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-   -   GL2 audio-in from soundboard question (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/all-things-audio/59033-gl2-audio-soundboard-question.html)

Leigh Hanlon January 24th, 2006 03:54 PM

GL2 audio-in from soundboard question
 
I'm preparing to videotape a band's performance at a small club this week and I'd like to know what I'm doing wrong, since during a test run last week the audio was horrible.

I'm using a Canon GL2 with sound provided as an output from the venue's Allen & Heath board. The sound engineer was only able to give me a single mono mix of the band via a phone plug (I used an adapter to plug this into the GL2's miniplug receptor). The incoming audio was way hot, so I turned on MIC ATT and manually monitored the sound through headphones. There was an annoying hum coming from either one of the band's amps or some attachment on a pedal-steel guitar that nobody was able to eliminate. When the band played loud, it wasn't all that noticeable, so everyone accepted this. "Just fix it in post," the sound guy advised me.

Results: Music is on top of the vocals throughout, bass is nonexistent, loud moments border on distortion (clipping?).

I had hoped that the sound guy could provide a stereo pair out on XLR so I could use my Beachtek, but that doesn't seem to be likely. If I'm stuck with this arrangement again this week, is there anything that I could be doing differently to get better results?

Jay Massengill January 24th, 2006 04:13 PM

There are several things you can buy to go between the house board and your BeachTek.
First, if it's a balanced mono out on a 1/4" jack, get a TRS 1/4" male to XLR Male adapter cable. Then use your regular XLR cables for the rest of the distance. If he can give you a stereo feed on two balanced jacks then you'll need two of these cables. You may run into a ground-loop hum doing it this way if your camera is connected to any grounded AC-powered equipment that isn't powered from the same outlet as the house sound. If the house board itself has a ground-loop hum in the audio then you will get it in your signal no matter what.
If it's an unbalanced mono output, then there are two ways you can go. Both involve a balancing transformer. Hopefully your BeachTek has a line-level attenuation switch. If that's the case you can use an Ebtech Hum Eliminator and the proper mix of TS, TRS and XLR cables to go from the board to the Ebtech to your BeachTek. This is a two-channel box so you just need one of them for stereo, but you'd need twice the cables of course.
If time or money is short and you must buy locally, get a couple of passive direct boxes with ground lift switches and switchable attenuation.

Glenn Davidson January 24th, 2006 04:33 PM

It sounds like the sound guy is trying to mess you up. A bad mix on a mono 1/4"? What good will that do. Insist on getting stereo out to XLRs. Talk to someone in the band that can persuade him to give you a feed and mix that is usable. Then go into your camera at line level following Jay's instructions. The audio should be as clean as the board when you listen to it with headphones. The "Fix it in post' comment sounds sarcastic. Although, I do like it as my signature.

Leigh Hanlon January 24th, 2006 04:53 PM

Thanks for the help, guys.

I don't think the soundman is messing with me. He tried to be genuinely helpful and simply might not have a lot of experience in providing an audio feed to camcorders. (Although he did seem to be more interested in getting a signal that he could use to burn an audio CD.)

He also suggested that I use his CD to sync to the visual, but I'll be damned if I'm going to resort to high-tech Vitaphone just because I can't get a decent feed. None of this should be rocket science.

Laurence Kingston January 24th, 2006 04:53 PM

Here's what is going on. The bass is really loud coming from the stage so the sound guy isn't mixing it in at all. The singer can't hear himself so he's got the sound guy to turn him way up in the monitors. The monitors are so loud that you can hear them in the house, so the soundguy has turned them down as well. The guitar is loud as well, but the amp he's using is so directional that even though he's blasting people out on stage (and directly in front of him in the audience) the sound guy has him turned up as well.

Your easiest solution is to put a stereo mic on a stand (or two mics on separate stands) near the soundman and pointing toward the stage. It will sound just like the soundguy hears it and capture the audience reaction as well.

If you have your heart set on a board mix, you could set up a little four channel mixer with these three signals as your inputs: 1)the house mix, 2) the monitor mix, 3) an aux send from the bass. The bass gets panned center, separate the house and monitor mix slightly to your right and left, set levels with the meters giving equal weight to all three.

A decent soundguy would already be giving you something like this, but seeing has he hasn't, maybe a gentle suggestion to give you a mix like the one I just outlined. If he's got a decent board, setting up a recording mix like this isn't that hard. Be careful giving advice to sound guys. They all believe that they're superior beings. There is a good chance you will be in for an earful of jargon and will end up nodding and going away just to make it stop!

If it was me, I'd stereo mic it!

Douglas Spotted Eagle January 24th, 2006 04:59 PM

I agree with Laurence, I'd shoot for a stereo mic mix rather than a board mix if the band is that badly mixed on the stage. At least a stereo mix will give you what the audience is hearing, not what the board is sending.
Additionally, if you really want a board mix, see if the sound guy has a separate set of auxes that he's not using. You could build a submix there, but I can guarantee you the sound man isn't going to want to mess with it.
And Laurence, I spent the first 10 years of my life as a touring sound guy with everyone from local bar bands to Showco, and soundpeople don't think they're superior beings. That's a complete and total myth perpetuated by wanna-be sound people.
A good sound person IS a superior being. ;-)

Laurence Kingston January 24th, 2006 05:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Douglas Spotted Eagle
That's a complete and total myth perpetuated by wanna-be sound people.
A good sound person IS a superior being. ;-)

LOL! I was a Soundguy for about ten years myself. I remember feeling like a superior being. I have no idea if was true or not ;)

I would have sent the camera guy a good mix though.

Barry Werger January 24th, 2006 07:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Laurence Kingston
LOL! I was a Soundguy for about ten years myself. I remember feeling like a superior being. I have no idea if was true or not ;)

I would have sent the camera guy a good mix though.

Superior beings or not, sound guys are usually nice and helpful, but you've got to remember that the video is generally NOT their top priority; and they often don't have time or equipment to make a nice submix for you... and the mic for the house is usually not an optimal recording mix at all, as has been pointed out. Recording with your own stereo pair will get the best live sound to match the video...

Barry Werger January 24th, 2006 07:29 PM

I didn't mean that to look like I was disagreeing with Laurence; the message was intended for other folks who haven't been sound mixers...

Glenn Davidson January 24th, 2006 07:44 PM

If he is just a volunteer recording for fun then I can see why the FOH dude would not cooperate. When I get hired to record a concert or stand-up comic or somthing, I coordinate with the facilty to ensure I can get a good feed. That way there are no surprises when I get there. I would not throw X/Y mics by the board for a professional recording. I have spend too many hours trying to salvage recording from others who have tried this and failed. I do use x/y for classical or choral with good results though.

Barry Werger January 24th, 2006 08:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Glenn Davidson
When I get hired to record a concert or stand-up comic or somthing, I coordinate with the facilty to ensure I can get a good feed. That way there are no surprises when I get there. I would not throw X/Y mics by the board for a professional recording. I have spend too many hours trying to salvage recording from others who have tried this and failed. I do use x/y for classical or choral with good results though.

Yes, that's the best way if you can do it. But I'm imagining the question regards smaller clubs and many other situations it doesn't always work out that way... y'know, where the band barely gets a sound check, if the sound guy shows up at all before the show, or in the typical jazz scene, where you're lucky if the performers show up more than 8 seconds before their particular first note...

Leigh Hanlon January 27th, 2006 08:52 PM

Well, I went with the suggestion to use a stereo mic and the results were 100 percent better than last week when we used the audio-in from the soundboard. The sound guy is nice and tried genuinely to be helpful, he swore that he had been giving me the same signal that he used to burn a CD -- although he allowed that since the signal passed from the sounboard and then through an iMac and an external mixer before reaching my GL2, there *might* have been some difference.

Then, he said something that floored me. He categorically stated that what did I expect, anyway, since "camcorders like the GL2" aren't designed to handle high-quality sound.

That's when I decided that however helpful he was trying to be, he just didn't know what he was talking about.

Thanks to all for the suggestions to rely on a stereo mic.

Ty Ford January 27th, 2006 09:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Leigh Hanlon

Results: Music is on top of the vocals throughout, bass is nonexistent, loud moments border on distortion (clipping?).

I had hoped that the sound guy could provide a stereo pair out on XLR so I could use my Beachtek, but that doesn't seem to be likely. If I'm stuck with this arrangement again this week, is there anything that I could be doing differently to get better results?

Um, think about it. The sound from the board (and PA) is mixed with the sound from the amps and stage monitors. Usually a board mix is the wrong mix for your purposes.

Regards,

Ty Ford

Leigh Hanlon January 28th, 2006 02:36 AM

Ty, my understanding from the sound guy was that what he was supposedly passing on to the GL2 was the same mix of the mics for vocals and instruments that he was using to create a music CD. He didn't mention the monitors, although those could indeed have been included, for all I know.

Ty Ford January 28th, 2006 07:19 AM

Leigh,

Well let's not leave out the possibility that he's a crummy mixer. Was he mixing in the same room as the band? If so, even if he wore headphones, he'd not get a good mix because of the ambient sound of the band. With enough low end in the room, he might well have felt it in his body and reduced the amount of bass in his headphones, leacving you with a bad mix.

----
you said: although he allowed that since the signal passed from the sounboard and then through an iMac and an external mixer before reaching my GL2, there *might* have been some difference.

Then, he said something that floored me. He categorically stated that what did I expect, anyway, since "camcorders like the GL2" aren't designed to handle high-quality sound.
----

The signal path may well have been compromising your audio. He's also right about the GL2 and most video recorders.

This sounds like a political situation as much as a technical one.

Good luck.

Regards,

Ty Ford

Bill Binder January 29th, 2006 06:31 PM

The "audience taper" crowd deals with these issues all of the time, and it is well known that a soundboard recording all by itself is often lacking. This can be due to several reasons, but usually has to do with two: (1) the SBD is mixed to make the venue/room sound good, not the line outs, and (2) a SBD recording is often just too "clean" in that it doesn't pick up enough of the room's ambiance/reverb nor does it pick up the audience either, which is something you usually want some of in a recording. On the flipside, audience recordings (AUD) from a stereo pair, be it split omnis, a Mid-Side figure eight-card pair, or XY/DIN/DINA/NOS/ORTF cardioid stereo pairs, can sound great depending on the mics and their position with respect to the musicians. But, AUD sources can suffer from other problems like picking up too much verb from the room, picking up too much of the audience, and/or bringing in too much boom/bass depending on the venue.

They both have their pros and cons, but if you had to pick one or the other most novices would go for the SBD thinking it is the holy grail of sources when it might or might not be. Others with more experience might examine the SBD source before deciding which way to go. But even better yet, is to make what in audience taper land would be deemed a "matrix", which is just a mix of the SBD and AUD sources, usually much more SBD than AUD, but it depends. This matrix can be done on-the-fly where you mix it as you record and that's the last chance you get at tweaking the mix, or better yet, you can record the SBD and AUD sources completely seperately so you can mix them in post -- this is preferrable for a whole bunch of reasons.

Some things you have to be careful about relate to if you mix on the fly, the AUD mics must be somewhat close to the mics feeding the SBD or you risk a sound delay that can ruin your recording. For example, if you set your stereo AUD pair near the board, but the board is 50' back from the stage (where the mics feeding the board are), the sound delay can really screw things up. Another problem that can arise is if you get lucky enough to put your AUD mics on-stage, where you fix the delay problem, you often want to point them out toward the audience (not towards the band) to pick up the sound that you don't get from the board, you can run into phase cancellation problems (stage mics pointed in opposite direction of your mics). This is more of a potential problem with directional mics than omnis, but can be fixed by having some XLRs adapters that flip the polarity of your stage mics. BUT, recording the AUD and SBD sources seperately help with a lot of these problems because you can sync them after the fact (fixes the delay problem), you can mix them in the proportion that sounds best (as opposed to picking a mix on the fly and living with it), you can master each recording seperately before mixing together, and finally, if you need to, you can flip the polarity in post with a few clicks.

With respect to recording into a camera, there is no doubt the audio sections on most of the cameras we use are not that great. Some are better than others, and some outright suck. No preamp in any of these prosumer cams can compete with a higher-end stand alone preamp, and the a/d converters (analog digital converters) in the cameras aren't nearly as good as stand alone a/d's. BUT, if you use an external preamp and go LINE-IN to your camera (some consumer cams can only go mic in), chances are you'll get some pretty good audio. So, when you take a board feed, make sure you are going LINE-IN to your cam's audio inputs or it'll never work.

Also, with respect of connections to the SBD, you aren't likely going to have a choice as someone suggested above ("tell the sound guy to give you xyz connection."). You'll get what you get, so you need to be prepared to handle all of the following connections: 2 RCA outs, 2 XLR outs, 2 1/4" outs, and one 1/4" stereo outs. Each SBD is different and if you aren't prepared to handle any one of these outputs, you might end up screwing yourself.

Anyway, I just so happened to make a SBD/AUD matrix recording of a taper-friendly reggae band at the Warfield in San Francisco last weekend. I recorded the 2x 1/4" mono outputs from the SBD into the soundcard of my Dell laptop, and I recorded a stereo pair of condenser cardioid mics that were clamped to the balcony at the Warfield right next to the SBD into my field recording kit (external preamp/ad/hard disk recorder). I later mastered both recordings in Sound Forge and mixed them together using Vegas. Below, you will find a sample MP3 file of the transition from the end of one song into the beginning of another while I muted and unmuted the AUD source into/out-of SBD source. This will give you a really good idea how much a "matrix" approach can improve your musical recordings. It's much more work and more of a hassle, but the results can be outstanding.

Matrix Demo MP3 Example

Note: some of the echo/reverb you hear in this sample is actual effects used by the band, it is reggae after all, and they love the echo/delay/reverb fx, LOL! Just thought that was worth noting so you don't think it was from me syncing the two independent sources. Also, the sample starts out Matrix, then flips back and forth from Matrix to SBD-only, and then ends with the Matrix -- use headphones if you really want to hear the difference. And, it's not a perfect comparison because it gets louder when I mix in the AUD, but it was just to make a point...

-- Taint


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