comps, gates, and racks Oh my.


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Our TD has cash to spend becasue we made money on this show so he is looking at geting two more intells and some nex cordless drills. He told me to see if there was anything was needed soundwise and I am thinking of gaetting some gates and some comps. I was thinking about gateing the group our boundery mics are assinged to becasue even when I ride the fader between lines they pic up alot of other sounds. As far as comps go I would just use it on people who were on both end of the spectrum.

Now that you know my reasons is this a good use of money, we have ten wireless body packs, a handfull of 58s and 57s, and 2 moniters.

My understanding for hooking up gates is just put it between the mic and board is this correct? How would I go about doing it for a group?

Thanks so far I am looking at DBX and then picking up a small snake once I find out what ends I will need. I will make a rack unless I get a deal on one else where.

Most boards have a send/return insert jack per channel strip, and one per submaster as well. These are where compressors/gates are connected. If you need to compress an individual mic, use the channel strip insert. If you need to compress a group of mics, assign them all to the same submaster and use the submaster insert. Some boards have inserts for the mains as well, a good place to put limiters to protect your speakers.

In my own system (for rock concerts), I have four submasters - my mic. groupings are vocals, guitars, drums and other instruments(keyboards, horns, etc.). Each submaster gets a compressor. Each individual vocal mic. gets its own compressor (high threshold, fairly high ratio), as does the bass. Each drum mic gets a gate. My mains go through a 31-band graphic EQ and a dBx 1066 gate/compressor/limiter. I don't use the gate, set the compressor for a medium threshold, gentle ratio, medium attack and slow release and the limiter where it needs to be to protect my speakers, i.e.- keep my power amps from clipping. It seems to work well - I've gotten a lot of compliments.

I'm pretty happy with my dBx 1066... and even the little 266 does a decent job, though it doesn't have the limiter. An indication of how well dBx has it together is that several other manufacturers buy chipsets (ICs) from dBx to build their own compressors.

The insert is a tip/ring/sleeve jack, like a stereo headphone connector. The sleeve is common (ground). Usually (but not always) tip is send (output from the mic preamp to the gate or compressor) and ring is return (input from the gate or compressor to the rest of the channel strip) - some boards hook them up the other way, so check your users manual. When there's nothing plugged into the insert jack, tip and ring are "normalled"(connected together) so the mic preamp just goes straight into the rest of the channel strip. Plugging something into the insert jack automatically breaks that connection. There's a special cable, called an "insert cable" that has a stereo (TRS) plug at one end and two mono (TS) plugs at the other - one connected to the tip and the other to the ring contact of the stereo plug. You'd put the mono plug that's hooked to the tip of the stereo plug in the input of your compressor or gate, the one hooked to the ring terminal goes to the output jack on the compressor or gate, and the stereo one into the insert jack on the board. The mic stays plugged into the channel strip just like always. The signal goes from the mic to the mic preamp (the "gain" or "pad" knob at the very top of the channel strip), where it's amplified to the -10dBV level that's pretty standard for outboard gear. From there it goes out from the tip of the insert connector to the input of your compressor, gate, graphic EQ or whatever else you might want to stick on an individual channel. From the output of the outboard gear, it goes back down through the other half of the insert cable to the ring part of the insert jack, which is connected to the EQ, pan pot, fader and bus assign buttons of the channel strip.

If there are inserts for the submasters, they work about the same - the bus connections from the channel strips are brought to the submaster insert jack tip connection. The ring connection goes to the submaster fader. Again, when there's nothing plugged in, tip and ring are "normalled" and the bus signal goes right to the submaster fader.

Insert cables are readily available and fairly cheap at Guitar Center, Sam Ash and most places that sell PA or recording gear.

The insert socket on the mixer is both an input and an output - the tip sends the direct signal from the channel preamp and the ring feeds the rest of the channel strip. With no jack in the socket, the signal goes straight through.

So, you need to buy or make an 'insert splitter', and plug the 'send' leg into the gate's input, and the 'receive' leg into the gate's output.

Is an insert jack an input or an output
It's both! All the signal from the corresponding channel, subgroup, or mix bus is sent through this jack. The tip of this jack is an output, which is commonly used to send signal out to a serial processor (compressor, equalizer, sonic maximizer, etc.); the ring is an input which allows signal to return from the processor; and the sleeve is a ground connection. Because the insert jack is an input and an output, it creates a loop, which is formed when a signal processor is inserted between the output (tip) and the input (ring).
The insert jack can also be used as two different types of direct outs.
If a tip-sleeve 1/4" cable is plugged all the way in to the second click, the signal is sent out from the tip (output) of the insert jack and does not return to the ring (input), which breaks the loop and does not allow signal to flow through the rest of the channel. This is referred to as a direct out with signal interruption. if a tip-sleeve 1/4" cable is plugged in only to the first click, the signal is sent out the cable and continues through the channel, since the insert loop has not been broken. This is referred to as a direct without signal interruption.
Ok thanks now I think I am on the striaght and narrow. im looking at the DBX 266xl and get 2 or 3 of them. I would make my own snake unless there is a website wher I can get a real one of not to much more.
soundman said:
Thanks, now I just need to get a price for an 8*16.

FWIW, Presonus makes a decent little 8gate/comp (ACP88) in a two rack space...and its about $1k USD. Hosa (among others) makes insert snakes--but they are not very durable. Whirlwind's are better..

soundman said:
Thanks, now I just need to get a price for an 8*16.
Ship just posted a rather comprehensive list of suppliers, of which (I think) he said some were selling used equipment. I didn't really look as I am outside the US.

Might be worth a look - The thread is titled "Used lighting gear anyone?" and can be found in the Lighting Design forum.

Hope it helps.

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