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Mic-Preamp compressor limiter? Singing Drummer w/wireless HS

Discussion in 'Preamps / Channel Strips' started by Elijah, Feb 19, 2008.

  1. Elijah

    Elijah Guest

    Hi everyone,

    We have a female singing into a Sennheiser wireless headset. The dynamic range is just too much to be on a stationary mic attached to her head.

    This is a rock band and has a pretty loud sound. She has some soul on some songs and some songs she sings more backup. Very dynamic range.

    I am wanting some sort of pre-amp with a limiter/compressor on the output. I know that there is a threshhold on the cost per listening improvement ratio.

    Can you give me some suggestions on devices that would be in the $200-$500 range and the noticeable difference I would appreciate in price?

    Thanks everyone
  2. Elijah

    Elijah Guest

    I should add that the reason I am looking for this is because if we turn her up to much then she feeds back. It is also very "punchy" sometimes. Mainly though the feedback.
  3. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure that you understand the use of a compressor/limiter. In most cases, it will not minimize feedback. Drummers using a headworn mic can be a real challenge because as they move their heads while playing and singing, the mic's relationship to whatever stage monitor(s) are in their immediate vicinity changes. This means that slight time/phase relationships between the mic and the speaker change, aggravating feedback issues. A compressor/limiter will not help this. In fact, a compressor may tend to try to raise the gain, especially between vocal phrases. This will bring up whatever noise the mic is " hearing" (like the drums and/or the monitors), giving the sound person fits.
    I would suggest that you first consider your monitor placement in relationship to the drummer. Try to place the speaker(s) so that the plater's head is between them and the mic at all times. You might also consider a headphone or IEM instead of a "real" loudspeaker to act as her monitor speaker.
    That having been said, there IS a processor that I can recommend in your price range that may help your situation. The dbx 286a is a "mic processor" that combines a mic preamp, a compressor/limiter, a de-esser, and a DOWNWARD EXPANDER in one unit. A downward expander works similarly to a noise gate, but isn't as abrupt. It gently drops the gain between vocal phrases, minimizing ambient noise pick-up. The compressor has a variable threshold that you can raise so that the comp acts like a peak limiter, as opposed to bringing up the gain. And the de-esser can be tuned to help filter out the cymbals bleeding into the mic. I currently have (4) of these boxes I use live, as well as in the studio. Just don't try their onboard "spectrum enhancers"...they are terrible in a live situation. The mic pre is OK, probably the same as a Mackie VLZ's. You can also patch the box in an insert without using the mic pre, via its' line input. The 286a sells for $199.00 from Broadcast Supply World. They're a great bargain and rock-solid dbx performance. Highly recommended.
  4. audiokid

    audiokid Staff


    Please do NOT run a string of words together like this:
    Mic-Preamp/commpressor/limiter?Singing Drummer w/wireless HS
    as it totally forces the blocks to widen. This effects the entire look of the site.

    I have re written your topic title by removing the / and adding spaces between the words now.
  5. Elijah

    Elijah Guest

    Very much appreciated, I will study what you said and purchase one of these 286a's.

    On an end note, I am not doing the actual mixing. The bass player is. I get to do the actual mixing if we get a snake, I am doing that now. I think I can get it to not feedback if I do the mixing but the 286a seems like a nice tool to have in the bag anyways. I think the gain is just to high on her send from the Sennheiser but nonetheless I just keep hearing that "we can't turn her up anymore", I have heard her up plenty of times before and she has one of the best voices in the band.

    Gonna try and digest what you said now.[/b]
  6. Elijah

    Elijah Guest

    Sure thing.
  7. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Moonbaby knows his stuff in his suggestion is a good one. But Elijah, that DBX 286A, is a wonderful device but in your situation, I think it will cause more problems than it solves? Don't get me wrong, I not only like this device, I've installed it, for numerous folks, mostly for spoken word applications. The preamp however, really won't be much more forgiving than your current console preamps. Why do I say this? Because neither your console nor the 286 have microphone preamps that are much different from one another. Really. Your problem with her is easily solved with a simple outboard, hardware, limiter. Using compression and noise gating can be difficult if not possible to properly control in a small club PA situation. Especially since a general setting cannot be used, like it can with a limiter. Along with the rudimentary equalization and enhancer, you'll have the opportunity to achieve far more feedback utilizing the 286 than you're now experiencing. Making Moonbaby look like a frigin moron. We all know this but don't want to let him know this. Probably because he spends too much time on the Moon. I don't go there. I'm from Venus. So my tracks are a lot hotter than most. So hot that the solder melts in my console while I am recording. I just don't like the rock-and-roll on Venus as those guys just burn me up. So cool jazz is my favorite and the reason why I hang out here on Earth.

    What's really needed here is a proper understanding of how to set microphone preamps gain settings and when to use the pad. It's not just during that special time of month either. Even marginal microphone preamps function much better, especially with condenser microphones that have hotter output levels, with the pad engaged. This will generally and automatically prevent any preamp input overload. As a result of the 20 DB loss that the pad creates, you'll then be able to run the microphone preamps gain setting higher. This will also bring a more open quality to the sound of her microphone since the preamp will be running more open loop gain. And all without fear of crunchy, nasty, clipped, speaker blowing, third harmonic distortion. Yeah baby.

    The feedback can only be controlled by proper microphone selections, placement along with proper floor monitor placement and proper phasing out of them. Distortion is really only a function of inexperienced engineering or, operator error. Feedback is usually dealt with a 1/3 octave graphic equalizer with combined spectrum analyzer, just before the input to the amplifier. Feedback frequencies are then read and reduced at that frequency on the 1/3 octave graphic equalizer. Otherwise, automatic feedback controllers can be utilized before the set starts. One must turn the microphones up on until horrible screeching feedback is obtain and sustained! DON'T TOUCH THAT DIAL! It is only then that the automatic circuitry will begin to analyze which frequencies need to be reduced and automatically reduce them. It only works to a certain extent and is not a panacea of infinite corrections. Overusing it can't really impair the sound. It's really only good for a few DB's of extra level before feedback.

    So, what kind of limiter? For rock-and-roll PA? You'll do fine with inexpensive Alesis 3630, DBX 166/266, Beringer, etc.. All stereo & dual mono operation. You plug but into her insert on her channel. This provides limiting on just her. It's not plugged in until her microphone preamp gains setting is properly adjusted. You can use the second channel of limiting, for something else. Another vocalist, bass guitar, etc.. But remember, you don't want compression. You only want some limiting at say 10:1. The compression is what you'll use on her after she is recorded. Not with the PA as it will cause more feedback. What you're trying to avoid.

    And you thought automated mixing meant you didn't have to pay anybody to do it.
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  8. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Whoa, girl! You better read my first post again...
    I started off right from the beginning telling this guy that compression wasn't the way to go on this, that mic-vs-wedge placement was the key.
    I also stated that the compressor on the 286a should be set to act as a limiter- the Drive control set to a lower setting with the Density set to about 12:00 does this for me. When properly set with the downward expander, this will keep the level in check and minimize ambient noise from being pulled up into the chain. As previously stated, I use (4) 286a's with (4) Sennheiser evolution wireless systems. That downward expander is a great tool, much more than a noise gate, and very easy to set up. And I also mentioned that the "Hi/Lo Enhancement" controls were not to be used in a live scenario.
  9. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    I know you said that Moonbaby. I just wanted to say it again. And again. And, again. But if I have a chance, perhaps, again?

    I knew that would get a rise out of you Moonbaby. Of course I still love you because you're so good and much smarter than I. Or is that smarter than me? I don't know. I'm just a dropout engineer. Or is that engineer dropout? I know there is more than one way to express myself. Express myself? Personally, I'd like to do it all lots slower. I'll leave the express to Amtrak.

    Girls that go slow
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  10. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    No. I'm not smarter than you and we both know it. Who else could tear down a Neve and get it back up running better than ever? Certainly not mois, or I'd still have my Melbourne :cry:
    And I've been called worse than a "friggin' moron" before :lol: (note the use of 2 g's here)...
    It's just that I've had very good results with the 286a used with live wireless systems, both spoken word and singing. Probably because the downward expander tends to minimize the artifacts of the evil companding scheme the Germans have engineered into those things. I was mistaken to say that you have to raise the "Threshold" control on the box. There is none labelled such. It's the Drive control, and the Density handles the Ratio and Attack time simultaneously. Makes it easier and harder at the same time.
    Easier and harder. That's how slow girls get a rise out of me.
  11. rockstardave

    rockstardave Active Member

    what? you guys are making outrageous recommendations.

    listen Elijah, all that you need is a regular ass eq. anything with more than 10 bands should be fine.

    pick up a 15- or 31-band EQ, or better yet.. find a parametric EQ !

    all you have to do is put the EQ between the monitor output (probably an Aux on your mixer) and the power amp.

    notch out whatever frequencies are feeding back. bingo.

    thats what EQs are for, i dont know why you'd need compression. maybe a downward expander i guess, but thats such a roundabout way of doing it.
  12. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Neither of us is telling him to use a compressor as a compressor. We're telling him to use it as a peak limiter to keep the "hot" portions he's complaining about from being so strong and to keep things more even-keeled. This is derived by raising the threshold so that it only hammers the higher peaks, NOT by squashing everything.
    The issue that I've run into with a moving, headworn vocal mic and trying to control feedback with a graphic EQ is that the feedback nodes constantly change as the singer's head bobs around on stage. What is a potential feedback problem at, say, 2.6KHz. one moment can suddenly become a problem at 3.2KHz. the next. I think that this is because of the changing differences in space between the head and the monitors, also because of phase relationships between the 2. If the mic was stationary, I'd say sure, try a graphic (or parametric). And of course, he might still try to use one. I just don't think it will be that effective in this case.
  13. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    If you disconnect her monitor wedge, do you still have feedback problems. If not, then you can solve the feedback problems with an in-ear monitor. If the headset is wired, you can go with a wired in-ear as well and save some money. I'd at least spend a lot of time trying different monitor positions before I used eq to fight feedback. Sometimes it's all you've got, but fighting feedback with a 31 band can really kill the sound. A parametric is better if you have the option of a really narrow Q and you have done enough acoustically so that you only have a few feedback points. Electronic solutions to acoustic problems are never the best option (even if they are sometimes the only affordable one).
  14. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    What model?
  15. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    ....Oh....You mean the mic.....
  16. Elijah

    Elijah Guest

    I am loving the dialog between you guys/gals! Good stuff!

    The mic is a Sennheiser Ew100 G2 - ME3. The ME3 is the actual headset. I just noticed it doesn't have a pop cover on the mic as well. I noticed that ages ago but thought they had fixed it by now, right. NOT.

    We just bought a pro co 100' snake 16/4 last night on Craig's list for $250. I am gonna see what I can do with the board on Friday at there gig. I will start with getting her a pop filter, adjusting her monitor and most importantly adjusting the gain properly.

    I will start off with a 3/4 gain on the output of the Ew100 G2 then take it to the pre's on the board and see what levels work and using the pad.

    I will keep my eye on the monitor placement as well. I will report back. I may have this band streaming live on Justin.tv very soon! (not Friday, though)

    I have read the Modern Studio Recording Techniques book and I think this will be perfect to put my book knowledge into real life knowledge. I have produced some good recordings but this live stuff will be fun!

    I want to hold off on extra gear if I can right now. I do need a pre-amp for the studio at sometime, my AW4416's pre's are weak so would the 286a be good for that to?

    Thanks for all the discussion everyone! You have been a big help and have given me a lot to look for!
  17. Elijah

    Elijah Guest

    The female model is http://www.SonnyLeigh.com! Here is one of the songs she sings live. This was recorded in a studio, live, she sang into a sm-58 and did the drums at the same time.

    Something to Talk About
  18. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    :lol: :lol: :cool:
  19. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    Elijah said (once), I will now repeat
    It's like a mantra...
  20. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Note that the ME3 is a hypercardioid. Make her aware of the pattern and the object of trying to keep a node of the pattern pointed toward the wedge. Actually, before you talk to her and make her self conscious look at her natural motions and think about how you position the wedge so that she never faces it directly (which would be good with a cardioid, but should be avoided with a hyper)

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