on-a-budget advice

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by Exsultavit, Feb 8, 2013.

  1. Exsultavit

    Exsultavit Active Member


    I typically am looking at more expensive gear, but a friend has asked my advice regarding a church setup that has a definite budget, and I am here asking advice.

    They want a system that they can set-and-forget that allows them to make a CD of their services. No PA needs for this rig. With the budget they have, one assumption I make is that I will NOT recommend a set of dedicated preamps and a seperate line mixer, but rather an all-in-one. They will need four to six channels.

    I am very familiar with the Mackie stuff, and am most likely to recommend that as good-enough-but-not great gear. So here's my question: do you have another recommendation for something better than a Mackie, but still under, say a thousand buck for six channels of preamp and mixing?

  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    One of the things you might want to look into instead of the conventional set up designed for an engineer is an " Automatic Mic Mixer "? SHURE and other industrial manufacturers make such mixers. And what these do is to simply mute inputs that have no active audio happening such as the standby pastors. And whose thresholds are also adjustable. In a sense, it is kind of a mic mixer with built-in noise gates requiring no physical intervention for proper operation and results. They are frequently utilized in church and conference scenarios. Then you can also purchase a stand-alone audio CD or video DVD recorder. An inexpensive analog audio limiter such as a DBX 166/266, ALESIS 3630. And voilĂ  hands-off audio recordings quick and fast and not much different than using an old-fashioned analog cassette recorder. Then you purchase a CD/DVD duplicator of 1 to 10 slave drives and you'll have 10 copies in less than 10 minutes from the time the service is over. And no one has to be a technician to use it much less an engineer. So it really has nothing to do with any of those average rock 'n roll style mixers. This is an industrial application for spoken word only. You don't use these automatic microphone mixers on any musical events. Not appropriate. Not applicable. That's where those average rock and roll PA mixers come into play with you. And then you would plug that into the limiter that is plugged into the stand-alone recorder and you'll be delivering musical CDs or DVDs. But you don't want to turn up microphones that are not in use and leave them turned up. It will sound and work awful. So those rock 'n roll PA mixers are not the thing to use unless someone is sitting there working it and knows how to. It's like cruise control on your car. You can't read the newspaper or take a nap while using cruise control. Though we did report a story like that on NBC-TV back in the 1980s when someone actually did that in their brand-new conversion van. I really questioned whether it was a valid news story or a comedy bit? And I was doing the audio listening carefully. LOL. You can't fix stupid. So you don't want to have that happen to you destroying your reputation of that install. That's why those rock 'n roll mixers are inappropriate according to your specifications and requirements. They don't come with cruise control. The automatic microphone mixer does. And no one will get killed if you fall asleep doing the audio since it will continue on without your intervention or help. And it will always make you look good especially when you're not there. And it's hard to see people when they're not there LOL. So you'll be with them in spirit in that little automatic microphone mixer even after you pass on.

    Just something I thought I would pass on? I figure I'm dead? Why shouldn't you be?
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  3. Exsultavit

    Exsultavit Active Member

    yeah, I thought of that. They have a choir and an organ, though, and so I wonder if such an 'auto gate' function might be a mistake, as gates have a tendancy to open ungraciously, or cut something off that's still fading away.

    Like you said, spoken word only for those Auto Mixers. Although some auto gating on the 'talk' mics might be in order, I imagine that the music mics cannot handle this. A compressor for peaks is a good idea. Never know what organ or choral crescendo they might do when I'm not there, and if I set the levels conservatively enough for that, the rest of it will be too low.

    I'll need to go there and record a service with my own rig and see what the sound is like, and work from there. Thanks for the good advice, Remy!
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Well you know you might be able to take one of those small PA style mixers to configure for the musical portion. You might then be able to feed it into one of those automatic microphone mixer inputs? None of the pastors will be speaking loudly during those musical interludes. And the automatic mixer would defer to the continuous musical input source. Leaving the musical system effectively muted during the spoken word portion of the services. And so if you combine both of those devices in that manner I think it's a no-brainer and no fingers either?

    I have seen enough adjustments available on those automatic microphone mixers that I think you could easily dial it in well. They are not as nasty sounding as you might think. I think some even have settings to allow for dual input sources or more? And I think you have adjustable priority settings on some? Something to look into for sure since I really don't do the industrial thing myself much. I've put recording systems in for secretaries and psychiatrists to use. And in many ways it presents a greater challenge of equipment selection and system integration for any kid even working at McDonald's to get right LOL. So I just know this will work. And it'll work well, hands-free.

    You do have to be careful of those limiters with the built-in noise gates though. I don't recommend the use of noise gates quite in that application and I would generally leave those off. Or pick a unit that does not have that at all. ALESIS micro limiter comes to mind. DBX 160 series, etc.. As opposed to that DBX 166/266 that have them on the input section? I like those but someone else could turn the knob. And then the PA is broke. Or so it might seem LOL. So yeah, don't go there. My bad. Hard to think with this hole in my head as so much has escaped me, I think? I can't remember? Where was I? Oh yeah... Go Ravens! I don't even like football?

    What page is this in the Bible? Wrong Bible? Old Testament? Ribbon microphones. New Testament. Condenser microphones? And those other Dynamic beliefs? I'm confused? I think I've blown my con founded fuse? Yeah?

    (What the F is she running her face off about now?)
    Mx. Blah blah blah blah
  5. CoyoteTrax

    CoyoteTrax Well-Known Member

    TASCAM DP-008 | Sweetwater.com
  6. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    As Remy said, you have to be a little careful with those automatic mixers. The ones I know are inherently mono, and operate by having only one mic channel open at a time. I have the Shure SCM810E in my hire stock, and it goes out for conferencing, public meetings and the like, but I do warn people that it's unlikely to be suitable where there is music input.

    On the occasion that I have had to be at an event of this type event myself, I have tried a setup where the SCM handles the speech and audience radio mics but feeds a line input on a small stereo mixer, with other channels of the mixer handling music mics, CD player inputs and similar. The CD input is self-supressing, but gating or heavy downward expansion may be needed for music mics that would otherwise remain open.

    It can all be made to work, but I would be wary of saying anything like that was an automatic system that could go straight to CD without operator supervision.
  7. Exsultavit

    Exsultavit Active Member


    I like your idea of perhaps using an 'automatic' mixer (yes, they seem to be mono out, geared for PA use) for the voice/ announce mics, and then feeding the output of that to a second mixer that will have a stereo output and the untainted music mics on it. I little peak compression on the output of that is also likely in order. Then output that to a CD recorder, or (if needed) a combo recorder that also can go to flash or stick drive.
  8. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    There is a 4-channel version of the Shure automixer, the SCM410, which you could consider. It has the advantage of using standard XLR I/O connectors instead of the inconvenient terminal blocks of the SCM810, so if you could get a pair of 410s at a good price, it might save you a lot of connector hassle. There is a linking facility across the 410/810 series to select just one output from multiple units.

    Just by way of interest, there are over 20 listings for Shure 410s or 810s on N.American Ebay at the moment from $100 up.

    PS I forgot to say the SCM410 has only 12V phantom power, where the SCM810 has the normal 48V.
  9. mberry593

    mberry593 Active Member

    I have a great deal of experience with the Shure 410 and I do own one that I bought for very little money on ebay. They are amazingly good on speech. As suggested above, using a separate non-automatic mixer for the music is essential.
  10. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    I really believe that my suggestion of using the small mixer for the musical sources feeding one of the inputs of that automatic mixer would really be the better way to go. It will be muted when they are not performing otherwise they shall always remain on and any whispering by the choral director and/or other folks will not be amplified. You might have to use a line to mic level in-line XLR pad? And you want things to be completely hands-free. So I think a bunch of open microphones for the musical sources always being open is unprofessional and unprofessional sounding. The low-level noise that they might be making will not be enough to trip the automatic mixer from the pastor pontificating. It would have to exceed a substantially higher threshold. I mean who cares if it's mono? This is going to be played on big home entertainment systems? What you don't know how to make a monaural music recording sound good? Amplitude modulated radio is still mono and people still listen to that. The shortwave band is all mono and people still listen to that. I mean are you trying to make an engineering statement with a hands-free system? Or something that works well and is completely practical with hands-free operation? The discussion of stereo or mono shouldn't even be part of this discussion. That is to say, are the musical segments of a service a major feature of the service, weekly? And they want that all perfect with a hands-free no-operator system? Are you doing this for people on this planet?

    When people need practical and hands-free, sometimes it really has to be a little more utilitarian... which I think is another religion? I mean ya have to have a little faith in the automatic microphone mixer. And you provide it with the sub feed of the music mixer. It shouldn't be the other way around. It introduces too many more variables. The automatic mic mixer is designed to be virtually goof proof. And it should be that device that feeds the limiter that feeds the PA system. Because when the pastor's microphone goes down, they are going to start jerking around the other knobs involved with the music. You don't want to give them that option. And which might force the pastor to use one of the other pastors microphones until proper maintenance can be performed. It would also make for easier troubleshooting that way. Instead of coming up on something that has been completely jerked around. And which could place that music mixer closer to the music director who have control of the musical balance. It takes it out of the equation of being right there with the automatic microphone mixer. You can't think about this stuff as a professional. You have to think about 82-year-old Mr. Perkins that might have to deal with this thing? So the idea is to give them less to deal with if they should attempt to do so.

    Rubber baby buggy bumpers.
    Mx. Remy Ann David

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