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Help with guitar video recording set up

Hello, I'm recording a guitar and backing track and a mic to a video camera (yes, I know it would be better to use a dedicated audio recorder, but we're not so please don't suggest a Zoom recorder, etc.), and I'm trying to determine the best configuration for the guitar sound. Note that the guitar will not be mic'd.

Gear we're using:
Setup Questions:

Given the above gear, I'm looking for suggestions on how to connect the guitar to the mixer, basically everything between the guitar and the mixer. What should the chain of devices be? Which input on the mixer to use (Guitar Hi Z or regular input?) Should I use the Clarus or the Bluetube? Where should I be using XLR cables, and where should I be using 1/4"? These kinds of questions.

I'm going to use the main XLR outs from the mixer, panned left (voice and MP3) and right (guitar) into the dbx, and the dbx to go into my video camera. The only reason I have the dbx is to use the limiter feature to prevent unwanted spikes in the audio that gets recorded to the video camera.

Thanks in advance (again) for your help!

Comments

Boswell Tue, 09/11/2018 - 00:33
You give specifics on the make and model numbers of the collection of gear you have available but say absolutely nothing about the sound source: the semi-acoustic guitar and its type of pickup. Without that information it's much more difficult to make useful suggestions about the audio chain.

The other main factor to consider is your preference for the type of direct sound from the guitar. Are you expecting to rely on a pedal to shape the raw instrument sound, or perhaps wanting to use one of the effects from the Zed-10FX?

I would start by working backwards from the camera. The simplest chain would be the Samson MDA1 DI box (on battery power) taken via an XLR cable directly into the camera. You should try recording that, if nothing else to use it as a base-level sound to keep going back to for comparison when you add other elements in the guitar signal chain.

Next, you should then make a decision about whether you want the sound of the DBX166A limiter to crunch the track. It's horrible on vocals, but might work for the sort of guitar effect you are looking for. You can take the DI box straight into the DBX for this trial, as long as your pickups have enough output. Use another XLR lead to go into the camera. If your guitar has low-output pickups and so would never get within range of the adjustable limiting, leave this step until after you have brought the mixer into the chain.

The next step is to move the cable from the DI box to a microphone (XLR) input on the mixer. You can switch to phantom-powering of the DI box from here. Take one of the mixer main outputs to the DBX input via another XLR cable. In the first instance, use the mixer solely to add gain to the signal to see whether you find the sound acceptable with these three elements in the chain. You can experiment with adding mixer effects at this point if that is your aim.

I would need a good reason to involve any more hardware than this. Note that guitar effect pedals tend to add more noise than the equivalent effect in a mixer, so bear this in mind when deciding to include something like the RV-6 pedal. A directly-recorded track of the type you intend to create is much more sensitive to any weak link in the chain than playing on stage with the same chain going through a guitar amp.

What is the MP3 source you mention in connection with the vocal channel? If it's stereo, does it not need to be fed to both camera channels? It would involve a more complicated routing through the mixer if that is the case, but we'll leave that for the moment.

It's an interesting project working within the constraints you have set yourself. Good luck!

pcrecord Tue, 09/11/2018 - 08:15
Hey MC208,
I've been doing audio/video work for a while and the first thing I learned is that the camera input/preamp is usually very bad.
I tried with a Sennheiser wireless lavalier system (which is expensive) and I always get some noises/hiss. To make it better you need to put the volume on the camera way down. Let's say to minimum and up 2 step. Then you send a very hot signal to it.
I did this for a while but was always strugling to remove noises at post.

The best thing to do is to let the camera grab ambiant sound from the internal mic (for synchronisation only) and use an external recorder, computer or standalone.

My suggestion ;
Plug everything you need to achieve the sound you want into the Zed. Connect the zed to a computer and record the mix to a DAW and export to .wav.
Then import the .wav file in a video editing software along with the video and synchronise both, then mute the audio from the camera.. BAM !! You're done !

It would be even better if the zed could send more than a stereo signal to the computer.. but you could make the computer play the backtrack and record only the guitar in stereo.
If you need more input (vocal or else) I'd plan for an audio interface with the desired input count.

An exemple of music recorded seperatly :

MC208 Tue, 09/11/2018 - 09:04
Boswell, post: 458948, member: 29034 wrote: the semi-acoustic guitar and its type of pickup.

A passive kent armstrong humbucker neck pickup

Are you expecting to rely on a pedal to shape the raw instrument sound, or perhaps wanting to use one of the effects from the Zed-10FX?

I don't want to use the effects in the ZED because I learned that the effects are strereo, and even when turned all the way down on the other side, you can still hear the echo effect of reverb. That's the reason I now have the reverb pedal. So no, no effects from the ZED anymore.

whether you want the sound of the DBX166A limiter to crunch the track. It's horrible on vocals, but might work for the sort of guitar effect you are looking for.

I only want to use the DBX to keep the volume being recorded to the camera level throughout, meaning no big spikes in the audio.

What is the MP3 source you mention in connection with the vocal channel?

The backing track would not be in connection with the vocal. For example, the guitar and backing track could be played together, Or the guitar and vocal, but never the voice with the backing track. This is an instructional video for guitar, not performance, no singing, just talking.

So you would not put the guitar through the Bluetube or the Clarus before going to the mixer? If not, then I'd definitely have to use the guitar input on the mixer, and possibly even use the boost button on the back.

MC208 Tue, 09/11/2018 - 09:09
pcrecord, post: 458951, member: 46460 wrote: Hey MC208,
I've been doing audio/video work for a while and the first thing I learned is that the camera input/preamp is usually very bad. I tried with a Sennheiser wireless lavalier system (which is expensive) and I always get some noises/hiss. To make it better you need to put the volume on the camera way down. Let's say to minimum and up 2 step. Then you send a very hot signal to it. I did this for a while but was always strugling to remove noises at post.

The best thing to do is to let the camera grab ambiant sound from the internal mic (for synchronisation only) and use an external recorder, computer or standalone.

My suggestion ;
Plug everything you need to achieve the sound you want into the Zed. Connect the zed to a computer and record the mix to a DAW and export to .wav. Then import the .wav file in a video editing software along with the video and synchronise both, then mute the audio from the camera.. BAM !! You're done !

It would be even better if the zed could send more than a stereo signal to the computer.. but you could make the computer play the backtrack and record only the guitar in stereo.
If you need more input (vocal or else) I'd plan for an audio interface with the desired input count.

I understand that not using the camera to record the audio is best. However, it's not feasible, which is why I asked for folks not to suggest it. It's not feasible because this is not a recording of a song. It's an instructional video with lots of starting and stopping. I just want to get the best sound possible for recording onto the camcorder. Your suggestion about turning the volumes way down on the camera is interesting and I had not thought about doing that. However, it would seem that if I did that, then the levels on the mixer would probably be clipping?

pcrecord Tue, 09/11/2018 - 10:08
MC208, post: 458953, member: 49667 wrote: I understand that not using the camera to record the audio is best. However, it's not feasible, which is why I asked for folks not to suggest it. It's not feasible because this is not a recording of a song. It's an instructional video with lots of starting and stopping. I just want to get the best sound possible for recording onto the camcorder. Your suggestion about turning the volumes way down on the camera is interesting and I had not thought about doing that. However, it would seem that if I did that, then the levels on the mixer would probably be clipping?
I know it's probably more work but it is feasible. You get many recorded audio and video files which can easily be identified by the date and time of creation.
I use Adobe Premiere which align files automaticly by there audio content.. so it's not so complicated.
What I often do is having my cam rolling with a software on a tablette (aside of me) to make the starts and stops. At the same time I record the instrument in my daw and the vocal with a lavalier (I use the Tascam DR-10L which has it's own recorder). Then I bring the audio of the vocal in the computer mix it, remove noise if necessary and I export it. Then mix the instrument(s) and export it(them) then I put the video, vocal and instrument in a video software, align them and voila! Hard work but the result is better than the camera audio alone and even audio from the input of the cam.. But maybe yours will sound better than mine and you can avoid all this.. ;)

About the volume, of course you don't want the mixer to clip.. The idea is to put it at it's loudest to be able to lower the gain on the camera. You need to experiment a bit...

MC208 Tue, 09/11/2018 - 10:21
bouldersound, post: 458955, member: 38959 wrote: What's the source of the backing track? If it's any good it should be dynamically controlled already and not need more compression. If it's stereo it might be nice to preserve that, which you could do by running the guitar through compression before the mixer and sending a mixed stereo signal to the camera.

The source would either be a MIDI player, or from a laptop with band in a box into channel ST1 on the mixer.

MC208 Tue, 09/11/2018 - 10:26
pcrecord, post: 458954, member: 46460 wrote: I know it's probably more work but it is feasible. You get many recorded audio and video files which can easily be identified by the date and time of creation.
I use Adobe Premiere which align files automaticly by there audio content.. so it's not so complicated.
What I often do is having my cam rolling with a software on a tablette (aside of me) to make the starts and stops. At the same time I record the instrument in my daw and the vocal with a lavalier (I use the Tascam DR-10L which has it's own recorder). Then I bring the audio of the vocal in the computer mix it, remove noise if necessary and I export it. Then mix the instrument(s) and export it(them) then I put the video, vocal and instrument in a video software, align them and voila! Hard work but the result is better than the camera audio alone and even audio from the input of the cam.. But maybe yours will sound better than mine and you can avoid all this.. ;)

About the volume, of course you don't want the mixer to clip.. The idea is to put it at it's loudest to be able to lower the gain on the camera. You need to experiment a bit...

Yeah that is way too much and way over my head. My camcorder is a Canon XA10, so it has the XLR inputs built into it. I really just want to deal with the camera audio and make it as good as possible. And I'm using Sony Vegas, not Adobe Premiere, so I don't even know if it has such a feature. In past years when I had to deal with two cameras, I did sync the audio by dragging the wave forms on the timeline. Of course it was easier back then with miniDV tapes. Don't like using SD cards, but that's another topic...

pcrecord Tue, 09/11/2018 - 12:57
MC208, post: 458957, member: 49667 wrote: Yeah that is way too much and way over my head. My camcorder is a Canon XA10, so it has the XLR inputs built into it. I really just want to deal with the camera audio and make it as good as possible. And I'm using Sony Vegas, not Adobe Premiere, so I don't even know if it has such a feature. In past years when I had to deal with two cameras, I did sync the audio by dragging the wave forms on the timeline. Of course it was easier back then with miniDV tapes. Don't like using SD cards, but that's another topic...
That's fine I understand. Try to have the cleanest path to the camera and experiment with gainstaging.. I'm sure you'll find your recipe ;)

Kapt.Krunch Wed, 09/12/2018 - 04:35
I think I'd try the least amount of stuff, first.

You say you may have backing tracks in MP3 OR BIAB from computer. Connect those to the ZED, and get some good levels. you say you will be speaking through your headset mic. Connect that, and get a level relative to the rest. The guitar MAY be helped by running through a preamp into the ZED, if it doesn't sound good enough straight into ZED. Maybe run the reverb pedal through a channel insert? (I wouldn't use much, either straight, or insert). Anyway, get good relative volume on that.

So, you could have voice and guitar going straight down the middle, and backing tracks panned stereo. Assuming not much guitar AND voice at the same time, instructable video?

ZED XLRs out into camera XLRs in.

Get levels.

May be good to strap on a decent pair of headphones to help listen to set levels and listen for noise, and also, once set up, see what it sounds like through earbuds...since a lot of people might use those on a phone? May also just run it through speakers, just to see.

If your headset mic is only one ear monitoring, may just have to to the best you can do with that. I would avoid monitoring while recording through loudpeakers, as that will cause issues. If headset mic is stereo, good.

Anyway, as you start your backing tracks (presumably with count-ins to cue you?) you will play along and record, and have sections for speaking. All that extraneous stuff starting and stopping, count-ins and stuff will all be in sync with video, and can be edited out.

IF you manage to figure out how to mix levels to blend well between backing tracks and guitar, and the voice is at appropriate relative level, then it's all done "mixed to stereo, live", and already in the video track, with little left to do but edit out sections.

That's all IF you are able to get good, low-noise levels throughout the entire chain recorded to the camera.

Otherwise, the BETTER way (the more difficult way) is to record audio separate, and try to find all matching video and audio clips, and try to sync them all up.

Just a thought.

Kapt.Krunch

paulears Wed, 09/12/2018 - 10:47
The Canon audio is surprisingly good - once you master the menu to make sure auto is off, and get the hang of adjusting the record levels - on line level, of course.

The advice given is good, as usual - but what is essential is somebody to do the mix, ideally outside the recording room, or with decent isolation capable headphones. You really need the balance to be spot on - so it's going to be very frustrating recording, then having to replay and listen, adjust, and repeat.

Of course - you could just record it properly, and then mime..................

MC208 Wed, 09/12/2018 - 13:05
Wow this has gotten so complex. The headset mic is for the instructor (the person with the guitar) to talk into for teaching.

I'm not concerned with the MP3 track at all. That's the easiest thing. I just connect it to the mixer, get a level and it's done. The level stays consistent, and I have no worries about spikes in the audio.

The only noise that I get is noise that comes from the guitar, i.e. when he's not touching the strings. I think the Silencer will handle that just fine. My main question was about the chain of connections for the guitar. I wasn't sure what goes where in that chain. Someone suggested working backwards which made it even more confusing.

So here's what I come up with, do you see any problem with it?

Guitar --> Silencer --> Reverb Pedal --> DI Box --> Mixer (first try regular input, if not enough, use guitar Hi Z input?)

Then

Mixer main out --> DBX (to set limiter) --> Camcorder

What confuses me a bit is that I read and was told that the guitar should always go into a preamp first. Yes, the ZED has the inputs for plugging a guitar directly in, but I wasn't sure if I should be using that, or the bluetube, or the Clarus......

paulears Wed, 09/12/2018 - 17:34
I'm a little confused by the silencer? Unless you are following the guitar with something that goes berserk with no signal input, like a metal pedal, it seems to be unnecessary? Guitar with some reverb, that's it. Your vocals can't have any reverb I note? - Maybe you could plug the reverb into the mixer sends and return so you could use it for adding reverb to guitar AND the vocals?

MC208 Thu, 09/13/2018 - 09:04
paulears, post: 458971, member: 47782 wrote: I'm a little confused by the silencer? Unless you are following the guitar with something that goes berserk with no signal input, like a metal pedal, it seems to be unnecessary? Guitar with some reverb, that's it. Your vocals can't have any reverb I note? - Maybe you could plug the reverb into the mixer sends and return so you could use it for adding reverb to guitar AND the vocals?

Getting the electrical interference with the pickup, and it creates a hum. Watched this videoso I tried as a test, the noise gate on the DBX and it got rid of the hum, somewhat. So I did research on a good noise gate pedal and got the Silencer to take care of it. Haven't tried it yet, which brings me back to my original post about getting the order of the devices in the chain......And no, I don't want any reverb on the voice, it's just talking, not singing.

paulears Sat, 09/15/2018 - 07:06
In your chain, there's no guitar processor to add distortion or boost the levels? If this is the case, then the guitar simply shouldn't hum. Sometimes, they do - but most times, the buzz you are experiencing is simply because you are near to something that has transformers in them, and the pickup isn't a hum bucker. My telecaster hums if it faces my computer monitor. If I move it further away the hum drops, and if I turn it at right angles to the monitor the hum vanishes. Some guitars do hum very easily. My Jazz bass did. Some gigs it would be silent, other times, taking my hands off the strings and it would pick up all kinds of crud. I bought new pickups lined the cavities with copper tape and now it's amazingly silent. I had a few years ago an amp that hummed like mad with anything plugged in. It was just susceptible to mains power carried interference. Other times with a processor of some kind and the amp connected, the power supply for the processor created a ground loop, and with the system grounded at the amp - AND - at the processor, the jack to jack cable provided an extra ground path - and the mains supply frequency leaked through. A jack to jack, with the ground disconnected at one end cured that one.

If you use a gate type device to cut out the hum, as soon as it opens, the hum is still there contaminating the purity of the signal when you play quieter. Personally, if I need a gate to cut the noise, I'd not want to play like that.

MC208 Sat, 09/15/2018 - 09:31
We troubleshooted the heck out of the hum. There are some power lines not too far from us, so we think maybe they are the cause. The hum does stop depending on which direction the guitarist faces the guitar. We turned off everything in the room, plugged directly into the mixer and I heard the hum, so I know it's not any of the equipment, or the guitar. Haven't tested the silencer, but I think it will help based on what I've seen in some demo videos.

paulears Sat, 09/15/2018 - 11:20
All guitars are prone to interference, mainly because their pickups are designed to capture the small movements of the strings in the magnetic field - so having a magnetic field in the area is very difficult to reject with single coil pickups. The touching the strings thing is to do with grounding - but because the ground plane suddenly changes with the addition of 15 stones of watery blubber. People often fiddle with grounding - adding extra grounds connected to the jack socket for example, but the other end connected to the nearby water pipe or similar metallic structure. This often reduces the hums and buzzes, but needs to be done with some thought. Does this mean the chassis of the amplifier or processor is connected to the ground or 'floating' above it? Some equipment has a 3 core mains power cable, so the chassis is connected to ground but other kit has a 2 core mains cable with n o ground connection. Worse still is when multiple bits of kit are grounded but to different places. The electrical theory is quite strange - but it's quite possible that there is a small voltage between grounds in different parts of the building, or even rooms. This could be a volt or two - BUT - when multiple paths exist, the loop they create means voltage exists inside the loop that induce more humus and buzzes at the mains frequency - 60 or 50Hz. Messing around with these is something best left for experts. Grounds are there primarily for safety, not quiet guitars. In my case, I was surprised by how successful the copper screening was.

Dimmers do make additional nasty noises but the sound changes as the lights change intensity - making their noise quite characteristic and traceable. Probably just easier to use a guitar with hum buckers, rather than to try to disguise it with a gate!

Kurt Foster Sat, 09/15/2018 - 11:44
i said scrimmers not dimmers.

a scrimmer is a professional high voltage lighting box that a low voltage remote controller is connected to. the lights are plugged into the scrimmer. scrimmers typically put off a lot of RF and they should always be run off a completely separate mans circuit than the stage. i'm trying to figure out where all this stray RF is being generated.

paulears Sat, 09/15/2018 - 12:03
I'll have to go and hunt for the Brit term for 'scrimmers' I assumed it to be a typo.

EDIT - The SCRimmer Stik? It's a dimmer - using SCRs, as in pretty standard dimmer technology. SCRs chop the waveform. We've never had that brand or that particular product in the UK, but we have had solid state dimmers since the 70s - 1974 in my case, using the new fangled SCRs. I also assume the SCRimmer STik is just a particular product (and quite recent one with DMX) but the US probably chose to 'nickname' solid star dimmers, scrimmers - which is daft really. Thyristor buzz has been with us since they first came out, due too the severely chopped waveforms, and many designs spent lots on fancy chokes to try to tame them. A dimmer nowadays is also a 'professional high voltage lighting box', in crude terms - but they're really quite low voltage, as in your 110V versions compared with our 240V ones!

Kurt Foster Sat, 09/15/2018 - 12:15
https://www.google.com/search?q=lighting+scrimmer&ie=UTF-8&sa=Search&channel=fe&client=browser-ubuntu&hl=en


typically the professional lighting set ups i have been around were 220 volt and they are usually hard wired to an electrical panel, the same as how pro pa guys do it here in the US. very low voltage lines (usually 12 v) run to and from the controllers at the front of house position and the 110 is distributed via a rack mounted supplies back stage to the lighting trusses or trees.

MC208, post: 459026, member: 49667 wrote: It's a residential home, in the basement which was finished in 2015, not any kind of performance venue. :)

ok! so what's going on is you have a loose connection somewhere is the house that is arcing. you need to go through all the wall plates and re tighten all the wires leading into the sockets. check to see if the noise is better. if not it's time to check all the lighting fixtures. if that still doesn't remedy the problem you need to have an electrician check the breakers. all it takes is one loose connection somewhere that arcs.

paulears Sat, 09/15/2018 - 12:30
NO NO NO NO - arcing contacts is a totally different noise. Nobody unsure of what they are doing should ever start removing wall plates and tightening things. The kind of hum in that video used as an example is 100% not arcing contacts. That sounds really like what it is - sparks! Hum isn't spark induced. Crackles and pops are.


Kurt - we haven't been using low voltage control for years. It's actually still available on a tiny number of dimmers, but lighting control is by data, and has been since the 80s - a protocol called DMX 512, which is a daisy chain system.

House dimmers permanently installed in theatres were actually more common in the UK than the US, who preferred to bring in their dimmers. Most dimmer packs come in multiples of 6 channels - and the most common types can be bolted to the wall and hard wired or stuck in a 19" rack and powered with flexible cabling - either in single phase or three phase formats.

Three phase or single phase is a matter of choice, but it's more complicated now than ever. Power can be sent as dimmer power - triacs probably the most common now rather than thyristors, but we also need to distribute what is called hard power - that is mains voltage NOT via a dimmer. Moving head lights object to being fed from dimmers and die quickly. One thing to point out is that it is VERY uncommon to provide a cross phase power feed alongside a single phase supply because we share cable systems, and it would be a very expensive mistake to have channel 1 110V and channel 2 220V! In the UK, we have 415V between our 3 phases, so for us a set of very strict rules apply - including different colour connectors to denote what comes out! What still happens is that power systems can compromise the sound folks kit - we usually have a rider request for the sound people specifying clean power, NOT shared with the lighting people. Having all the dimmers on half is a killer for the sound people. It is better than it was, but I have two teams - the LX people and the Sound people, and these problems still pop up from time to time, and when they are unexpected and troublesome, it's pretty well always a ground issue - sometimes just one rogue piece of kit. Crazy things like an XLR cable where the ground has been linked to the connector shell, which is an old Canon with fully metal parts. One tiny link puts a system in hum meltdown. Swap the cable and peace is restored.

Kurt Foster Sat, 09/15/2018 - 12:33
paulears, post: 459029, member: 47782 wrote: NO NO NO NO - arcing contacts is a totally different noise. Nobody unsure of what they are doing should ever start removing wall plates and tightening things. The kind of hum in that video used as an example is 100% not arcing contacts. That sounds really like what it is - sparks! Hum isn't spark induced. Crackles and pops are.

i respectfully disagree. i had the same issue in my studio and that was the fix.

guitars were humming badly. i had an electrician come in and replace all the wall fixtures and install new breakers in the mains box. problem solved.

op could use a notch filter to dial out a lot of the interference. that's another fix i have seen used but again it's a patch to remedy a problem but it doesn't address the underlying problem.

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