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gain structure and mixing from Unity
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Dale Christenson
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babs2972 wrote:How many of you out there mix a live event from unity and up on your faders? I have a guy in our church who insists that if we pull the faders down below the U then it degrades the signal. By "degrades" he means squashes or distorts it so it sounds bad. I can turn down, say, the electric guitar so it is barely coming out of the house speakers and walk up to them and it is at a low volume but still crystal clear.


IMHO, he has no clue what he is talking about.

First off, if you are using a StudioLive, the fader is not a analog fader. It's an encoder. No audio passes through it. Bringing the fader down does nothing to the tone of the signal. It just lowers the volume of the digital signal. Guys, correct me if I am wrong.
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hughshouse
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Setting proper gain structure is the first and probably the most important and most difficult chore any of us encounter when preparing sound reinforcement. When I was doing a lot of Bluegrass festivals the favorite game of clever pros was to pick and sing like Casper at sound check and when their band kicks off their first number they morph into Leo the lion. If you are working a studio live: set your gain structure with faders at unity and raise gain while monitoring input level to maintain a -12 max. Then the hard part is to insult the casper in front of the mic to deliver realistic levels that you can work with. Remember it is much better to be in a position to need to reduce levels rather than needing to raise them. To this end I use an HD24XR to monitor and record direct from the pres and trust me when I tell you preamp gain reduction is almost always necessary with some condenser mics and some performers. The set up is only the beginning.
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babs2972
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Thanks Guys! I have a meeting tomorrow morning with the BOSS and this all helps so much!

Steve
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gadget69
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Go get em tiger...
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robare99
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I set my gains around -15db, set my mains at unity and then set up my mix with the faders. If they were meant to sit at unity, they could be removed from the board. I used to mix via my gains, with everything at unity, but it just wasn't the proper way to do things...

Here's a shot from this weekends show. I will adjust the trims a bit due to what's going on in Capture, I like the signal just under the orange on capture...


This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 27/03/2012 00:23:49

bdhender
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After all, if we were meant to mix with gains, they would be faders!!
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robare99
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bdhender wrote:After all, if we were meant to mix with gains, they would be faders!!



Amen!!

robare99
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hughshouse wrote:Setting proper gain structure is the first and probably the most important and most difficult chore any of us encounter when preparing sound reinforcement. When I was doing a lot of Bluegrass festivals the favorite game of clever pros was to pick and sing like Casper at sound check and when their band kicks off their first number they morph into Leo the lion. If you are working a studio live: set your gain structure with faders at unity and raise gain while monitoring input level to maintain a -12 max. Then the hard part is to insult the casper in front of the mic to deliver realistic levels that you can work with. Remember it is much better to be in a position to need to reduce levels rather than needing to raise them. To this end I use an HD24XR to monitor and record direct from the pres and trust me when I tell you preamp gain reduction is almost always necessary with some condenser mics and some performers. The set up is only the beginning.
Hugh


Lol sometimes I find drummer to be sandbaggers somewhat. So once I set everything, I get them to play a beat which is usually more their style.

But whatever the case, I can usually fine tune and get it dialed in within the first song. That's a other handy thing with capture. I run the levels
Barely under the orange, so it's easy to dial in.
gadget69
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Well if I'm reading this correctly then I have to say I take a bit different track, similar to Hugh...As the individuals begin their setup I get my mics and lines in place and begin monitoring levels.. this gives me a jump on the 'line check' as that is often all we get.

I select 'input' metering, and as the muso goes through the sound check (i have already given the speech about start and stop times, no encores after hours, break time and lengths, and stage volume...) have the muso provide the given input, and set the input gain control for a strong mid-scale signal level. This allows for their "it's all bout me" phase of the show, with room for some latitude on their part.

This also provides me with sufficient levels for Capture, and Studio one. This also usually ends up offering me a visual mix as well as an audible one, that is consistent from group to group, and I have 52 different groups each year.

Without this step, setting all the gains the same, we are not compensating for the various levels of on stage components, and voices. I have singers that don't even NEED a mic, and ones that can't get enough out to overcome the stage din...If I set both mics @ the same gain one fader would be maxed all the time and the other nearly off...

I have to ask, how do you deal with all the different levels if you set all the gains at -15?

Forgive me if I misread your post..

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 27/03/2012 07:16:39

NOTE: If your having an issue, open a tech support ticket and bring the number here if you want help!
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We, the few, that have done so much, for so long that now we can do everyything with nothing

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bdhender
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I think he meant -15 input signal level. not knob setting.
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gadget69
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I guess I can see that now...why I apologized in advance I assume then, that you are using the gain controls on the back of the SL, or do you have the newer ones without the gains on the back?

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 27/03/2012 07:21:49

NOTE: If your having an issue, open a tech support ticket and bring the number here if you want help!
http://support.presonus.com

Tools:
OHCI tool and Latency mon:
http://forums.presonus.com/posts/list/11348.page

We, the few, that have done so much, for so long that now we can do everyything with nothing

dbx forum moderator

Lenova Ideapad Z565
Best connectivity Express card/firewire 2 port (400) that does NOT suggest having the TI chipset. (always worked great)
BYTECC Express card (400/800)07150358281

Asus/AMD processor tower. This setups just works on all firewire devices.

Belkin N450 dual band router, works with SL and Ai mixers
Studiolive 16:4:2
SL Ai24.4.2
ABUSB 1818VSL
Faderport
USB pre interface
Studio one Pro V2
LABsubs

loads of audio, and studio gear, and audiophile sound gear (gearslut)
[Email] [Yahoo!]
robare99
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I should have clarified. Yeah not just a finite point on the dial, but -15db signal on the meter for each instrument.

alcraig
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I've been mixing PA and broadcast for 35 years. Analogue and digital. The way I've always done it (and I've heard no complaints) is to initially treat the fader as a switch. Unity (-o-) is "on".
Before the band arrives (or while they are setting up), this is what I would do:

Put the Main L/R faders at -o-. Then, I run a CD (or any other playback device) through the system with the channel fader(s) at unity, trimming the input gains to make the L/R meters look like a good "broadcast-able" level. Then and only then, I turn up my cross-overs and speaker amps to what I consider the loudest possible volume I will need for the night with that band in that room. Therefore my meters are now telling me that loud is loud. Get it?

I then turn the faders down on the CD channel about half way (what I might consider "walk in" music level), see that the meters are barely metering (visually "soft") and have a play with my crossovers, treating them as my big 3-way EQ control, remembering that the Fletcher Munson curve in my ears is gonna wanna hear more bass.

To further refine the tonal balance of the system, I grab the lead singers mic (or same model) and plug it in and although I can't sing, I can yell as loud as he can sing. Set the fader at unity (remember, its just a switch at this point) and trim the input gain so that now my voice (at "singing level") is metering nicely on the main outs and is pretty loud in the room. If it starts to feed back, find the guilty frequency on the main 1/3 octave EQ and duck it some. Keep pushing the mic's fader. More feedback at other frequencies? Pull a little more out. Once you get to that point that many frequencies are trying to "go off" at the same time, you've hit the gain-before-feedback ceiling. STOP.

Then, get each member of band to give you a representation of their level and adjust the input gains (mic pre-amps or line trims) for best performance. By that I mean that if that channel was the only instrument, and I wanted to record the Main out, I would hit the recorder with a proper level (not too hot as to deliver any clipping, and not too soft so as to "waste" my bit rate and get either analogue noise or quantization noise). I repeat this routine for every channel. This will also bode well for Capture as all the instruments will be recorded robustly.
What I now have is a pretty good starting point across the mixer. Now shut them all down.

Now, get the whole band up and let them jam for awhile. Start by opening the lead singer's mic to whatever position on the fader works for the room. Most likely, it will be somewhere around unity, but I NEVER EVER look at the mixer at this point. My eyes are closed and I'm now listening for what else now needs to be reinforced (acoustic guitars, piano, backing singers, horns). I listen to that mix for a while. Now start sneaking in electric guitars and bass. (At this point, I'll bet you can still hear the drums). Now start adding some kick, then, snare, then hat, then toms.
Done. Now look at your desk. It don't matter where your faders are at this point. Does it sound mixed?

Then, that night when the band takes the stage and all play a little hotter than they did in sound check, just tweak the input gains straight away until they settle down and your fader mix will be your starting point for the rest of the gig.

Al
ps. to the OP, your boss is wrong.

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babs2972 wrote:How many of you out there mix a live event from unity and up on your faders? I have a guy in our church who insists that if we pull the faders down below the U then it degrades the signal. By "degrades" he means squashes or distorts it so it sounds bad. I can turn down, say, the electric guitar so it is barely coming out of the house speakers and walk up to them and it is at a low volume but still crystal clear.


1. The whole mixing with the faders at U was propagated by Peavey, yes Peavey back in the 80s.
2. With the 24-bit sampling, there is ample headroom. The noise floor is low. While technically he would be correct, that there is a change, it is not heard by the human ear, especially in the context of a mix. I can prove this with analog or digital consoles. If something is 6dB down, any differences would be masked.
3. It is not always the way to do things. For instance, if I am running FOH and MON from the same console, and I am in a live room, where a source does not need to be amplified much in the house, but requires significant gain for the IEMs, then I will have to solo, get my signal as close to -16dBbfs, and then pull the channel fader down.
4. Tell the well meaning guy to listen to two files you provide for him. Record a vocal test at 16-bit/48kHz and 24/48kHz. I bet you that he will not hear a difference. why? Dynamic range is all (more or less) that has changed. This is (loosely) the same thing. If you were mixing a whole mix with everything near infinity and the gains up, I would say he has something with his old logic. The problem is his logic was only meant to be applied to a specific brand of console, to maximize the performance with the limits of it's price point.
5. the gain structure is quite different on the SL. On an analog console, you can set your unity gain with the fader at "0", assign it to a subgroup and it will show up as "0", and then assign that sub to the master and it will show up as "0". The SL does not operate this way.

Not many people know to match consoles to PA systems when buying. Gain structure can make or break ya. So what I do is first calibrate the system, so that I know where I get 40V (or whatever I should be getting) out of my amps. Then I work back from that. I may very well overload a processor or amp input downstream outputting at "0". Luckily, if I am mixing both FOH and MONs, and I need to hit the A/D hard to get IEMs happening, I will just back off the nifty little trim on the back.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 03/04/2012 04:03:58

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babs2972
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alcraig wrote:I've been mixing PA and broadcast for 35 years. Analogue and digital. The way I've always done it (and I've heard no complaints) is to initially treat the fader as a switch. Unity (-o-) is "on".
Before the band arrives (or while they are setting up), this is what I would do:

Put the Main L/R faders at -o-. Then, I run a CD (or any other playback device) through the system with the channel fader(s) at unity, trimming the input gains to make the L/R meters look like a good "broadcast-able" level. Then and only then, I turn up my cross-overs and speaker amps to what I consider the loudest possible volume I will need for the night with that band in that room. Therefore my meters are now telling me that loud is loud. Get it?

I then turn the faders down on the CD channel about half way (what I might consider "walk in" music level), see that the meters are barely metering (visually "soft") and have a play with my crossovers, treating them as my big 3-way EQ control, remembering that the Fletcher Munson curve in my ears is gonna wanna hear more bass.

To further refine the tonal balance of the system, I grab the lead singers mic (or same model) and plug it in and although I can't sing, I can yell as loud as he can sing. Set the fader at unity (remember, its just a switch at this point) and trim the input gain so that now my voice (at "singing level") is metering nicely on the main outs and is pretty loud in the room. If it starts to feed back, find the guilty frequency on the main 1/3 octave EQ and duck it some. Keep pushing the mic's fader. More feedback at other frequencies? Pull a little more out. Once you get to that point that many frequencies are trying to "go off" at the same time, you've hit the gain-before-feedback ceiling. STOP.

Then, get each member of band to give you a representation of their level and adjust the input gains (mic pre-amps or line trims) for best performance. By that I mean that if that channel was the only instrument, and I wanted to record the Main out, I would hit the recorder with a proper level (not too hot as to deliver any clipping, and not too soft so as to "waste" my bit rate and get either analogue noise or quantization noise). I repeat this routine for every channel. This will also bode well for Capture as all the instruments will be recorded robustly.
What I now have is a pretty good starting point across the mixer. Now shut them all down.

Now, get the whole band up and let them jam for awhile. Start by opening the lead singer's mic to whatever position on the fader works for the room. Most likely, it will be somewhere around unity, but I NEVER EVER look at the mixer at this point. My eyes are closed and I'm now listening for what else now needs to be reinforced (acoustic guitars, piano, backing singers, horns). I listen to that mix for a while. Now start sneaking in electric guitars and bass. (At this point, I'll bet you can still hear the drums). Now start adding some kick, then, snare, then hat, then toms.
Done. Now look at your desk. It don't matter where your faders are at this point. Does it sound mixed?

Then, that night when the band takes the stage and all play a little hotter than they did in sound check, just tweak the input gains straight away until they settle down and your fader mix will be your starting point for the rest of the gig.

Al
ps. to the OP, your boss is wrong.

WOW! Al, this post is scary! If I didnt know you wrote this I would swear I wrote it to someone! This is how I mix my live events. I have been mixing for 15 years and really look up to you guys that have been mixing so long. It really assures me i am doing something right. Thank you so much for all your input.

Steve


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8- QSC KW181's
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