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Author Topic: Good mic gain technique or not?  (Read 3118 times)

Jamin Lynch

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Good mic gain technique or not?
« on: March 08, 2019, 03:51:22 pm »

I was talking with the house sound guy at a local venue.  He likes to set his mic gains really high. Much higher than I'm comfortable with. In fact, they often hit the top of the meter scale. He says its to get the maximum saturation out of the mic pre. He also compresses each channel much more than I do. To me, it also sounds like the gains are set too hot.

I thought that was more of a studio technique rather than for live sound.


Thoughts?
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lindsay Dean

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Re: Good mic gain technique or not?
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2019, 04:54:50 pm »

So he cranks it up,to compress it down...... wait.......what?
To each his own I guess, that sounds like you be smacking😘 the preamp so hard you would have a near or at distortion issue
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Good mic gain technique or not?
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2019, 05:09:49 pm »

He's flogging the pre?  If he's looking for whatever that sound is, on every input, I guess that's up to him.  Not my choice.
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Jamin Lynch

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Re: Good mic gain technique or not?
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2019, 05:31:25 pm »

So he cranks it up,to compress it down...... wait.......what?
To each his own I guess, that sounds like you be smacking😘 the preamp so hard you would have a near or at distortion issue

Kinda what I was thinking  ;)

He is also a studio guy, of which I am not.

Isn't running hot mic pre's and lots of compression is a technique often used in a studio??
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Miguel Dahl

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Re: Good mic gain technique or not?
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2019, 06:07:51 pm »

I guess it's just how one likes to work. Maybe he likes the sound of the pre's running hot, than when they are barely tickling the input?

For me it would be something like turning down the master faders on a yammie, master bus & aux busses, and run the inputs hotter than I would need comparing to masters at 0 (it would be to loud with hotter inputs), just to not have to chase the inputs with the threshold levels set at -40 for comps and gates, and barely seeing the input leds light up.  That would be my gain structure on that board, others have other gain-structures.
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Chris Grimshaw

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Re: Good mic gain technique or not?
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2019, 06:45:34 pm »

Sounds like he's been reading too many articles about studio recordings, where they'll usually have a money channel mic preamp, selected specifically for its characteristics at or near overload. It'll then be operated at that level, and usually patched into a compressor, before hitting the tape.

I can see some advantages - if the mic preamp overloads reasonably gracefully*, you get a hard limiter on each channel for free. Pretty useful for catching those "gotchya" moments where someone gets close to a mic and screams - a compressor with a 2.5:1 ratio wouldn't save you from that.

Anyway, it's not how I'd run my board, but if he's chasing a sound and finds that's the way to get it, more power to him.

Chris

*Not all of them do. Some are really nasty. Prior knowledge of the desk in question will be essential to figure out if this technique is remotely viable.
Now I'm wondering if Peavey's DDT limiting (which has always been pretty impressive IMO) could be implemented in a mic preamp...
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Jeremy Young

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Re: Good mic gain technique or not?
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2019, 06:59:44 pm »

When I hear the word "saturation" I think transformers. Which gives the sound a unique colouration that can be appealing to some people - more of an artistic choice than anything.  That only holds however if the board in question uses transformers in each preamp, which isn't really in favour (for the sake of weight) in most portable desks. 

I wouldn't say it's "wrong" unless there is significant compression pumping or audible artifacts, continuous clipping of inputs causing distortion, runaway feedback due to overcompression, etc.  If it sounds good then how he gets there doesn't really matter, but when you say it sounds like the gains are too hot do you mean audibly or descriptively "sounds"?  If it sounds bad, fix your process.

Personally I share your opinion.  No need to over-compress in live audio or you lose the LIVE part quickly. 

I knew folks who used to do the old "hockey stick mixing" approach, where they set every fader to the same level across the board where they have the most finite control over level, and then bring up the preamps until they had just enough level for the mix. These guys were analog board guys though. On digital boards this approach can lead to a lower signal-to-noise ratio if you have a rig with lots of headroom and aren't maximizing the noise floor of the first ADC.


*Edit: as I typed this I see Chris has said something similar to do with certain boutique studio gizmos and voodoo boxes.
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Dave Garoutte

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Re: Good mic gain technique or not?
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2019, 07:05:36 pm »

Does he think the compressor will keep the pre from clipping?
It comes after, so he will just compress the clipped/overloaded signal, rather than prevent it.
I tend to run them hot-ish, but I never want to see the clip light.
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Alec Spence

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Re: Good mic gain technique or not?
« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2019, 07:07:03 pm »

Not how I'd mix, but of course there's no one "right" way to skin a cat in our business.

The bottom line is whether his mix sounds good or not.
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Pat Latimer

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Re: Good mic gain technique or not?
« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2019, 07:10:19 pm »

Not how I'd mix, but of course there's no one "right" way to skin a cat in our business.

The bottom line is whether his mix sounds good or not.

Great point, Alec.

Jamin, did it sound good? Have a chance to hear his, "technique"?

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Re: Good mic gain technique or not?
« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2019, 07:10:19 pm »


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