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Remoteness 30th September 2002 11:01 PM

The 10 basic needs when designing a mobile recording unit
 
When I mention "mobile recording" I mean, a vehicle of some sort. When I say "remote" and/or "location" recording, I think of "flypacks" or some sort of portable rig.

If you're considering putting together a mobile unit, you will need (at least) the following 10 key items...

01)
A truck, bus, van or trailer to build your mobile audio control room in.
(Yeah, you could get a plane or boat, but unless you got the bread, you're better off keeping the gear together as a flypack. Then you can set it up anywhere, but that should be another thread all together.)

02)
An isolation transformer so you can float the neutral of your power source.

03)
UPS, voltage regulator and/or power conditioning setup to keep everything nice and clean.

04)
A transformer isolated mic/line splitter with at least two isolated feeds.

05)
A long enough multicore snake for your mics and line inputs to/from the mobile unit.

06)
A communication system so you can talk to your audio assistant on stage.

07)
A video camera and video monitor for closed circuit viewing of your subject.

08)
All the obvious equipment needs ... mics, stands, console, outboard gear, FX processors, multitrack and stereo recorders like RADAR, MX2424, DA98HR, ADAT and/or analog 2" (huh, what's that you say?), et cetera, etc., and your usual DAT, CDR, cassettes, DVDR, VCR, etc. Don't forget, this is a live recording, you will need at least two of everything. Backup is everything when you're on location. And don't forget the HVAC system for a perfect comfort zone.

09)
If you're feeding and receiving your audio to/from other production ventures like the Internet, TV / video / film or broadcast facilities, you will need to transformer isolate all your in/outputs to their setups.

10)
Oh, and a good pair of ears and strong arms to lift all that cable, mics, stands and stuff in and out of each venue you're working in. :)

Jay Kahrs 1st October 2002 04:42 AM

What about the nerves of steel and knowing your **** backwards and forwards? Don't forget about all the prep work too. What good is it if you get to a gig and something breaks?

Remoteness 1st October 2002 08:10 AM

Quote:

Originally posted by Jay Kahrs
What about the nerves of steel and knowing your **** backwards and forwards? Don't forget about all the prep work too. What good is it if you get to a gig and something breaks?
Yes, indeed Jay,

In the world of remote recording, you are as good as your last gig. Many folks don't realize this fact until it's too late, then you're buying their rig on "eBay" or something.

Remember, backups are everything in this arena. Sometimes you really need three of everything. A backup for the main unit and a backup for the backup...

Yes, prep work is the secret weapon against potential problems out of the gate. Having a crew that watches your back is also key to live recording success.

Remoteness 6th December 2002 06:16 AM

I started this thread when the "Remote Possibilities" forum was just a gleam in my eyes. heh

Or, should I say, "when I was Gearslutz.com's October Guest Moderator. Anyway...

Over time, many newbies, musicians, studio engineers and others have asked me to explain what it takes to design and build a mobile recording unit...

Well, I brought this thread out of moth balls and stuck it at the top of the forum's threads for their convinience and for anyone else that may find this informative.

This thread is still open for discussion. I'm sure we can add a few things to this list. Or maybe some clarification is needed. kfhkh

Timothy Powell 11th December 2002 10:38 PM

How about a great crew? They are really the reason the gigs happen!!

Remoteness 12th December 2002 12:00 AM

Quote:

Originally posted by Timothy Powell
How about a great crew? They are really the reason the gigs happen!!
Hey Timmy,

Awesome. It's great to see you here.

Welcome aboard the "Remote Possibilities" Forum.

The original post stated...

"The 10 basic needs when designing a mobile recording unit." I wasn't thinking about crew per say. But, imagine if you could design the perfect crew from scratch... I would base it around guy's like you, Kooster, Hewitt, Charbonneau, et cetera, etc.

You are absolutely correct, when it comes to getting the difficult show on tape (or your favorite media), it's all about the crew and how they handle the pressure during the most adverse conditions.

Thanks for bringing that up.

I'm looking forward to your thoughts and enlightenment, as this forum builds momentum.

NYC Drew 12th December 2002 05:21 AM

Boss,

With all those isolation transformers on the audio, make sure you got phan_pwr for your active DI's and condenser mics.

Remoteness 12th December 2002 06:48 AM

Quote:

Originally posted by NYC Drew
Boss,

With all those isolation transformers on the audio, make sure you got phan_pwr for your active DI's and condenser mics.

Of course...

All our passive mic splitters with isolation transformers have one direct out and one to three isolated outputs. The console that gets the direct out feeds the active mics and DIs.

All our active isolated transformer splitters have phantom power within the splitter itself, so you don't have to feed DC power down the snake cable. When you do use the individual phantom power switches from your console, one active splitter brand attenuates the channel by 10 dB and the other brand adds 10 dB of gain to the channel. It uses the dc voltage to adjust the gain remotely. There's even a delay when you switch the console phantom on, so you don't screw anything up onstage by mistake.

What do you think?

NYC Drew 12th December 2002 12:58 PM

Quote:

Originally posted by Remoteness


What do you think?

I'll let ya know as soon as I quit slobbering and drooling!

You're not prepared for recording a live event, you're prepared for WAR! kfhkh

NYC Drool.

Steve Smith 13th December 2002 03:52 AM

The XTA Active Split rocks hard..


and the "phantom for pad/boost" thing is a way cool idea..

Quote:

You're not prepared for recording a live event, you're prepared for WAR!
this could be the understatement of the year :)

JayCrouch 13th December 2002 07:43 AM

has anyone here designed any smaller customer splitters for use with a remote rig for recording while doing FOH?

as in has anyone made a small and narrow stagebox design that fits in behing the console for an easy split between the tail end of the house's snake and easy interface into the desk and recording rack?

Remoteness 9th January 2003 08:39 PM

Quote:

Originally posted by JayCrouch
has anyone here designed any smaller customer splitters for use with a remote rig for recording while doing FOH?

as in has anyone made a small and narrow stagebox design that fits in behing the console for an easy split between the tail end of the house's snake and easy interface into the desk and recording rack?

Jay,

Small and narrow designed splitter boxes are out there. We had a 2way in the late 70s early 80s; You plugged the FOH tail into this box and returned the feed back to the FOH desk via the individual chassis mounted male XLRs. It had a male XLR for every female XLR, all chassis mounted on the top of the box. The direct out to the truck left from the side of the box. Back then we didn't have multipins. It fit nicely behind most FOH desks, when you needed to split from there. A small and narrow splitter also helps when you don't want to take up too much of a footprint on stage.

Many video trucks use that style of box with DT12 multipin connectors. but they're only 12 channel boxes.

wildplum 10th January 2003 12:52 AM

i built a two-way into a 4RU unit 6 inches deep (actually, two 2RU units, ecah supporting 12 channels on DT12 connectors for outputs). Used jensen transformers and xlr inputs. wiring within the 6 inch deep box is only a little tight, there's enough room.

JayCrouch 16th January 2003 12:19 AM

Quote:

Originally posted by wildplum
i built a two-way into a 4RU unit 6 inches deep (actually, two 2RU units, ecah supporting 12 channels on DT12 connectors for outputs)..
For those of us that are not quite familiar with DT12 connectors (such as myself), could you be so kind to describe them or post some linkage?

thanks much!

Remoteness 16th January 2003 05:37 AM

Quote:

Originally posted by JayCrouch
For those of us that are not quite familiar with DT12 connectors (such as myself), could you be so kind to describe them or post some linkage?

thanks much!

Whirlwind named the Canon FK37 connector a DT12. Most of the TV world and such, now call it a DT12. It's similar to the analog audio connectors found on any Sony DASH machine.

Our new Expando truck has (6) DT12s, that's 72 total input channels plus (2) output DT12s totalling 24 channels, all chassis mounted for easy interfacing from TV world to our broadcast console position. Our music mix console position has (3) 56 channel MASS connectors, set up as three different stage input sections.

Click on this link to see Whirlwind's multipin page...

All their multipin connectors are listed on this page. The DT12 information is in the middle of the page.

italysound 25th January 2004 05:22 AM

remote recording trucks
 
I would be interested in finding out what people think of floating floors for the control room in a remote truck and how important they are. Or should we concentrate on isolation more.

Remoteness 25th January 2004 07:28 AM

Bruce,

Welcome to the Remote Forum.

A floating floor in a remote truck is important if you're building a real control room. The weight of the floor is another story...

Can the vehicle handle the extra weight? How much of the CRM height can you loose. Are you going to build the CRM walls off your floating floor? Many things to consider.

ASL's truck one (build back in 1987) has a floating floor. It's a framed parque floor floating on rubber pucks.

Not every mobile unit has a floating floor... How do you feel about it?

I split this thread into another thread called, Questions about designing a mobile recording unit -- expanded

Your additional posts and my reply in there waiting for you...

Check it out!

Shelton 28th January 2004 05:44 AM

Hey Steve,

On a different slightly different subject, how did you determine the electricle requirments for your truck? How did you decide between single phase or three phase servce, what connector for your disconnect, what size isolation transformer?

I've been leanin towards a 100 Amp single phase service with camlock disconnects...

Any ideas?

Shelton

Remoteness 28th January 2004 07:43 AM

I guess splitting this thread into a "questions about designing a mobile recording unit" was a bad idea. Too bad...

Usually, I add up the total wattage needed to run the system and add anywhere from 25 to 50% more on top of that. That goes for the company switch, distro and isolation transformer.

Single phase 208 to 240 volts is what we have on board. Our truck doesn't have any gear that requires three phase service and we're not running enough amperage to warrant splitting the load across three legs, so it was a no brainer.

Truck one has a 200 amp safety switch. I have two 100 amp distros and an outside panel on that switch. Tech & aux power panels are rated at 100 amps each. We never come close to that on our biggest dates.

Back in the day of big (energy eating) multitrack machines, I wanted to be able to turn on our decks with plenty of juice to spare. Those 2" machines (when turned on together) give you a pretty big spike. Nowadays, 30 to 50 amps for tech power is more then plenty of power.

100 amp single phase service with camlock disconnects sounds like a good plan.

Bill Mueller 31st January 2004 03:30 AM

Hello Steven,

This is Bill Mueller. I was the Chief Engineer/Senior VP of Sheffield AV for 25 years. I have quite a history of remote recordings (around 150 major acts) but now I am busy building a PS2 video game. However, I still do an occasional live show. Nice forum.

Best regards,

Bill

Remoteness 31st January 2004 04:09 AM

Bill,

It's a pleasure to see you here.

PS2 and remote recordings -- a perfect combination.

kfhkh

Remoteness 27th August 2019 02:11 PM

Fifteen years later, and a lot has changed in workflow and how we do things. Yet, some things are exactly like they used to be back in the day.

What about your folks; what say you?

tourtelot 27th August 2019 03:39 PM

My snake cables are MUCH lighter than they used to be. :)

D.

philper 27th August 2019 03:51 PM

I moved to a smaller work vehicle. Now the prep is even more about being as efficient, unobstrusive and fast as possible vs the old days. Some things that just always came along that were never used no longer get loaded. New purchases are made with an eye towards the goals named above. And if the new object is big, then something in the package has to get bumped to accommodate it. This reality reflects the growing crowdedness and street-life intensity of working in small urban venues anymore, as well as budgetary pressures. Following the Steve R lead, each prep is pretty customized to each job anymore--no more one size fits all.

Jim Williams 27th August 2019 04:41 PM

Add basic need #11 . A paying gig.

deedeeyeah 27th August 2019 06:35 PM

few changes here...
- recording gear (daw) is the same/backup recorder changed though
- still fibre and cat cables for various formats (mostly madi)/newer digital formats added (and older formats dropped)
- still a digital desk/way more powerful though

...except:
- i'm no longer using a truck but deploy my desk in a r'n'r style!

(this is mainly due to the market around here which is dominated by large national broadcasters which you cannot really challenge as a privately run company except for some small to medium jobs: they always have more and larger and better gear, more personnel and can offer things you cannot unless you own a few satellites... - and yet this is not reflected in the costs?!?)

- almost no analog gear anymore.