Desperately Seeking Audio Level Indication

Discussion in 'Live Sound' started by frame, Dec 12, 2010.

  1. frame

    frame Guest

    Hey folks,
    I am a video guy, not audio inclined in the least. But hopefully you'll feel some compassion and throw me a bone. I am currently doing a documentary on stand-up comics and filming their sets live. I am desperate for some decent sound and have been trying as of late to plug into the soundboard of the clubs the comedians are performing in. I am plugging in via stereo jack that goes into portable Azden 3 channel mixer and then outputs into a digital voice recorder. Problem being that the mixer nor voice recorder have audio level indications on the LCD and for some reason the recorder does not allow me to have a mic and phone plug in simultaneously. So I am stuck plugging in and praying that the levels are ok and that there is even a signal coming through. This has turned out to be a total disaster. So what I would love to get would be some sort of device that would allow me to visually witness the audio levels as they are being pumped into the portable mixer and voice recorder. Trouble being, I am broke(ish) and need a economically feasible solution. Do I need a new mixer with LCD level display, new voice recorder with LCD level display, or is there another solution? Any suggestions of products would be really appreciated. Thanks,
  2. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Moderator Resource Member

    Dec 18, 2008
    Western Pennsylvania, USA
    Hi Matt, welcome to RO - we're video friendly here, no worries.

    There are dozens of ways you could approach this, but you will have to be more specific about everything in your recording chain, how you have it connected together, and the results you're getting, and any other equipment you might have at your disposal, including your final editing process (hardware or computer based). I assume software based, since you're using an external voice recorder - I assume you're attempting to manually sync the recorded audio to the video.

    The soundboard mix should give you a nice direct sound of the comedian's mic, but wouldn't give you much in the way of crowd response.

    Are you using a single camera? What camera are you using? What's your reason for using a handheld digital recorder?

    Your camera should be able to show you audio levels, but some cameras (like the XL1) are difficult to monitor. Which is why someone makes this Ocean Matrix[/DLMURL] would do the job, but it's priced probably somewhere near your current mixer. Which Azden do you have?

    Most camcorders have AGL (automatic gain) which gives you a terrible sounding limiter to prevent extreme overload. If you want good audio you will have to watch levels somewhere, and bring headphones so you can monitor what the recorder hears.

    The fact of the matter is, to do a good job of this - there will be some minimal investment involved. I understand money may be tight, but there's only so cheap you can go and get good results. Below that point you either have to consider A) raising the funds, or B) lowering your expectations C) stopping and going later out when you have the right gear - otherwise you're wasting money traveling to shoot footage with unuseable audio.

    But we can give you some ideas of how to fix this if you can give up some more details.

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