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Live recording from show mixer/board to Zoom R16 Recorders, Players & Tape Machines
Old 7th September 2011
  #1
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msyno's Avatar
 

Live recording from show mixer/board to Zoom R16

I have a studio at home with pretty nice stuff, but this unfortunately, has nothing to do with any of that

I simply wanted a friend, who had told me had recently bought 2 of these R16s, to record a live show of the group I was playing with. He had recorded shows with it several times before, but not straight out of the board, used for the audience/monitors.

It was a basic setup, where we only used i think 10 tracks. The board was decent enough that it had a "dir" line 1/4 out with a "pre-eq/fader" button for each channel (which we definitely engaged). Initially, at soundcheck, he said the kick and snare channels were overloading the R16 occasionally, but that he didnt think it would be too bad overall.

Apparently, the R16 has a limiter/compressor, but I'm quite certain that it pales in comparison to normal "pro-studio" quality stuff. It squashed and essentially ruined not only the kick and snare tracks, but even parts of the overhead and bass tracks.

I'm not royally pissed, as this was not like a historical show or anything and he was learning about this. But am I missing something? Is there something that is not hooked up properly, buttons that are not engaged, or is this R16 not capable of doing this particular task well?

If it is and just requires more equipment and/or accessories, please let me know, too
Old 7th September 2011
  #2
Lives for gear
Reading a manual can help
Most menus can enable /disable functions
Old school I know.
Old 7th September 2011
  #3
+4 -10 issue is my guess, and yeah, see if you can disable that compressor. +1 for read the manual, and if you know something's clipping turn it down. There's a fader after the pre, that can be pushed for the house. (being serious, not bitchy/sarcastic)

You can't go back and replace the kick and snare? Probably could even find some good hits somewhere in the show to isolate and use.
Old 7th September 2011
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolo 46 View Post
Reading a manual can help
Most menus can enable /disable functions
Old school I know.
Yes, and he probably did a basic run-through of the manual. But he's not schooled on much of the real pro, technical jargon/theory, so ... quite a bit of that is lost on him, i bet. I kinda have a feeling that besides disengaging the compression button (which wouldve made the channels have even worse peaks), there isn't anything else to be done with the R16.

Quote:
+4 -10 issue is my guess, and yeah, see if you can disable that compressor. +1 for read the manual, and if you know something's clipping turn it down. There's a fader after the pre, that can be pushed for the house. (being serious, not bitchy/sarcastic)
I'm hoping that its not +4/-10 issue, but that is most likely what is going on. There's nothing to 'turn down' on the R16, as the input gain was all the way down. Lol - yeah, there's a fader after the pre on the house board, but we engaged the 'pre-fader/eq' on output, so that wouldnt affect our level. If we didnt engage it, we wouldve been forced to mess with the house soundman's faders a lot (not even counting the eqs) and that wasn't going to happen.

I'll try to find specs online for the R16, but does anyone who has one, know if the inputs are at -10db?
Old 7th September 2011
  #5
Lives for gear
You are confusing compression with limiting, and its possibly domestic, not pro levels.
Old 7th September 2011
  #6
Registered User
 

Next time try reducing the input gain on he main mixer. If the soundman was amicable enough to let you plug in, he would probably work with you to get the levels right.
Old 7th September 2011
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolo 46 View Post
You are confusing compression with limiting, and its possibly domestic, not pro levels.
I am not confusing anything with respect to that - I know the difference between the two. But i do not believe that the software algorithms used for this unit, really differentiate between the two (and the fact that i was told that you just press one button for both on this). Its not my equipment and I don't have the manual, but I suspect that the threshold is set fairly high, perhaps halfway between where compression is normally set and limiting is set. Ratio-wise its probably set closer to squashing the signal ala limiting.

One guy on another forum posted this, which i kinda forgot about:

"The one thing about compressors though, at least hardware ones is that you can adjust the volume level *before* you hit the converters. The compressors in the R16 are software compressors and won't help with anything before the converters"

If you're referring to -10 dbU as "domestic", then yes ... I believe this unit is at this level, as opposed to the likely +4dbV coming out of the house board. With that level delta hitting the software converters, before they even get any crappy "limiting" imposed on them, it is likely there's nothing to be done.

The soundman was not going to adjust the trim levels coming off the mics into the house board. If both the "recorder" and the soundman were the same, then this would be the way to go. Alas ...
Old 8th September 2011
  #8
Lives for gear
Does the live board have inserts, usually used for sidechaining effects on individual channels ? If so, see if you can use these as sends to the R16, rather than the direct outs. The inserts are more likely to give you the -10 your R16 expects. You can use either dedicated cables or the 'push to 1 click in' method if the soundmixer is ok with that. Other than that, a set of hardware pads (you can solder them up yourself, circuits are common to find) will do the job,even for the 'direct outs'. In fact, this might be the better way to go, as you'll then no longer be at the mercy of the mixer's gains (which he has every right to set as he feels/needs to be correct for the gig he's mixing..your needs are secondary to that !)
Old 8th September 2011
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
Does the live board have inserts, usually used for sidechaining effects on individual channels ? If so, see if you can use these as sends to the R16, rather than the direct outs. The inserts are more likely to give you the -10 your R16 expects. You can use either dedicated cables or the 'push to 1 click in' method if the soundmixer is ok with that. Other than that, a set of hardware pads (you can solder them up yourself, circuits are common to find) will do the job,even for the 'direct outs'. In fact, this might be the better way to go, as you'll then no longer be at the mercy of the mixer's gains (which he has every right to set as he feels/needs to be correct for the gig he's mixing..your needs are secondary to that !)
This ended up being nearly exactly what a live sound guy told me, at the pro audio dept I was at tonight. The board did in fact have insert/sends, but we did not plug into those. He mentioned the "inline" pads (hardware) would be another option - but not how much they would cost. Can anyone give me any info on what kinds/brands are available and relevant pricing?

He additionally mentioned getting a good, outboard 8 channel compressor as one more option, though I had already thought of this and its kind of an expensive solution that doesn't always solve the problem. Is there a "pro" +4 dbV version of the Zoom R16, which can handle a board output and be fairly transparent, regardless of price?

You're absolutely right about 'my needs being secondary', as far as recording. As far as the musician-side of that equation though, I was the primary
Old 8th September 2011
  #10
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Short story seems to be that if the gain structure isn't workable, as it seems the Zoom may not having enough pad on its "line" setting to handle the voltage from the main console's direct out, the $350 "wünderbox" may need $320 worth of inline pads PER ZOOM (Shure A15AS Switchable Microphone Attenuator 15 20 25 DB) just to match the levels.

The eight channels of additional compression (and control of the output level hitting the Zoom) the sales guy was mentioning, in my case, would be a mere $112 per channel (Amazon.com: PreSonus ACP88 8-Channel Compressor/Limiter: Musical Instruments). And the first time someone bumps the half-inserted 1/4" plug all the way into the insert, and the FOH guy loses the channel to your workaround... well, every one of them will be ripped out forthwith.

Kinda gets back to finding the right tool to do the job at hand. Better to learn that truth now than when there's real money (or a future gig) on the line. I'd count it as a good lesson learned.

A proper recording chain, when working with a pro desk (and which will work with any pro desk, analog or digital), would be to hire, build or buy a split snake. Passive will work fine, so long as the connections are all properly wired and in phase... a transformer isolated split is better (and usually easier to talk the FOH guy into allowing being patched into his signal chain)... but is quite a bit heavier and more expensive... especially with decent transformers.

I built mine (24 channel passive, with four spare wires) from a derelict and abandoned 24x4 Horizon that had been chopped to 25 feet for some reason. I did all the soldering, carefully, repaired several boinked XLRFs in the stage box, and added three 12' long, 8-channel fan-outs. The parts were about $200, and I have yet to have a problem.

You can buy a new 24 channel passive split for about $500 (Live recording from show mixer/board to Zoom R16CBI 16 Splitter Box Rack w/6ft Mon, 25ft Main Snake | eBay) or get just the split box for about $325 (Whirlwind SB12P - 12 Input Passive Mic Splitter SB12P B&H Photo) and add as many channels of XLR cables as you need. Transformers more than double the price (Whirlwind SB12T1 - 12 Input Passive Mic Splitter SB12T1 B&H).

Stage feeds hit the XLRFs in the box, and the short run fans go to the FOH desk inputs... the long fan goes to my StudioLive 24.4.2, wherever I land. Since the mics are hitting my mic amps on each channel, I control the mic input gain into each track, and rough mix on the faders. Since I'm recording 24bit, I aim for a -20dBf average, with peaks to -10dBf or so. I pull the digital multitrack through FireWire into a MBP/Logic/HDD chain, and send the StudioLive's analog ADAT out into an Alesis HD24 for backup. I usually also run a Tascam CD recorder for a quick rough mix from the StudioLive's main L/R out, and/or to an Edirol R09-HR fed by the "Rec Out" jacks. The Alesis has saved my ass a couple of times, and the clients love having a 2-mix to take home.

I also make it a habit to go to the venue a couple of days before the gig to meet the FOH guy, explain what I need, whom I'm working for, and ensure that he is cool with it. We talk about the channels being used, and who will supply any phantom needed (nearly always the FOH desk). I also let him know that any problem with the split during soundcheck (for which I also show up early) is MY problem, and it will either get repaired, or I won't plug it in. Period. So far... so very good. Buying the FOH guy a beer at the first break is also a smart investment.

So... sorry to double or triple the cost of entry... but, as my Dad used to say... "It is, what it is."

And, there you have it.

HB

BTW, you can find the specs on the R16 here: Zoom — R16

Click "Downloads and Manuals".
Old 8th September 2011
  #11
Lives for gear
When doing tele music stuff,we took direct outs and main outs.
Having the main FOH was useful as guide and insurance ,and on some occasions we augmented the main out with directs in post.
Having a couple of tracks overload perhaps means the gain structure on the mixer was not right.
Prefade Listen is your friend.
Old 8th September 2011
  #12
Lives for gear
 

Padding the signal down is the solution.
If you can solder, making pads is quite simple.
I would probably make a special loom of cables going from the mixer to the R16 and incorporate the pads resistors in either one of the connectors.

In its simplest form a pad is only two resistors somewhere in the cable ( typically inside the connector ) . Using metal film resistors there is not much money involved. The cost is in work which might count as free for an amateur.

Too lazy right now to suggest resistor values, not much use anyway if you are not going to solder yourself. Sorry, I will suggest values in a later post.

// Gunnar
Old 8th September 2011
  #13
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Whenever I was confronted with wanting something "good, cheap and easy..." my Dad would say...

"Pick any two."
Old 9th September 2011
  #14
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Build your own inline pads, using metal film resistors, the most expensive part will be the 1/4" plugs ! Complete and free instructions here: AT81 OUT NOW | AudioTechnology Magazine
Go to page 50. The segment gives great background on constructional hints...... and plenty more.
Old 9th September 2011
  #15
Gear Nut
 
msyno's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by hbphotoav View Post
Whenever I was confronted with wanting something "good, cheap and easy..." my Dad would say...

"Pick any two."
Lol, yeah - that is a great maxim to remember. Haven't heard it in ages

Quote:
Build your own inline pads, using metal film resistors, the most expensive part will be the 1/4" plugs ! Complete and free instructions here: AT81 OUT NOW | AudioTechnology Magazine
Go to page 50. The segment gives great background on constructional hints...... and plenty more.
Thanks! Even though I'm quite handy with a soldering iron, doing this kinda thing freaks me out a bit. I can just see myself leaving some part ungrounded and then frying a sound guy or myself.

Most of the inline pads I saw online are XLR, too. Isn't what I'm looking for really a 1/4 to 1/4 kinda thing? Or am i supposed to buy XLR pads and put them in front of each channel's mic line-in?

Thanks for the advice on splitting, too. Too much effort and/or $ for the Zoom owner ...
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