Sending Audio to ATEM for Recording

cowfunn

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Feb 15, 2021
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Good day everyone,

I'm glad i found this forum, as I'm quite new to the AV world, recently got hired as a AV + IT at a school.

In 2.5 weeks our school will be recording a play (no audience due to COVID), and i was wondering about the setup + settings to get this working.

The external company we hired shared they will use an ATEM, which includes a 1/8 audio input jack. For the school, we have a LS-9 32. we will be using 14 microphones inputs (Lav Mics) , + 4 inputs for Qlab on a mac mini Using Echo AudioFire 12

I spoke with the external company and to keep it simple with the equipment we have - he suggest we use a XLR to 1/4 Cable with a 1/8 adapter which he will be plugging it into the ATEM's audio input to to send the mix from the board to the ATEM.

On the LS-9, i would be putting all 18 inputs into one mix and send it to the house speakers/stage speakers/ ATEM. I will be mixing live during the show as if the show is live, and have created scenes on LS-9 for each scene for the play

I do have some questions about this setup - hope to hear others with similar experience and share best practices

- Any specific setup i should / need to do on the LS-9 to ensure the audio is output to the ATEM correctly?
- I'm a bit concern because when i tested it on a macbook pro with the cable, in the System Preferences > Sound > Input, it's not showing it as an option, rather it's only showing it as an Output as an external microphone. (This may have to do with the port on the new macbook pros)
- any thing else i may have missed?

Thanks a bunch
 

RonHebbard

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Location
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Good day everyone,

I'm glad i found this forum, as I'm quite new to the AV world, recently got hired as a AV + IT at a school.

In 2.5 weeks our school will be recording a play (no audience due to COVID), and i was wondering about the setup + settings to get this working.

The external company we hired shared they will use an ATEM, which includes a 1/8 audio input jack. For the school, we have a LS-9 32. we will be using 14 microphones inputs (Lav Mics) , + 4 inputs for Qlab on a mac mini Using Echo AudioFire 12

I spoke with the external company and to keep it simple with the equipment we have - he suggest we use a XLR to 1/4 Cable with a 1/8 adapter which he will be plugging it into the ATEM's audio input to to send the mix from the board to the ATEM.

On the LS-9, i would be putting all 18 inputs into one mix and send it to the house speakers/stage speakers/ ATEM. I will be mixing live during the show as if the show is live, and have created scenes on LS-9 for each scene for the play

I do have some questions about this setup - hope to hear others with similar experience and share best practices

- Any specific setup i should / need to do on the LS-9 to ensure the audio is output to the ATEM correctly?
- I'm a bit concern because when i tested it on a macbook pro with the cable, in the System Preferences > Sound > Input, it's not showing it as an option, rather it's only showing it as an Output as an external microphone. (This may have to do with the port on the new macbook pros)
- any thing else i may have missed?

Thanks a bunch
Being TOTALLY unfamiliar, when you posted: "they will use an ATEM, which includes a 1/8 audio input jack."
Is their 1/8" jack Ring Tip, Ring Tip Sleeve, unbalanced stereo, balanced mono, or, OR, OR ?
@TimMc Care to chime in?
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 
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DaveySimps

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I cannot offer any advice on your Mac specific question, but I wanted to offer some advice. Since you will have no audience, you need to do all you can to get your ears on a reference on how the feed sounds once it hits the video, do not rely on how it sounds in the auditorium. So much can happen as it hits compressors and different codecs on the video or streaming end of things. The balance will be very different than you are use to creating a live mix. You will likely find that you need to add some reverb or a room mic to liven up the mix. I recommend a compressor on your output so you can help control the dynamic of the feed. Often times you can squash it a little bit and retain a good mix, rather than it being heavily compressed or distorted by coming in too hot to the video equipment.

Dave
 

Malabaristo

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Location
Wisconsin
The audio inputs are one of the few things I don't really like about the ATEM mini. They are TRS, unbalanced stereo inputs and default to a pretty high gain setting. The latter can be adjusted in software, but not without hooking a computer with the configuration software up to the ATEM. Being unbalanced means you will probably want to use a balun rather than just an adapter cable unless the length from the mixer to the ATEM is very short.

I would start by asking the company what they're using for cameras, as it may end up being cleaner to send audio from the board to one of those if they have balanced, XLR inputs. If it's a multi-camera shoot, then you can still send audio to just one camera by turning off the "Audio Follows Video (AFV)" setting on the ATEM for that input. That way the audio will be on even when that camera isn't selected.

Also, it's a good idea to set up a separate output in the mixer for the feed to the camera. It can have all the same inputs assigned, but you may want the ability to set it to a different level from the main mix. I'm not familiar enough with the LS-9 to give any specific guidance on how to do that, but I suspect there are others around here that could help if you need it.

Oh, and I'll second Dave's recommendation and extend it slightly: ideally you want to monitor audio out after the ATEM. This is a little tricky because it doesn't actually have an analog audio output, but the audio signal is included in the HDMI output. You can use an HDMI audio de-embedder, or a video monitor with an analog audio out. That will be the most accurate representation of what will end up in the recording.
 

StradivariusBone

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1000% what @Malabaristo and @DaveySimps already said. It sounds like you're dealing with some kind of ATEM mini (pro/iso). If you can find out what they're recording to, that might help. Best case it's something like a laptop running OBS. In that case you can stick a pair of headphones on the computer and monitor the audio in from the ATEM.

I went through all kinds of headaches dealing with the gain on that audio in. It is very hot and very easy to distort without realizing it. The idea with the ATEM mini is that they were to be used with prosumer lavs or audio in from a TRS cable linking to a PC or MP3 player to add music to a livestream/recording. It wasn't designed with the concept of hooking it up to pro audio, which is unfortunate because the ATEM minis are really powerful switchers for what you pay for.

We had a Sony camera for a while that had two XLR inputs that we used instead, and it's super easy to configure in the ATEM settings to select that camera as an audio source.
 

TimMc

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Feb 15, 2017
The ATEM Mini can be switched mic/line in the ATEM software. If you're not using the ATEM software with the ATEM Mini, you're only getting about 20% of the capability built into it. Each physical audio input is stereo (IIRC they can be unlinked in software).

Another reason to send a console audio signal to a camera - sync. Audio sent to the ATEM Mini inputs will be 2-4 video frames ahead of the visuals. If you use a camera, the audio will be "delayed" automatically as the video signal is processed. IIRC there is a small amount of delay available in the ATEM software, too.

So I'd skip the Adapter Challenge (because there's a really good chance it won't work, and you'll burn precious shooting time dealing with it). Resist the temptation to mix the show live to the theater speaker system, as your intended audience won't have that hanging in their living rooms or dens. Is this a musical or a straight play? I'd suggest mixing over small speakers (the Auratone® sounded like crap, so if a mix sounded good on them that mix probably sounded acceptable on almost any other speakers, same for the Yamaha NS-10, just not as crappy as the Aura's). I'd also suggest shooting test footage at tech or dress rehearsal (including audio) for a review the next morning; the VDO staff can get their camera blocking down, the director can revise shots, and the SM/director/producer can do notes.

BTW, the ATEM Mini sells for about $300, the ATEM Mini Pro is $600 (expanded features include streaming bridge), the Mini Pro ISO is $900, and introduced TODAY, the Mini Pro Extreme ISO (8 inputs, 2 media players, 8 ISO record plus program record, 2 USB-C outs, more) for $1295. If you don't need ISO recording a Mini Extreme is $999.

Edit PS: If you're designing sound for theater, you're not designing sound for TV, streaming, or targeted devices (phone / laptop-ish / desktop computer speakers, home theater, smart TV with sound bar). The "soundstage" for your streaming mix likely will need a different approach (including some room tone) if you're putting wireless mics on your actors (straight play, presumed mics on actors in musicals). If you're using distant area mics or (worse) mics in the house, you'll have too much room tone/HVAC/other noise. The aural experience of a viewer is different from the experience of an audience. I'm not trying to blow out your design chops, but the different delivery medium requires a different sound design to most effectively tell the story. Keep us apprised of your progress!
 
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Malabaristo

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Wisconsin
The ATEM Mini can be switched mic/line in the ATEM software. If you're not using the ATEM software with the ATEM Mini, you're only getting about 20% of the capability built into it. Each physical audio input is stereo (IIRC they can be unlinked in software).
You do remember correctly: the two stereo inputs can be configured as four independent, mono inputs in the software.

IIRC there is a small amount of delay available in the ATEM software, too.
It has up to eight frames of delay configurable per analog channel, so your memory checks out here too :)
 

cowfunn

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Location
Canada
Thank you to everyone who replied to this thread.

To answer some of your questions -

The play we are doing is curious case of the dog in the night
We are putting a lav mic on each character because the kids will be wearing the mask while performing (the drama teacher decide that would be better than having shotgun mics hanging from the ceiling)

Good to know about the "delay" that will occur if we take the audio from the mixer directly to the ATEM.

The alternative plan is to record audio from the camera as mentioned @Malabaristo if the mixer to ATEM does not work as intended.

I'll keep ya'll updated and may post more questions as well =D
 

BCAP

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Ohio
In your case, the mix quality of the broadcast feed is what is most important. I recently mixed a streamed show with no audience, live pit band and 24 wireless plus inputs for QLab. If it's something similar to your show, maybe you might benefit from some of the same things I did.

If you can survive without it, I recommend turning off the main house speakers in the venue in this particular case (only cause you don't have an audience). Especially if you are mixing your stream feed inside the same theater and not in an isolated room. The PA system and floor monitor bleed, audio from pit orchestra, etc. will only serve to skew your perspective on the broadcast mix (even if you wear headphones) and it will be harder to generate a translatable mix because the sound of what's going through the venue's PA system will cause you to make decisions that may not be what is best for a stream feed.

In my case we ran some long XLR cables from a buss output on our digital board that duplicated the outputs hitting the feed. We were using Midas M32. I ran these XLR cables to a nearby room where I had a colleague monitoring the same mix we were feeding the broadcast. She had a pair of studio monitor speakers in that room and she was able to tweak my mix with her Macintosh laptop via wifi to my board. She wasn't responsible for the entire mix, I was still handling mic mutes and ballpark levels and most of the EQ, effects, etc. but she had the advantage of having an independent sound perspective on the mix and could make small adjustments. So with the studio monitors we thought the mix was going to translate better to most systems whether it be a laptop, an iPad, a multimedia computer or home A/V system the end listener was viewing on.

I wanted to be in the same room as the actors onstage so I could hit their entrances and exits with the mic cues. We were both monitoring a spectral / RTA view of the stream feed to try to confirm we had a fairly balanced spectrum on the out - not too much low end or too much high end - as far as I was concerned this was something that helped us confirm the mix we were sending was more translatable. But it is not something to be relied on by itself without ears on the mix.

Some other thoughts -

For the purpose of a stream mix, I agree with the recommendation of a buss compressor on the main outputs feeding the stream and maybe even a brickwall limiter after that. I my particular case, the processing I used on the main buss before the audio hit the switcher first used a low cut EQ to remove everything below 80Hz that was not needed (most people watching the stream through a laptop) and then a buss compressor with slow attack (100mS-200mS) and slow release (200mS), 2:1 ratio and a threshold that digs in a considerable amount into the mix so it's compressing 3-6dB during loud parts. Followed by an EQ to add 1dB of high shelf @ 2k and then a brickwall limiter. We found that the processing we applied improved intelligibility of the overall stream mix quite a bit. You may elect to try different settings, and anyone please feel free to disagree with me on the processing chain as this is what worked in my case but it is no means a panacea.

Though we could do it if we wanted, we decided not raise the audio output on our board to the switcher to max 0dB levels, I think the switcher in our case also had an attenuator on the input and they ended up leaving a good amount of headroom.

And yes, the audio data compression codecs, bit rate, available bandwidth, etc. do affect the audio quality of the stream and that is an important consideration but those effects can be compensated for (unless of course there's an extreme bandwidth limitation issue). My opinion, again anyone feel free to disagree - in this case it should be most important to deliver audio to your stream with a good translatable mix in the first place and if you do that - the rest of the changes to overcome the negative audio artifacts the audio data compression codec will incur should be relatively minor. To be honest, the processing chain above will probably take care of a lot of the artifacts by default.

I agree that feeding an XLR balanced line output from the board to a camera and using that audio to feed the stream input is better than supplying the audio to the switcher via an 1/8" trs jack. The 1/8" trs is unbalanced and you never know what kind of quality A/D converters or line amps are on those cheap consumer level style audio inputs. If you can persuade your school to invest in or rent a higher end switcher down the line, there are some nice options that have professional XLR balanced line inputs.

Either way I can't emphasize enough how important it is to test, test, test the stream before your event - be working on the mix and listen to it on the back end like days before the event! And make sure you have satisfactory audio levels on the output of your LS9 that are not going to overload the camera inputs (or whatever inputs you are using), that sound good on the back end.

I hope this helps.
 
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StradivariusBone

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The ATEM line is really amazing. You get a lot of switcher for the price, but my biggest complaint with all of them is there's not really a great way to monitor the audio output outside of bodging together something from the HDMI out. Or bypassing their internal mixing altogether and pre-mixing the audio you send it.

Although...that new mini they just announced has a welcome feature-
1613741553346.png
 
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RonaldBeal

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Another option is an HDMI audio embedder... can be had for a hundred bucks or so ((may still need to delay it)... put it downstream of the ATEM.
 

Malabaristo

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Another option is an HDMI audio embedder... can be had for a hundred bucks or so ((may still need to delay it)... put it downstream of the ATEM.
...but only if the recording is being done via the HDMI output of the ATEM Mini. I'm guessing that's not the case since it's more common to either attach a drive directly to the ATEM, or to connect the ATEM to a computer via USB for streaming or recording. Also, a cheap embedder isn't necessarily going to have any better audio quality than the ATEM itself or the camera.
 

Jay Ashworth

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The ATEM line is really amazing. You get a lot of switcher for the price, but my biggest complaint with all of them is there's not really a great way to monitor the audio output outside of bodging together something from the HDMI out. Or bypassing their internal mixing altogether and pre-mixing the audio you send it.

Although...that new mini they just announced has a welcome feature-
View attachment 21557
Yes, I'm *very* jealous of the headset jack.
 

TimMc

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Yes, I'm *very* jealous of the headset jack.
The doubling of USB C and HDMI outputs (they're patchable in software) is also VERY useful. Toss in camera control for BMD Pocket Cinema cameras and it's possible to have a really, really nice video kit for around US$12,000 if you're not a lens snob.
 

Jay Ashworth

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The doubling of USB C and HDMI outputs (they're patchable in software) is also VERY useful. Toss in camera control for BMD Pocket Cinema cameras and it's possible to have a really, really nice video kit for around US$12,000 if you're not a lens snob.
My theatre got a Mini Pro ISO, and while I was all ready for it to have some real annoyance that I couldn't tolerate, having come out of 20 years in 'real' control rooms... the only thing that was a pain was the undimmable buttons on the control surface... and they put out a patch for that *literally* the day of my first rehearsal setup. :)

It's actually a very nice desk for $900.

The *only* thing that caught me out is that you *gotta* let those Auto Trans's complete before you try to preset a new shot; those buttons are *Preview*, not *Preset*, and the on-air *will change*. :-}
 

StradivariusBone

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The promo shot of the new mini that's about 10' long is hysterical. I thought it was a Babylon Bee article at first.

The most amusing thing about the ATEM is that it plays so nice with their remote app and Companion software with a streamdeck, I very rarely actually touch the thing when using it.
 
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Jay Ashworth

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The promo shot of the new mini that's about 10' long is hysterical. I thought it was a Babylon Bee article at first.

The most amusing thing about the ATEM is that it plays so nice with their remote app and Companion software with a streamdeck, I very rarely actually touch the thing when using it.
You are absolutely not the first person who assumed those were ersatz 'shops when they came out; I forgot that they had a Reveal event scheduled last week...
 

Sprank67

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Feb 18, 2021
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Los Angeles
Good day everyone,

I'm glad i found this forum, as I'm quite new to the AV world, recently got hired as a AV + IT at a school.

In 2.5 weeks our school will be recording a play (no audience due to COVID), and i was wondering about the setup + settings to get this working.

The external company we hired shared they will use an ATEM, which includes a 1/8 audio input jack. For the school, we have a LS-9 32. we will be using 14 microphones inputs (Lav Mics) , + 4 inputs for Qlab on a mac mini Using Echo AudioFire 12

I spoke with the external company and to keep it simple with the equipment we have - he suggest we use a XLR to 1/4 Cable with a 1/8 adapter which he will be plugging it into the ATEM's audio input to to send the mix from the board to the ATEM.

On the LS-9, i would be putting all 18 inputs into one mix and send it to the house speakers/stage speakers/ ATEM. I will be mixing live during the show as if the show is live, and have created scenes on LS-9 for each scene for the play

I do have some questions about this setup - hope to hear others with similar experience and share best practices

- Any specific setup i should / need to do on the LS-9 to ensure the audio is output to the ATEM correctly?
- I'm a bit concern because when i tested it on a macbook pro with the cable, in the System Preferences > Sound > Input, it's not showing it as an option, rather it's only showing it as an Output as an external microphone. (This may have to do with the port on the new macbook pros)
- any thing else i may have missed?

Thanks a bunch
I would avoid stacking adapters. Instead build yourself a dedicated cable that serves your purpose. In your case a receiving 3 pin XLR to TRS 1/8" plug - cable.
 

BCAP

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Ohio
I would avoid stacking adapters. Instead build yourself a dedicated cable that serves your purpose. In your case a receiving 3 pin XLR to TRS 1/8" plug - cable.
I agree. If you are looking for a high end 1/8" TRS plug, may I suggest Canare F12 connectors? I have used them numerous times with good success. What I like about them is they have a spring on the back end to avoid cable fatigue, they have a solid strain relief and the solder points are pretty easy to access especially if you pre-tin your ends before soldering them to the connector. The only issue I have with them is that the outer diameter of the shell is quite wide and they don't always work in a tight squeeze when you have an iPhone or iPad that has an OtterBox on it, or some such thing. Probably not going to be an issue for connecting to a switcher though. I also have used Pearstone 1/8" and those are OK, but in general there only seem to be a couple high end solderable 1/8" trs connectors available out there and Canare seems to me to be the best bet.
 

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