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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Film Handlers' Forum   » Microphone and audio mixing equipment

Author Topic: Microphone and audio mixing equipment
Daniel Fredrickson
Film Handler

Posts: 1
From: Meridian, Idaho USA
Registered: Sep 2017

 - posted 10-30-2017 01:40 PM      Profile for Daniel Fredrickson   Email Daniel Fredrickson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hello everyone,

Long-time lurker, first time poster (this forum has fixed many a problem over the years).

I was curious if anyone has come up with good solutions for mixing XLR mic and HDMI inputs? I've been having an increasing number of groups renting theaters lately that want to play videos and presentations while stopping periodically to talk in-between. We're currently running Datasat AP20's and to achieve this, I'm using both the mic-in and HDMI-in ports. I have a macro tied to each, and switch back and forth between the two inputs. The way I'm doing it, someone has to be in the booth to switch back and forth while also trying to figure out when it's the right time to do so. I've had some embarassing events and some really frustrated group leaders.

I've heard rumor that you can set an AP20 to mix the 2 inputs but I haven't been able to figure it out. I've also looked at a few products. There are several cheap karaoke devices that probably would work, but have poor reviews and more likely, poor quality.

Does anyone have any thoughts, tips, or suggestions? Thanks in advance!

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Carsten Kurz
Film God

Posts: 3774
From: Cologne, NRW, Germany
Registered: Aug 2009

 - posted 10-30-2017 04:39 PM      Profile for Carsten Kurz   Email Carsten Kurz   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The AP20 can only do simultaneus Mic with the two (analog) NonSync sources.

The USL HSW-602 is targeted at this application (mixing HDMI and mic audio), but I don't know wether QSC continues making it.

If Harold is reading this - is there an official document dealing with the USL products that have been discontinued since the QSC takeover?

We use an analog signal merger between the AP20 center out and the center amp. This also solves the issue of the AP20 having a noticeable delay for the mic input. The good thing is, with the merger it works with any source, it is independent of the AP20. Get's complex when you have active crossovers.

I know that some cinemas thus use a small wheely active speaker with a wireless mic. It can be rolled into every auditorium, the lobby, etc, and is more flexible. Some of the better ones come with a strong battery powered option and integrated wireless receivers. At a price though.

- Carsten

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Scott Norwood
Film God

Posts: 7991
From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 10-30-2017 05:33 PM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Carsten Kurz
This also solves the issue of the AP20 having a noticeable delay for the mic input.
So, I am not the only one who has noticed this, then. Lots of people hate this when introducing films.

To the OP: there are some good suggestions here. A second system for speech is always a good idea (it keeps people from blowing the center channel when they do something dumb with a microphone). One idea that has become fairly common here is to passively mix the microphone input with the surround channels from the processor. It gives a different effect than using the center channel for the mic, but it has the benefit of minimizing feedback and makes it easy for people in the back row to hear the presenter. If you do this, be sure to get a microphone with a switch on it and get the presenter to turn it off during the screening in order to avoid hearing dialogue in the surround channel.

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Frank Angel
Film God

Posts: 5198
From: Brooklyn NY USA
Registered: Dec 1999

 - posted 11-07-2017 04:04 AM      Profile for Frank Angel   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Angel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
(it keeps people from blowing the center channel when they do something dumb with a microphone)

You mean the always popular:
"THUMP....THUMP....THUMP...Is this thing working? ....THUMP....THUMP....THUMP."

And if they don't hear something with their first whack on the top of the mic, they DROP IT ON THE FLOOR? You mean THOSE kinds of dumb things? Yah, they all have happened more than once.

More "professionals" who are in the business and who should know better, are ALWAYS doing something dumb with a microphone. No mic now in my place ever is plugged into a channel that doesn't have a hard threshold limiter. Ever see the awards shows like the Oscars, where people who work with microphones for their livelihood can't resist the urge to lean over and practically eat the microphone.

I also learned the hard way, never use microphones with switches -- worst thing ever invented, a switch on a mic. And telling the talent to flip OFF the mic switch when they leave the stage (or ON when they walk on) is about as effective as explaining that to your favorite house plant. You have a 50/50 chance they will not turn the mic ON when they walk out or not turn it OFF when they leave.

As convenient as those stand-alone roll-about podium systems are, I will always want an audio tech or a stage manager back stage for such events with those systems. Usually you need someone anyway to roll the system out and then off, but someone other than the talent to make sure it's working so the dumbass doesn't need to WHACK the mic to satisfy him/her if it's working.

Personally, I would rather a system like we configure in our theatres where I can control EVERYTHING from the booth, including the mics. In all our theatres we have a mixer feeding analog output from the processors to the amplifier channels so mixing in mics and non-sync can be done right from the booth by the projectionist.

I can also assure you that many times one mic won't be enough; they will want mics for Q&A and discussion panels. We can accommodate a request for up to 6 mics for such eventualities and the projectionist is in full control. They are gated so he doesn't have to ride anything, just activate them when needed -- they level themselves. But that was designed in the Film Age, so now that there is no projectionist in the booth (or in some places, even no booth), the roll-about sound podium might be your best bet.

Get a ducker mixer or gated mixer for the podium for at least 4 channels (I'd go with 6) so you can accommodate those Q&As or panel discussions because believe me, they will ask for them.

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Steve Guttag
We forgot the crackers Gromit!!!

Posts: 12205
From: Annapolis, MD
Registered: Dec 1999

 - posted 11-07-2017 08:11 AM      Profile for Steve Guttag   Email Steve Guttag   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Historically, I've always mixed mics into the surrounds (mostly for the reason Scott states and, if possible, just the side surrounds, never the rear surrounds). For those that wanted to to voice over, the way I've accomplished this is to use a DSP box on the surrounds (again, I was fond of the RANE RPM line like the RPM 26Z and the RPM 44, they're gone now so it isn't a viable solution but the current HAL 3S would be). The DSP box would provide tuning (often superior to a typical cinema processor) for the surrounds, allow zoning, if it made sense, and allow, from the booth to allow or disallow the mic to be active. It always worked without complaints too. With DSP, you can often combat feedback (anti feedback modules) and having to ride the gain of the mic by using AGC modules on the mic feed.

There are 4x4 type DSPs out there (including from the likes of Extron) that would allow one to provide for mics in the (side) surrounds with a voice over. Again, I prefer an "always hot" approach to either/or. You can still turn the mic off but why would you ever want the normal surround feed turned off?

And to bring this completely into a modern cinema environment: Q-SYS. You can put anything where you want it, when you want it. There are bound to be extra inputs in the system where mics can enter (either behind the screen if the amps are there or in the booth, at the core) or with the new DCIO module, there is a mic input provided.

Carsten, the HSW-602 is no more. I don't think QSC has published a list of discontinued, you just have to notice what isn't offered anymore.

The DAX-802 is gone (602 is still there) and the DAX16s are gone. The JSD80 is officially no more but the JSD60 and JSD100 made the cut. It looks like the MDS line is gone (does anyone still do distributed music before the show or has the every increasing ad packs dominated all potential consumer time? Is anyone making distributed music systems for the cinema industry anymore? SMART and USL sort of owned that market with Component Engineering offering an alternative "daisy chain" approach. Component Engineering is still alive but effectively out of cinema but who knows, maybe someone is still using their music distribution?

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