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Time Aligning Sound Console Mix w/Ambient Mics Recorders, Players & Tape Machines
Old 1 week ago
  #1
Gear Head
 

Time Aligning Sound Console Mix w/Ambient Mics

I'm recording the stereo out bus of a sound console to 2 tracks of a Sound Devices 744T using AES. On the second set of tracks, I'm recording room mics situated some distance away from the stage - let's say 20-80 feet.

Using a DAW, of course, it would be relatively easy to time align these tracks, but I want to do it in real time, to lessen the amount of post-production I have to do.

I'm interested in finding the highest quality (digital) delay I can find to delay the sound console output so as to be in time-alignment with the room mics. The delay needs to be "audiophile-quality", 2-in/2-out, preferably 1U, preferably with AES and analog ins.

Does such a unit exist? Can someone point me in the right direction?
Would you advise against this approach?

Thanks,
Ira
Old 1 week ago
  #2
Gear Addict
 

Why bother?

Do it in your DAW if you need to time align the recorded tracks. There's really no reason to try to do it manually on the way to disc.

But, depending on the console, if it's a digital console, you can delay the outputs from the sound console from the console itself. Every digital console includes delay on every output. Do it there if you must.

But, even in the DAW it takes literally about 10 seconds to do. Set your grid to 1msec, Find a hard transient and line them up.
Old 1 week ago
  #3
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tc electronic d22
(lake lm44)

i'm sometimes using the tc even with digital desks so no accidental mis-alignment gets lost in a menue. it sits mostly on the control room out though if i'm not using the much preferred lake processor - or if that one gets used not only for time alignment but for more sophisticated phase alignment in multiple frequency areas.




p.s. i do almost always align spot mics but ambis sometimes contribute to a nice blur when not getting aligned; depends much on the room and music, way less on the mic's and technique.

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 1 week ago at 01:10 PM.. Reason: gear and p.s. added
Old 1 week ago
  #4
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huub's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
tc electronic d22
(lake lm44)

i'm sometimes using the tc even with digital desks so no accidental mis-alignment gets lost in a menue. it sits mostly on the control room out though if i'm not using the much preferred lake processor - or if that one gets used not only for time alignment but for more sophisticated phase alignment in multiple frequency areas.




p.s. i do almost always align spot mics but ambis sometimes contribute to a nice blur when not getting aligned; depends much on the room and music, way less on the mic's and technique.
Yes, I think aligning is not an absolute thing, you nudge until it sounds best.
Also, the aligning means the ambient mics need to move back in time.
You can delay the FOH mix ofcourse..
But anyway, takes 20 seconds to do in a DAW. Just saying

Huub
Old 1 week ago
  #5
Gear Maniac
 

With the built-in delay of the 744t you can get up to 30ms delay at up to 48kHz sampling rate, so that'd 'compensate' for about a 30 foot difference in position.
Old 1 week ago
  #6
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Roland's Avatar
Delaying the output of the console, “in the hope” its going to make everything all right in the final mix is a very high risk strategy. As others have pointed out, record it straight, load to a Daw and try it there, you can always undo and have the original frame of reference.
Old 1 week ago
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roland View Post
Delaying the output of the console, “in the hope” its going to make everything all right in the final mix is a very high risk strategy. As others have pointed out, record it straight, load to a Daw and try it there, you can always undo and have the original frame of reference.
I mean, the thing is, even if you align the recording while recording, either with an external digital delay or from the console; if it's misaligned, you can always still fix it in the DAW. If you're recording multi track, and each feed has a separate track, you can nudge them forward or backward until they line up. The time isn't set and locked in for each track.

Of course, if you are mixing multiple mics to a live two-track, then that's a whole other ball game.
Old 1 week ago
  #8
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when doing live broadcasts, you're not having the luxury of fixing things in post, signals hitting the tracks need to be pretty much finished, including filters and dynamic processing (at least going to one of the recorders; the other one gets direct outs/subgroups and both are getting the clean and processed outputs of the master buses) - by checking signals with a phase meter, you can get a pretty good idea though on how to align on the fly...
Old 1 week ago
  #9
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Roland's Avatar
My point is if you are post mixing, do it post. If it’s a live broadcast that’s different. If you make delay adjustments to the recorder, unless you document things very carefully, you can’t get back to the original. Delaying various signals to “time align” feeds can be a good option, or not depending on the situation. A decision made live, in less than ideal monitoring conditions may be regretted later...
Old 1 week ago
  #10
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
when doing live broadcasts, you're not having the luxury of fixing things in post, signals hitting the tracks need to be pretty much finished, including filters and dynamic processing (at least going to one of the recorders; the other one gets direct outs/subgroups and both are getting the clean and processed outputs of the master buses) - by checking signals with a phase meter, you can get a pretty good idea though on how to align on the fly...
The OP's question wasn't about live broadcast. It was about recording 4 channels of a live performance for mixing and editing later. In which case the easiest and most fool proof method is to time align in post in the DAW, because then you can line everything up exactly where they need to go, or sound best, and you can try several options.

Like a said earlier, a live mix to two-track, whether to CD, mp3, hard disk or broadcast is a whole other ball game.
Old 1 week ago
  #11
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Yannick's Avatar
 

Buy a Zoom F8, then you can delay the inputs.
Does the Sound Devices not offer this option ?
Old 1 week ago
  #12
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crosscutred's Avatar
Why have room mics so far away if you wish to reduce the effect that will have by time aligning them?
Move the mics closer to the source.
Old 1 week ago
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crosscutred View Post
Why have room mics so far away if you wish to reduce the effect that will have by time aligning them?
Move the mics closer to the source.
ähm, that's not always wanted (for artistic reasons/relationship between direct and diffuse sound closer to the source) or possible (security reasons/sight lines/mounting options)...


Quote:
Originally Posted by JCBigler View Post
The OP's question wasn't about live broadcast. It was about recording 4 channels of a live performance for mixing and editing later. In which case the easiest and most fool proof method is to time align in post in the DAW, because then you can line everything up exactly where they need to go, or sound best, and you can try several options.

Like a said earlier, a live mix to two-track, whether to CD, mp3, hard disk or broadcast is a whole other ball game.
to me, situation/context doesn't matter much as much as the equiment available on the job: since i carry appropriate measurement/analysis/correction devices anywhere i go (whether it's a straight to 2-trk or live broadcast), i rather hit my tracks with everything in place.
sometimes a bit much gear to carry on location but in the studio then lets me easily mix on any desk, digital or analog, no daw needed.
new gear, old habits...
Old 1 week ago
  #14
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crosscutred's Avatar
When did time aligning mics become a thing?
Thank goodness we do it now as all those recordings made before it became a thing were rubbish.
Old 1 week ago
  #15
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time alignment became a thing when the first reasonable sounding digital delays became available, around 35 years ago...
Old 1 week ago
  #16
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crosscutred's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
time alignment became a thing when the first reasonable sounding digital delays became available, around 35 years ago...
And in what context were they being used?
On mics, other than as an effect?
Old 1 week ago
  #17
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jwh1192's Avatar
probably time aligning PA systems (Front and Delay speakers) would be my best guess for the first practical use outside recording studio FX ..
Old 1 week ago
  #18
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Yannick's Avatar
 

It’s always interesting that time aligning pa speakers is OK, even when it is not possible for even half of the audience.

But when someone advocates time aligning mics, all hell breaks loose. Either it is not necessary, or it was done differently in an ancient past, or else pops up the argument that it is not possible for all sources.
Old 1 week ago
  #19
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digital delays were mostly used for broadcasts/radio shows ('obscenity delay') and to align a subset of speakers (delay towers/front fills) but some creative folks used them the same we align tracks today: to delay spot mics to mains or mains to ambis (although imo the latter is mostly not necessary), not always but often on the way in; i remember time aligning mics with digital delays by the mid eighties and it was a huge advantage over using tape loops - whether that was always needed or led to better results is another discussion...

time aligning between systems operating in roughly the same frequency range such as front or side fills is okay as only very few people experience time smearing (although sometimes in the 'best' seats) - alignign delay lines becomes a bit more difficult (unless they are very far away from the mains) but what IS an issue in live sound is aligning large subwoofer arrays to mains as delaying can change their characteristics and one can only ever align one frequency/for one distance!

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 1 week ago at 08:01 PM.. Reason: edited twice
Old 1 week ago
  #20
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crosscutred's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yannick View Post
It’s always interesting that time aligning pa speakers is OK, even when it is not possible for even half of the audience.

But when someone advocates time aligning mics, all hell breaks loose. Either it is not necessary, or it was done differently in an ancient past, or else pops up the argument that it is not possible for all sources.
Hey, it's all ok.

sometimes it makes things worse or it's easier to address the issue earlier in the process.
Old 1 week ago
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IraSeigel View Post
Using a DAW, of course, it would be relatively easy to time align these tracks, but I want to do it in real time, to lessen the amount of post-production I have to do.
Do not over complicate things unnecessarily, it literally takes seconds to do this in the DAW...anything else will cost money and effort, and if you don't know what you're doing the result will not be as good.
Old 1 week ago
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by crosscutred View Post
When did time aligning mics become a thing?
Thank goodness we do it now as all those recordings made before it became a thing were rubbish.
If you're trying to mix crowd mic's placed >50' from the stage with a board mix, it's an issue.

Unless you are doing this live-to-air, there is no reason to do it on the fly. Like everyone else said, just line in up in the DAW. To make your life easier: measure the distance of your crowd mic's to the stage. At least you'll have a ballpark reference to time-align later.
Old 1 week ago
  #23
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huub's Avatar
Completely ignoring the original question , I do align audience mic for live broadcast sometimes.
This does involve delaying the dry signal and thus video needs to be delayed as well to stay lipsync.
Old 1 week ago
  #24
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Roland's Avatar
What I would add into the mix of the above, is just a generalisation, however an important consideration. We all know tha advantages of time aligning delay speakers in a pa situation, but you have to accept that like anything in Audio it’s a bit of a fudge and as pointed out in the aboveposts, there are always people that will not get the same experience depending on where they are seated, levels etc. With delaying signals, it’s the same thing, not all distances are the same. There is good reason to consider things like haas effect which can have a profound effect on our perception of sound. It’s for this reason that speakers can sound bad if too many early reflections can be heard within a short time of the original signal. Back in the day, this led many studios to adopt ‘live end, dead end’ acoustics for control rooms. Delays run slightly behind can often help with localisation of sound as our ears/brains, process this sound as we expect to hear it.
Old 1 week ago
  #25
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roland View Post
Delays run slightly behind can often help with localisation of sound as our ears/brains, process this sound as we expect to hear it.
Ehhh....I was with you up to this point.

I disagree with the belief that delays speakers should be delayed more than their physical distance form their partner main speaker. In Bob McCarthy's class, we call this "wrong delay times".

The correct delay time is the time between the main and delay speakers, not some other arbitrary longer distance so that you perceive the sound coming from somewhere else.
Old 1 week ago
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by JCBigler View Post
Ehhh....I was with you up to this point.

I disagree with the belief that delays speakers should be delayed more than their physical distance form their partner main speaker. In Bob McCarthy's class, we call this "wrong delay times".

The correct delay time is the time between the main and delay speakers, not some other arbitrary longer distance so that you perceive the sound coming from somewhere else.
...unless your goal is to create an auditory illusion, I agree.
Old 6 days ago
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TMetzinger View Post
...unless your goal is to create an auditory illusion, I agree.
Sure, as an effect or for a special or specific purpose. A creative device, yes. But just as a normal system tuning, as the baseline for the he rest of the system, then the different zones should be aligned to their proper placement.
Old 6 days ago
  #28
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Roland's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by JCBigler View Post
Ehhh....I was with you up to this point.

I disagree with the belief that delays speakers should be delayed more than their physical distance form their partner main speaker. In Bob McCarthy's class, we call this "wrong delay times".

The correct delay time is the time between the main and delay speakers, not some other arbitrary longer distance so that you perceive the sound coming from somewhere else.
There is no correct delay, unless you are exactly in one seat on one axis, every other position will be slightly wrong. It’s the same with delaying spot mics to main microphones, it’s only accurate for one source directly on axis to both microphones.

I believe they often use the effect I was talking about in theatres, so that even with zoned speakers such as under balcony, careful treatment can give the illusion of the sound still coming from the stage rather than from a speaker 4ft above your seat.
Old 5 days ago
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crosscutred View Post
When did time aligning mics become a thing?
Thank goodness we do it now as all those recordings made before it became a thing were rubbish.
Time alignment was always a "thing" and that's why all those recordings sound good...alignment is not just about using digital delay.

This is not just about personal taste, and the science behind the concept were well understood for a long time.
Old 5 days ago
  #30
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i've been aligning hundrets of systems: i mostly settle for precise alignment for the seat at which the delay speaker is aiming (if positioned and angled correctly...)

it's true though that the same principles are at work for alignment of spots to mains; i therefore (and out of preference for precise localisation) mostly opt for (close to) coincident pairs.

spots for basses (or other instruments with a lot of lf) can get phase aligned but for a specific frequency in the lf range. using allpass filters can yield way more impressive results than just simple delay time adjustments: they are a bit tricky to handle though - in any case, make sure you do eq's first before any attempts of phase alignment...
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