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Looking for a simple solution for a strange challenge

Discussion in 'Sound, Music, and Intercom' started by manuallyfocused, Apr 8, 2019.

  1. manuallyfocused

    manuallyfocused Active Member

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    Occupation:
    Set Designer/TD/Carpenter/Painter/Photographer
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    I'm looking for a piece of equipment to accomplish the following:

    -Accept 2 XLR mic inputs and provide phantom power to both along with level and gain adjustments
    -Provide at least 3 bands of EQ on both inputs (preferably more) with sweepable frequencies if possible
    -Output an adjustable line-level signal that can be fed into an XLR mic input in a system with a locked DSP that is very picky about what gets plugged into it (it was programmed for dynamic mics to be plugged directly in, and did not like a phantom power generator or 1 of 2 small analog mixers I plugged into it)
    -Be fairly small, so I can tuck it into a space along the wall and cover it with a sheet so it cannot be casually seen
    -It would be amazing if it had some kind of automixing built in as we cannot adjust the system once it is turned on

    This is for a very specific need- we have to plug in two condenser mics to accommodate a variety of speaking, prayer, and singing over a 24 hour period during which we cannot adjust the system. This is for a Jewish community in a temporary retreat space trying to cater to a wide variety of observance levels during the Sabbath (when traditionally you cannot directly manipulate electricity, among many other restrictions). To accommodate the more observant members, we try to create a "Shabbat microphone" so we can still communicate with 500 people in a dining hall space with as little compromise to the ritual environment as possible.

    This year I set up two AKG P170 mics that I heat-shrunk to their XLR cables, taped all of the adjustable parts on the mic stands as best I could, and put them through a Mackie 802VLZ4 mixer that gave them phantom power and 3 bands of fixed EQ. The Mackie was the perfect size to fit in the space I needed to cover, and didn't create any weird sounds in the system. This was far better than any previous solution we've tried, but it definitely would have sounded better if we could have had some additional EQ options. Luckily, I now have a year to come up with a plan for the next one.

    Some items we already own that I have considered using for this:
    -An Allen and Heath IDR16 mixrack paired with a laptop. This is a bit larger than I would like, and I am concerned about the laptop staying on without any issues for 24 hours. I know there are remote control units that can be paired with the IDR16
    -A Behringer X32 Rack mixer. Same size issue as the IDR16 above, but could be operated on its own without an external control source
    -A 31-band 2 rack unit graphic EQ that I could put in line with any small analog mixer, but again not a great-sized option


    Please post any recommendations you would have for this particular need, and thank you in advance for your recommendations!
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  2. DrewE

    DrewE Member

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    Plenty of little analog mixers are out there that could work, and some have more flexible/better EQ than the Mackie (and many don't). One good possibility in my opinion is the Allen & Heath Zed 10, which has mid sweep EQ on the mono channels and little recessed pushbuttons on the back to switch the main outs between line level and mic level, so it's easy to set it up to be a submixer connected to the mic inputs of some other mixer.

    A Behringer X-Air 12 would also work very well, I think, though it might be a bit of overkill. You may need to use an attenuator to get the output level in an appropriate range while still having a sort of sane gain structure in the mixer. It has automixing (of some sort, I don't really know details) and far more flexible EQ than any little analog mixer.

    Either of these is a generally handy swiss-army-knife audio mixer for all sorts of applications, too—a generally handy thing to have around.
     
  3. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @manuallyfocused Your first point that catches my eye is where you wrote:
    "-Output an adjustable line-level signal that can be fed into an XLR mic input in a system with a locked DSP that is very picky about what gets plugged into it (it was programmed for dynamic mics to be plugged directly in," Might I suggest padding your output signal down to mic level rather than connecting a line level signal to your designated mic level input and hoping you can magically pad it down to accept line level sans horrendous overloading and distortion. @TimMc Am I missing something here? Thoughts?? Comments???
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard
     
    macsound likes this.
  4. TimMc

    TimMc Well-Known Member

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    Hire a goyim to sit with the system (or at least get things up and running well), or is causing a hired non-Jew to "work" not sufficiently Orthodox? I suspect that might be the case...

    A couple of direct answer-ish things: I'm not sure how much automix would help if there were radically different input levels, but having post-fader sends to the AM means you can compress a signal pretty hard if you need to. The trick would be finding the input gain trim that doesn't clip with the loudest source, how much gain is available before feedback, etc. A challenge would be if it had to be pre-set at setup (I don't think you can ask Rabbi for a sound check) and "just work."

    It it possible to setup and test the system prior to Sabbath?

    As for the "picky" installed system - Transformer Isolation. Blocks +48 from the input, probably would benefit from a -40dB pad. Hmm, this sounds like a job for Passive DI Man! Or you can use a Radial Pro AV1 in iso mode but I think the level drop is closer to -50dB - you can apply a pretty hot signal to this box without saturating the transformer.
     
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  5. FMEng

    FMEng Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    The X32 rack has everything you need, from automixing, to compression, to EQ in either graphic or parametric form. The only thing you need is to drop from line level to mic level with a pad. A balanced, -40 dB pad will allow pretty much any mixer you choose to feed the venue's mic input without distortion. A Whirlwind IMP Pad -40 dB is a good example.

    For situations like this, it isn't always necessary, but it is insurance to have a good audio transformer to prevent hum from a ground loop. Ground loops can occur anytime parts of an audio system wind up on different power circuits or are separated by significant distances. Transformers can also convert an unbalanced input or output to balanced, which has noise immunity. Good examples are the Sescom IL-19 and the Jensen GLX. They are a good investment for any audio kit.

    Plug the mixer line output into the transformer. Plug the transformer into the pad, and then the pad plugs into the mic jack of the PA system. The transformer will look like a dynamic mic to the PA system.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2019
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  6. FMEng

    FMEng Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Another thought, and this is more than you asked for. I'm picky about EQing voices for varying amounts of proximity effect. Bass can become exaggerated or thin, depending on how close or far the person is to a directional mic. If you want to solve that issue in a totally hands off manner, use an EV RE-16 "Variable-D" mic. They are supercardioids with essentially no proximity effect. A classic mic that is still brilliant for certain uses.

    Interestingly, Shure recently rediscovered this problem with their KSM8 "Dualdyne." It gets the same result without the vents that the EV has. The vents are impaired by holding the mic.
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  7. josh88

    josh88 Remarkably Tired. Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    I know that depending on the level of orthodoxy, even with someone else running the system, some consider a persons voice through the mic, causing sound to come out of speakers (using electricity) would violate that rule. I've seen this come up a few times on various forums and with a couple of local temples. It's always a tough situation.
     
  8. Jay Ashworth

    Jay Ashworth Well-Known Member

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    "Mic Check."

    "MIC CHECK!"
     
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  9. rwhealey

    rwhealey Well-Known Member

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    What DSP do they currently have? Everything you ask for can be done by a modern open-architecture DSP. With a system like Q-Sys, I believe that you can even program it to trigger itself to mute/unmute based on a time clock. If your DSP isn't doing what you need it to, reprogram or replace it.
     
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  10. FMEng

    FMEng Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Not every installed system has DSP. I doubt the OP would have asked the question were there sophisticated devices he could adjust. I have worked in similar situations where clients touching any controls was forbidden and the trained staff could only plug in a mic, turn the system on, and adjust the volume. In those cases, my mixer gets plugged into a mic jack and the staff takes a long break.
     
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  11. Ancient Engineer

    Ancient Engineer Well-Known Member

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    Occupation:
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    Sandusky, Ohio
    MCI JH-600 channel strips. JK!

    Or much more likely to be a size and price you'd like to deal with (and they do sound good for being inexpensive) Rane FMM-24 mixer and a FME-15 EQ, or a FPE-13 Parametric.

    https://www.rane.com/pdf/old/fmm42man.pdf
    https://www.rane.com/pdf/old/fme15man.pdf
    https://www.rane.com/pdf/old/fpe13man.pdf

    You'd need 2x FMM42 and 2x FME15 or FPE13s.

    Each pair can be stuck in a rack mount 1U tall. We have a few rigs like this that are pretty robust and forgiving.

    Old school analog is not always an awful choice...
     
  12. rwhealey

    rwhealey Well-Known Member

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    I was specifically referring to this:

    I'm suggesting a separate set of microphone-level inputs to the DSP that turn themselves on at a specific time with an automixer, feedback filter, etc. The OP may not be in a position at the facility to make the required changes, but they already have a DSP that can probably be used for this.
     

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