zoom in rehearsal

kicknargel

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Scenic / PM person here dipping my toes into an audio issue. Has anyone set up a rig for zoom that can capture decent sound from the stage or rehearsal room? Any advice / gear recommendations?

The specific application here is a rehearsal onstage for a one-person show. Artistic would like the dialog coach to be able to observe via zoom. Obviously they would want pretty good fidelity.

I'm thinking I could put a wireless lav on the performer, connected to some interface (recomendations?) and into the computer. Not sure what will happen when we try to listen to the remote person talking (through external speakers on the computer). Feedback nightmare, or does zoom itself manage that?

Thanks for any help.
 

TimMc

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Scenic / PM person here dipping my toes into an audio issue. Has anyone set up a rig for zoom that can capture decent sound from the stage or rehearsal room? Any advice / gear recommendations?

The specific application here is a rehearsal onstage for a one-person show. Artistic would like the dialog coach to be able to observe via zoom. Obviously they would want pretty good fidelity.

I'm thinking I could put a wireless lav on the performer, connected to some interface (recomendations?) and into the computer. Not sure what will happen when we try to listen to the remote person talking (through external speakers on the computer). Feedback nightmare, or does zoom itself manage that?

Thanks for any help.
Hi Nick-

Zoom does a pretty good job of making a mix-minus for echo cancellation, but excessive loudspeaker level on the return (your dialog coach) will not perform well.

How are you acquiring the video for the Zoom call? Web cam? Laptop cam (ugggg), DSLR, Camcorder? There are several ways depending on the equipment available to you.
 

FMEng

Well-Known Member
Fight Leukemia
The way I've done this is to feed a video camera's XLR input with a feed from my audio console. The camera's HDMI output carries audio to a USB video converter, to the laptop. That takes care of the send audio and video. For the receive audio, I use a USB DI box, the Mackie MDB-USB between the computer and the mixer.

Click the little arrow on the Zoom mute audio button. That produces a menu to set with input and output devices to use for audio. Be sure to set up a "mix-minus", meaning don't put the receive audio onto the mix buss for the send audio. The receive audio should only be routed to the speakers in the theater.
 

Jay Ashworth

Well-Known Member
We have done big-room Zooms, using a camcorder captured as a webcam with our ATEM Mini Pro, our house wireless mics, and our house speakers. As long as you have the right switches flipped in zoom, it's automatic adjustment has enough range to get you decent remote volume in the room, and local room mics out to the remote without feeding back.

It does take 5-15 seconds at the beginning to get everything balanced; you'll have to hand-ride the mic levels until it catches up with you.
 

Benjamin Fink

Active Member
In addition to what everybody else is saying, make sure that you preserve original sound in the Zoom settings. It's more important with singers or musical instruments, but if you have everything running through an audio interface and make sure you don't have feedback loops or echoes (with your mix-minus and volume controls) that will give you a better representation of what things sound like without risking the Zoom algorithms getting too eager and distorting the sound.

I have been using an Elgato Cam Link to connect the HDMI output from a camcorder into Zoom. If you can connect a wireless mic receiver to the audio in jack of the camcorder, that connection will send audio and video. Otherwise, if you have a sound board with a USB connection you can run sound on its own through that interface. It'll be different depending on the console, but once I set up the connections, it's been pretty straightforward on our equipment including our full size consoles and our smaller 4-channel mixer - I've just had to select the USB Audio Codec (or whatever the console shows up as) in my microphone and speaker connections on Zoom and it's been off to the races.

Once you figure out what interface you want to use, I'd just set aside an hour with a willing remote participant to set up a meeting and work through the different parts of setup. Zoom is pretty good for usability, and once you figure out what configuration works best for you it's pretty easy to replicate each time.
 

kicknargel

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Thanks for the replies. For a camera I will likely use a smartphone on a tripod, as an additional participant.

For audio send, if we're using a feed from the console (Yamaha LS9) I assume I need a small digital audio interface to take a buss send from the console and get it into a laptop. Any suggestions there?

Good to know that zoom can handle the mix-minus to make the 2-way sound work OK.
 

Gage

Member
Thanks for the replies. For a camera I will likely use a smartphone on a tripod, as an additional participant.

For audio send, if we're using a feed from the console (Yamaha LS9) I assume I need a small digital audio interface to take a buss send from the console and get it into a laptop. Any suggestions there?

Good to know that zoom can handle the mix-minus to make the 2-way sound work OK.
I personally like the budget oriented motu interfaces like the m2 and m4. They are my go-to interfaces and the ones I have the most experience with.
 

Benjamin Fink

Active Member
Have you considered just setting the laptop on a table with a good view of the stage and connecting to it with Bluetooth earbuds? Your actor likely has a set, and the audio quality is probably sufficient. You can still enable the original sound option in Zoom, and that would get you most of the results of a professional system for free. I know that’s the way a number of music teachers have been working through the pandemic, as well as a lot of people doing appearances on cable news.

I wouldn’t use that setup if folks are paying for tickets, but for fully internal use, I think this would be the most bang for your buck. You can use the microphone from the Bluetooth and send the sound out of either the laptop speakers or an external speaker. The main limitation I see is that you just have the one microphone - the coach may need the actor to repeat comments from the creative team.

I think I’d try not to use a separate cell phone for video and laptop for audio - it seems like an extra level of unnecessary complication, and the video quality doesn’t seem to be the priority as I’m reading it.

If this meets your needs, I think it’s the easiest way to go and costs nothing. Would you be able to run a test with the team in time to be able to order an interface if this doesn’t work?
 

Benjamin Fink

Active Member
There are some advantages to running audio through the board - you could have multiple mics for the actor, director, etc., and you’ve got some more control of the audio levels and quality (I’m not sure there would be too much improvement once the sound is compressed for streaming, though).

You would need an interface to connect the laptop to the LS9, but if you’re just buying for this and don’t see a lot of demand for the future, you probably don’t need to spend too much. I think you could get away with buying a cheapo USB sound card and running two aux cords between the mixer and the laptop (one out from the laptop to an input channel and one from the headphone jack of the mixer with the mics you need PFL’ed.)

A high quality audio interface would be great if you see yourself needing it to record or if you have a lot of demand for things like this, but would probably be much more than you need to pull this off.
 

TheaterEd

Renaissance Man
Fight Leukemia
If you are already using a smartphone on a stand for the video, why not just throw a bluetooth earpiece on the performer and call it a day?

I mean, it's not ideal, but it is quick and easy.
 

Ben Stiegler

Well-Known Member
i like the FocusRite Scarlett interface very much for this. 2 XLR mic/line inputs, and separate stereo L/R 1/4
outputs to drive amp/speakers plus a headphone jack (1/4" TRS) on the front. all have separate rotary encoder knobs on front panel for easy quick adjustments.
 

kicknargel

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Results post. Bought the Motu M4, hooked up to a laptop on a tech table a few rows into the house. Handheld mic on a stand DSC run directly into the Motu, and output to a little powered speaker on the table. Worked well for what we needed. The remote dialect coach could hear well enough and chime in at will. (I did have to find the setting on the Motu to not monitor the input in the output.
 

Jay Ashworth

Well-Known Member
Thank you for the followup.

You'd be amazed how many people don't understand that the price for free advice is telling everyone how it worked out. Even here. :)
 

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