Professional Audio help

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jcidiot
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Professional Audio help

Postby jcidiot » Sun Mar 07, 2010 8:02 pm UTC

I just immersed myself into the world of professional audio (read: recording studio style), and its confusing the hell out of me. Unlike general computer hardware, appearantly just because the plugs fit doesen't mean that what i did won't blow out some expensive equipment.

I **have** learned the general configuration of the hardware down, (XLR is the big plug, TRS is the jack that is similar to the ipod jack) but things like "line level", "unbalanced load", "impedance" etc confuse the crap out of me. is there a website that can explain all of this in layman terms, especially the electrical parts?

edit: if this is in the wrong section, can a mod move it for me? thx.

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Dream
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Re: Professional Audio help

Postby Dream » Sun Mar 07, 2010 10:12 pm UTC

This, I think would be better off in Music, so I reported it to see if it can be moved.

Your two direct questions:

It is possible to damage equipment by mis-connecting it, but that isn't easy to do. You won't, for instance "blow up" a mixer by plugging an output directly into an input, because that's not how they work. They have no explosive components. An amplifier would be safe enough if it were solid state, but in serious trouble if it were tube or valve. But you needn't worry too much, just follow the manuals and it will all be ok.

I'm sure there is a website that can explain everything, but I can't think of one off hand. I'll have a look for you.

Can you post any specific questions you have, and something about the equipment you're using or intending to use? The more detailed you are, the better I and others here can help.
I knew a woman once, but she died soon after.

jcidiot
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Re: Professional Audio help

Postby jcidiot » Mon Mar 08, 2010 2:10 am UTC

Ok, sure. I get the fact that electrical components cant blow up (i normally work with PCs, so the closest i got was when a disc decided to shatter in a cdrom). What I mean is, say, plugging a guitar (the pickup) into an mixer, which appearantly causes big problems. Also, to someone familiar with the internals of a computer, any cables that can fit are replacable (eg switch any sata cable with another one would be no biggie) but say, if someone switched out a trs cable in a balanced mono connection with a unbalanced mono cable would cause something to screw up.

It is actually a youth group system, centered around a live 24channel 4 bus mixing console, with guitars, keyboards, mikes, etc connected to it, and outputting to a couple of speakers and monitors. nothing fancy like DMX lights, though... the video system is seperate from the audio, except for where PC audio feeds into the soundboard and where the mix feeds into the line in of the PC's tuner along with a camcorder. most parts are generic, standardized parts, so they plug into each other pretty well, but i don't know the exact models as I am currently not on location (sorry :( ), but it should be the same for most other live sets as well.

Finding an explanatory website would rock, and if it gets more help in the music section that would be awesome as well.

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Dream
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Re: Professional Audio help

Postby Dream » Wed Mar 10, 2010 4:26 pm UTC

If I can ask a further question and give a little advice...

How did you end up in charge of a reasonably complicated front of house while not knowing whether you can plug a guitar straight into a mixer? Is there anyone around who can help with this, or did you just inherit it by accident?

Learn to use the mixer. It will cause you no end of headaches if you don't learn it inside out, and when you finally solve the headache problem it will turn out to be a single routing switch you've been staring at for twenty minutes without realising it's set wrong.

I hate to be the bearer of unpleasant news, but running a live desk for several instruments and computer recording will be a nightmare if you don't know what you're doing. Forget the internet, go to the library and read as much as you possibly can about music tech for live venues, and practice like crazy. There are lots of good books on this. You will make mistakes as a beginner (everyone does) but in live sound, your mistakes have a tendency to cut the feed to the PA and plunge the show into silence. Not a plan. Make a list of the instruments you need to work with, and learn each of them separately in signal chain order. Guitar->Pedals->Amplifier->Mic->Optional Preamp->Desk->PA and Stage Monitors. Read up on the hows and whys of each. Were I in your shoes, I would concentrate of learning vocals and stage monitors. If you get these right, the musicians can often do the rest. Get them wrong, and the show will not sound good. And learn to use your mixing desk. Learn it well, and know it like an old friend.

The good news is that this stuff has been set in stone for decades, so the answers to your questions, whatever the questions are, are straightforward. For instance, your guitar->mixer thing: You want what's called a DI box between the guitar and mixer. It's a recording technique that allows you to play the recorded signal back through different amp setups, or to use amp simulators in the computer. You'd never do it live, because it skips the guitar amp which is most of the sound. You'd put a mic in front of the amp cabinet instead. It is in no way dangerous to just plug the guitar into one of your mixer's mic inputs, crank the gain up and play. Nothing will break, but it will sound appalling, so don't do it.
I knew a woman once, but she died soon after.

Peter Galbavy
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Re: Professional Audio help

Postby Peter Galbavy » Wed Mar 10, 2010 5:01 pm UTC

A friend spent two years on a Music Production course which included a segment on working in a studio. It isn't simple and while on-the-job training is possible it can be both dangerous to equipment (as mentioned) and also dangerous to the artists whose work you may record and mix poorly.

Lots of reading. Sound On Sound magazine (www.soundonsound.com I think) is a good place to start as they have quite a few articles on-line in their archive.

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Dream
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Re: Professional Audio help

Postby Dream » Wed Mar 10, 2010 5:44 pm UTC

With respect to your friend, Peter, on the job training is the only way to learn live sound. The student just shouldn't have total control first time out. It can be taught in a classroom, but it can only be learned by doing it for real.

And SOS is great, just don't trust their reviews, they suspiciously love everything to bits. There were some live sound supplements a few years ago that were clearly ad space for a few manufacturer's new lines.
I knew a woman once, but she died soon after.

Peter Galbavy
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Re: Professional Audio help

Postby Peter Galbavy » Wed Mar 10, 2010 7:38 pm UTC

What I meant was that you need both. You need real training - whether one-to-one in a studio enviroment, master to apprentice, or on an organised course - *and* experience. You cannot walk into a studio with just domestic hifi knowledge and google and hope to get anywhere without making serious mistakes. Mistakes which will piss off the people you are recording.

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icelizarrd
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Re: Professional Audio help

Postby icelizarrd » Fri Mar 12, 2010 3:25 am UTC

jcidiot wrote:Ok, sure. I get the fact that electrical components cant blow up (i normally work with PCs, so the closest i got was when a disc decided to shatter in a cdrom).
Of course, it pays to remember that mixing up your AC adapters can fry your equipment, depending on their needed voltage >_<.
I lost a (fortunately pretty cheap) DJ mixer that way.

zap360
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Re: Professional Audio help

Postby zap360 » Sat Mar 13, 2010 3:36 pm UTC

Some time ago, I found this pdf at soundcraft.com, which I found worthwhile:

http://www.soundcraft.com/downloads/fetchfile.aspx?cat_id=palz&id=1804

It's called "The Soundcraft Guide To Mixing Booklet" and I think it gives a nice start for beginners to audio mixing. There is also a DVD available, but unfortunately it's not given away for free.

Regards, Zap


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