Monitoring while tracking

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Monitoring while tracking

Postby dylanger » Wed Sep 18, 2013 1:56 pm

I love watching studio performances on YouTube, and I notice that the musicians often have a mixer in front of them for their monitor mix. When these big Studio have this set up do they have oodles and oodles of outputs or do they send it to a piece of outboard gear that can split the signal up?
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Re: Monitoring while tracking

Postby Alain Benoit » Wed Sep 18, 2013 2:47 pm

dylanger wrote:...............or do they send it to a piece of outboard gear that can split the signal up?


Explain what you mean by 'splitting up the signal' ?

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Re: Monitoring while tracking

Postby macrae11 » Wed Sep 18, 2013 5:40 pm

Yes they are sending it to a distribution box. Typically they'll have 8-16 outputs, drums/bass/guitars/vocals/talkback etc. and then the distribution box sends this multichannel digital audio to each box so the musician acts as their own personal monitor mixer. Saves the engineer tons of headaches.
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Re: Monitoring while tracking

Postby dylanger » Wed Sep 18, 2013 8:57 pm

I really like this. Is it something that takes thousands of dollars to get set up with that? I was thinking that if you could use an IPad as a controller couldn't every musician show up with their IPad and do their own mix?

And splitting was the wrong term, my bad.
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Re: Monitoring while tracking

Postby macrae11 » Fri Sep 20, 2013 1:46 pm

Splitting the signal is a fairly accurate term actually. Except that there's no division so the signal doesn't get weaker.

I was going to say there's not really a cheap option for this out there, but then I went for a look and whaddyaknow good old Behringer has come out with their own model. Still about $1400 for 4 musicians though. Hearback has also come down in price a bit but it only does 10 channels, which I guess would be enough for most applications.
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Re: Monitoring while tracking

Postby Mathieu Benoit » Fri Sep 20, 2013 2:04 pm

It's not crazy expensive, but it was always cost prohibitive to us at Fluid since there were way better things to spend money on, IMHO.

I can try and break it down for you if you want.

First of all you need enough analog outputs to make it work. I would say 8 channels would be a good starting point. You would rely more on submixes, but if you wanted to go for 16 then you need more free channels and a hub capable of of handling 16 channels as well. So let's do both secenarios:

8 Channel - Hear Back - 4pk - ~$2000.

This system would be a basic entry point that wouldn't break the bank. It comes with 4 personal mixers, but the hub can accommodate 8 mixers in total. Each additional personal mixer would cost you about an extra $300. Cabling is easy enough to deal with since it is just ethernet cable, which is cheap and you can make it whatever length you want to accommodate player position. All you need is 8 spare channels from your DA and you are golden.

16 Channel - Aviom AN-16/i v.2 + 4 Mixers - ~$4000.

This system would be more expensive (in total) but also more expandable and probably would lead to a better end-user experience. The hub itself is about $1200, but right off the bat you would have to buy the personal mixers seperately which are normally $500ea, but sweetwater is having a sale on them bring it down to $400ea. You would also potentially want to buy a distribution hub to avoid having to daisy chain your personal mixers. So all said and done for a proper system with 4 mixers you are nearly at $4000, not including the extra channels of DA you'd need (if you don't already have 16 spare channels of DA laying around...)


Hope this helps! 8-)
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Re: Monitoring while tracking

Postby Mathieu Benoit » Fri Sep 20, 2013 2:15 pm

macrae11 wrote: Hearback has also come down in price a bit but it only does 10 channels, which I guess would be enough for most applications.


I wouldn't really call it 10 channel. A DB-25 connector can only do 8 balanced audio signals.

http://www.heartechnologies.com/hb/Links/hb_hub_specs.htm

Hear Technologies wrote:Hub Line In, Analog: 8 Balanced inputs on DB-25 female (Tascam DA-88 pinout)
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Re: Monitoring while tracking

Postby macrae11 » Fri Sep 20, 2013 2:19 pm

I'm just going by their specs. 8 in plus a 2 channel aux. The aux would most likely be used for talkback and such.
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Re: Monitoring while tracking

Postby Malcolm Boyce » Fri Sep 20, 2013 2:23 pm

Remember these are not universally going to provide a better result than mixes dialed in by another more experienced person. Don't think of this as a end all, magic bullet for monitoring situations. There's a reason why many large facilities with budgets don't have any of these self mixing setups. In the right hands they will be brilliant, but many performers that we all are working with lack the experience to not tweak themselves into trouble, even with simplified stems to work with.
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Re: Monitoring while tracking

Postby Mathieu Benoit » Fri Sep 20, 2013 2:48 pm

macrae11 wrote:I'm just going by their specs. 8 in plus a 2 channel aux. The aux would most likely be used for talkback and such.


Oh, I get that but I didn't want Dylan getting the wrong impression that 8 channels of music would be available.


Malcolm Boyce wrote:Remember these are not universally going to provide a better result than mixes dialed in by another more experienced person. Don't think of this as a end all, magic bullet for monitoring situations. There's a reason why many large facilities with budgets don't have any of these self mixing setups. In the right hands they will be brilliant, but many performers that we all are working with lack the experience to not tweak themselves into trouble, even with simplified stems to work with.


To add to that point, there is no way for the engineer to hear the personal mixes to fix problems when the musicians do "tweak themselves into trouble". In the end I have never spent enough time dealing with headphone mixes to warrant the extra cost/hassle of this type of system. I remember wanting one when I got started, but Andrew (as always) talked me out of it.
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Re: Monitoring while tracking

Postby dylanger » Sat Sep 21, 2013 11:55 am

Thanks for the info.

I know that with an iPad you can download the maestro app and use the iPad as a controller. An idea I had was that musicians could bring their iPads ands use it as their own mixer.

I understand that this could be a pain in the hands of someone with little experience, I was thinking for more of plug in and play with guys who are familiar with the system. For the space I'm working on now it's going to be for personal use and there will only be a handful of people that will even be there. Since its only for personal use I probably won't be dropping 4 grand anytime soon.
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Re: Monitoring while tracking

Postby macrae11 » Sat Sep 21, 2013 6:50 pm

I pretty much agree with Malcolm in that I don't see these as being hugely advantageous. If it was my regular session guys it might help but with them I know their mixes so well now that I have them set before they arrive and usually only take about 2 minutes of session time to tweak them into place. For unfamiliar musicians I'd much rather be able to hear their mix themselves so as to give an appropriate mix that won't cause it's own issues. For real rookies I'll usually just create my own mix for them that they're happy with 99% of the time. The only people who I think this would really be a benefit for me would be the endless tweakers. The one's who are never really happy with their mix and can sometimes end up using it as a scapegoat for their own performance anxieties. Letting them set it themselves would at least take that out of the equation.
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Re: Monitoring while tracking

Postby Mathieu Benoit » Sun Sep 22, 2013 8:42 am

dylanger wrote:Thanks for the info.

I know that with an iPad you can download the maestro app and use the iPad as a controller. An idea I had was that musicians could bring their iPads ands use it as their own mixer.

I understand that this could be a pain in the hands of someone with little experience, I was thinking for more of plug in and play with guys who are familiar with the system. For the space I'm working on now it's going to be for personal use and there will only be a handful of people that will even be there. Since its only for personal use I probably won't be dropping 4 grand anytime soon.


Let's put it this way: I do plan on building a great facility in a few years and I can't ever imagine installing a system like this. If I really get that hard up to find ways to spend money, I'll take Joline someplace nice. :mrgreen:
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Re: Monitoring while tracking

Postby Alain Benoit » Mon Sep 23, 2013 6:12 pm

Malcolm Boyce wrote:Remember these are not universally going to provide a better result than mixes dialed in by another more experienced person. Don't think of this as a end all, magic bullet for monitoring situations. There's a reason why many large facilities with budgets don't have any of these self mixing setups. In the right hands they will be brilliant, but many performers that we all are working with lack the experience to not tweak themselves into trouble, even with simplified stems to work with.


In the case of seasoned studio pros like these guys this is the accepted standard is it not?



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Re: Monitoring while tracking

Postby Mathieu Benoit » Mon Sep 23, 2013 7:10 pm

Easy!

They're so good they don't even need headphone mixes at all.

PS: I think I just figured out what I want to learn for Sunday nights after we are learn Achilles Last Stand this week.
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