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Wireless Receiver Output Level

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Hi all, I've been working as an assistant and boom operator under many different local mixers recently and I've come across a technical setting that I dont understand. Lots of mixers set the output level on their wireless receivers to (-20) and make up the gain on their mic preamps rather than setting the input on their mixers to line and leaving the output at say 0. I've read the technical information and guides on the (specifically) lectrosonics website, and they state that the receiver output attenuator does not affect the signal to noise ratio. Do people lower the output gain in order to achieve greater dynamic range on a voltage level, or is there a different reason? 

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Generally speaking, I want the cleanest audio going into my mixer.  So I always set the receiver output to max (on Lectrosonics, that's +5) to essentially have a line level input.  This way, I bypass the preamps on the mixer, which can introduce some additional noise (although on the higher end mixers is minimal).  Then I set my transmitter to an appropriate level for the talent's peaks so that there is not distortion at the transmitter.  In this way, you have put yourself in a good position to provide the cleanest sound possible at an appropriate level.

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+5

 

+1

 

However - if I were working as a boom op or utility and the mixer wanted to to it their way, simply because "that's how they like to do it" - I would not argue with them.

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15 minutes ago, Johnny Karlsson said:

+5

 

+1

 

However - if I were working as a boom op or utility and the mixer wanted to to it their way, simply because "that's how they like to do it" - I would not argue with them.

I totally agree with that. I worked for a mixer who liked his TX set at 22 regardless of mic, placement, or volume. I never understood it and his answer never made much sense to me but I happily set them there every day.

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I have a theory to why the -20 output on receivers became common practice.

 

When portable analog mixers were prevalent in the field, many were prone to channel bleeding. Particularly on the Wendt X4 and X5 mixers, if the signal was too hot coming in, it would bleed into the channels next to it and into the mix. So to compensate, the output levels on the receivers were lowered to -20 and the mixers were set to -10. Even when the gear no longer required doing this, people continued to do it out of habit.

 

Rental houses still often send out packages like this by default.

 

That all being said, there are some cart mixers who even pad down their receivers so that they can set their trim levels on their consoles near noon so that they have room on either end to adjust. I know this was common when the 01V was popular.

 

It all boils down to learning best practices, and then adjusting your strategy as you need to.

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Thanks for you guys answer this topic, but my question is how about Wisycom.

 

If we set the receiver output to Max (Wisy +16, Lectro +5) and Mixer line input to 0dB, which means we have to adjust the signal on transmitter.

 

But my thought is 0dB means input=output, if we max the output on reciever, and get a full signal on transmitter (Lectro 2 green light, Wisycom -6dB), maybe clipping on receiver?

 

Thanks

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9 hours ago, Gongyao Wang said:

Thanks for you guys answer this topic, but my question is how about Wisycom.

 

If we set the receiver output to Max (Wisy +16, Lectro +5) and Mixer line input to 0dB, which means we have to adjust the signal on transmitter.

 

But my thought is 0dB means input=output, if we max the output on reciever, and get a full signal on transmitter (Lectro 2 green light, Wisycom -6dB), maybe clipping on receiver?

 

Thanks

I did not completely get your point, but I'll try to share my experience. I'm using wysicoms mpt41S with DPA4060 usually around -10dB to -6dB for normal dialogue. I set the mcr42  recievers to output the maximum analogue level +12dBu on S1 or S2 recievers or +18dBu on the S3 recievers. I then input that to the Cantar line level inputs. As stated above this is the logical approach as regards signal to noise. As I believe your mixer is using great quality equipment, reducing the RXs output level and inputing in mic level won't result in audible noise as preamps are really quiet these days.  Hope that helps.

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From a PM to me:

I have both Wisycom and Lectrosonics, if I set the receiver output to max (Wisy +16, Lectrosonics +5), and Mixer to 0dB line level which means we have to find a correct level on transmitter. 

But my question is that if we get a full signal on transmitter (2 green light on Lectro, -6dB on Wisycom), will it clipping on Receiver or Mixer?
.................................................................

Hi,
First, the Lectro receivers, all of them, run wide open at all times. The output signal cannot clip no matter where you set the receiver level. The wide open output is just attenuated to the level you choose, -40 dBm to +5 dBm. The higher levels are always better for rejecting hum ground loops, audio noise in cables and mixer preamp noise.

Secondly, the transmitter level should never be adjusted to get the "correct level" at the mixer. That is like putting the cart before the horse or mixer before the transmitter. Instead do it this way: Put one brown paper bag over the receiver and one over the mixer. Hopefully, you can find a big enough brown paper bag for the mixer. Now that you can't be influenced by the receiver or mixer level indicators, set the transmitter level according the Lectro manual. With the mic positioned and the talent speaking, set the transmitter gain so on voice peaks you have two green leds with an occasional red flash for luck. Remember, you can't overload the receiver and there is a decent limiter in the transmitter.

Now remove the brown paper bag from the Lectro receiver and set the output level to +5dBm (my recommendation). Finally, remove the large brown paper bag from your mixer and set the trim and gains for the output levels you desire. After you have done this 10 times or so, you can forget the paper bags.

Always set the transmitter gain as per the manual without worrying about receiver and mixer levels. And set the receiver level to max (+5dBm) unless there are overriding reasons to match a device that has a limited input range. If possible, never go below -20dBm on the receiver as cable noise, ground loops and mixer input noise begin to raise their ugly heads.

All in fun and good mixing,
Best Regards,
Larry Fisher 

 

Edited by LarryF
replace "receiver" with correct "mixer". Thanks John B.

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    • lol -:) 
    • However, as you say, "Remember, you can't overload the receiver ..."
      - I have a couple of older 401s on which ( with LMAs occasionally tickling the red ) the display certainly appears like its showing distortion. This is because  the AF signal strength triangle on the display can & does turns full square, banging the wall visually if not accoustically...  So one can be excused from interpreting this mashup as trouble, as I certainly have done in the past  - although listening as carefully as I could I never heard any.
    •  

IMG_1199.HEIC

IMG_1200.HEIC

Edited by petersont
pics upoading but no image visible...?

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13 minutes ago, petersont said:
    •  
    • However, as you say, "Remember, you can't overload the receiver ..."
      - I have a couple of older 401s on which ( with LMAs occasionally tickling the red ) the display certainly appears like its showing distortion. This is because  the AF signal strength triangle on the display can & does turns full square, banging the wall visually if not accoustically...  So one can be excused from interpreting this mashup as trouble, as I certainly have done in the past  - although listening as carefully as I could I never heard any.

 

Keep in mind, the receiver's Audio Level display is an indicator of the transmitter's modulation level, not the receiver's output level.

 

Unlike when people offer meaningless hyperbole such as "giving 110%," wireless modulation can only go up to 100%.

 

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21 hours ago, John Blankenship said:

 

Keep in mind, the receiver's Audio Level display is an indicator of the transmitter's modulation level, not the receiver's output level.

 

Unlike when people offer meaningless hyperbole such as "giving 110%," wireless modulation can only go up to 100%.

 

Thanks and understood, but to make myself a bit clearer, the recommended occasional 'tickle' of red on the TX can appear like a car wreck on the 401 display - which can be somewhat unnerving... so even while I'm not hearing distortion, I'll often back off the red tickle altogether just to avoid this visual smashup, sort of like fingernails on the chalkboard but to my eyes. Anyway, not all of my receivers display exactly the same way.

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2 minutes ago, petersont said:

Thanks and understood, but to make myself a bit clearer, the recommended occasional 'tickle' of red on the TX can appear like a car wreck on the 401 display - which can be somewhat unnerving... so even while I'm not hearing distortion, I'll often back off the red tickle altogether just to avoid this visual smashup, sort of like fingernails on the chalkboard but to my eyes. Anyway, not all of my receivers display exactly the same way.

 

I agree. That's the thing, the indicator doesn't help to understand exact levels, just a relative indicator of what's happening. 

 

Like you I don't like the sound of Lectro's limiting, so choose to not tickle the red very often. Of course, that's true of most limiting -- less is usually better. 

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On 3/26/2020 at 6:31 PM, LarryF said:

From a PM to me:

I have both Wisycom and Lectrosonics, if I set the receiver output to max (Wisy +16, Lectrosonics +5), and Mixer to 0dB line level which means we have to find a correct level on transmitter. 

But my question is that if we get a full signal on transmitter (2 green light on Lectro, -6dB on Wisycom), will it clipping on Receiver or Mixer?
.................................................................

Hi,
First, the Lectro receivers, all of them, run wide open at all times. The output signal cannot clip no matter where you set the receiver level. The wide open output is just attenuated to the level you choose, -40 dBm to +5 dBm. The higher levels are always better for rejecting hum ground loops, audio noise in cables and mixer preamp noise.

Secondly, the transmitter level should never be adjusted to get the "correct level" at the mixer. That is like putting the cart before the horse or mixer before the transmitter. Instead do it this way: Put one brown paper bag over the receiver and one over the mixer. Hopefully, you can find a big enough brown paper bag for the mixer. Now that you can't be influenced by the receiver or mixer level indicators, set the transmitter level according the Lectro manual. With the mic positioned and the talent speaking, set the transmitter gain so on voice peaks you have two green leds with an occasional red flash for luck. Remember, you can't overload the receiver and there is a decent limiter in the transmitter.

Now remove the brown paper bag from the Lectro receiver and set the output level to +5dBm (my recommendation). Finally, remove the large brown paper bag from your mixer and set the trim and gains for the output levels you desire. After you have done this 10 times or so, you can forget the paper bags.

Always set the transmitter gain as per the manual without worrying about receiver and mixer levels. And set the receiver level to max (+5dBm) unless there are overriding reasons to match a device that has a limited input range. If possible, never go below -20dBm on the receiver as cable noise, ground loops and mixer input noise begin to raise their ugly heads.

All in fun and good mixing,
Best Regards,
Larry Fisher 

 

Please do this Received Max Level also applied to Sennheiser?

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"Please do this Received Max Level also applied to Sennheiser? "

The G2/3/4 EK100 portable receivers at the maximum AF setting (+12) is in the vicinity of -10dB line level (nominal), which is anemic for most Sound Devices +4 line-level inputs. I would reduce the receiver's AF some and switch the input to mic level .

Some other recorders preamps, for instance the 'F' series Zoom and Tascams line level  is more sensitive, so the EK receiver works just fine in that case..

I have not used the EK series portable receivers with the 'H' series Zooms or Zaxcoms.

Note: the EK100 portable receiver's output is unbalanced, so use a suitable unbalanced-to-balanced XLR cable.

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I set to +5 as well. One thing that made me scratch my head though was the fact that when you set a Sound Devices mixer input to line level all you’re doing is switching in a 50dB pad in front of the regular mic input preamp. So you’re not “avoiding the mic preamp” s some people like to say it.  In theory (cable noise issues aside) it would make more sense to go in at mic level for sound devices gear. Going in at +5 I always seem to be using just about all of the available gain (3/4 or more) especially for quiet scenes. So you could argue that by setting your Lectro receiver to -20 and using the mic input setting you’d have more gain available since you could find a sweet spot where you only need to have the trim at noon most of the time. 
 

When I’ve experimented with this though the mic input always seems to “burn up “ faster and I think I end up hearing more distortion. 
 

Worth playing around with. I’m 99% happy with +5 and line input until the actors start whispering so low they can’t even hear themselves. 🤔

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Most devices these days just insert a pad prior to the preamp for line level inputs so you are not avoiding the preamp. My old Tascam DR-680 totally bypassed the mic preamps for line level, for whatever that's worth.

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I seem to remember an email.from sound devices when i asked about true line inputs, saying that after the 552 ..the line inputs on all channels were true line inputs ie bypassing the micpreamp...788t,6 series etc. 

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1 hour ago, r.paterson said:

I seem to remember an email.from sound devices when i asked about true line inputs, saying that after the 552 ..the line inputs on all channels were true line inputs ie bypassing the micpreamp...788t,6 series etc. 

I was told the exact opposite by Sound Devices about the 6 series. Inputs 1-6 anyway.

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Would be strange if inputs 4-6 on a 633 were mic inputs with preamps padded to line level without the possibility to use them at mic levels.

then again, stranger things have happened on this planet... 

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3 hours ago, chrismedr said:

Would be strange if inputs 4-6 on a 633 were mic inputs with preamps padded to line level without the possibility to use them at mic levels.

then again, stranger things have happened on this planet... 

I would guess that they are true line inputs because they lack an input limiter. But unless they release block diagrams for the 6 series we’ll never know.

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