot, you'll know the level in the camera is also on the money. The mixer operator uses the mic faders and the master gain to insure he's sending 0db levels down the line to the camera.

Glenn Chan January 4th, 2006 02:06 PM

Quote:

I have the beachtek dxa-8, which has limiters. wouldnt that be a safer thing to use than riding the pots? i tried to ask the teacher today what limiters sounded like but he refused to answer, saying it was subjective and i would have to decide myself (im not quite sure but they seem to sound artificial. i think they kicked in on this negative experience project i keep mentioning but im not quite sure). here is a link to the audio in question: http://solvemycase.com/case/oktava-nitemare.mp3 (there is music on the track which obscures the noise, but as you'll hear the noise is quite apparent. there are audio transitions applied from within FCP, but apart from that and some levels adjustment, no post audio work was done)
The limiters are there just as safety. Instead of getting clipping, you get distortion instead. A little limiting isn't really noticeable, but when you get a lot of it then it definitely is noticeable. It's better-sounding than clipping at least.

Probably the best thing you can do is to just hook your beachtek up into a camcorder or your computer. Record at various levels, especially when you start hitting the limiter. And just play back the audio on your computer to see what limiting sounds like.

About :25 to :28 in your clip sounds like the limiter kicking in.

2- I'm not 100% sure, but I don't think the Varicam has limiters. I don't think it has a miniplug input either, so I'm not sure if it'd make sense to use the Beachtek.

For "professional" formats, tone should usually be set at -20dBFS (dBFS refers to decibels in the digital realm, not analog; 0dBFS is always the point of digital clipping). That gives you 20dB of headroom before clipping.
Consumer formats use -12dBFS for tone, which gives less headroom. This is generally because it's assumed that consumer equipment has higher noise. So less headroom means better S/N ratio.

Anyways, you can put your levels wherever you want. If you forsee actors yelling, then maybe you want their normal dialogue to peak at -30dBFS. So if they yell, it should be hard for them to clip the inputs. If their levels will be pretty even, then you can just set their levels to peak at -20dBFS. On the Varicam, the side of the camera will have audio meters.

You can also set the second channel to record the on-camera mic, or another XLR input. If you have one mic, you can record it onto both channels. On the second channel, lower the recording level. In case the first channel clips, you'll have the second as a backup. I'm not sure, but the Varicam may be able to do this without a mixer- check the manual (it's hidden in the Panasonic site under support).
If you do things this way, you could have dialogue peak at -20dBFS on the first channel and -40dBFS on the second channel. (These numbers are pretty arbitrary. They can be whatever you want.)

3- I have never heard wind noise when moving a mic around indoors when booming. You could test by swinging your Oktava around and see if it picks up wind noise. And blow wind into it as a control. I really don't think you'd need a windscreen.

4- Tone generator: You could record tone onto a miniDV camera and use it to generate tone.

5- The Varicam I think uses the same headphone output as the headphone outputs on a computer- the 3.5mm/eighth-inch/mini-plug connectors. You can double check with the manual.

Monitoring off the camera's headphone out is a good idea because things can screw up from mixer to camera.
Monitoring off the mixer is useful if you have more than one input, since some mixers can solo an input so the mixer can listen for problems. The better mixers have a return feed so you can easily switch between camera and mixer sound.

6- Your clip:
Getting the mic closer would've helped. You should really try to be within 1-2 feet to get good sound.
To get the mic into the shot as close as you can, dip the boom into the shot. Then back off until the camera operator tells you the boom in not in the shot. Be sure to make sure the camera viewfinder doesn't crop off the overscan area. Various ways to do this: use an external monitor with underscan, or knowing the camera and reading its manual will do it.

The location also makes a difference. Sometimes some stuff will happen that's not in your control.

There are things you can do in post that will make the noise less objectionable (laying room tone underneath, noise reduction plug-ins, hiding the noise with other music). However, it is much better to capture sound right in the first place. Fixing sound in post takes much longer to do than in production.

Steve House January 4th, 2006 02:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Glenn Chan
...

3- I have never heard wind noise when moving a mic around indoors when booming. You could test by swinging your Oktava around and see if it picks up wind noise. And blow wind into it as a control. I really don't think you'd need a windscreen...

It can happen but the little foam thingys are usually enough to control it.

Fischer Spooner January 4th, 2006 09:05 PM

TONE IS FOR MATCHING UP THE METERS (on the camera and the mixer), RIGHT?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Steve House
During setup you turn on the tone and you'll see its levels on the meters on the mixer. The mixer gain control sets its output level and you adjust it so the tone reads 0db on the mixer's meter. Leaving the mixer alone you look at the camera meters and adjust the camera input level controls so the tone reads the camera's optimal recording level - for miniDV that's usually about -12 to -6db but check the camera documentation - I know nothing about varicams. Turn off the tone at the mixer. Now when the mixer operator see the meters bouncing at 0db during the shoot, you'll know the level in the camera is also on the money. The mixer operator uses the mic faders and the master gain to insure he's sending 0db levels down the line to the camera.

Gawd; thanks, I finally get it now.

Fischer Spooner January 4th, 2006 09:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jay Massengill
Sound quality drops with each drop in price.
In battery-powered mini desktop mixers there is the Behringer MXB-1002 and someone else has mentioned the UBB-1002. I don't think the Oktava will like running on less than 48-volt phantom though. The MXB-1002 doesn't make full 48-volt power when running on batteries.

Oyyyyyyyyy.

Teacher sez a low quality mixer is for sure better than no mixer at all both for riding the pots as well as EQ/roll-off. The 1002 seemed promising in the sense that it apparently allows some measure of professional mixing at a low entry price, as well as opening up to 3 channels for lavaliers in addition to a boom, for example. I was going to take the plunge ($100 is a HUUUUUGE amount to me now).

The idea that it doesn't provide a full 48 volts of phantom power seems really alarming.

What does that really imply? First of all, does it mean that there is only a problem when outdoors/on batteries?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Glenn Chan
For "professional" formats, tone should usually be set at -20dBFS (dBFS refers to decibels in the digital realm, not analog; 0dBFS is always the point of digital clipping). That gives you 20dB of headroom before clipping.
Consumer formats use -12dBFS for tone, which gives less headroom. This is generally because it's assumed that consumer equipment has higher noise. So less headroom means better S/N ratio.

Anyways, you can put your levels wherever you want. If you forsee actors yelling, then maybe you want their normal dialogue to peak at -30dBFS. So if they yell, it should be hard for them to clip the inputs. If their levels will be pretty even, then you can just set their levels to peak at -20dBFS. On the Varicam, the side of the camera will have audio meters.

You can also set the second channel to record the on-camera mic, or another XLR input. If you have one mic, you can record it onto both channels. On the second channel, lower the recording level. In case the first channel clips, you'll have the second as a backup. I'm not sure, but the Varicam may be able to do this without a mixer- check the manual (it's hidden in the Panasonic site under support).
If you do things this way, you could have dialogue peak at -20dBFS on the first channel and -40dBFS on the second channel. (These numbers are pretty arbitrary. They can be whatever you want.)

Wow! great idea! I'd never heard that. That seems like the thing to do *everytime* you have one boom and two channels.

I don't know to what extent this is standard practice but it's the first time I've heard it, and it seems to me that it is a very useful practice (far more useful than recording two tracks at the same level, for obvious reasons--I can't imagine what good that really does), and it mystifies me somewhat that I have never heard that anywhere before. It makes me speculate that maybe it is *not* quite standard practice, at least in some circles.

The numbers which preceded this advice (-20dBFS, -30dBFS) were a bit over my head. I still get intimidated when I start hearing dBs getting thrown around. I'll have to revisit them.

Richard Alvarez January 4th, 2006 09:44 PM

Fischer,

You dont say where you're located, you might try craigslist for possible mixer sales. Lots of musicians and garage studios looking to upgrade, you could pick something up local for cheap.

Yes, sending tone to camera and matching levels is standard operating procedure.

Josh Bass January 4th, 2006 09:45 PM

Are you sure the 1002 doesn't have phantom? I found, by accident, that my sennheiser ME66 mic was magically on all the time when plugged into the mixer, whether the battery switch was on or not.

Richard Alvarez January 4th, 2006 09:47 PM

JOsh,

I believe it's not a full 48v phantom, but something like 9-12v or such.

Fischer Spooner January 4th, 2006 09:53 PM

My sense at this point, all things considered, is that I'll get the best results by getting a Behringer, plugging it into an extension cord, and recruiting a fellow student to operate boom.

Getting someone to operate boom competently shouldn't be too much of a problem. But now I'm worried about the little Behringer for field use. I've never used a mixer for this before (I've done audio engineering coursework, and mixed plenty of audio for my band, but I've never mixed a boomed microphone).

I'll do some research.

Fischer Spooner January 4th, 2006 09:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Richard Alvarez
Yes, sending tone to camera and matching levels is standard operating procedure.

That's not what I was talking about, silly! I was talking about recording two tracks from one input at different levels.

See, there's something inherently nerve-wracking to me about riding the pots all the time. It's like when you're operating camera and you're always adjusting the frame, and then you go to edit it, and you're like "who fed the operator crack?"

Josh Bass January 4th, 2006 10:01 PM

how does 9-12v affect. . .uh. . whatever it affects, vs the full 48v?

Fischer Spooner January 4th, 2006 11:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Josh Bass
how does 9-12v affect. . .uh. . whatever it affects, vs the full 48v?

Yeah!

Quote:

Originally Posted by Richard Alvarez
you might try craigslist for possible mixer sales. Lots of musicians and garage studios looking to upgrade, you could pick something up local for cheap.

Great idea! Very fruitful.

Do most mixers provide 48v phantom? Is it ok to use regular old audio mixing boards for this application?

Best, Fischer

Fischer Spooner January 4th, 2006 11:12 PM

I want to know if this whole weak phantom power rumour is a red herring. The manual, which is http://www.behringerdownload.de/MX60...2A_B_Specs.pdf, only says *"Ultra-low noise dicrete Mic Preamps with +48 V Phantom Power* so far as I can tell.

Is this claim backed up by fact?

Steve House January 5th, 2006 05:20 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Fischer Spooner
I want to know if this whole weak phantom power rumour is a red herring. The manual, which is http://www.behringerdownload.de/MX60...2A_B_Specs.pdf, only says *"Ultra-low noise dicrete Mic Preamps with +48 V Phantom Power* so far as I can tell.

Is this claim backed up by fact?

It depends on the specific microphone. The industry standard calls for 48 volts. Some mics are really picky about it and don't work properly if the voltage presented to them is not within a range of a few volts on either side of that. Others will work at a lower voltage but with degraded performance figures. Still others work fine at anything from about 12 volts up to the full 48. The only way to know for sure about a particular is to look at the mics specs. If it says "12-48 volts" you're probably safe with a lower voltage, but if, like the AT 4053a specs, it says "48 +/- 4 v" you probably need full power.

Josh Bass January 5th, 2006 05:39 AM

So, if I've actually used the ME66 with the mixer's phantom, and it sounded okay, I guess it's cool, then?

How do I now if I'm getting "degraded performance figures". . .noise? Not as much output from the mic? what?

Steve House January 5th, 2006 07:45 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Josh Bass
So, if I've actually used the ME66 with the mixer's phantom, and it sounded okay, I guess it's cool, then?

How do I now if I'm getting "degraded performance figures". . .noise? Not as much output from the mic? what?

Increased noise, lower output, and increased susceptibility to overload would be the main symptoms, I suppose. If the ME66 works and you don't notice any problems, then it works - that's the ultimate test.

Jay Massengill January 5th, 2006 09:17 AM

The K6 and capsules run on anything from 12 to 48 volts of phantom power.
It's my understanding that the battery-powered Behringers give 48 volts when running on AC and 18 volts when running on internal batteries.
When you are making audio adjustments during a shoot, the control moves are usually very subtle unless the situation dictates more rapid and dramatic control. Also remember to record ambient sound for each major setup to aid in cutting different shots and scenes together.
It really is important for the boom operator to have a headphone feed. Otherwise it's like pointing a camera without having a viewfinder or monitor.

John DuMontelle January 6th, 2006 09:49 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Fischer Spooner
my professor in location sound at my film school sez that mixers cost 1500 bucks, but i suspect he is two sheets to the wind.

can i buy a mixer that is acceptable for less? i am a bit panicked because i bullshitted my way into a shoot as the sound guy--and I don't want to mess it up.

all i have is a mk12, not even a real boom or mixer. my professor insists you have to have a mixer. i don't have a credit card that will take the 1500 charge, so i can't rent. is there a sort of entry level mixer that might serve me well for the next half dozen short films i make in the coming months?

You can buy a Sound Devices 302 mixer for just over a thousand dollars and well below the one thousand five hundred dollar price ceiling.

http://www.sounddevices.com/products/302master.htm

I used to have a Shure FP-32A and my new 302 is, without a doubt, better, both the money you spend as well as the quality of audio it produces. It's much less expensive than a comparable three channel mixer from Shure.

The guys at Sound Devices used to work for Shure. They got frustrated working at Shure because the company refused to move into the future, sticking to outdated technology. They left and started their own company, delivering a product which beats Shure hands down. My 302 does everything I could ever want a three channel mixer to do and more. It's tough and reliable.

Your professor is right on about the price range of less than US$1,500 for a good three channel mixer.

Fischer Spooner January 6th, 2006 11:32 PM

This dogmatic snobby guy at Sam Ash today said that Behringers are garbage.

He said the sound is bad, and they just don't sound "fat". Or I guess phat.

It makes me worry that putting a Behringer in the chain adds noise, or by putting it between the camera and the mic, that the sound is losing resolution?

At the same time, just having someone monitoring levels on a mixer seems like a sure recipe to better sound, even if the Behringer is muddying the signal. If you had a choice of Behringer or straight into the camera, what would you choose? Is the Behringer so bad it can actually hurt the signal?

Steve House January 7th, 2006 06:34 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Fischer Spooner
This dogmatic snobby guy at Sam Ash today said that Behringers are garbage.

He said the sound is bad, and they just don't sound "fat". Or I guess phat.

It makes me worry that putting a Behringer in the chain adds noise, or by putting it between the camera and the mic, that the sound is losing resolution?

At the same time, just having someone monitoring levels on a mixer seems like a sure recipe to better sound, even if the Behringer is muddying the signal. If you had a choice of Behringer or straight into the camera, what would you choose? Is the Behringer so bad it can actually hurt the signal?

Quite a few people dislike Behringer, both for their low quality control compared to many other manufacturers and I've read they have a reputation for "borrowing" designs from other vendors and have had more than their share of lawsuits as a result. If you seach this forum for "Behringer" you'll find some other member's - far more expert than me - comments in those regards. Whether their reputation is deserved or not, enough pros feel negatively about them that if you're worried about your professor's statement that you won't look like a pro in the eyes of the producer/director if you show up on the set without a mixer in your kit, showing up with a Behringer isn't going to be much of an improvment. Personally, if you're only going to be running one or two mics or working off a boom, I'd go with something like a Sound Devices MixPre instead. If I needed more channels and had mains power I'd look at something like a Mackie compact model or if battery is a must, I'd give a very close consideration to the Shure or Wendt field mixers or the Sound Devices 302 or 442 mixers. They're an order of magnitude or two more expensive than the Behringers but they're an investment in professional quality that will serve you well for years AND hold their resale value well to boot so I'd bite the bullet and figure out a way to swing it unless it was just plain not possible. Starting cheap with the thought of upgrading later usually is the most expensive strategy in the long run and since I gather this is something you'll be using in your professional career for the forseeable future you need to think long-term.


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 06:59 AM.

DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2021 The Digital Video Information Network