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Author Topic: Good mic gain technique or not?  (Read 3119 times)

Luke Geis

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Re: Good mic gain technique or not?
« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2019, 07:12:17 pm »

We had a little conversation about this sort of thing several months ago. I am in the school of doing things more textbook and cooking the HA's is what I consider not a textbook method.

I actually made a video showing the pro's and cons of HA level settings from too cold to cooked and it revealed a couple of things. I think the most revealing was that as long as the HA is not clipped the signal will be linear and nothing special is done to the signal. At the onset of clipping, there is obviously going to be non-linearities and the sound will change. Not all mixers are the same and some do respond differently to differing HA settings, but only at the extremes. I would bet he hasn't done a quantifiable test to confirm his belief though.

The other thing that I found is that with cooked HA settings you have to change the way you run the rest of the system. In the case of monitors from FOH, you would have to change away from a textbook way of running monitors. The pots have a logarithmic curve to them and at lower settings, a small change results in a larger shift in volume. This can make the sends for monitors turn into hair triggers for feedback. I hadn't followed up with a video on that yet, but a preliminary test did show that if you turn down the master send, it gets you back into normal operating standards and feedback stability. The long and short of it though was that gain is in fact gain, but how you run the system as a whole can impact the sound quality and feedback stability. When you operate away from best practices and standards in one area, it means you have to operate outside of best standards and practices in another. This can lead to issues if you are not savvy to that fact.

The test I did was on two different mixers spanning ultra cheap to expensive enough and the results were the same with both. Low HA settings result in excess noise, while cooked HA settings result in hair-trigger feedback unless you alter the way you run the rest of the mixer. In both cases, the signal was absolutely linear all the way up to clipping and I saw no appreciable reason to even consider cooking the HA. In essence, all it did was show that there is a reason we have a best practices and standards way of doing this task. Deviating from it just adds potentials for problems. What you can see in the last video ( I didn't really address what the signal looks like when clipped at the HA ) is that the input was clipping occasionally and the green trace is still linear. So you can see you really have to bury the input into the red to get any real distortion from the preamp on this particular mixer. I can tell you that the cheap Behringer had the same results though. 

In case you want to see those videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uzv_dAbkjSM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOWthYvorNE&t=133s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8Qj_LuhLJk



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Justice C. Bigler

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Re: Good mic gain technique or not?
« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2019, 08:26:21 pm »

Yeah, I don't buy in to that philosophy either. Especially in the age of 24 and 32 bit AD conversion, there's no need to saturate the preamp. That's something that guys that grew up on those old analog consoles mixing rock and shows do.

I've recently had some discussion with the the guys that operate one of the clubs that I recently designed. The system gain structure is quite adequate, but when recording from the Dante network, the wave forms seem too small to them. These guys are all "studio" guys, but mostly home recording guys. It's not something that worries me since I do alot more live event recording than they do and I always end up with a mix that sounds good.
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Jamin Lynch

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Re: Good mic gain technique or not?
« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2019, 09:07:44 pm »

It doesn't sound terrible, just OK. Whenever I hear it I know it could be so much better though. Usually the vocals sound over compressed and the overall mix seems "in your face" even at lower volumes. A bit harsh at times, epscially at higher volumes.

It's an SC48 console. None of the visiting BE's run it that way.  They generaly run it similar to how I do.

Whenever I run sound on this console I tend to run my mic gain a little on the low side. With some light compression just to keep things under control, depending on the instrument and band.

I like to keep everything in the green. There's plenty of "rig for the gig" at this venue, so I don't see a reason to push anything very hard. Seems a lot smoother and cleaner.
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Chris Grimshaw

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Re: Good mic gain technique or not?
« Reply #13 on: March 09, 2019, 02:14:21 am »

It doesn't sound terrible, just OK. Whenever I hear it I know it could be so much better though. Usually the vocals sound over compressed and the overall mix seems "in your face" even at lower volumes. A bit harsh at times, epscially at higher volumes.

That could easily be the result of having a compressor working hard on every channel.
I suspect he's trying to make it "sound like the record" instead of sounding like the live band that's actually on the stage.

Chris
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Jean-Pierre Coetzee

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Re: Good mic gain technique or not?
« Reply #14 on: March 09, 2019, 02:26:03 am »

It doesn't sound terrible, just OK. Whenever I hear it I know it could be so much better though. Usually the vocals sound over compressed and the overall mix seems "in your face" even at lower volumes. A bit harsh at times, epscially at higher volumes.

It's an SC48 console. None of the visiting BE's run it that way.  They generaly run it similar to how I do.

Whenever I run sound on this console I tend to run my mic gain a little on the low side. With some light compression just to keep things under control, depending on the instrument and band.

I like to keep everything in the green. There's plenty of "rig for the gig" at this venue, so I don't see a reason to push anything very hard. Seems a lot smoother and cleaner.

TBH on the SC48 I run gains at first orange light and the clip setting at -6. I find that the pres can clip without the channel clip light actually turning on so I end up just using my ears. The SC48 also doesn't have a bad sounding clip, depending on the source it can be decent to run the channel just in clip but depending on style and such...

Regarding running a compressor and using the clip as a limiter or something similar. Run a very high ration compressor(something like 8-10) and a very smooth knee(I can't remember if the is high or low but a soft knee not a hard knee)

What ends up happening is that when you are just in compression where you should be for live then you will have your usual 2.5-4 ratio but when the signal gets loud you get your limiting ratio.
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Tim Halligan

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Re: Good mic gain technique or not?
« Reply #15 on: March 09, 2019, 06:39:11 am »

On a digital console?

That guy is a cretin.

Cheers,
Tim

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Jamin Lynch

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Re: Good mic gain technique or not?
« Reply #16 on: March 09, 2019, 09:25:09 am »

That could easily be the result of having a compressor working hard on every channel.
I suspect he's trying to make it "sound like the record" instead of sounding like the live band that's actually on the stage.

Chris

Exactly. I believe he is trying to apply his studio techniques to live sound.

With the mic gains so hot, he runs the channel faders lower and the master below unity.
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Mark Oakley

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Re: Good mic gain technique or not?
« Reply #17 on: March 09, 2019, 11:07:18 am »

With the mic gains so hot, he runs the channel faders lower and the master below unity.

To me, that's pushing the gas and the brake together.

-Mark
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Mal Brown

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Re: Good mic gain technique or not?
« Reply #18 on: March 09, 2019, 01:05:49 pm »

sounds like an invitation to digital clipping which is not a sound I ever need to hear...
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Michael Thompson

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Re: Good mic gain technique or not?
« Reply #19 on: March 09, 2019, 03:21:56 pm »

Most opamp based preamps have less and less THD until they clip and then it skyrockets, so hitting the pre's harder would actually be less "saturated" as long as they aren't actually clipping.  This is often the case for power amps too.
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Re: Good mic gain technique or not?
« Reply #19 on: March 09, 2019, 03:21:56 pm »


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