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Author Topic: problems with this monitoring set up?  (Read 3796 times)

sadworld

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problems with this monitoring set up?
« on: May 09, 2004, 10:06:13 am »

a while back i inquired about the mic going through the board BEFORE it goes to my preamp and found that in general you should try to go directly to the mic pre.  well, in the case of recording my final vocal tracks the singer wants to hear himself in the headphones along with the playback tracks so i had to use the board for monitoring purposes and i think i went about it the wrong way.... heres what i did:  i went directly into the mic pre then out of it into my GHOST via a line in, then out of the direct outs into my converters. i couldn't give my converters a hot enough signal without clipping my board.  i have my own idea of what to try next time but i'd also like some input on monitoring this type of set up.  should i have gone through the board first?  via mic in>direct out>pre in>then out to my converters? oh, and i just read in my manual that the direct out on my board (when used as a direct out) is unbalanced. so i had everything going great, balanced wise, till i hit that jack, and i think that might have thrown everything off... any comments on this really appreciated. thanks, matt.
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otek

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Re: problems with this monitoring set up?
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2004, 11:29:34 am »

Let's just get one thing straight, because I don't know where you've gotten the idea about the console going before the mic pre:

The mic pre is for amplifying your mic's signal up to line level. Nothing else. Once the signal is amplified, you don't need to go through any additional amplification stage.

I noticed you have altered your signal chain now which is good, I just wanted to be crystal clear on this:

Going from the board into the pre is a big no-no, unless you're doing some kind of sonic experiment.

When going to your converters, I would recommend bypassing the board altogether - tha board in this case does nothing but add noise to your signal.

For monitoring, I would use the board, but separately from the input chain. To do this, you need to see if your pre has multiple outputs. If so, run one line into the board, and monitor the signal before it goes into the computer/DAW. Use the other line directly into the AD converters.

If it doesn't have multiple outputs, then the going-through-the-board method is an acceptable solution, provided we can work on the gain staging so it doesn't clip your board.

You could also get some kind of buffered splitter to go after the preamp, but a) it would cost money, and b) it would be totally dependent on the quality of the splitter whether it would do less damage to the signal than running it though the console.

Yet another option would be using two mics side by side, provided you own two mics. One mic would then be dedicated to the monitor chain into the board, and the other would go straight into the pre > converter.

It would be helpful to know what gear you are using, this way I could be more thorough in my description. What preamp do you have? What mic? What converters?
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sadworld

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Re: problems with this monitoring set up?
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2004, 09:25:26 pm »

thanks... i like the last idea, it seems the most like way to solve this without any problems.  a seperate mic for monitoring, i like it.  i have a vintech x73i pre. i'm using the AT4050 MIC and running into frontier designs' TANGO 24bit converters. the pre has a balanced quarter inch out and a mic line out, i'll have to look into it i don't know if they can be used together like that. i would think not.  thanks for your help. matt.
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crm0922

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Re: problems with this monitoring set up?
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2004, 03:29:12 am »

Wow.

Anyways, here's what I would do:

Connect your mics to mic pres.  Run the outputs of the pres into your console's line-ins with proper balanced cables.

Connect the direct outs to the Frontier thing.  You might want to bring the levels up by switching from +4dbu to -10dbV levels.  There is a jumper inside to change the levels according to Frontier's website.  http://www.frontierdesign.com

Make a headphone mix or a monitor mix or whatever using the auxes or the console's 2bus, depending on the needs of the performer, your needs, etc.

If your pres have multiple outputs, perhaps an XLR and a 1/4" option, you could use the other output to bring back to the line-in on the board and directly wire the output of the preamp to the input of the converter.

Most of this suggestion was already mentioned here by other folks, but I thought it should be reinforced.  Don't run mics directly into a line-in.

I do think it would behoove you to explore the +4/-10 level change option.  Don't worry if the signal is unbalanced for this short link in the chain.

Good luck.

Chris
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zimv20

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Re: problems with this monitoring set up?
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2004, 10:55:21 am »

anyone here use a half-normalled patchbay to monitor?
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josh

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Re: problems with this monitoring set up?
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2004, 02:04:00 pm »

This is imho one of the best reasons to use a sound card/converter setup that has hardware monitoring capability.

I have managed to go completely mixer-free in my studio saving space and improving the overall sound by using hardware monitoring in my DAW.  Now the mics hit the pre, balanced out, and direct into the DAW.  The monitoring is all done off of a pair of outputs from the DAW with zero latency, direct into the headphone amp.  All "monitor mixing" is done inside the DAW.  It baffles me that more people don't run into this issue.



crm0922

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Re: problems with this monitoring set up?
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2004, 03:42:33 pm »

zimv20 wrote on Mon, 10 May 2004 10:55

anyone here use a half-normalled patchbay to monitor?


This will work as well.  You could bring all the preamp outputs into a patch bay and take the normalled outputs from the back up to your console and patch the front ouputs over to the recording device.

Chris
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sadworld

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Re: problems with this monitoring set up?
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2004, 07:38:46 pm »

good news... i just found out from the manufacturer that i can use the quarter inch out and the mic line outs of my x73i simultaneously. one to my board for monitoring and the other directly into my converters.  i also found this out... the quarter inch out on the pre is UNBALANCED. the back of the x73i actually has a typo. so i  wonder this... should i worry about plugging that unbalanced 1/4" out of my pre into my balanced +10dbu 1/4" on my converter?  i could keep it balanced but i would need an xlr to quarter inch balanced adapter (cause i need that xlr out of the pre to go into a 1/4" jack of the converter) and plug that into my converter, that way it would be balanced to balanced.  then i'd have that extra unbalanced line i could route to my board for monitoring... sound like a winner? i haven't tried it yet... thanks so far, matt.
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otek

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Re: problems with this monitoring set up?
« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2004, 07:57:41 am »

sadworld wrote on Tue, 11 May 2004 01:38

good news... i just found out from the manufacturer that i can use the quarter inch out and the mic line outs of my x73i simultaneously. one to my board for monitoring and the other directly into my converters.  i also found this out... the quarter inch out on the pre is UNBALANCED. the back of the x73i actually has a typo. so i  wonder this... should i worry about plugging that unbalanced 1/4" out of my pre into my balanced +10dbu 1/4" on my converter?  i could keep it balanced but i would need an xlr to quarter inch balanced adapter (cause i need that xlr out of the pre to go into a 1/4" jack of the converter) and plug that into my converter, that way it would be balanced to balanced.  then i'd have that extra unbalanced line i could route to my board for monitoring... sound like a winner? i haven't tried it yet... thanks so far, matt.



This indeed sounds like a winner. And yes, you should definitely pay the extra $20 to get a good, balanced XLR>1/4" cable to go from the balanced out of the pre and directly into the converter.

My only caveat about this setup would be that since you aren't using a compressor, you will have to be careful with your levels. The Vintech is capable of outputting some considerable level and may easily clip the input of the AD.

For guitars and drums you can usually control it enough, but vocals are harder. I would recommend that you look into buying a good compressor with balanced ins and outs to go in between the output of the X73 and the AD inputs.
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sadworld

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Re: problems with this monitoring set up?
« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2004, 05:44:13 pm »

yeah, my converters have a 3 led meter to watch for input OR output and plus i can watch my wave as it's being recorded. i would agree on the compressor, i haven't thought about it, cause before i was inserting it into the channel but now i'll stick it inbetween the pre and the converter. i have a behringer composer. should work fine and thanks a bunch for your input. matt.
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otek

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Re: problems with this monitoring set up?
« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2004, 08:00:11 pm »

sadworld wrote on Tue, 11 May 2004 23:44

yeah, my converters have a 3 led meter to watch for input OR output and plus i can watch my wave as it's being recorded. i would agree on the compressor, i haven't thought about it, cause before i was inserting it into the channel but now i'll stick it inbetween the pre and the converter. i have a behringer composer. should work fine and thanks a bunch for your input. matt.


I don't wanna piss in your beer there, bro.... But even though the Behringer sort of does the job, it's a pretty sorry-sounding unit, especially compared to the great pre you already have. I would look into something like a Distressor, hell, even a used Dbx 160 or an RNC if you're on a budget. All of those will sound a damn sight better than the Behringer.

Trust me. Behringers are from Satan. Real bad Juju Daddy.

Also, a word of caution: Always watch your gain staging when chaining stuff together like this. Check the output of the pre with the compressor bypassed first. Does it look sort of ok? Peaks out every once in a while on a loud note? In this case you're fine. What we don't wanna see is the meters constantly in the red from a super-hot output. The compressor should have a proper input gain to work with. Now put the compressor into operation. Keep its output on unity gain. Dial in a good sounding compression - for vocals, this usually means a ratio of 2:1-3:1, with a 5-10 ms attack and a pretty fast release, compressing from 3-6 db. With something like a Distressor or a Dbx 160, you may wanna get a little hotter than that. Use your ears. Now, with a good compressor setting dialed in, alternate between bypass and in-line for the compressor, and adjust the output gain until the "bypassed" level matches that of the "operative" level.

This way, you'll get the optimum signal-to-noise ratio, and good levels to tape/DAW.
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crm0922

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Re: problems with this monitoring set up?
« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2004, 03:18:25 am »

otek wrote on Tue, 11 May 2004 20:00



Trust me. Behringers are from Satan. Real bad Juju Daddy.




Agreed.  Keep that trash out of your signal path.  Get it into the PC or ADAT as cleanly as you can, you can compress later.  Just be sure you set your levels within reason.  Use the meters on your storage device for more accuracy.  Have the singer frickin' wail once or twice and set the level considerably below that high mark.  Better have "Peak Hold" on your metering enabled in the PC software or ADAT or whatever you are eventually ending up on.

Or you could buy a better compressor.  Even a simple limiter like the one in the Langevin DVC would work great.  Maybe you can spend your $2000 on a DVC and another mic or something.  It is a pretty good pre and a darn good limter for pretty slim money.

Chris
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otek

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Re: problems with this monitoring set up?
« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2004, 06:24:31 am »

crm0922 wrote on Wed, 12 May 2004 09:18

Maybe you can spend your $2000 on a DVC and another mic or something.  It is a pretty good pre and a darn good limter for pretty slim money.



Didn't see any mention of a $2000 budget.

I recommended the Dbx or the RNC because even though they are probably not completely on par with your Vintech, they will fuck up the sound considerably less than the Behringer, and they won't cost an arm and a leg. In fact, both are very good and versatile compressors.

You can also use lower output levels on the pre, and use the Behringer on the monitor path only. This will help the singer hear himself better by giving his headphone mix more even levels.

But really, I consider a mild compression on the way in essential for good vocal tracks. Even though there are singers with good microphone technique and voice control, they are in the minority.
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sadworld

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Re: problems with this monitoring set up?
« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2004, 09:37:05 pm »

thanks for all the suggestions. i'm all set for the vintech as far as monitoring goes but now i must look to the future (like 1 or 2 weeks from now)  i'm picking up a few more channels of mic pres and not all have the dual outputs like the vintech x73i.  what do you think about a y cable for my set up? split the output of the pre...send one to the converters and one to the board for monitoring? any signal degredation there?  i'm in the process of trying to find out if my tango converters are capable of monitoring in real time as this would be ideal, but i don't have a good feeling that they are. otherwise i'll have no choice but to run out of the pre into the line ins of the board and direct out into the converters.

can anyone elaborate on the patchbay suggestion? i have a patchbay that is currently not being used. good idea or no?  

what the heck does every one else do to monitor their pre signals?
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John Ivan

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Re: problems with this monitoring set up?
« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2004, 07:44:00 pm »

[quote title=otek wrote on Tue, 11 May 2004 19:00]
sadworld wrote on Tue, 11 May 2004 23:44



Trust me. Behringers are from Satan. Real bad Juju Daddy.





Yeah..Ya know, I have a very early composer and when I got the damn thing, we already had some DBX stuff and some old {CBS?}' things around. I never found much use for it. Every once in a while I will use it to make strange pumping or something but, It was suposed to be the shit when we got it. I can't tell you what I payed for it back then but, I think it was like $400.00!! Damn!!!
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brandondrury

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Re: problems with this monitoring set up?
« Reply #15 on: May 18, 2004, 01:58:11 am »

I don't see why this monitoring thing is so complicated.

It's already been posted.

RUN A SEPERATE MIC!!!!

My typical vocal mic is an AKG 414 through a Vintech 1272 directly into a Delta 1010.

Then I toss an extra mic (everyone has at least 2 mics), if not go pick up a $20 mic on Musician's Friend.  Run the mic into your board.  If you want to compress it, then compress it.  

This method also allows you to use eq for the monitor mix without effecting the recording signal.

Brandon
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