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Author Topic: Considering high end for wedding ceremonies. But is it overkill?  (Read 9001 times)

Lou Paris (Paris Creative)

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Considering high end for wedding ceremonies. But is it overkill?
« on: September 23, 2014, 11:23:11 pm »

I am currently using some fairly lower end equipment that has "gotten me by" with my ceremony needs. A GTD quad channel receiver and a simple Behringer rack mixer that in general covers the basics, but of course any slight deviation from a simple environment and it's less than ideal. My business had grown considerably since I started it in late 2012 (2 customers to 10 customers to 32 customers) and now that many of my clients are requesting ceremony services along with reception I am stepping up my game, considerably.

I am thinking of purchasing a Behringer X32 plus a Shure ULXD4Q. This is not a cheap setup by any means, but it would give me a lot of control. The parametric eq, compressor, and gate would let me refine what should be a quality output from the mics. I could utilize Dante to reduce cable clutter. It's all a nice package, but at a steep price.

The question is if I am really over engineering and overthinking this? I have been put off by my current setup that it has me thinking "do it right or go home" but are there less expensive solutions that would give me a top end quality rig?
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chuck clark

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Re: Considering high end for wedding ceremonies. But is it overkill?
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2014, 12:16:52 am »

A: Yes  It's overkill.
What are you doing Lou, weddings w/ a couple of mics?  I doubt you need a mixer w/ 32 inputs for that!  I would suggest a Presonus or an A&H Q series w/ 16 inputs.  Save a thousand bucks and you still get the 4 band parametric eq and dynamics and effects you need.
Sounds great. Less filling. Happy sailing.
Chuck
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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: Considering high end for wedding ceremonies. But is it overkill?
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2014, 05:51:30 am »

I am currently using some fairly lower end equipment that has "gotten me by" with my ceremony needs. A GTD quad channel receiver and a simple Behringer rack mixer that in general covers the basics, but of course any slight deviation from a simple environment and it's less than ideal. My business had grown considerably since I started it in late 2012 (2 customers to 10 customers to 32 customers) and now that many of my clients are requesting ceremony services along with reception I am stepping up my game, considerably.

I am thinking of purchasing a Behringer X32 plus a Shure ULXD4Q. This is not a cheap setup by any means, but it would give me a lot of control. The parametric eq, compressor, and gate would let me refine what should be a quality output from the mics. I could utilize Dante to reduce cable clutter. It's all a nice package, but at a steep price.

The question is if I am really over engineering and overthinking this? I have been put off by my current setup that it has me thinking "do it right or go home" but are there less expensive solutions that would give me a top end quality rig?
Having good quality equipment is a wonderful thing, assuming your rates cover enough depreciation to make it work financially. 

There's nothing wrong with an X32, but you or your clients may perhaps appreciate the smaller size of the Qu-16 or a smaller X32 variant.  The ULXD is great, but expensive.  Since you will likely only need a couple channels, you may want to check into the new QLX series, which has most of the same features and performance of the ULX-D series, but is a little less expensive.

What is the rest of the system?  What problems are you experiencing?  What are your clients asking of you that you can't deliver?  A reasonable mixing board is a great asset, and wireless mics that work and don't drop out are as well.  Are your speakers adequate?  Does your equipment look nice?
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Brian Jojade

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Re: Considering high end for wedding ceremonies. But is it overkill?
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2014, 12:06:16 pm »

For a ceremony system, I have an X32 RACK, amps, and Shure ULX-P microphones. Usually I'll use SRX712M speakers.  The total cost for the kit came to somewhere around $10K.

Compare that to some packages that the competition brings out for ceremony systems that has a cost of less than $1000 for everything, and of course, it sounds like that.  As long as I can charge at least $200 MORE per show because of the higher end gear, I'm coming out ahead.  Once people hear the difference, that's not usually much of a problem.

For a ceremony, having a full X32 is overkill.  I've never seen a ceremony needing 32 inputs!  Dante is cool, but there isn't going to be a reduction in cable clutter for such a small system.  The cost difference for Dante cards and Dante capable mics is very hard to justify.
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Lou Paris (Paris Creative)

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Re: Considering high end for wedding ceremonies. But is it overkill?
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2014, 01:22:43 pm »

OK let me dive into the current setup a little so you can see where I am coming from. I currently have what is best described as a combo-setup that I can interchange for my ceremony and my reception needs when needed. About 75% of my gigs are ceremony and reception, and about 75% of those I have a ceremony at a seperate site that requires a second system. But I was trying to come up with something that I can throw into my main setup when needed. So I have a rack back with:

GTD 4-channel wireless receiver w/ 4 mics and 3 lavs
AKG 1-channel wireless mic receiver (backup)
Alto Wireless transmitter
Behringer 8-channel mixer
Power Strip

https://www.dropbox.com/sc/ldncuwgwlgzazf3/AACuH4zHmzYknd5JnIPfDt7Sa

So the current mics are just fair. They sound ok in very ideal conditions, but I seldom operate in ideal conditions. My lack of a good parametric EQ with compression and gate control don't let me rig out my setup much so I get constant feedback from guests talking to close to the speakers, or a very tinny sound no matter how much gain and EQ I can muster for those that talk with the mic a bit lower. I am certian I could overcome many of those issues with a good mic and mix setup.

I use a single Yamaha DXR8 for most ceremonies. On a rare occasion I will bring in a second, usually run wirelessly to it. My reception system I have a pair of DXR8's with DXR12's, Rane 62, and Denon SC3900s.

Most ceremonies I will run 1-4 mics. The current lav packs are not good enough to pick up all three people. Actually it's a challenge with even the one. So I've been micing up all the participants to compensate. Gain has to be way high. Just not happy with that.

I would be afraid to have a ceremony with only two receivers/mics. For instance what if I mic up the groom, officiant, and a speaker needs to speak.

I also run into a lot of ceremonies that are not ideal conditions (say windy for instance).

I have run into situations where I had a live band plug into me, both ceremony or reception. So my channel needs can jump from 1-10. This does not happen often, but the flexibility is nice that the DJ can "save the day" when it's needed.

So some of my limitations. Because I would like to use this with my core setup at times, I need to make sure it fits into my primary setup. I run a very clean setup, no facade, and I can't put a mixer board at the same level as my decks and my primary mixer (Rane 62). So that leaves me to put it in my stand, but the depth of the stand is limiting plus trying to live mix someone with the equipment that low is not flattering. So most of the typical mixers with sliders have too much depth to fit. So that got me thinking with the X32 that while it's channel overkill, I could control with my laptop, ipad, even the front panel in an emergency. I've also looked at the PreSonus RM16AI but it's 6 lbs heavier and 7" deeper.

https://www.dropbox.com/sc/ztvea63k6zls6iv/AAC7SMu229g7auiTX6J5fijta

https://www.dropbox.com/sc/91mo15wosb9a3uj/AABRde7IKCczBNSMqiQE2ryTa

It may also be that I should rethink my whole core setup strategy, but I really love this setup.

Right now I charge +$300 off my main price for ceremonies and if I did "go for the gusto" I would probably raise it up to +$400-$500 and sell the ultra-high quality it offers. ROI would be a wedding season.

So what do I want?

> Great sound out of up-to 4 mics (and a diversity of mics to select from)
> Combiner so I can run off a pair of paddle antennas when needed, dipoles for other uses
> Ability to work in less-than-ideal conditions (wind, soft speakers, feedback cancellation)
> Ability to rig out my system
> Interoprobility with my primary system
> Ability to provide RCA, Balaced, and XLR to a videographer
> As lightweight as I can get it
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Considering high end for wedding ceremonies. But is it overkill?
« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2014, 02:36:58 pm »

Hi Lou-

Really you're trying to overcome bad speaker placement (often out of your control - wedding planners and mother of the bride issues), guests who don't speak loudly enough or freak out and get quiet when they hear themselves in the PA (very common) or who lack sufficient awareness to put the mic reasonably close to their mouth.  The rest is pretty much sense, both technically and business-wise.

What is your role during the ceremonies?  Can you actively mix the event or are you sequestered some place where you can't do what needs to be done?  It's been a long time since I've done sound for a wedding ceremony (and it was on a church's installed system with their mics), but I recall using wireless lavalier mics on the bride, groom, and officiant; wired mic for singer(s) and DI for keyboard or guitar.  I also recall hiding a wired mic in the floral arrangement behind the kneeling bench at a different church.  The ceremony is where you have the most control (and the least forgiveness if you don't deliver) so use that aspect to your advantage.  Officiants are usually the least of your problems...

Receptions - the dreaded auntie or uncle or grandparent who freezes up the instant they hear themselves, etc., gets combined with lack of control over speaker placement and planner/mother issues.  There is another thread in the Lounge forum about wedding receptions and guests speaking/toasts/etc that is worth your time to find.  Ultimately this is a human problem that requires a mostly human solution; "better" gear will help but cannot overcome Aunt Sally's sudden muteness or Grandpa's previously unknown shyness when they are right in front of the only PA speaker the wedding planner let you put (and only in that location).  This is also where you enlist the assistance of MomZilla or another member of the wedding party to "help" with the microphone and assure Sally and Gramps that it's okay to hear themselves.  A familiar face offering encouragement (and pointing the mic at the person, rather than the ground - yes it happens) is faster, better and cheaper than a "feedback destroyer" that has to sense the ringing (as will the guests) before it can work.  The rest of the reception after the first dances (couple, parents, etc) is pretty much wall paper music for everyone NOT on the dance floor (find that thread in the Lounge for more discussion), so you may wish to address the "entertainment" as a sub-system of the whole reception system design.

Working outdoors in windy environments is also something beyond your control and will require some adjustment regarding the expected outcome.  The things that help with wind noise are not visually conducive to wedding planners, brides and MomZillas.  Effective windscreens are big and usually not white or beige and some look like a dead cat (the fur, anyway, google it).  Your job is finding a balance between client aesthetic demands and audio expectations.  The variable high pass filter on the channel strip is your friend, but you're likely out of luck with 25MPH winds, a whispering bride and the only place to kind of hide her lavalier mic means you can't put a windscreen on it.

You might wish to search the interwebs for "location sound" - what the movie and video guys do.  They have a lot more leeway in equipment selection (much of which is very expensive) but the techniques they use can be applied to some of your situation.

As to providing a feed to VDO - I'd give a transformer isolated, XLR feed and have the ability to turn it waaaaay down if needed.  The VDO guy/gal should have their own way to get that into their recorder or camera unless you're dealing with amateurs.

In general, I believe that wireless anything will fail.  While it's really fairly reliable (and can be very reliable in the right hands with a proper budget), batteries fail, mics come loose for their attachments, or the user turns them off somehow.  I'd place wired back up mics some place where they can be immediately accessed.  It is better for the officiant to hand the bride & groom a wired (or hand held wireless) back up mic than to be inaudible.  Have a plan to Make The Sound Happen even if every wireless mic fails.  And make it as invisible as possible.  Having wired spares also means that if you have a stationary presenter, he or she can use one of spares (all you need is a stand).
« Last Edit: September 24, 2014, 02:48:36 pm by Tim McCulloch »
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Tommy Peel

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Re: Considering high end for wedding ceremonies. But is it overkill?
« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2014, 02:55:47 pm »

So what do I want?

> Great sound out of up-to 4 mics (and a diversity of mics to select from)
> Combiner so I can run off a pair of paddle antennas when needed, dipoles for other uses
> Ability to work in less-than-ideal conditions (wind, soft speakers, feedback cancellation)
> Ability to rig out my system
> Interoperability with my primary system
> Ability to provide RCA, Balanced, and XLR to a videographer
> As lightweight as I can get it
I would think an x32 Rack + wireless AP + iPad would work great as a mixer for what you do. You could rack it with whatever wireless mic receivers you decide on in an appropriately sized rack case with the receivers always connected to the mixer. I'll defer to more knowledgeable people on the mics, but I've always had good luck with Sennheiser wireless gear; probably some ew100 series mics and a combiner would do what you need to do much better than what you have. 4 mic receivers, the combiner, and the mixer would fit in a 6u rack case.

And +1000 to what Tim said; better gear won't completely fix people/environment problems. Probably the better EQ options offered by a digital mixer will help though.
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Re: Considering high end for wedding ceremonies. But is it overkill?
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2014, 03:03:12 pm »

A simple little Shure SCM410 auto-mixer can make multiple-mic setups work really well.
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Lou Paris (Paris Creative)

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Re: Considering high end for wedding ceremonies. But is it overkill?
« Reply #8 on: September 24, 2014, 03:53:53 pm »

Oh I am under no illusion that simply great gear solves everything. There is no way to overcome some situations, but I do want to better the odds in my favor.

The X32 (and the RM16AI) has the compelling feature of having iPad control so I could mix up by my laptop for when I do need to live mix. That being said the SCM410/810 is the one of the few auto-mixers I have seen. Is this something that is very good at? I have seen also automixing at the software level (Dan Dugan Automixer Plugin) but I have not researched much into this.

It would be quite convenient that I could rely on some automation in this. As a DJ I am already pulling a lot of strings behind the scenes. If say that SCM410 works well I can do as I do right now and feed that signal to my Rane 62's mic channel and have single knob control when I need it, but have the hardware or software manage a lot of the tweaking.

It also makes me think if I should look at taking some of the money I would do for say the microphones, "step down" to say a EW 135, and use the extra for something like a automixer and a feedback suppressor teamed with the compressor and gate control of the X32 or something similar.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2014, 04:10:03 pm by Lou Paris (Paris Creative) »
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Brian Jojade

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Re: Considering high end for wedding ceremonies. But is it overkill?
« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2014, 08:03:48 pm »

You have to look at all points in the system and find the weakest link.  The X32 RACK is a great mixer for this scenario as it has easy iPad control and tons of flexibility.  Being able to have it rack mounted means less connections onsite for faster and cleaner setup.

Having good quality speakers for the type of event you do is also important.  While you can compensate somewhat with EQ, if the speakers don't output clean sound, the best equipment up front won't matter one bit.

Lastly, and the most often overlooked is the microphone being used.  I'm pretty familiar with the SHURE line of mics.  Cheap wireless can't be made to sound great. You will get sound through, but it's still going to be a mess and not sound right.  With the new digital offerings coming to market, the bar is changing slightly, so some of the cheaper alternatives are becoming acceptable.  In the analog world, the Shure PG and PGX line are all but useless.  Not a chance I'd run those systems.  The SLX is so-so. The ULX is acceptable, although not quite as good as a wired alternative. The UHF-R is pretty amazing. I have a hard time telling the difference between wired and wireless in most scenarios.  The new ULX-D line is amazing. I have not been able to distinguish a difference in audio quality between wired and wireless when using that system.  The QLX line should be the same way.

Now, once we figure that out, knowing what mic element to use for the situation will make a big difference as well.  The traditional SM58 head is great for someone that knows how to work the mic, but that may not fit the type of users that you're dealing with.  Having something that works well with improper mic technique will make your life much easier.
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