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crandallwarren

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Posts: 16 Member Since: 17/11/2014

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Nov 17 14 5:37 PM

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Hi All,

I'm new to this forum (though I've been a reader for a while now). I've done my due digiligence and searched this topic a couple different ways, so I apologize if this is in a ny way redundant. I am the sole proprietor of a small mobile recording company and I'm now doing more and more gigs where I need to split 32 channels from the house. I'm looking to invest in my own splitter and I'd love some advice.

The last two gigs I've done were both with large isolated splitters: one that belonged to the monitor company and one that I rented independantly. In gig #1, we were on a 3-way split, with Mons getting the direct and myself and FOH on the Iso splits. In gig #2, the house had a hardwired split to FOH and mons built into the walls-- so i put my split between the wall and the monitor console, sending MONs the direct and using the ISO to record. In both cases, I had pretty substantial issues with buzzes that no matter what I tried (ground lifting/not, inline x-frmer barrels, etc) I could not get rid of.

Before I invest the money into a split of my own, I'm wondering if anyone has found any best practices to help avoid this issue. Here are some things I'm considering:

-- A few times there has been an undefeatable buzz on a really critical channel (i.e. Lead Vox) and I've taken a Whirlwind 1x2 splitter and split the microphone to the stage and to me directly. If I were to invest in a splitter, would it be wise for me to invest in something that can live onstage and bypass the house's own subsnake system? That way I'm essentially getting a split as close to the mic as possible... Has anyone done this? I could definitely see a venue being resistant to this. But if the client is paying for the recording...
 
--Are there other things that I should invest in first/simultaneously? i.e. isolation power transformers, etc.

--When recording a "band in a club" type of gig, how much are you typically splitting from the house and how much to you mic independantly specifically for records? One thing I've been wondering is whether, for smaller ensembles, I may be better off foregoing the use of a large format splitter and instead putting up some of my own mics for things and using the Whirlwind 1x2's to split what I need to split directly at the mics, before they even touch the house system.

Thanks in advance for your wisdom!

Crandall
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jburtner

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Posts: 449 Member Since:26/01/2011

#1 [url]

Nov 17 14 6:52 PM

I like your last idea. Use some of your own mics for room & audience, and any spot micing (I would always record all of their inputs plus any FOH or mix feeds you can as a ref as well as a live 2mix of whatever you capture).... Mic some wedges too :) ....

Whatever split you invest in try to get a standard multi-pin connector with as many output-splits that you can afford so you can use different length multichannel runs if you ever need to with the same box.

Some of the networked digital splitters are also very convenient because you just need a cat5 for your run.

Cheers,
jb

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crandallwarren

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Posts: 16 Member Since:17/11/2014

#2 [url]

Nov 17 14 10:48 PM

Thanks very much for your thoughts. Yes, it seems like the best option is always to put up mics that are strictly for records. I find I'm starting to do this more and more with vocals especially (e.g. a 57 gaff taped underneath the house mic). I feel like the splitter would be another good way to get as much isolation as I can, without screwing too much with the House Guy's world. I wonder... Do the digital snakes have less buzzes, hums, etc associated with them? It seems possible, since the audio is going A2D so much closer to the source. Any thoughts?

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dave harrison

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Nov 18 14 10:33 AM

If you split the mic at the stage, and take a transformer iso, you should not have any trouble with noise. Another good way to reduce the chance of noise is to pull your power from Monitor World, or FOH, whichever is closer. The Radial OX-8 is a great solution for a scalable system. You will need a pile of D-Sub to XLR snakes though, and I don't like the idea of having a long recording snake with D-Subs on the end... too much to go wrong. You could break out the record D-Sub's to XLR panels on the back of the split rack to hook up a long run for recording, and use short snakes to feed the house stage box. Doing it this way, you should have no impact on the house system.

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tim halligan

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Nov 18 14 12:56 PM

dave harrison wrote:
If you split the mic at the stage, and take a transformer iso, you should not have any trouble with noise. Another good way to reduce the chance of noise is to pull your power from Monitor World, or FOH, whichever is closer.
 

This.

Look at your power situation first before you spend another dollar.

Problems with splits are most often power-related in my experience.

Cheers,
Tim

An analogue brain in a digital world

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crandallwarren

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Posts: 16 Member Since:17/11/2014

#6 [url]

Nov 19 14 4:25 PM

Thanks again for the great advice. Tim, what do you find typically solves the power issues? I don't have a distro or anything and most of the venues I've been working at don't seem like they have the staff on hand to tie me in directly or anything. Right now, I've got the interface and my three banks of 8 channels pres all going through a power conditioner and then a battery backup. I always make sure I'm on sound power with the other consoles. I've heard some folks say that getting an isolation power transformer can solve some things. Any thoughts?

On the note of splitting things from the stage... Has anyone ever done a DI into another DI to get a split of a guitar or something? I suggested this to a friend and he seemed to think that it would cause problems, but I can't see why it would. Basically, the instrument would go into DI #1-- which would send its XLR to records. Then the thru of DI #1 would be patched into the input of DI #2-- which would go to the house. Thoughts?

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malcolmboyce

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Nov 19 14 4:26 PM

tim halligan wrote:

dave harrison wrote:
If you split the mic at the stage, and take a transformer iso, you should not have any trouble with noise. Another good way to reduce the chance of noise is to pull your power from Monitor World, or FOH, whichever is closer.

 

This.

Look at your power situation first before you spend another dollar.

Problems with splits are most often power-related in my experience.

Cheers,
Tim

+1

Do you have a power distro solution to draw from the central source that is feeding audio?  This is paramount IME.

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crandallwarren

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Posts: 16 Member Since:17/11/2014

#8 [url]

Nov 19 14 6:00 PM

Malcolm,
What would that look like? Do you mean a distro with three-phase cam locks? Everything I have right now is all edison. Everything's plugged into the power condition, the power conditioner into the UPS and then I make sure that the circuit the UPS goes into is the same ground as either Mons or FOH.

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dave harrison

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Nov 19 14 6:14 PM

I do recordings of this nature all the time and never use a battery back-up. Cheap UPS units can cause more problems than they solve, as do cheap power "conditioners". You may be better off just using a plain power bar with no filtering and plugging into the same outlet as the nearest console.  If the power goes down, the whole show stops anyway.  If you use a laptop for recording, use bus powered hard drives and you don't have to worry about being able to save if the power goes out. I like these ones:

http://www.g-technology.com/products/g-drive-professional-external-hard-drive

If there is a buzz on a line in the house system, it will be in the recording no matter how you isolate it. Adding extra DI's is just making things overly complicated, and won't likely solve any issues.

crandallwarren wrote:
Thanks again for the great advice. Tim, what do you find typically solves the power issues? I don't have a distro or anything and most of the venues I've been working at don't seem like they have the staff on hand to tie me in directly or anything. Right now, I've got the interface and my three banks of 8 channels pres all going through a power conditioner and then a battery backup. I always make sure I'm on sound power with the other consoles. I've heard some folks say that getting an isolation power transformer can solve some things. Any thoughts?

On the note of splitting things from the stage... Has anyone ever done a DI into another DI to get a split of a guitar or something? I suggested this to a friend and he seemed to think that it would cause problems, but I can't see why it would. Basically, the instrument would go into DI #1-- which would send its XLR to records. Then the thru of DI #1 would be patched into the input of DI #2-- which would go to the house. Thoughts?

 

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drknob

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Posts: 788 Member Since:02/02/2011

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Nov 20 14 9:29 AM

dave harrison wrote:
I do recordings of this nature all the time and never use a battery back-up. Cheap UPS units can cause more problems than they solve, as do cheap power "conditioners". 

This is key. I've discovered problems with fur-person power 'conditioners' where over time, the components (varistors, whatever) have degraded and 'leak' to neutral or ground, ultimately causing mysterious clicks, buzzes etc. Avoid, avoid, avoid....

Harold Kilianski

Music Industry Arts
Fanshawe College

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malcolmboyce

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Posts: 269 Member Since:05/02/2011

#11 [url]

Nov 20 14 1:40 PM

crandallwarren wrote:
Malcolm,
What would that look like? Do you mean a distro with three-phase cam locks? Everything I have right now is all edison. Everything's plugged into the power condition, the power conditioner into the UPS and then I make sure that the circuit the UPS goes into is the same ground as either Mons or FOH.

You don't need anything as substantial as a cam fed distro for a simple setup. What you describe is what you should be going for. Everything connected to the same source. It's important to note that it isn't just about “ground”. 

I will add that I too have heard issues with consumer type UPS units as well as “surge protector” type power bars and the like. I personally have never had a problem caused by a proper Furman unit, but I have heard of people having trouble with older units as Harold mentioned.  BTW...  "Fur-person"...  HA! 

I find that folks are usually looking for a way to guarantee that they won't run into noise issues, and I don't think that's entirely possible. It's a matter of learning methods of troubleshooting those issues, and having the tools in your kit to get where you need to. Especially in situations with a 3 way split, I expect there to be the odd trouble with a direct input on stage, or something computer fed, but when I hear of trouble with something as simple as a lead vocal mic attached to nothing but a split, I have to wonder about the construction of the system in use, how isolated everything actually is, and how power is being provided.

When you had noise problems on these two gigs, did Mon & FOH also experience trouble on input or was it limited to your split?  Just curious.

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waltzingbear

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Nov 20 14 1:59 PM

MOVs deteriorate over time and usage. The simplest spike protectors are just an MOV in the case with the circuit breaker and the socket. They wear out, replace them. 5 years of actual usage (ie plugged into the wall) is probably OK. If you have more spikes in your area, it could be less.

Devices that use good L and C's to control noise should not wear out. YMMV

Alan

Alan Garren
Waltzing Bear Audio

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crandallwarren

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Posts: 16 Member Since:17/11/2014

#13 [url]

Nov 20 14 8:52 PM

Thanks again guys. What other power solutions would you suggest? The only thing I can think of would be to invest a couple grand in a true 'conditioner'. But I'd definitely want to make sure that that was going to solve the lion's share of the problems.

Malcolm, in the first gig I described, everybody had the same buzz across everything. It seemed to be something with the split that the monitor company brought. In the second gig (remember I was splitting off of the monitors split already), Mons and FOH both said everything was clean. I didn't have the buzz across everything, but it was on enough things that it was very concerning. It did seem to be worse on certain legs of the fanout. For instance, all four lead vocals had horrible buzzes at first. I then cross-patched using higher channels and it cleaned up a little, but not entirely. One thing that I notice, is that in both cases the buzzes on different channels often re-inforce or cancel each other. For instance, when soloed the guitar track and the vocal track will both have a buzz, but when they're both playing the buzzes cancel eachother out.

On a side note, when people record to computer-- where are you tapping power from? Right now I've got mine plugged into the same power conditioner as everything else-- which instictually feels like it may not be the best course of action. Even though, I can't imagine it'd make much of a difference unless I went out of my way to patch the computer into an outlet that is not sound power...

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drknob

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#14 [url]

Nov 21 14 9:36 AM

crandallwarren wrote:


On a side note, when people record to computer-- where are you tapping power from? Right now I've got mine plugged into the same power conditioner as everything else-- which instictually feels like it may not be the best course of action. Even though, I can't imagine it'd make much of a difference unless I went out of my way to patch the computer into an outlet that is not sound power...

Another random note: In my previous gig, I dealt with many lecturers from all over the world giving PowerPoints on their world-sourced laptops. Some had major problems connecting to both projectors and audio systems via the headphone jack, sometimes even running on battery. (including MacBook Pros, btw) The only consistent solution we found was a transformer isolation box. http://www.radialeng.com/proav.php

Harold Kilianski

Music Industry Arts
Fanshawe College

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malcolmboyce

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#15 [url]

Nov 21 14 12:06 PM

drknob wrote:

crandallwarren wrote:


On a side note, when people record to computer-- where are you tapping power from? Right now I've got mine plugged into the same power conditioner as everything else-- which instictually feels like it may not be the best course of action. Even though, I can't imagine it'd make much of a difference unless I went out of my way to patch the computer into an outlet that is not sound power...

Another random note: In my previous gig, I dealt with many lecturers from all over the world giving PowerPoints on their world-sourced laptops. Some had major problems connecting to both projectors and audio systems via the headphone jack, sometimes even running on battery. (including MacBook Pros, btw) The only consistent solution we found was a transformer isolation box. http://www.radialeng.com/proav.php

Uggg... The headphone out thing is a regular nightmare, and not just because of the interconnect.  I have been successful at getting people to use some of the hipper USB solutions, although sometimes I have no choice in the matter. 

On a recent, also related random note, which was a new one for me; I had a music director playing piano, plus providing some tracks via a Mac laptop.  We started with the headphone out as it is what he "always used" and it presented us with huge noise problems.  Typical computer type stuff like induced by just mousing around the screen and such.  I have heard buzzing like this caused by the internal sound card having some inputs being monitored on the out so we looked there first, but no help.  I suggested using one of my USB cards which would normally solve any noise issues but it had the same exact stuff going on.  One of my computer-extra-savvy type friends, upon walking into the middle of this, unplugs the power supply to the laptop and bam, quiet as can be.  My friend looks at the PSU, and retrieves another one which when connected is also quiet.  He shows us that the MD had purchased a replacement PSU that was not legit Apple, and that is exactly where the problem was...

...just to show how random noise problems can be.  Sorry for the slight derail.

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jburtner

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Nov 21 14 12:27 PM

Buzzes in the splits, bad DI's, power issues... Anything can happen and it can rear it's ugly head in the middle of the show when it was "all-good" during soundcheck.

+1 on a handful (or so) of "record-only" mic's.... Plus any feeds you can get from FOH/MON-World and rm/aud mic's.

Cheers!
-jb

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malcolmboyce

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#18 [url]

Nov 23 14 1:32 PM

I totally understand covering your butt. I do know in my world "record only" is usually limited to stuff FOH and Mons don't need, and we usually find a middle ground to work with everything else. I had hoped the days of two vocal mics taped together were a thing of the past. Stuff that is "all good during soundcheck" and isn't during show time should be getting fixed, not sidestepped as it is also going to be an issue in live as well as record-town. Buzzes that are only trouble for one location (record) are more likely of the split/power variety and are usually part of set up time issues, not show issues... At least IME. I'm not saying things can't happen, I'm just saying you have to choose where to spend your time and energy and setting up a bunch of redundant inputs isn't where it is for me.

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tim halligan

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Nov 23 14 11:26 PM

malcolmboyce wrote:
I do know in my world "record only" is usually limited to stuff FOH and Mons don't need, and we usually find a middle ground to work with everything else.

 


This.

Usually that would consist of crowd mics, and probably a second mic on guitar amps, and one on bass amp to augment the DI.

The middle ground would be swapping some of the FOH/Mons mic kit with better alternatives on some sources as required.

Didn't the "two vocal mics taped together" thing go away in the 70's? In my world, there's likely to be a camera or 7 at the gig, so the way it looks is important...and taped mics is visually naff, so that's not an option.

Cheers,
Tim

An analogue brain in a digital world

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dave harrison

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Nov 24 14 10:53 AM

If you are jumping in on a tour to record one date, swapping mic's out is generally a no-no... sometimes they will accomodate you a bit, but that also means having to tweak monitors again, and that is something that some acts avoid like the plague. Additional mics on instruments out of site are fine though, and I do that a fair bit if I don't like what I'm getting on the split lines.

I had one show where I was getting all kinds of hum and buzzing on the record split (tranformer Iso), but the house and Mons were clean... we hunted around for two hours trying to suss it out, swapping the snakes around on the head, etc. I was getting back into the record truck and accidently kicked the MASS connector on the record split and the noise in the monitors changed... kicked it again and the noise changed again... bad splay. Got another splay from the rental house and all was quiet.

It sounds like the experience the OP had was the result of a poorly maintained snake, and possibly bad power distribution.

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