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Author Topic: Where to add gain in a vocal chain  (Read 3101 times)

David Shriver

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Where to add gain in a vocal chain
« on: March 25, 2013, 05:08:19 pm »

Hello everyone,

A question by one of my interns made me stop and re-evaluate how I normally do things. 

Where is the proper place to add gain to a vocal chain?  Here's the scnenerio...

Wireless KMS 105 -> Wireless receiver -> Preamp on mixing board ->

Each of these 3 steps has a way to add gain.  Gain could be further adjusted at the channel strip fader, main fader, amp, etc, but lets put those aside for the moment.

I can set the mic transmitter to -36db, the rx to 0db, and use about 30db of gain on my board
OR
I can set the mic transmitter to -6db, the rx to 0db, and use 0db (or line level) on my board
OR
I can set the mic transmitter to -42db, the rx to 10db, and use 26db of gain on my board
OR
any other combination of settings.

There are lots of ways to get a usable level to the fader.  But where is the best place to add the gain or does it matter?

-d
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John Roberts {JR}

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Re: Where to add gain in a vocal chain
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2013, 05:22:05 pm »

It mainly matters if you get it very wrong... i.e. clipping and overloading a section you can't get to easily to correct in the fly, or hitting circuits so low that adding gain later makes it too noisy to use.

Modern gear is pretty low noise and forgiving to a wider range of operating levels. In general adding gain earlier rather than later is better for optimal S/N but do not run your early path so hot that an enthusiastic performer causes overload in the middle of a show.

Short answer don't worry too much and over think this.


JR
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Brian Jojade

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Re: Where to add gain in a vocal chain
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2013, 05:25:46 pm »

The correct answer is 'yes'

Ideally, you want the gain to be at the highest possible level throughout the chain, but be below clipping.  If the level is set too high, and you clip anywhere in the chain, your sound will suck.  If you set the level too low, and you make up the gain downstage, you not only amplify the signal, but any noise that's present as well.  However, if you're going to error in any direction, this would be preferred as some noise is better than a clipped signal any day.

With good equipment, you can run the level pretty low, giving you tons of headroom and still maintain acceptable signal to noise.
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Karl Winkler

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Re: Where to add gain in a vocal chain
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2013, 06:02:33 pm »

Hello everyone,

A question by one of my interns made me stop and re-evaluate how I normally do things. 

Where is the proper place to add gain to a vocal chain?  Here's the scnenerio...

Wireless KMS 105 -> Wireless receiver -> Preamp on mixing board ->


> I can set the mic transmitter to -6db, the rx to 0db, and use 0db (or line level) on my board


There are lots of ways to get a usable level to the fader.  But where is the best place to add the gain or does it matter?

-d

In my opinion, you should start by setting the transmitter audio gain as high as possible before limiting/clipping on peaks. It may even be advantageous to have a small amount of peak limiting at the transmitter if the transmitter allows for this without overloading/clipping. Not all do.

Radio mics generally work best this way and will have the best operating range. A strong audio signal modulation from the transmitter signal keeps the noise floor from being passed down the chain. Then, go line level out of the receiver into the console. Again, you are avoiding unnecessary gain by doing so and may pick up ~3dB s/n. However, some consoles simply pad down the mic input to provide a line level input. On such consoles, it probably doesn't make much difference which input you use as long as you are feeding it with an appropriate level of signal from the receiver.
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Airton Pereira

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Re: Where to add gain in a vocal chain
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2013, 08:35:43 pm »

I have a similar situation. A headworn mic, wireless transmitter, receiver and console. I set the gain at the transmitter to the receiver first. Then, I set the gain from the receiver to the console and finally in the console itself. Each one is the hottest possible without clipping. The signal comes to the console at about -20db and I just add gain until it reaches about -6db. FYI each gain knob on the chain is halfway through, I think that is the best configuration, because every component is adding gain without clipping the system.
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info@travelingmonkeysound.com

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Re: Where to add gain in a vocal chain
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2013, 11:34:08 pm »

With two caveats my process is to: get the TX as hot as the talent will allow (no clipping), leave the RX at unity and use the console to gain up to a healthy level. It's anecetotal, and largely semantic, but hopefully your board preamp is better sounding than your wireless output gain.


Caveats:
1) With older radio mics I think it was important to use as much gain up front as possible because the companding/lack-thereof could introduce noise. The only way to improve S/N was to get more signal at the TX.

2) If you don't know the "talent" or it's going to be passed around at a corpy gig, the only thing you can do is open up the sensitivity on the TX. It's far better to to capture the signal from the person holding the mic at their navel and have a slightly clippy close talker than clean signal on the close talker and an inaudible navel picker.

It also depends on so many other factor and desired outcomes. You might turn down the TX to reduce bleed from other sources (another benefit of good companding), but distance to your antenna might reduce the dynamic range at the RX and make you turn up the TX.



 



Hello everyone,

A question by one of my interns made me stop and re-evaluate how I normally do things. 

Where is the proper place to add gain to a vocal chain?  Here's the scnenerio...

Wireless KMS 105 -> Wireless receiver -> Preamp on mixing board ->

Each of these 3 steps has a way to add gain.  Gain could be further adjusted at the channel strip fader, main fader, amp, etc, but lets put those aside for the moment.

I can set the mic transmitter to -36db, the rx to 0db, and use about 30db of gain on my board
OR
I can set the mic transmitter to -6db, the rx to 0db, and use 0db (or line level) on my board
OR
I can set the mic transmitter to -42db, the rx to 10db, and use 26db of gain on my board
OR
any other combination of settings.

There are lots of ways to get a usable level to the fader.  But where is the best place to add the gain or does it matter?

-d
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Jordan Wolf

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Re: Where to add gain in a vocal chain
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2013, 07:39:15 am »

There are lots of ways to get a usable level to the fader.  But where is the best place to add the gain or does it matter?
David,

I agree with everyone else's sentiments.  You have to find the happy medium for the TX sensitivity/gain; I can compensate for a lower TX Audio level at the console, especially if that means that the TX won't clip.

Clean, undistorted audio is your friend, and the client will notice - or not, which might be the ideal thing anyway.
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Josh Hana

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Re: Where to add gain in a vocal chain
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2013, 09:12:59 am »

It can be a bit tricky with wireless mics, but we generally have them set the following (Shure UHF-R)

Tx set between 0 and -6dB (Scream as loudly as you can with your mouth on the grill and cupping the mic. If you clip, turn down a few dB and try again. Where you end up might vary slightly depending on capsule)

Rx should be at 0dB, we usually run at line level out, which usually requires:

Pad at the board, and that should still give you plenty of signal to work with.
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Re: Where to add gain in a vocal chain
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2013, 12:25:15 pm »

Hello everyone,

A question by one of my interns made me stop and re-evaluate how I normally do things. 

Where is the proper place to add gain to a vocal chain?  Here's the scnenerio...

Wireless KMS 105 -> Wireless receiver -> Preamp on mixing board ->

Each of these 3 steps has a way to add gain.  Gain could be further adjusted at the channel strip fader, main fader, amp, etc, but lets put those aside for the moment.

I can set the mic transmitter to -36db, the rx to 0db, and use about 30db of gain on my board
OR
I can set the mic transmitter to -6db, the rx to 0db, and use 0db (or line level) on my board
OR
I can set the mic transmitter to -42db, the rx to 10db, and use 26db of gain on my board
OR
any other combination of settings.

There are lots of ways to get a usable level to the fader.  But where is the best place to add the gain or does it matter?

-d

My rule of thumb is to address every issue as far "upstream" as possible.  Get it right in the beginning and you're better off.
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ProSoundWeb Community

Re: Where to add gain in a vocal chain
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2013, 12:25:15 pm »


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