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-   -   Need an inexpensive audio gain limiter (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/all-things-audio/83171-need-inexpensive-audio-gain-limiter.html)

Terence Murphy January 4th, 2007 06:36 PM

Need an inexpensive audio gain limiter
 
I'm shooting dog sports with a VX2100 and a Rode VideoMic. For my purposes, I'm happy with the audio quality, but occasionally there are drastically louder sounds (lots of applause, loud dog barking nearby) that inevitably clips at the audio level I need to use for the other 99% of the time (typically at Sony's default level).

The in-camera AGC will deal with the problem, but tends to overkill the rest of my audio (what's that person behind you saying? Let me give you a little audio boost and find out!). So I'm wondering if there's an inexpensive device I can add between my mic and camera to compress the loudest sounds coming off the mic? Or do I have to go to an XLR adapter to add a gain limiter?

Thanks for the help.

-Terence

Scott Ellifritt January 4th, 2007 07:52 PM

Terence,

I found some software at:
http://innig.net/software/au/gainshaper/
it's a plugin for sound applications that looks promising since you are able to control the limiter up or down manually in post instead of setting an audio clip in production. I haven't tried it so I cannot speak from experience.

Greg Bellotte January 4th, 2007 08:47 PM

Hi Terrence,

You are definately on the right track, it is much easier to deal with audio peaks before they get recorded on the camera.

There are devices that will do what you want, but most compressors are designed as stand alone processors and as such are usually designed with line level interfaces. This means you would need to pre-amp the microphone level signal to line level before going to the compressor. They are not usually designed to be run on battery either, so mains power would probably be required. I do see two on B&H's site that take mic in, but Behringer isn't a brand that most people like to recommend (I'm one of them...) and there is still the issue of power.

I would suggest looking into an ENG mixer like the Sound Devices MixPre or 302, or the PSC DV ProMix 1. They will take your microphone signal, amplify and limit it, then hand off a line level signal you can put into your camera with a small adapter. They are all "portably" small and run off of batteries. A mixer will also give you the benefits of an XLR input adapter box and is usually easier to adjust levels "on the fly" than twiddling on the camera itself.

Don Bloom January 4th, 2007 09:17 PM

Check out some of the sponsor sites and look for a -10db attenuator. I think thats what you're looking for.
I just have never seen any that work with the mic in question as its a mini connection. All I've ever seen or own are xlr connects.
Fix it before post not after if you can-after theres a good chance it can't be fixed.

Don

Rob Wilson January 4th, 2007 10:40 PM

Not familiar with a 2100 but a GL2 will let you manually set one channel to record significantly lower than another. Assuming you can do the same, I'd set the left channel to your normal levels and set the right so that it wouldn't be max'ed on the louder segments.

Steve House January 5th, 2007 05:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Scott Ellifritt
Terence,

I found some software at:
http://innig.net/software/au/gainshaper/
it's a plugin for sound applications that looks promising since you are able to control the limiter up or down manually in post instead of setting an audio clip in production. I haven't tried it so I cannot speak from experience.

Once it's clipped it's clipped and there's not much you can do to fix it in post. It's crucial to avoid overloading the camera's audio inputs as well as the rest of its electronics going to the tape. Problem is, you can clip at the input with too strong a signal even before it gets to the audio circuitry and the camera's level controls with the result that the levels are fine going to tape and yet the signal itself is still clipping. The best way to avoid that is to feed the camera with a field mixer that incorporates a limiter along with careful gain staging.

Martin Mayer January 5th, 2007 05:15 AM

The camera mounted Beachtek DXA-FX has limiters (but XLR inputs and 3.5mm outputs) and should be suitable for a VX2100? It will mean investing in XLR mics though. Might be worth investigating?

Totally agree it's better to catch those peaks BEFORE you record them and overload the tape. Once clipped, no amount of post processing can recover them - only mask them.

Bruce S. Yarock January 5th, 2007 07:05 AM

Take a look at the Soundevices Mix pre. It has a really good sound, limiters and small enoughto wear on your belt.
You can sometimes ind one used on ebay. Since thes ar usually owned by sound mixers, a used one would probably have been well cared for.
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...goryNavigation

Bruce S. yarock
www.yarock.com

Bill Ravens January 5th, 2007 09:29 AM

a cheap solution:
I really like my Presonus Limiters...12 preset selections of varying attack and release....2 are true limiters, the rest are compressors af various flavors....and they're $99 per channel. I do live music videos for local musicians. You think lead vocalists don't have egos? Vocal dynamics either clip or aren't loud enough to discern over the background instrumentals. Solution? Brick wall limiter between their patch bay and my mixer works like a dream.

Terence Murphy January 5th, 2007 09:42 PM

Thanks everyone for chiming in. It sounds like my hope of a simple little in-line device I can buy at Radio Shack is delusional (hey, there has to be something I need that doesn't chew up my profit margin).

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bill Ravens
a cheap solution:
I really like my Presonus Limiters...12 preset selections of varying attack and release....2 are true limiters, the rest are compressors af various flavors....and they're $99 per channel.

Bill: I couldn't figure out what you're using from the Presonus web site -- can you describe it more? It sounds like they're probably line-level, but otherwise the brick wall limiter sounds like exactly what I'm looking for.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Martin Mayer
The camera mounted Beachtek DXA-FX has limiters (but XLR inputs and 3.5mm outputs) and should be suitable for a VX2100?

I suspect this may be my best option. They make a similar (and cheaper) adapter for the VX2100 which also has a aux mini input, but it doesn't have the limiters. But I think I could use a mini-to-XLR converter and postpone the mic upgrade. I wish the battery life was a bit longer, though. The Beachtek web site claims 10 hours typical, which is right on the borderline for a day of shooting for me.


-Terence

Ty Ford January 6th, 2007 01:43 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Terence Murphy
Thanks everyone for chiming in. It sounds like my hope of a simple little in-line device I can buy at Radio Shack is delusional (hey, there has to be something I need that doesn't chew up my profit margin).
-Terence

Unless you get your audio under control, you won't have any profit to worry about. Get a ENG-44 mixer from SignVideo.

Regards,

Ty Ford

Bob Grant January 6th, 2007 05:09 AM

I think the underlying problem here is not going to be fixed by mixers, limiters or the best micorphones money can buy.
It's a simple question of mic placement. The dogs barking is way louder than the speech, sure limiters will stop the barking from clipping, but what happens to the speech, it's gone for as long as they're barking. The only answer is to get he mic closer (much closer I suspect) to the wanted source and further from the unwanted.

I'd advise against using a wired shotgun around dog shows and the like. We've used a 416 with a Senny SKP 100 transmitter plugged into it and a matching receiver on the camera. Pressed the better half into service as a boom operator and it worked a treat. The same kit would work with the Rode shotgun. The biggest issue is you need another person to handle getting the mic in close, that could be an issue if you're trying to avoid people knowing they're being recorded but the lack of a cable helps and you can hold a mic so it's not too obvious and still get good pickup.

Bill Ravens January 6th, 2007 08:19 AM

Presonus Comp16. I put mine between the mic output and the pre-amp input. Balance and unbalanced connections, phantom power.

Terence Murphy January 8th, 2007 06:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bill Ravens
Presonus Comp16. I put mine between the mic output and the pre-amp input. Balance and unbalanced connections, phantom power.

Thanks Bill. That comes pretty close, and the price is certainly right, but it looks a little too power-hungry (16W, almost 4x as hungry as my camera) to make it work on-camera. So I guess I'll have to bite the bullet for the Beachtek. I read a comment somewhere about spending more money on batteries than on the equipment, and at one 9V per day I can see how that's going to add up....

-Terence

Matthew Wilson January 8th, 2007 10:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ty Ford
Unless you get your audio under control, you won't have any profit to worry about.]
Regards,

Ty Ford


I would agree with Ty Ford. Most people want to get by with minimal investment into sound, after all, this is video. But, IMHO, bad sound can ruin the greatest picture. If you've spent a couple of thousand on a nice camera, a few hundred or so for good audio is a bargain. The pre-amp with a limiter may be the best solution for a one man op. Rob Wilson and Bob Grant gave great advice that will also help improve you audio and may alleviate the need for a separate limiter, though I would put all the advice together and get the best audio you can. Your VX2100 produces great pictures, but viewers will still think it's from a cheap camcorder if the sound seems cheap.

Bill Ravens January 9th, 2007 07:47 AM

If you got the bucks, www.sounddevices.com makes a really nice ENG mixer that includes limiters in the input circuitry. It's a little bigger than the beachtek, but, infinitely more professional.

Bruce S. Yarock January 9th, 2007 08:15 AM

I agree with Bill. I have a SD 302, which is a little big for a one man band, but the 2 channel Mix pre can be worn on your belt. It has limiters, great pre amps,sounds better than any Beechtek, and isn't a huge amount of money.
Bruce S. yarock
www.yarock.com

Terence Murphy January 9th, 2007 08:27 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Matthew Wilson
Rob Wilson and Bob Grant gave great advice that will also help improve you audio and may alleviate the need for a separate limiter, though I would put all the advice together and get the best audio you can.

I appreciate all the great input I've gotten from this thread. Unfortunately there isn't much I can do about things like mic placement. I'm filming dog agility, where people run around a ring 100'x100' with their dogs shouting commands at appropriate (or inappropriate) points. So the subject is typically 50'-80' from the camera, and there's really no way to move a mic closer. There's the occasional location where I might be able to hang a mic from above or hide it somewhere on the course, but for the most part on-camera is the only option. That said, in most settings I get surprisingly good sound, considering the distances involved.

Luckily for me, the clientele doesn't seem to be very picky -- everyone is used to hand-held video shot by their friends who don't know what they're doing. Its almost unfortunate -- I mean, how else am I supposed to eventually justify buying a HD camera if my clients won't appreciate the difference? So I try to run the middle-line and fix the biggest issues. Eventually I think a shotgun mic (as opposed to the super-cardiod VideoMic) would also help by excluding more side/rear sound, so I'll probably need the XLR adapter anyway. But I think having the limiters now is going to be a big plus.

Thanks, everyone, for your input. There isn't a better resource on the web to learn how to improve your video (or audio).

-Terence

Ty Ford January 9th, 2007 08:47 AM

Terry,

I just noticed you're also in Baltimore. Maybe we should talk. Why not put a wireles mic on the trainer?

Ty Ford
410.296.2868

Bill Ravens January 9th, 2007 10:03 AM

terence...

just thought i'd offer some more personal thoughts....
i use a sennheiser ME66 shotgun for outdoor music video. it works really well, but, you know the volume levels are pretty high. still, it filters a lot of ambient echo and i get a pretty good sound. i would think there's not much you can do short of either hanging some omni-pattern mic's around the showring....or using one of those "big ear" collectors like you see on the sidelines at football games. I think you can look at one at Edmund Scientific.

Terence Murphy January 10th, 2007 07:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ty Ford
I just noticed you're also in Baltimore. Maybe we should talk. Why not put a wireles mic on the trainer?

Thanks for the offer -- I'll definitely take you up on that.

A wireless mic on the trainer would of course be ideal and solve almost everything, except each run only lasts for ~45 seconds and the next person goes maybe 5 seconds later. Repeat the process 300 times in a day and sell ~20% of the clips when all is said and done. Its not really profitable enough to warrant all the hours my wife and I invest in it, but its fun for now, buys me expensive toys, and brings in some extra cash.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bill Ravens
i use a sennheiser ME66 shotgun for outdoor music video.

Yeah, I've been thinking a better shotgun will ultimately be the way to go. The price tag keeps going up on this hobby! And I want to go tapeless, too. A thousand here, a thousand there....

Thanks again, everyone.

-Terence

Bill Ravens January 11th, 2007 08:39 AM

LOL....kinda like owning a horse....kinda
ya gotta really love shovelling sh*t to have a horse

Kris Bird January 12th, 2007 04:58 AM

I would say that the Sennheiser K6/ME66 wouldn't be worth it for you! It would be a bit of an upgrade, but there are better choices.

Find a good deal on a Sennheiser MKH-416... this mic is built like a tank and will 30 years of extremely high quality service in pretty much any environmental conditions (short of getting it soaked of course). You'd be shocked at how much more directional and intelligible your audio is. If Ty is helping you out I'm sure he'll have at least one he could show you.

The long life makes it a fantastic mic to pick up 2nd hand ... I'd take a 2nd hand 416 over any shotgun you could buy new (for anything like the same price).

So as I said, in the long run I'd think about either a 416 cabled through a Sound Devices MP1/MM1 into the camera, OR a 416 into a 500 series Sennheiser G2 plug-on transmitter (the 100 series doesn't supply phantom) ....


Kris

Ty Ford January 12th, 2007 08:15 AM

or a sanken cs3e

Ty Ford

Bill Ravens January 12th, 2007 08:20 AM

even used, these mics are $800. Quality costs $$$. No denying that.

Kris Bird January 12th, 2007 09:04 AM

I have no experience with the sanken actually, but I hear good things about it .. here in the UK it's rare to see one. Plus the 416 is cheap in uk/europe, compared to the other options!

you're right- they're not cheap tools .... but there aren't many pieces of kit that cost $1000 and can resale for 75%+ of its original price after 5+ years of use! 15 year old 416s still command prices really not much less than the retail price.

in my opinion, if you're going to buy a shotgun then don't go any lower than an AT4073a / Sanken cs3e / Senn 416 ... (the latter two being more expensive / resalable / durable than the AT).

Anything less is a bit of a toy in comparison, and it'll be a matter of time before you feel the urge to upgrade :)

The SD Mixpre was recommended- this is ~$665 piece of kit, only justifiable if you already have at least one really nice mic!

I realise getting the signal into the VX2100 is an issue-- does anyone know if the senn g2 receivers will output line level through a 3.5"miniplug=>phono cable into the VX2100's phono ins?

Matias Baridon February 21st, 2007 04:37 PM

Apple SoundTrack PRO
 
Anyone tried Apples Soundtrack Pro limiter and/or compressor?

Douglas Spotted Eagle February 21st, 2007 04:51 PM

Soundtrack's stock tools aren't bad, but they're not impressive, either. There are many VST plugs that you can purchase that will knock your socks off. WAVES, iZotope are at the top of my personal list, but the Universal Audio tools are sweet as well.
If you're not expecting a whole lot, nor looking for deep detail, the tools found in Soundtrack are acceptable.

Matias Baridon February 21st, 2007 04:56 PM

Do these plug-ins work with Soundtrack?

Douglas Spotted Eagle February 21st, 2007 05:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Matias Baridon
Do these plug-ins work with Soundtrack?

Yes, they all support Soundtrack.

Matias Baridon February 21st, 2007 05:11 PM

Thanks! I will investigate them.

Ty Ford February 21st, 2007 05:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Matias Baridon
Anyone tried Apples Soundtrack Pro limiter and/or compressor?

Yes. Although their control parameters are weirdly numbered for anyone who has used real audio gear, I was able to get the results I wanted. I also used some reverb and chorusing.

You can hear it in the piece I uploaded to YouTube. Log on and search Ty Ford

You'll see and hear me play guitar.

Regards,

Ty Ford

Matias Baridon February 22nd, 2007 07:18 AM

Watched your video... Audio sounds really great! Congrats!


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