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greg sextro

advice needed

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Hey gang,

Hoping some of you can offer me advice about an upcoming gig I have.

I originally was contacted to record an event (send audio to one camera and make a back-up recording).  One person speaking at a small (maybe 100 people) hall.  I was planning on micing the talent myself, also probably placing a plant mic on the podium as well as taking a board feed.

Turns out that there is no PA system built into the space.  So now the producer wonders what to do.  The original company that was contracted to provide the sound system for the event wants a lot of money (when I looked at their rental prices, they had a podium mic listed as a $200 rental!). 

I'm mulling over a couple options:

1) try to get better prices thru another company.  screw dealing with any of it myself.

2) rent some mackie speakers with built in amps, get the needed cables and small mixer and run the audio myself.  charge extra for my services and the extra rental.

3) check into hiring someone else (not necessarily a big company) to do it.  either they provide the gear or i do.

it's been a while since i set up a sound system PA, but i don't remember any of it being that hard and this is not a big sound system that needs to be set up.

i'm sort of leaning towards renting the gear myself and maybe hiring someone to help me put up the rig...but i wonder if anyone has any thoughts about such a scenario.

this event is for a non-profit group in nyc. 

thanks for any advice,

-greg-

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Hey gang,

Hoping some of you can offer me advice about an upcoming gig I have.

I originally was contacted to record an event (send audio to one camera and make a back-up recording).  One person speaking at a small (maybe 100 people) hall.  I was planning on micing the talent myself, also probably placing a plant mic on the podium as well as taking a board feed.

Turns out that there is no PA system built into the space.  So now the producer wonders what to do.  The original company that was contracted to provide the sound system for the event wants a lot of money (when I looked at their rental prices, they had a podium mic listed as a $200 rental!). 

I'm mulling over a couple options:

1) try to get better prices thru another company.  screw dealing with any of it myself.

2) rent some mackie speakers with built in amps, get the needed cables and small mixer and run the audio myself.  charge extra for my services and the extra rental.

3) check into hiring someone else (not necessarily a big company) to do it.  either they provide the gear or i do.

it's been a while since i set up a sound system PA, but i don't remember any of it being that hard and this is not a big sound system that needs to be set up.

i'm sort of leaning towards renting the gear myself and maybe hiring someone to help me put up the rig...but i wonder if anyone has any thoughts about such a scenario.

this event is for a non-profit group in nyc. 

thanks for any advice,

-greg-

Like #1 the best.  Dealing with a live PA can be a serious distraction from your job recording audio.  If you can't them to hire a PA company for this (might be too small a job), then rent the gear yourself and get the prod co to give you some help--hopefully someone who knows PA systems.  As you can see, there is suddenly a lot more big heavy gear and cable that will have to be managed, picked up and returned, as well as the responsibility for everyone in the hall being able to hear well w/o system feedback etc..  The producer should know that the sound of your recording will be very different if there is a live PA in the hall amplifying the voice--they will be locked into that extra reverb etc and won't be able to get rid of it in post, if that's an issue.

Philip Perkins

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This is a very easy set up for sound reinforcement and for camera audio.  Since this is a small 100 seater hall as you described then you will not need much volume and feedback won't be an issue.  Make sure you have at least an 8 band Graphic EQ for the house sound and place the speakers in front of the mic/podium.  If you don't feel comfortable doing both house sound and camera sound then ask a musician friend who has a small sound system to help you out. 

Andy

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I have done this many, many times.  You should concentrate on the PA system (yes a couple of powered speakers & EQ)  Treat the camera feed as just such.

I would do this-

Use a mixer (SD302?) with a podium mic (SM58, or a nice gooseneck condenser if they prefer that look) to feed the PA (CH1 out) and use CH2 to feed camera.  You can even put a lav on the person and keep the lav and podium tracks separated,  Feed the EQ with just the podium mic so you can fine tune the house sound, into a couple of powered speakers.  Make sure you have enough cable and extension cords for the speakers, and black tape to safety the cables across the floor if necessary!

Very simple, especially for a sound guy :)

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Do exactly what Jason posted I did a corporate conference a few months back and after talking to the client just told them it would be easier if I just did all the audio. I rented a amp and two speakers from our local live audio house and just fed the amp for the 2nd set of outputs of my 442. I put a sm 58 on the podium and put a lav on each presenter. The client was happy and everything sounded good.

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Greg,

I just did a similar gig this week.  They hadn't considered adding a PA -- that was my suggestion.  With 100 people (that's just about how many we had) some of what takes place will be difficult for everyone to hear without straining.  Adding a PA gives the speaker(s) more presence and helps keep the focus on the proceedings.  But you don't need much.

In our case I had six mics to juggle -- three lavs, two pass-around hand helds for execs sitting in front and a mic in the middle for participants to address questions.  I used wireless for all the mics.

Here's the key:  With only 100 people (I'm assuming the room is the right size for this and it's not a handful of people in a huge auditorium) you only need a little sound reinforcement to get the job done.  You're not doing SR for a rock concert!

I used two small speakers (AR/Advent 570, which pack a lot of punch for the size -- very little of which was needed), and rigged a Lectro receiver at each so the only cabling to the PA was an AC cord to each.  These were situated in front of, and aimed away from, the five front mics, and positioned high so to not overpower those seated in the front rows.

Once set up, the only controlling of the PA needed was to establish the level.  I mixed the event in mono and just sent that mix to the PA.  The PA level should be kept as low as you can that still allows those in back to hear.  In our case it was a town hall meeting.  My client and my client's client appreciated the PA, but didn't want any more of it than absolutely necessary (which was good for my camera mix) and they also appreciated the small, unobtrusive size of the PA.  They wished to maintain an intimate town hall feeling and a large, booming PA would have sabotaged that vibe.  In our case, the small PA and additional clarity and presence helped the vibe.

Don't over think it, with this number of people in the right sized room, all you need is a tad of SR, no more.

So, like in my situation, during the event, your main (almost entire) focus should be on mixing the program to camera.

If I were doing your gig, I would probably rig both lavs and a podium mic, but would likely cut the podium mic when a person wearing a lav was speaking at the podium due to phasing issues and the ever present thumps from hands hitting the podium -- I would have the podium mic there for those surprise guests that the client forgets to mention during planning.

Naturally, you should charge the appropriate rate for the additional services you are providing and be sure to allow ample setup time.

John B.

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I'll go along with the majority, too.

of course it is important to consider what this event actually is; is it primarily an important meeting being documented, or is it a mostly video being made in front of  a live audience?? single cam?? multi-cam?? switched live?? edited and posted?? and of course budget?? (I get the feeling it is low)

in either case sending the feed to PA speakers isn't too rough;  the powered speakers (and stands) are readily rentable at reasonable costs, Mackie's, JBL's (EON's are my preference), EV's and others.  I transmit over wireless to each speaker, but my "secret sauce" is I have a dbx feedback killer (AFS-222) between my mix out and the PA (aka SR) TX. Sure, usually the volume is fairly low, but I feel better knowing that it is in there working. for the podium, a quality PA mic really is preferable to a "production sound" mic with SM-57/58 quite popular and appropriate; of course, charge accordingly for "Sound by the Pound" and all the extra gear and labor involved

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Is your car big enough to handle your stuff and the PA?

And if they decide to grab a quick interview backstage or outside during the setup, or while someone else speaks....?

Get yourself some help.

Philip Perkins

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Thanks for the input guys.  This is all very helpful.

I think I'll just take care of renting the gear and definitely hiring someone to help - not only to run the P.A. but to watch the rest of the gear if I have to run off for an interview.  There should be room enough in my car.  I have pics of the space, and as many of you pointed out, it's not like I have to put up some huge sound rig...it just needs to put out some small to moderate sound levels.

I'll let you know how it goes.

-Greg-

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Just my .02 worth, too, but being able to place yourself where you'll know what the audience is perceiving is helpful, too. If you set up the system in an empty hall, and it's acoustically live, there will be quite a bit of absorption when it fills up with humans. You may need to squeeze a little more out of your SR than you had first perceived. I did a similar gig just a while back... very delicate subject matter and the attendees actually thanked me for making the audio seamless, invisible and yet just enough to allow them to hear without straining.

  Best to you,

    Greg

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The Senator took the words out of my mouth. The biggest problem in unpredictable venues like this is feedback. Having something like a Sabine feedback eliminator (or the ones from Shure or dbx) can be a godsend.

I once did a lecture like this as a favor to a friend of mine. The meeting was scheduled for about 4 in the afternoon. I wound up coming in at 10AM, saw immediately that there was no adequate PA available in the room. The hotel wanted a fortune for a really crappy PA system, so I called up a friend who came in with a portable system and took my output and used that through his own amps and speakers. Worked great -- he made money, the client was happy, the audience was thrilled.

At one point, the main host started walking around and got right in front of the speaker, and there was only a hint of feedback. That stuff is amazing. You can hear the "notch" working a little bit, but under good conditions, it's pretty effective.

No question that live sound is a totally different animal than production sound. I leave that stuff to the experts.

--Marc W.

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well, we got a little lucky.  only eq we had was on a mackie board, and we did hear some ringing (at a mid/low frequency) at one point, but it wasn't too bad fortunately.

gig mostly went off without a hitch - considering the presenter was supposed to give us 1 minute after covering him showing up to his presentation on the podium...he didn't!  he went straight up onto the stage!

what saved my butt was the 744t, rolling the whole time while i was plugging in camera sends during our switchover...that and the re50 i used a as a podium mic - his lav was picking up a good amount of the PA system unfortunately.

client was very happy.  so if i'm doing more of these, i will certainly consider picking up a feedback reducer.  i also need to better figure out the crappy sony cameras they're using - V1U.  the manual for it sucks, and although i figured it's set up somewhat similar to the EX1, my line level to the cameras seemed to come in on the low side...

thanks again everyone for the input!

-greg-

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There are a number of diffs in the setup and location of things on the Z1 re the EX1, an even the Z5 (which looks similar).  The two latter SOUND much better as well.

Next time if you go with a cardioid podium mic (SM57, 58, etc) you will probably fare better w/ ringing than you did with an RE50, which is an omni.....

Philip Perkins

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I think having a decent graph would have allowed you to alleviate any feedback problem especially for such a simple set up.  Even using an RE50. Too bad you didn’t include that when you rented the gear.  I would suggest investing in a 1/3 octave graph over a feedback suppressor.  It will give you more flexibility.  There are times you want to bump certain frequencies and a feedback suppressor only notches frequencies.

Andy

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phil and andy,

both good points.  i think that's why i almost leaned toward option 1 (read original post).  i don't really find myself setting up and running pa's, and have not ended up on a set doing playback...so i just simply don't have the gear for it...

i have a sm57 left over from my days drumming in a band, but opted not to use it because upon testing it last, it was making some bad handling noises...might be worth getting a 58 just to have.  that or see if some tape helps, and get a windscreen to cover the ugly...

-greg-

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SM 58's and 57's, and some great Sennheiser Evolution alternatives (835), and AKG's, too, are all available at about $100, and there are also switch options for a few bucks more...

a good deal right now is the SM-58 + X2 USB adapter from Shure, as you get a nice mic to USB adapter, with monitoring and phantom power, for about another $100.

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and there are also switch options for a few bucks more...

For a sound mixing gig (with or without SR) such as being discussed in this thread, you DON'T want a switch on the mic.  If there is one, wrap tape around it.  If there is a switch -- anywhere -- someone will turn it off when you're not looking -- you can count on it.

It even happened on the gig I described earlier in this thread.  I had taped the switch on the mic but missed taping the bottom of one of the butt plugs.  We came back from break and as the speaker began I checked all of my channels and one of them was off!

Fortunately, I caught it before that particular mic needed to "go live" and the mic was turned back on (and the butt plug taped) with a minimum of flurry.

John B.

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Yes - I agree - switches confuse people.

If the speaker sees a switch, they will immediately HAVE to play with it.

I have a PG58 with a switch I use for god mic applications, where a switch is a good idea.  Otherwise, no.

Robert

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" for god mic applications, where a switch is a good idea.  "

thus I mentioned it, as this is the most common use production sound folks have for the mic's I mentioned.

Also, in many cases, the factory switch options include a screw plate that can lock the switch "on", when desired and or useful!!  of course your speaker (person!) could have a small screwdriver in her/his pocket, so perhaps some of you would want to substitute your own Torex or other "security head" screw ??

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Also, in many cases, the factory switch options include a screw plate that can lock the switch "on", when desired and or useful!!  of course your speaker (person!) could have a small screwdriver in her/his pocket, so perhaps some of you would want to substitute your own Torex or other "security head" screw ??

And my solution is to either use mics with no on/off switch or give it a quick wrap with gaffer's tape.  I don't want to take the time "screwing around" (pun intended) in a time-constrained location.

Let's get real, how many of us who spend most days using mics worth thousands can't afford to have a good selection of decent quality, but relatively inexpensive, dynamics both with and without switches -- the right mic for the right purpose.

And, in the circumstances this thread is about, if you eliminate the switch, you eliminate the problem.  But, to each his own.

John B.

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