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Headphone Cueing?
Old 30th June 2019
  #1
Headphone Cueing?

Do any of you guys get calls to provide headphone cueing on any of your jobs?

I am set up to provide that function (in the "old studio" days, no one would consider working without a cue feed ever, but maybe, times have changed).

I know that it is done regularly on scoring stages (makes sense) but even on fairly complicated CD projects that I have done, even over a number of days, no one has yet ask for things like a click track, or a "string feed" or, well, anything. Seems like whatever tempo the director chooses, it must be close enough the next day to cut between days. Hmm?

Should I just assume unless I am doing a scoring session with 300 microphones (haha) that I can just put the cue feed stuff in deep storage?

D.
Old 30th June 2019
  #2
Lives for gear
The only situation I've encountered was a string quartet who wanted to record along with a prepared midi track, and a small 4 output headphone amp plus 4 sets of earbuds (feed sent to only one ear, other muted to prevent mic bleed) was sufficient for that occasion.

For a large orchestral gig requiring headphones you'd probably use Dante distribution...or maybe a conference call to every player's cellphone, and send the click out (again via earbuds) that way...if that's technically possible ?

In general, headphones/headphone amps are mostly used for musicians & producer playbacks in the control room.
Old 30th June 2019
  #3
Lives for gear
Keep it simple
Keep it acoustic
Record the emotion, not the technology.
Old 30th June 2019
  #4
Gear Head
 

I’ve been asked for it on a number of occasions - on location sessions.

Clicks for rigorous time keeping on quasi-classical crossover material, feeds of guide tracks to lead musicians for overdubs etc

It’s not overly frequent and it might just be worth your while hiring stuff in when you need it.
Old 30th June 2019
  #5
Lives for gear
A lot of DAWs and hardware recorders have a metronome/click facility built in, and allow you to route guide tracks to a cans feed easily...if you get the occasional request to deliver this (which the musicians should have specified well ahead of the session), just bring the headphones/earbuds and distribution amps to provide it.
Old 30th June 2019
  #6
Yes, that mostly answers my question. It is an absolute cinch to supply whatever cue sends, click, or ABC News over Dante in my rig. The question was more about whether being prepared to deliver this stuff was important. I t hasn't been my experience that it was ask for, but as the Boy Scouts say, Be Prepared.

Thanks.

D.
Old 30th June 2019
  #7
Gear Maniac
 
DaveyJones's Avatar
 

I recently recorded a choir track for them to sing along to at an awards show.

There was recorded orchestral backing so it had to sync with that meaning it had to be performed to a click.

Our solution (we had 2 days notice to organise) was to hire a 'silent disco' with a single radio transmitter and 80 sets of headphones for each of the performers.

It worked flawlessly, to be honest, even though I was really sceptical at first...

I then repeated the idea 2 months later when a choir director wanted to do a multitrack recording (each part recorded separately)of an arranged pop song so he could manipulate in post. Again, it worked really well!


Dave
Old 1st July 2019
  #8
Super Moderator
 
Remoteness's Avatar
YES, it's about 70/30 that we do not provide headphone cueing on our projects. That said, when we do, we can provide personal monitoring each singer/musician can create their own mix from whatever we feed to their individual cue mixers up to sixteen mono , eight stereo or any combination of the two. They can feed their wired or wireless IEMs (which we can also provide) or they can feed there own personal monitor.

All our (on location) session work uses this system.The system is used about 30% of the time during our live performance in front of an audience projects.

Most drummers listen to the click track when a cue system is in play. We usually provide stem mixes and direct channels plus the click track and let the singers/musicians decide what they want to hear and how much of anything. We also provide one or two reverb feeds, so they can wetten up their vocals of whatever else they want affected.

When we recorded Josn Groban's Bridges (sold out) concert at Madison Square garden, we had 200 tracks in record, and that's 400 channels of redundancy. The orchestra and some of the band and Josh had IEMs. That cue mix was (of course) handled by the monitor engineer.



Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot View Post
Do any of you guys get calls to provide headphone cueing on any of your jobs?

I am set up to provide that function (in the "old studio" days, no one would consider working without a cue feed ever, but maybe, times have changed).

I know that it is done regularly on scoring stages (makes sense) but even on fairly complicated CD projects that I have done, even over a number of days, no one has yet ask for things like a click track, or a "string feed" or, well, anything. Seems like whatever tempo the director chooses, it must be close enough the next day to cut between days. Hmm?

Should I just assume unless I am doing a scoring session with 300 microphones (haha) that I can just put the cue feed stuff in deep storage?

D.
Old 1st July 2019
  #9
I did a session a long time ago with the college orchestra. 80 sets of in ear phones. It was a nightmare setup wise. Keeping 80 sets of headphones and the wires untangled and each musician wanted an individual volume control. It took my tech assistant a week (40+ hours) to get it all wired up and checked out, lots of money spent, then it was used for a bunch of rehearsals and the performance and then put it in box and never used again. Oh well I guess it was all worth it for a 20 minute piece written by one of the faculty members. The track was "A...one...two...three... (up to 20) and then B...one...two...three (and so forth and so on). FWIW
Old 1st July 2019
  #10
No call for it in any of the "live" gigs. On the other hand, "location recording" doesn't always mean "everyone's playing at once". Quite a few recordings I've done "on location" have required overdubs, so I keep my 8-pair headphone amp in the rack for the purpose. Typically I provide two separate stereo cue mixes if needed, but can provide up to 8 unique ones.
Old 1st July 2019
  #11
Super Moderator
 
Remoteness's Avatar
I have also done large sessions that required an insane amount of headphones. What we have done with projects like that is give everyone in the (let us say) choir or chorus inexpensive individual pocket FM receivers so we can tune and transmit their mix to an open local frequency. The rest of the band and such get either wired or wireless IEMs or headphone setups.

I can indeed be a living nightmare setup wise, yet it can also be very rewarding when it works out with limited issues.

With the FM receiver setup, every has their own volume control. The band had not only volume control, but the ability to balance their own mix via the fed stereo stems and direct channels we feed each personal mixer.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
I did a session a long time ago with the college orchestra. 80 sets of in ear phones. It was a nightmare setup wise. Keeping 80 sets of headphones and the wires untangled and each musician wanted an individual volume control. It took my tech assistant a week (40+ hours) to get it all wired up and checked out, lots of money spent, then it was used for a bunch of rehearsals and the performance and then put it in box and never used again. Oh well I guess it was all worth it for a 20 minute piece written by one of the faculty members. The track was "A...one...two...three... (up to 20) and then B...one...two...three (and so forth and so on). FWIW
Old 1st July 2019
  #12
Gear Head
Intruiging idea re. FM receivers. Any specific model recommendations among the wide variety of inexpensive options? When buying 50+ of them one would want to not mis step...
Old 1st July 2019
  #13
Lives for gear
 

This seems to be another example of complexity vs scale in location recording. I've done lots of location overdubbing by a couple of singers or players using pretty simple cobbled together rigs, as well as having a separate monitor engineer with splits of all my inputs making custom headphone feeds for each band member, again, on location. The former was pretty easy with some extra prep to my standard portable music rig, the latter was a lot more of a deal. Scaling up from there, to the kind of choral or orchestral size gigs discussed here would entail A: a pretty serious time+budget discussion possibly resulting in B: passing on the gig if we didn't get an answer we liked...(ie: "you know, there are people who do this kind of thing all the time, and we aren't them!" etc)
Old 1st July 2019
  #14
Super Moderator
 
Remoteness's Avatar
It doesn't really matter what receiver you use. Some of the singers already had their own. I usually start from there, then buy as many as needed, when need. It's more about the transmitter you use. They cost anywhere from $5.00 to $12.00 USD.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Klimermonk View Post
Intruiging idea re. FM receivers. Any specific model recommendations among the wide variety of inexpensive options? When buying 50+ of them one would want to not mis step...
Old 1st July 2019
  #15
Super Moderator
 
Remoteness's Avatar
When we captured 'Yebba' performing her song, "Evergreen" live with her band and a choir in the sanctuary of a church in NYC without any overdubs or major fixes for Apple Music, we also provided the monitor mixes to wired and wireless IEMs. The console in the Tiny Big Mobile fed a combination of stereo stems and mono direct channels (totaling 16 feeds) to a Behringer X32 Rack controlled by an iPad, which fed a bunch of P16 personal monitor mixers. Any additional EQ, compression and effects were handled by the X32 Rack.

Click on the link above to see/hear the final product. FYI, I recorded and engineered the origination. The mix was done by her producer.

I think it's all relative. I don't personally find it complicated and the scale, well in my business 64 channels is the new 48. Doing projects that north of 96 channels is common place these days. There are a lot of moving parts.

It's not just about doing on location overdubs; it's about providing IEM and/or headphone mixes during a live performance. It can be challenging, but with proper planning and prep it's a no-brainer.

We have a few different systems that we use depending on the scale of the production venture.

Like you said, it can be a pretty easy project with some extra prep to your standard portable rig, or a lot more to deal with.

When you said, "you know, there are people who do this kind of thing all the time, and we aren't them," speak for yourself, because we can and have handled this sort of thing for decades. It just got easier to handle with all the new digital technology out there.

YMMV


Quote:
Originally Posted by philper View Post
This seems to be another example of complexity vs scale in location recording. I've done lots of location overdubbing by a couple of singers or players using pretty simple cobbled together rigs, as well as having a separate monitor engineer with splits of all my inputs making custom headphone feeds for each band member, again, on location. The former was pretty easy with some extra prep to my standard portable music rig, the latter was a lot more of a deal. Scaling up from there, to the kind of choral or orchestral size gigs discussed here would entail A: a pretty serious time+budget discussion possibly resulting in B: passing on the gig if we didn't get an answer we liked...(ie: "you know, there are people who do this kind of thing all the time, and we aren't them!" etc)
Old 2nd July 2019
  #16
Lives for gear
You're not violating any FCC codes by setting up a very localized FM (short term) broadcasting station ?
Old 2nd July 2019
  #17
Super Moderator
 
Remoteness's Avatar
Before 2013, if you needed more than 25 milliwatts of power the idea was to apply for a Low Power FM (LPFM) Broadcast Radio Station license. Depending on how much you were going to be using it determined whether or not you were even considering on getting one. From what I understand, there is no indication that the FCC will open another LPFM service application in the US.

The only exception to broadcast on FM without a license is if your transmitter produces 25 milliwatts of power which is basically only enough power to go about 100 feet, under best conditions. It's not the power that the FCC is concern about, but the electromagnetic field strength that is measured. The idea is to not exceed 250 microvolts/meter at 3 meters.

That being said, anyone operating a FM transmitter outside these parameters is considered a “pirate” in the eyes of the FCC, and can face penalties for violating the law. Sometimes a one watt station can go unnoticed by local licensed broadcasters, especially when it's a one off situation.

Today, there are options beyond FM transmitting. We have Wi-Fi, Blu-tooth or even Internet radio as options. Everyone has a cellphone and earbuds. I haven't tested this concept as of yet, but would like to look into it on the next multiple headphone/IEM project I'm involved in.

Many studios have transmitters in their parking lot so their artists, musicians, engineers and producers can go into their vehicles and listen to their tracks. I recall A&M Studios in LA (back in the day) had two or three low powered FM stations with the proper compression for the style of music that would be playing on the radio.






Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
You're not violating any FCC codes by setting up a very localized FM (short term) broadcasting station ?
Old 2nd July 2019
  #18
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot View Post
Do any of you guys get calls to provide headphone cueing on any of your jobs?

I am set up to provide that function (in the "old studio" days, no one would consider working without a cue feed ever, but maybe, times have changed).

I know that it is done regularly on scoring stages (makes sense) but even on fairly complicated CD projects that I have done, even over a number of days, no one has yet ask for things like a click track, or a "string feed" or, well, anything. Seems like whatever tempo the director chooses, it must be close enough the next day to cut between days. Hmm?

Should I just assume unless I am doing a scoring session with 300 microphones (haha) that I can just put the cue feed stuff in deep storage?

D.
lucky you: i do get requests for 'silly' cue mixes (for inears, headphones or wedges) when working for orchestras with electronics or jazz bands, both in the studio and live - not much of a technical issue to please those requests since i'm using a desk with a huge output capacity (and routing options not commonly found in other products)...

...but at times, i'm wondering how artists are supposed to play with what they are hearing in their cans (not necessarily on their own request but often upon the ideas of a producer, conductor or section leader...).

besides my desk, i like working with the klangfabrik (as do the artists) which then gets fed with stems versus individual mixes via auxes.
Old 2nd July 2019
  #19
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Remoteness View Post
When we captured 'Yebba' performing her song, "Evergreen" live with her band and a choir in the sanctuary of a church in NYC without any overdubs or major fixes for Apple Music, we also provided the monitor mixes to wired and wireless IEMs. The console in the Tiny Big Mobile fed a combination of stereo stems and mono direct channels (totaling 16 feeds) to a Behringer X32 Rack controlled by an iPad, which fed a bunch of P16 personal monitor mixers. Any additional EQ, compression and effects were handled by the X32 Rack.

Click on the link above to see/hear the final product. FYI, I recorded and engineered the origination. The mix was done by her producer.

I think it's all relative. I don't personally find it complicated and the scale, well in my business 64 channels is the new 48. Doing projects that north of 96 channels is common place these days. There are a lot of moving parts.

It's not just about doing on location overdubs; it's about providing IEM and/or headphone mixes during a live performance. It can be challenging, but with proper planning and prep it's a no-brainer.

We have a few different systems that we use depending on the scale of the production venture.

Like you said, it can be a pretty easy project with some extra prep to your standard portable rig, or a lot more to deal with.

When you said, "you know, there are people who do this kind of thing all the time, and we aren't them," speak for yourself, because we can and have handled this sort of thing for decades. It just got easier to handle with all the new digital technology out there.

YMMV
I am speaking for myself, thanks. I was acknowledging what our limitations are and implying that you are one of the people I might refer such a gig to. I hope that's ok?
Old 2nd July 2019
  #20
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Remoteness View Post
Before 2013, if you needed more than 25 milliwatts of power the idea was to apply for a Low Power FM (LPFM) Broadcast Radio Station license. Depending on how much you were going to be using it determined whether or not you were even considering on getting one. From what I understand, there is no indication that the FCC will open another LPFM service application in the US.

The only exception to broadcast on FM without a license is if your transmitter produces 25 milliwatts of power which is basically only enough power to go about 100 feet, under best conditions. It's not the power that the FCC is concern about, but the electromagnetic field strength that is measured. The idea is to not exceed 250 microvolts/meter at 3 meters.

That being said, anyone operating a FM transmitter outside these parameters is considered a “pirate” in the eyes of the FCC, and can face penalties for violating the law. Sometimes a one watt station can go unnoticed by local licensed broadcasters, especially when it's a one off situation.

Today, there are options beyond FM transmitting. We have Wi-Fi, Blu-tooth or even Internet radio as options. Everyone has a cellphone and earbuds. I haven't tested this concept as of yet, but would like to look into it on the next multiple headphone/IEM project I'm involved in.

Many studios have transmitters in their parking lot so their artists, musicians, engineers and producers can go into their vehicles and listen to their tracks. I recall A&M Studios in LA (back in the day) had two or three low powered FM stations with the proper compression for the style of music that would be playing on the radio.
I was told in no uncertain terms by an FCC rep that if I did not have a license to use the frequency I was transmitting on I had no right to be there. Those of us who use wireless mics regularly now have FCC LPA licenses (that we paid for) and a call sign, and are supposed to input our freq info per location into a website for this purpose that (in theory) communicates with "white space" transmitters in that specific area (like down to a street address). In practice this has not meant a whole lot so far for "portable users", who are only in a location for a day or so, but it has impacted fixed installations like venues and churches. New equipment in the above-600MHz band is being rolled out now, so in some places you may find yourself chased out of that band. I did not have good luck with pocket FM RX on locations, esp exteriors, but our TX was was only 50 MW and we weren't protected by being inside a large building etc.
In 45 years as a location soundie by far the most reliable wireless cueing/monitoring systems I've had have been Comtek 216s and (at higher fi and much higher cost) Lectrosonics R1as. They have often turned out to have better range than our wireless mics.
Old 2nd July 2019
  #21
I really like the Klang system. If I was doing projects with that kind of budget it would be my first choice.
Old 2nd July 2019
  #22
I just discovered the Klang stuff. The little Quelle box would save a bunch of analog cable runs in the set-up and runs at 96k (actually go up to 192k for those so inclined) which makes it a winner.

I think it's interesting how we are seeing a sort of two-stream Dante usage now. One for the commercial and maybe reinforcement markets (and maybe "lo-end") that caps out at 48k, but the people who want to play in the big leagues (Klang and Allen & Heath to name two) are going to make sample rates a no-brainer. Nothing to see here. Move along.

D.
Old 2nd July 2019
  #23
Lives for gear
 

i was referring to the klang fabrik and klang vier...

(...but i have no doubts the klang quelle is a nice little toy too).


p.s. nothing bad with well engineered 48k devices, especially when doing projects with huge channel counts
Old 2nd July 2019
  #24
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
p.s. nothing bad with well engineered 48k devices, especially when doing projects with huge channel counts
Nope, nothing bad with using 48k. Just bad to be stuck not being able to go above that SR if I want to.

D.

Oh and the Fabrik is cool. Just can't see running a dozen of them out onto the floor. I do wish the Quelle had a Dante switch Ethercon connector in the back so that they could be daisy-chained. Sort of negates, to some degree, the idea of not wanting to run a lot of cable from the stage-side racks.
Old 3rd July 2019
  #25
We looked into FM radios for the project mentioned above but decided against it (we did use FM radios when the "band" had to walk around while playing their instruments for another project by the same faculty member). We also looked into using a large (at that time) TV with a video tape/DVD playing on the screen but the orchestra would have had to look up from their music.

If I had to do it over again I would probably use Bluetooth and the musician's individual cell phones. Much easier. FWIW
Old 3rd July 2019
  #26
Gear Head
Unfortunately Bluetooth is a one-to-one protocol, there is no non kludgy multicast solution here.
Old 3rd July 2019
  #27
Lives for gear
 

maybe someone has already some experience with this new toy? i just read this article:
https://www.audiomediainternational....ss-iem-system/
wish proco would provide more details on the product though.

as a hard-wired version, i have been using this (actually an older version of which our dear friend evil b. has a copy out for close to nothing):
http://fischer-amps.de/de/in-ear-mon...eripherie.html
depending on signal strength/output level/headphones, this works mostly fine on a line level signal so a headphone amp is not necessarily needed.
very useful (for occasional feed of click, to check line level cables etc.) and not too expensive; i carry one everywhere i go.
Old 3rd July 2019
  #28
Very cool. Field testers needed?

D.
Old 14th July 2019
  #29
Lives for gear
 
Richard Crowley's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by philper View Post
I was told in no uncertain terms by an FCC rep that if I did not have a license to use the frequency I was transmitting on I had no right to be there.
That "FCC rep" may want to seek a job that they better understand. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 47 Part 15 specifically addresses low power broadcasting being permissible within the statutory technical limits.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Title_...d_broadcasting

https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-id....1.15&rgn=div5
Old 15th July 2019
  #30
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Crowley View Post
That "FCC rep" may want to seek a job that they better understand. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 47 Part 15 specifically addresses low power broadcasting being permissible within the statutory technical limits.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Title_...d_broadcasting

https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-id....1.15&rgn=div5
Thanks. Here's a quote from your quote:

"The operator of the device shall be required to stop operating the device upon a finding by the Commission or its representative that the device is causing harmful interference."

The FCC agent was referring to portable wireless mic (and etc) use in the 100mW+ range, not toys or other uses. Getting a LP license for your radios is a good idea nowadays. Many current wireless mic users of newly sold-off bands in the 600MHz range (for instance) may find themselves being asked to shut down their gear at some point in the near future, because they have no legal right to be working in that band.
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