I have a remote audio recording dilemma....

Discussion in 'Digital Recorders' started by computermillerj, Jun 24, 2019.

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  1. computermillerj

    computermillerj Active Member

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    Hi Everyone! First post here and just starting to get into the audio world, please help me with my lack of understanding!

    I have been involved in tech for a long time, but just starting to venture into the audio recording world. I am looking to upgrade our church recording equipment. Our current setup is such that we are renting a building so we need something that is very portable and easy to setup/take down. This means that the recording and the speakers really need to be battery powered. We currently have a Sennheiser ew100 that is starting to get out of date. I currently cannot find this model online, but if anyone can find info that would be super helpful. It is very similar to this "Sennheiser-EW-112P-Omni-directional-Microphone" but just an older model.

    To save on costs, since the ew100 is still working, I would like to use this to record, then at the back of the church plug an ipad into the receiver to record and live push that audio to several wireless speakers that will be used in an adjacent room (nursery and dining rooms). We are not super concerned that the audio quality is "pro level" but it would be nice if it was decent quality.

    When I started looking into this it seemed that this cable "Saramonic Locking 3.5mm Female Connector to Apple Certified Lightning Output Cable Camcorder Cable (LC-C35)" was exactly what I needed. I thought I could pair this with several of the JBL Charge 3 bluetooth speakers. This cable will work and I am able to record on the iPad, but there is no audio output to the speakers. The only option on the recording software (Recorder Plus) is the ipad speakers and even that doesnt seem to work. I have tried about 4 more recording apps with similar experiences. They are setup to record, but not play what is being recorded live as well from what I can see.

    So I am back to the drawing board and open to suggestions on how to setup a portable recording and speaker setup. It would be nice if we could still use the ew100 and the iPad, but if there is another alternative I am open to suggestions.

    Thanks!
    James
     
  2. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

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    Hi James and welcome to RO.

    Are you using any sort of portable sound system in the primary sanctuary / gathering area for the main congregation to hear?
    Is there wifi in the building?

    While I think about possible options, a few things to consider:

    In July of 2020 the FCC is planning to ban wireless mics in much of the 600MHz frequency range, (specifically, 617-652MHz and 663-698MHz) and there's a high probability an older ew-100 in going to be in that range and effectively outlawed soon. If that is the case, I'd hate to see you invest much money into something that will be susceptible to interference and / or threatening letters from the FCC in the foreseeable future.

    Even if you can get that iPad software to work full duplex (recording and playing audio simultaneously), anything you broadcast over bluetooth (which isn't great at distance or through walls) will suffer from significant latency. If your nursery and dining area are completely isolated out of earshot of your 'sanctuary' that delayed sound may not be a dealbreaker.

    All of the bluetooth transmitters I've used will only pair with one receiver at a time. I know there are add-ons you can use to do more than one. Do you have that covered?

    There are absolutely wireless, battery-powered solutions to your problem, but none of the ones I can think of are what I would call cheap.

    I'll wait to hear about what else you might have to work with before getting too far "into the weeds" on this.
     
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  3. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    You should start by stating your needs.
    Does the mic signal need to be sent to a PA system (amplied for the assistance ?)
    If the answer is no, you could go very simple with the Tascam DR-10L stand alone lavalier/recorder.
    I own one and use it on all my youtube videos.
    dr-10l_main.jpg

    Try to explain your needs, amplification for the audience, recording sources (does it need to record speach and music or the assistance ? )
    Why the recording is done, to put online as youtube videos, to be sold or other reasons ??
    We'll try to pinpoint the best setup ;)
     
  4. computermillerj

    computermillerj Active Member

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    Thanks for the replies!

    We currently don't have any sound system in the main sanctuary as it is a pretty small room and the sound travels great. That is good to know about the wireless being banned in the future.

    We are not concerned about latency because the nursery is completely disconnected from the sanctuary so any delay will not be noticeable.

    The JBL Charge speakers (and most of their other speakers) when connected to a device that has their app installed allows multiple speakers to be connected at the same time and play as either stereo or both playing at the same time the same feed.

    Our main goals with this system is to have a mic up on the minister's table and to be able to send that audio into two adjacent rooms for listening. We don't need any PA system in the main room, and the goal with the iPad was so that we could have some control of the system in the back of the room so we could change settings without walking up to the front of the room.

    The recordings are mostly speech, with a little bit of music and are used for others that were not there to be able to listen at a later time. We are not selling it or anything of that nature.

    I looked at a Tascam DR44-WL and this seemed to meet our needs as well, but even though their website says you can listen in near real time, that is only for what has already been recorded, it is not a live feed.

    Hopefully this answers your questions, please let me know if there are any more questions!
     
  5. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

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    I'd rather use a laptop for this, but if you're determined to use the iPad, you might investigate something along the lines of the PreSonus iOne or iTwo. Treat this like a mobile DAW (which sould inherently have the ability to record and playback simultaneously). **I would need to verify whether or not Capture Duo on an iPad can monitor in realtime. This is where a laptop would have a distinct advantage. You would have the option of either using their Capture software or StudioOne. Capture is barebones recording, but StudioOne will definitely do both simultaneously.

    Take the output of the ew-100 receiver into the interface and control record levels and playback levels independently. Since you're not concerned about latency it should work for you. You could monitor the recording through headphones directly from the interface and transmit the audio received by the laptop / **iPad over bluetooth.

    Have you tested the iPad's ability to transmit Bluetooth to the nursery? I'd be a bit skeptical. I've seen them dropout from 20ft. (unobstructed line-of-sight, outdoors), using a fairly high quality BT receiver.
     
  6. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

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    Have you considered using a radio transmission system such as the Denon DN-202WT/R? This comprises a 2-channel transmitter that broadcasts to multiple receivers. It can be switched to mono for single-channel use, but it means you could expand the setup by adding a second microphone. It is said to have 200ft wireless range.

    You would have a receiver next to your iPad/laptop (or whatever device you are using to record the service), and a receiver in each of your separate rooms driving a local battery-powered loudspeaker of the type used by street performers. There would be no detectable latency in this system.

    Since the inputs to the transmitter unit are at line level, you would need a simple microphone pre-amp sited near the microphone, but that would allow the microphone gain to be adjusted.

    The Denon units come with external mains power supplies. However, since the units need only +5V, they could be powered from USB power banks. With a carefully-chosen 2-channel pre-amp for the microphone(s), this would make a completely battery-powered system.
     
  7. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    I would avoid using bluetooth speaker to other rooms. Bluetooth peripherals have distance limits and can become nightmare quick.

    There are some field recorder and mixers that could do a part of the job but instead I would aim at a real PA with a phisical mixer to control the volumes in the rooms and in the recording (on a laptop or tablet). Of course some equipement will need AC power but it doesn't mean they will be hard to move...
     
  8. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

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    I put one of those Denon Receiver units into a rolling portable system I custom built for a marching band. It was significantly better than the consumer-grade unit it replaced, but I would say 100 ft. is VERY optimistic even in that unobstructed (otherwise empty) football field environment. However, that was the "Receiver" version with an iPad as the transmitter. Maybe the Transmitter version of the Denon is a beast. (I'm only seeing 100ft. as the specified maximum range for either.) All I can say for certain is, to put a room full of people together with their assorted mobile devices while trying to run any kind of low-budget wireless system is almost sure to result it dropouts.

    There are FM solutions, UHF solutions, even wifi solutions - but again, none of them what I would call cheap.
     
  9. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    When I was younger, I'd always try to do cheap, kind of jury rigged systems - and now I'm older I find we often get called in to 'fix' cheap, jury rigged systems.

    Now I think that the money spent on well designed, carefully chosen solutions is the only way forward. UK churches are now split into two types. The older, amazing architectural building with terrible acoustics for speech but nice for classical based music, but often horrible for modern music against the newer younger active and popular churches attempting too mimic the American style of congregation inclusive stuff. No joke that Church audio is really pushing the envelope world wide. Then we come to the bargain basement like this idea. Everything to me says it could work, but needs an enthusiast to be there to keep it working. think about things like feedback. In churches, where the users are inexperienced, they do silly things, like walk towards the speaker. This means the sound op (there will be one, won't there?) immediately ducks the fader knowing what happens next. On the other hand, the iPad screen may have gone off, a pass code might be needed, or sunlight through a window means you cannot even see the screen! Your bluetooth speakers, working at the very limit of their range suddenly drop out because somebody stood in the way and killed the signal. Worse still they lose the link in the room next door and need you to press buttons to re-establish it. latency isn't a problem as long as nobody minds the delay, and of course delay increases gain before feedback UNTIL it starts and then you can't kill it.

    In God's book of decent audio engineers and decent audio installations he will have scribbled some notes. Why do the big churches spend so much money on quality audio? the answer is simple - because it makes communications 100% successful no matter if it is speech or music. In my area I have not been in any of our old churches for weddings or baptisms where the sound was by any professional standards, good. Adequate at best, simply terrible at worst. I have to look at the floor when the iPad playing the hymns because they have no organist, plays the wrong track, or plays it so quiet the people finish before the track. Small amateur theatre groups have the same trouble - naff and useless systems that let the entire thing down. Good equipment is so worth it, even if you have to go out and raise the money - a jury rigged system will come back and embarrass you.

    My band use tracks, and they are controlled with iPads. We use two, because this kind of thing happens.
    1. Batteries go flat
    2. power supplies and the cables fail
    3. They freeze
    4. They suddenly update and insist on people typing in details to restart them
    5. They have reflective screens you sometimes cannot see
    6. Some people just cannot use them.
    7. Even though you can now use them as DAWs, is that actually sensible?

    As for bluetooth, waterproof beat box style products that run on batteries .................
     
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  10. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

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    Yes, agreed. These are 2.4GHz wi-fi units. There are some web sites that give the range figure as 200ft, but most of the others give 100ft. It could be that Denon reduced the spec early on in the life of the product, since the rest of the description wording is identical. Knowing the way publicity material is put together, it's possible the copywriter simply took the 100ft stated range of the transmitter and the 100ft range of the receiver and added them together.

    The main points about using devices such as these were:

    (1) Unlike Bluetooth devices, wi-fi units will work as single transmitter with multiple receivers

    (2) It would be realatively easy to put together a complete battery-powered rig to meet the OP's stated requirements. Quite why no mains is permitted is a mystery.
     
  11. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    There are some quite nice small proper pa speakers with a wireless receiver built in - some are even battery operated (for buskers) one transmitter, and some of these could work? They'd be suitable for the job, too - unlike the domestic things you had in mind.
     
  12. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

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    As someone who specializes in outfitting churches myself, I certainly agree with Paul in regards to cutting corners and cobbling together a system. Rarely does it work well for the long term, so they end up 'throwing good money after bad'. They end up with a hodgepodge of things from the discount bin and The Island of Misfit Toys. (nobody wants a Charlie-in-a-Box) As the system gets more convoluted, the number of things that can go wrong goes up dramatically.

    There are some places where it's OK to cut corners (to a degree) and other places it's just plain foolish. Regardless of where a church falls in the spectrum of traditional to ultramodern style of worship, technology CAN enhance the experience immensely if, AND ONLY IF, it's not a distraction in any way. (Distractions include tech problems, poor timing, too much of a good thing syndrome) The second there's a distraction, and the congregation is aware of it on any level, it takes them right out of the moment. It immediately takes their focus off the message and puts them in a different frame of mind. A good day for any church tech is a day when nobody notices them.


    Step 1, check the frequency band of the ew-100. Given its age it's likely in the problematic 600-band, or worse yet - possibly even the 700-band. Otherwise the solution is simple, buy another Sennheiser receiver(s) in the exact same frequency band and with the correct cable, you can attach the additional receiver(s) directly to anthing you like. Although you cannot have multiple transmitters tuned to one receiver - you CAN have multiple receivers tuned to one transmitter. If your ew-100 is 600-band and going to be obsolete in 2020, get the newer ew-112 equivalent and start off on the right foot. That way you have a building block you can add to, if/when the church outgrows the temporary rental space. Or worst case scenario, you have something that has some resale value if things don't work out. That, to me, is being a good steward of your money.

    The multi-receiver concept is well proven. The folks at Klein & Hummel (K&H Studio monitors) used to sell a magnificent AC/DC powered, weather-resistant speaker with a built-in Sennheiser receiver module (or CD player module). My customer mounts 6-8 of them on top of utility poles (where there is AC power available) at the beginning of their weeklong festival and they take them down at the end of the week. The speakers go to sleep if unused and power up as soon as they detect an audio signal. They use one microphone to transmit to all the speakers throughout the park. The sound quality is excellent for music or public address over several acres. The Sennheisers have exceptional range, but even if they were still available, the K&H speakers would have been overkill for your stated goals.

    Anchor Audio is another manufacturer that sells grab-n-go ultra portable speakers with wireless receivers built into them. They have versions that contain rechargeable batteries for outdoor events, auctioneers, etc. and models that are AC only. Although the OP's church currently doesn't need a sound system in the pro tem sanctuary, surely the building has electricity - so it seems like something battery operated is more of a convenience than a necessity. Again, one transmitter to as many speakers as you need over UHF or WiFi.

    I've put in a lot of Williams Sound FM systems for assisted listening. At which point you are basically a low-power FM radio station (just below the normal FM tuning range - and low-powered enough that you don't need a FCC broadcasting license). The receivers are small battery-powered packs with a 1/8" mono connector to attach either to earbuds, headphones, or inductive loops that couple with hearing aids. Someone used to make a small speaker that you could tune down to the Williams FM frequencies - but I haven't seen one of those in quite a while. Williams also makes WiFi, and Bluetooth transmitters, as well as infrared (which would be useless to you - because infrared doesn't pass through walls). If you can get the transmitter's antenna in any reasonable location, the Williams FM systems also have very good range. The transmitter takes XLR, 1/4", and RCA inputs. The receiver could connect to an external speaker with a cable that was mono TS 1/8" (receiver end) to stereo TRS 1/8" (speaker end).

    If determined to go low budget on the receiving end, most of the portable bluetooth speakers I've seen do have a stereo 1/8" hardwired input which would allow direct connection to any receiver with the right cable. (bypassing the bluetooth and eliminate the latency).

    To Paul's point #1, rechargeable gear is nice, as long as someone dutifully looks after the job of keeping everything charged.

    If there's Wifi with good upload speed available, live-stream the service to Facebook or YouTube and let the nursery volunteers listen/watch on any device they like - expecting significant delay of course. I know numerous churches that live-stream on Sunday morning from a phone or table on a stand in the front row. It wouldn't be ideal, but a possible way to provide a feed to an isolated nursery. Nursery workers don't always have time to watch the service, or even listen to the message in the background. Whatever solution you provide to them needs to be easy for them to control on/off/ and volume.
     
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  13. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

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    I don't think there's any reason to get too hung up on the latency issue. If we do too good of a job getting the nursery feed to zer0-latency the sound will arrive in the remote nursery area before it arrives to the back row of the sanctuary. :)
     
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  14. computermillerj

    computermillerj Active Member

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    Well, it appears that I have struck a nerve with this question and that was not my intention. As stated in the inital post I am no audio expert but we are just looking for a basic system.

    Thanks @dvdhawk for your previous reply, I will definitely go look at those and see what options they have that might fit. Do you have some model numbers I should look at? I got lost pretty quick on their websites... Are you saying we could use a DLT300 and then multiple DLR360's?

    If there is a portable pa system that would work as mentioned in a couple of posts we might be open to that... But we still need to be able to record?

    In retrospect, it may have been better to ask the question like so....

    We are looking for a budget sound system that we can use 2x per month in a rented facility for church services. This means setup and takedown should be as easy as possible. We currently have a Sennheiser ew-100 that could be used in the new system (but now that I know that 2020 might be as long as we can use it) we are open to an alternative of this as well. Our goal is to provide audio into two separate rooms (one being the nursery) and also to record the service. There is no need to amplify the audio in the main room as we only have about 80 people and the room is fairly small. The mic basically needs to be battery powered, I don't see any way around that with our current setup. The main table is toward the center of the room and a cable running to the wall wouldn't work in my opinion. If there is something in the back of the room to transmit/record that could be powered off of mains power no issues. The speakers could be powered via mains, but the nice thing about battery is the moms can place the speaker wherever they want to instead of being stuck to one or two locations (one can listen on one side of the room while the others have it quieter/etc). I understand the issues with battery, but since we are not using this in the main system, if it doesnt work, then the other rooms just dont get audio. Not ideal, but not as disturbing as feedback/no audio in main room when there normally is etc.

    Based on that is there any recommendations?
     
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  15. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Distinguished Member

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    Ditto.

    This is where a pro consultant saves tons of time and money.
     
  16. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    the thing I see time and time again is that the one key, if not critical requirement is the human to make them work. I see amazingly complex systems costing mega money set and left by the installers and expected to turn in quality audio. A real enthusiast with rubbish kit can actually make it work. hundred grand systems with an idiot running it can be a train wreck. Where on the scale you sit is up to you. I walked away from one church request - they wanted to add to their simply terrible system one extra radio mic, but while I was doing it, could I sort the rest out as it was performing terribly. I decided the people were the problem, so found an excuse.
     
  17. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    Thanks for the clarifications..

    I still think you could buy a small PA system..
    A wireless mic for the pastor, and you could place the amp/mixer against a wall in the same room for the wireless to work well and for AC power.
    From the amp/mixer, you could run 2 long and/or longer XLR cable to the other room(s)

    Small portable kit like these are available at many prices depending on your budget
    upload_2019-6-27_15-54-48.png
     
  18. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, when we're young, most of us probably have more time than we have money, and we'd work on something for 2 weeks to save $50 - no matter how bruised, blistered, or bloody we got. Hopefully as we get a little older that flips around. Now, if spending $50 meant saving me a few hours of aggravation I'd be more likely to sprain my elbow reaching for my wallet too quickly.
     
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  19. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

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    Back to the can of worms at hand...

    In California, a church with a seating capacity of 80 is required to have some sort of assistive listening system which includes at least 4 receivers and no less than 2 inductive neckloops (that attach to the receivers in lieu of earphones and couple wirelessly with most hearing aids) to be California Building Code (ADA) compliant. **The calculation is based on seating capacity, not attendance.

    With that in mind, if I were you, I'd be looking at something like the Williams FM 457 or the Williams PPA VP 37. Either would have a maximum 1000 ft. range and include everything you need to be ADA compliant to California standards. In addition to providing the legally required assistive listening, you would be able to use one (or more) of the receivers hardwired to a JBL Charge (or speaker of your choice) with a common 1/8" TRS to 1/8" TRS cable - as long as your speaker has a 1/8" analog input. I have one of the Anker SoundCore 2 rechargeable bluetooth speakers, which is less than half the price of the JBL. It has very decent sound quality in a very small package and might be worthy of consideration for this job.

    The FM 457 will take analog XLR, TRS balance 1/4", or TS unbalanced 1/4", and should easily connect directly to your Sennheiser receiver.

    Using the PPA VP37 would require a special cable (male TS 1/4" to male RCA) to take an unbalanced Hi-Z output from your Sennheiser to an RCA input on the VP37.

    If you decided to go with a battery powered transmitter instead of the AC powered transmitter in the VP 37, you could put together an a la carte system that consisted of the exact same components listed, except substitute the PPA T46 battery-powered transmitter for the T27. It's about $100 more expensive that way and would have significantly less transmitting power. The battery powered transmitter has a maximum range specified at only 150ft. How that would perform through walls and to remote areas of the building would be anybody's guess and getting the proper cable to connect from the Sennheiser receiver to the 1/8" (3.5mm) input of the T46 will be another hurdle. You would have to know exactly which generation of ew-100 you had.

    The in-the-ear-canal EAR 013 single mono earbuds are standard with most of the systems, but if you ever have anybody use them you'll want to budget for some of the replacement foam pads for the sake of hygiene. I also like to include the over-the-ear EAR 022 in a system as well. Some people find them to be much more comfortable, and since they don't go into the ear canal they are a bit more hygenic for sharing.
     
  20. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

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    Also since I cannot edit my post from last week, I need to correct something that I now see has changed in the more recent models. In researching the newest receivers, I see that the current Williams receivers output connection will automatically adapt to either mono or stereo earbuds (dual mono). Although the FM signal itself is still mono, connecting it to a stereo aux input on an external speaker should be easy. So all of that stuff about needing a special cable to adapt the mono output of the receiver to the stereo input of the BT speaker is not relevant. I apologize for any inconvenience or misunderstanding.
     
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