I’m a big fan of the audio quality, reliability, and simplicity of wired microphones.
That said, sometimes wireless can be a good option, for instance when dragging a cable around would be really inconvenient, or just to minimize trip hazards.

Some MICROPHONE questions to consider:
Omni or directional element? Earset and headset omnis sound good and work well.
Directional mics are harder to place, but work well in loud environments.
Definitely directional for handheld use.

With any wireless mic it is easy to walk around in a crowd with no cable to consider. Handheld, single-hook earset, or double-hook headset mic?

Modest cost handhelds sound better than ear/headsets in a similar price range.
Handhelds are easily passed between multiple users.
Some handheld transmitters have a fixed, not replaceable element.
Better transmitters can take replaceable elements, which offers the option of different elements, or replacing a damaged one.

Keeping the mic at a consistent distance is easier with ear/headsets.
Ear/headsets free up the vocalist’s hands, though putting a handheld mic on a stand addresses this.
Will a headworn mic be used by only one person, or will it need to fit multiple users?
Options are fixed-length short and long booms, adjustable booms.
Earsets work well on some heads, not so well on others. Sometimes a bit of clear surgical tape is needed to hold mic in place.
Dual ear-hook headsets offer fixed or adjustable headbands. These are generally more stable, and are often the choice for dance or other movement instructors.
For connecting mics to bodypacks, does the element have a fixed or detachable cable?

Cream, brown, black? Sometimes the most important choice!

The windscreen is important, particularly on headworn mics! Have a spare!
Cables fail! Have a spare!

What Wireless Transmitter/Receiver SYSTEM?

Will one mic be used in an area with few other radio interference sources?
Or many mics in a crowded RF spectrum? Or somewhere in between? Can the system operate on multiple frequencies? This can help avoid RF interference, and allow multiple units to operate at once.

Analog or digital? For many users analog works very well. Digital can allow for more units in one space, but don’t buy 2.4GHz, and be aware of latency.

Transmitter power – more is not necessarily better.
With the transmitter fairly close to the receiver, low power will likely work fine. An advantage of low-power is that, when other wireless systems are in use on the same stage, there is less interference.
Higher power can be useful if you really need to go longer distances.

Less/more durable?
Metal or plastic bodypack or handheld transmitter? Metal is more durable, particularly if handled roughly.

9V or AA batteries. Both work well, but good, rechargeable AAs are less expensive.
Battery metering – good/dying, bar graph on transmitter and/or receiver?
Batteries die! Have a spare set easily available!

An option:
If a singer has a handheld mic that they really like, that isn’t available to fit a wireless system, some companies offer a transmitter block that inserts in the mic’s XLR connector.

Conversely:
Many mic elements that are wired to go to a bodypack transmitter can instead go to an adapter that allows for XLR wired use.
If you are a Drummer sitting at a Kit, do you really need a wireless vocal mic?

Why no mention of lavalier mics for vocal use?
Lavaliers can be great if you are recording or broadcasting.
But for live use, they can be challenging to get enough gain-before-feedback.
Ear/headset options are simply easier to work with.

Need a Clip-on Instrument Mic System?
Again, omni or directional? An omni lavalier very close to an instrument, for instance a Violin, can sound quite good. Foam, clip, clamp or other mounting?

Instruments With 1/4″ Output:
The obvious choice is simply a 1/4″ cable to a bodypack.

Please let me know any significant considerations I’ve left out!

Thanks and good health, Weogo

Choosing Batteries and Inverters for Portable Power – Some Considerations

Do you have a gig where you won’t be near an electrical outlet? Don’t want to use a generator because of fumes or noise?

12VDC Power:
For portable, battery-powered audio, the simplest option may be using a mixer and speakers that will run off 12V power.

INVERTER:
If you need to run 120VAC equipment off a 12VDC battery, you will need an inverter.


Pure Sine Waves vs. Modified Sine Wave: With some equipment, inverters with MSW power causes them to run warmer, which, if done regularly, could shorten their life. Over the years I’ve had some equipment on MSWs that hummed/buzzed and still worked, while other equipment was quiet.
Some of my battery backup UPS units won’t run off a MSW inverter. But battery-supplied power can be pretty stable, so you may be fine without the UPS.
I’ve gone to all Pure Sine Wave inverters.

Choosing a high efficiency inverter means less heat created and more useful power output. Efficiency can be as low as around 80% up to over 95%.
Beware of noisy inverter fans at quiet events, like a wedding.
An over-sized inverter that can put out enough power without the fan coming on may be a better choice than a small inverter with a fan kicking on and off.
Bigger, better quality inverters handle difficult loads more gracefully and will last longer.


12 inverters only go so big. At some point you will be better served by a 24V or 48V inverter.
And higher voltage can allow for longer cable runs and/or smaller gauge cable between batteries and inverter.

BATTERY:
How long any battery lasts is a question of how efficient a particular amp/speaker system is and how loud you need it to go. Additionally, running the high pass filter up a bit and not spend a lot of energy on low frequencies will extend the run time.

A battery like this: https://dakotalithium.com/product/dakota-lithium-12v-54ah-deep-cycle-lifepo4-trolling-motor-battery/
Will provide 12VDC x 300 watts continuous for about 2hrs 20 minutes;
can deliver 1200W for ten seconds. 17.6#
It looks expensive, but if it performs as specified and would regularly be useful,
it could end up being cheaper than a Lead battery.

With a power/time rating similar to the Dakota noted above, the Odyysey 34/78-1500 Lead AGM battery is another choice to consider: https://www.odysseybatteries.com/pc1500dt.htm
It can deliver over 5000W for two minutes, so for high-power, highly dynamic loads
it would be better choice than a battery like the Dakota. 49.5#

A BIG Battery:
Our all electric 2014 Mitsubishi I-MiEV car will deliver about 300 watts through an inverter for more than two days.
It is actually capable of delivering 960 watts, but for some technical reasons, with this particular car, about 300 watts is as much as it will do for long periods.
Some other electric cars can deliver many more watts, for a much longer period of time.

Battery Connections need to be solid. Clamps on terminals are fine for smaller inverters. Beyond that, cables to SAE posts or bolt-on terminals are the way to go.

120VAC All-In-One: https://simpliphipower.com/product/big-genny/ $3200

Keep extension and speaker cords short and of adequate gauge to minimize power loss.

SOLAR:
With enough solar panels and good sunlight you can run a system off straight solar.
I would want a properly sized battery(s) in the system for passing clouds, or a bigger battery(s) for really cloudy days.
Adding solar panels to a battery powered system can extend the
number of hours of use, and lengthen the life of the battery(s).
Solar panels can add a ‘wow’ factor that may help you get a gig.
They take up quite a bit of space, and need exposure to direct sun.
Transporting and setting up panels, or a solar trailer, is an additional consideration.
Solar panels that can provide power to a home or shop can do double duty.

What can you do with 300 watts? Run a small mixer and two self-powered speakers at modest level for an outdoor event.
Obviously, for larger events, a bigger inverter and more/bigger batteries are needed.

What works for you?!

Thanks and good health, Weogo

Hi Folks,

Often with a budget shockmount microphone clip, the rear sags down with the weight of the mic cable.

Here’s a picture of a mic clip and a fairly common size 20mm x 145mm mic:

Notice the mic is sitting pretty much level in the clip.
The trick is going with heavier gauge, slightly shorter O-rings for the horizontal bands.
Side-to-side isn’t an issue for me so I use the factory supplied bands here.
Here’s a close-up, showing the thicker horizontal, and skinnier vertical bands:

In the USofA the thicker O-rings are sold as Danco #14 size, with
a 15/16″ OD, 3/4″ ID and 3/32″ thickness.
Other companies sell this with a product number of 116, or 019.

These numbers are for a clip with a maximum outside diameter of 43mm.
Figure out the O-rings you have and get something a little sturdier and you are good to go.

A side benefit is when the mic is used vertically over an instrumet it is less likely to slide down and out of the clip.

Thanks and good health, Weogo

Hi Folks,

LiveEdge has some audio equipment for sale.
Some is ours, some is from a friend, and some is from three local non-profits.

The Allen & Heath GL2400-32ch mixer with rolling case and LED Littlelites found a home at a community arts center.

< > < > < > < > < > < > < > < > < >

Allen & Heath GL2000-16ch.

GL2000

Many non-smoking Contra dance gigs. From about 1996.
Pictures coming.
$200.

< > < > < > < > < > < > < > < > < >

Allen & Heath MixWizard.
Many non-smoking Contra dance gigs.
Early version from mid-nineties.
Pictures coming.
$200

< > < > < > < > < > < > < > < > < >

Some of the other equipment, pictures and descriptions to come:

) Sabine GraphiQ master and slave digital EQ/processors
) Fly-frame for three EV SX100/200/300 boxes, from a church in Charlotte.(The SX100s are now monitors at
a church in Asheville.)
) Rane GE60 EQ
) Rane RA27 RTA, with measurement mic
) Xilica DLP4080 DSP
) Aviom A16 II units
) DBX DriverRack-PA

All equipment is in Asheville, North Carolina and Greenville, South Carolina area.

Any questions, please e-mail.

Thanks for looking!

Good health, Weogo Reed

An Introduction to Live Audio Production

September 29, 2017

1~4 class

At Kittredge Theater on the Warren Wilson College Campus

The class is being hosted by WWC student and Theater Crew member Caroline Daniels
with Weogo directing the teaching.

Free

We will cover the basics of:
Safety, AC Power
Listening, Acoustics, Live Recording
Audio Equipment, from Microphone to Speaker
Decibels, Audio Measurement
Feedback, Troubleshooting
And More!

This class is for:
) Aspiring Live Audio techs, whether in the concert, wedding, theater, church, dance or corporate world
) Anybody interested in how Live Audio production happens
) Musicians who want to better communicate with mix techs

Bring a notepad

Seeya soon! Weogo

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Analog or Digital???

Analog came first.
> All audio equipment used basic electrical principles to convert sound waves to electrical signals, make those signals bigger, and then convert them back to sound waves.

Then came digital audio equipment.
> First were digital effects processors – various flavors of reverb and delay, etc.

> Next were digital recording systems.

> Then came stand alone EQs, dynamics processors, crossovers, delays, or routing devices.

> Eventually many of these processes were combined in to one box, commonly called a DSP, or Digital Speaker Processor, as these commonly go after a mixer, and before amplifiers.

> About the time DSPs were coming out, Digital MIXERS started showing up.
Smaller ones were around $50,000, larger, more complex ones could easily go over $100,000.
Digital mixer prices came down.
The larger digital mixer here on the stage, a Yamaha 01V96 from 2003, cost $2000 new, and pretty much did more than that older $50,000 mixer.
The smaller Mackie DL1608 from 2012 is quite a capable mixer and currently costs $600.
The larger DL32R from 2015 is fairly full featured and costs $1500.

> Digital processing started showing up all over the place.
Amplifiers and self-powered speakers got much of the processing that was in the DSP boxes.

> Digital wireless mics started showing up.

So, is Analog better, or is Digital better?
1.) With Analog, from when a sound wave enters a microphone, goes through all cabling to a mixer, processing, amplifier, and speaker, and is converted back to a sound wave, is essentially instantaneous.

> With Digital, in every device, a digital microphone, mixer, DSP and/or digitally processed amplifier or speaker, there is always a certain amount of computing time, called latency.
Early digital units had lots of latency, newer units much lower. But they will always have some.
How much latency in a system?
3.5ms, digital wireless mic
2.5ms, digital mixer
2.5ms, digital speaker processor
= 8.5ms 9.6′

OR 1.ms for just digital mixer

> Compare to air time for monitor to ear transmission.

> Where this is likely critical is when using IEMS, In Ear Monitors.

+) So, Analog has no latency, Digital does.
Plus 1 for Analog.

2.) Digital devices use converters. Analog to Digital at inputs, Digital to Analog at outputs.
Every time you run a signal through a converter you degrade the signal.
Early converters noticeably degraded signal quality.
Current converters commonly have a measurable, but tiny effect.
But if you add lots of conversions, the changes to the signal do add up.

+) Analog has no converter degradation.
Plus 2 for Analog.

3.) When patching Analog equipment you go from a real, physical connector to
another connector.
Finding patch errors is fairly straight-forward – just follow the cable.
With Digital, patching is done on one or more patch screens.
Finding a patching error means knowing the program/app pretty well.
+) Plus 3 for Analog.

Analog is repairable at a fairly basic tech level. This could be very useful in a lower-tech future.

So why use Digital?
Look at these processors. Imagine having multiple racks of processors like this.
1.) All this extra Analog EQ and dynamics processing requires patch cabling to connect.
Connectors get dirty and can have intermittent, hard to find issues, or can have a continuous buzz, or not work at all. Lots of connections, means lots of points of failure.
With analog mixers, dirty linear faders and rotary potentiometers can have issues similar to those noted for connectors above.

Digital allows you to do some things that you can’t do in the analog world, for instance remote control of preamp gain. This allows for placing a mixer on stage and mixing remotely, without running a snake or power to an analog mixer.
Digital allows you to mix not just where the mixer is, but where the audience is. Very useful for dances, where you can’t have a mixer on the dance floor.

2.) Some of this equipment is expensive, some comes with only a modest price tag.
But even with the modest cost items, when you start adding up ten or twenty units, it can get pricey.
3.) All these processors require power. More AC draw might mean you need a larger AC service to run your system.
4.) All electronics create heat. If you are outdoors in the sun, you may need rack fans to keep equipment cool.
5.) All these processor take up space. Four racks this size would not hold all the processing in this little DL1608 mixer. Since they take up so much space, in the past we just made do with less, and had to really think, which channels are ok without a compressor, which ones really would benefit from having one?
6.) Big analog mixers and racks can take up a lot of venue space. They definitely take a lot of truck space and added weight carrying capacity. Equipment storage space is large.

Mixing speed is a TIE:
Analog mixers and processors have all possible controls at your finger tips.
Digital mixers use various layers on hardware and software.
The fact is, some adjustments are faster on an analog mixer, others on digital.
The real factor here is knowing really well what you are working with.

In reality, a competent tech can walk up to a good analog or digital system and do a good mix.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Hi Folks,

Update –
Summer 2017 a couple nice, new 12″ and horn, self-powered main speakers were donated.
From the dancer view, the left speaker is up high and aimed near the center/rear of hall.
The right speaker is lower, rotated in a bit to cover the front/center, and is at lower volume than the left speaker.
Both speakers are tilted down a bit.

Here’s a pic:

Speakers at CAS

For this very reflective venue, this placement seems to give acceptable intelligibility and dance floor coverage.

In addition to the donated main speakers and stands, there are new monitors, digital mixer, mics, stands, cables, direct boxes, extension cords, a UPS for the digital mixer and a few other bits.

A very nice Grand Piano was donated to the venue.

With all the hard surfaces, acoustics are still a challenge.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

FIRST POST:
Audio for a new dance, from the beginning:

The Asheville Monday Night Dance has moved to a new location at:
The Center for Art and Spirit at St. George’s Parish Hall
One School Road, Asheville, NC 28806
http://www.centerartspirit.org/map–contact-info.html

The first dance in the new location will be January 2nd, 2017.
Come on out and dance!

LiveEdge Audio is managing audio for this series.

With a nice, hardwood dance floor, and mostly hard surfaces for the walls and ceiling,
venue acoustics are lively, and Caller intelligibility may be a bit of a challenge.

Overall, the maximum dance floor space is 35′ wide x 43′ long.
The stage area is a nice 16″ above the dance floor.

First things first:
On a recent afternoon a crew met and carried in audio test equipment.
This was for some VERY basic testing. (Yay crew!)

Two speakers were used for initial testing.
Speech intelligibility metering was done at:
a front corner, front-center, center, and back/center of hall.

A) The first test was with a speaker in both of the front corners.
Fair intelligibility overall, except poor at the front center of the hall.

B) The second test was with speakers spaced about 20′ apart.
Poor intelligibility overall, except fair at front corner and center.
The picture above is this test scenario.

C) Single speaker in center.
Best intelligibility overall, though only fair at front corners.

(A fourth scenario will be tested:
The EV ELX15 boxes in the corners will be used to cover most of the hall,
with a small center-fill speaker at the front/center of the hall.)

For the first dance, A Danley SM60F will be in the center of the hall,
on the stage, covering most of the venue.
The SM60F is a pretty high intelligibility speaker, with
pattern control that goes a couple octaves lower than
many common speakers used at Contra dances.
It will be mounted in a yoke, allowing the speaker to be
optimally tilted for dance floor coverage, while minimizing spill to the ceiling.

Home

An EV ELX15 will cover each front corner, running at fairly low volume.
These will be mounted on customized tilters that maintain the
speaker’s weight center over the center of the speaker stand,
while aiming sound down on the dancers.
For one of these speakers, the low frequencies
will be boosted to give a little bit of low end oomph.

The dance floor will accommodate a little over 100 dancers, so
a small blessing is that the noise of the dancers on the floor
will be less than a large hall that can fit over 250 dancers!

Long-term, the Asheville Monday Night Dance Management
would like to help the Church install a useful audio system.

If you have a donation, even a mic cable or SM58 microphone,
we would be happy to have them!

Updates to this post will come as we test various speaker configurations with actual dances.

Thanks to Meredith, Manager of the Asheville Monday Night Dance,
and all the volunteers making this dance happen!

Good health, Weogo

Some microphone cables I bought used around 1991 from the old Greenville, SC Memorial Auditorium, are still in very good shape.
Take care of your cables and they will serve you well for a long time.


Cable cleaning:
) Check that the outer cable jacket is in good condition.
) Dip the rubber part of the cable in a tub filled with soapy water. Scrub with a sponge/scrubber. Keep connectors dry.
) Rinse, dry with old towels. Lay out in sun to make sure cable is completely dry.

Cable storage:
) Learn how to over-and-under cables. This is a cable coiling method that minimizes twisting of cables.
Good video showing over/under: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yPcJD7RVuY
) Put velco ties on the male end, or use black cotton trickline.
) At a venue you can store cables on pegs.
) Or store cables on a reel. My issue with reels is I have 5′, 10′, 15′, 20′, 25′, etc. cables. Using a reel means I may have to pull every cable off the reel, even though I might only need half the cables on the reel for a particular gig.
) Do not wrap cables around your elbow. Do not wrap cables around your elbow. Do not wrap cables around your elbow.

Cable testing:
) The ultimate test it to plug a condenser mic in a cable, talk on the mic, and wiggle the cable ends at the mic and mixer.
) Simpler is a basic cable tester.
) Another test is running a cable though your closed hand, feeling for insulation tears, kinks, leftover bits of tape, etc.
) For minor abrasion and tears, wrap with a bit of tape for a quick fix, or better, put a piece of shrink tubing over it. For bad damage, cut cable in half, add connectors and now you have a couple shorty cables.

Cable straightening:
) When a cable gets kinky from bad coiling, being jerked, wrapped oddly around a stand, etc., lay it out in the sun.
) When it is warm and soft, knead out kinks, and carefully re-coil, with no twists. The cable will (mostly)forget its bad ways.

Mice & Rats:
Over the years I have seen mic cables, snakes and other cables gnawed on by Mice or Rats.
Usually this is near the ends, where th cable is handled, and salt and oil transfer from skin to cable.
) Storing cables where rodents can’t get to them is advisable.

Cable paging:
Some singers spin the mic in their hand, or walk in little circles on the stage, while holding a mic. This puts twists in a cable.
I know one dance caller that will on average put a dozen twists in a cable per night.
) If you ask them to stop doing this, they might.
) If you regularly work with someone who does this, you can start the dance with some reverse twists in the cable.
) Or just know you will have to undo this at the end of the dance.
Cable labeling:

There are at least a couple reasons for labeling cables:

1) One being so you know who owns a cable:
If you label the male end, then the female end will look good for performers, and on camera.
<> These days my first choice is an ultra-fine paint pen. Depending on use, once-a-year touchup might be needed.

<> Adhesive labels are another option, or shrink tubing that has your name and contact info printed.

2) Another use for labeling is so you know what cable goes to what channel:

<> Put a small bit of tape on a cable end and mark the channel number.
Have a plan for the stage crew to keep track of what cable is where.

<> Use different color cables. In addition to black, blue is commonly available.
You can also get pretty much any color of the rainbow.
) Brown can sometimes be hard to tell from black.
) Red might be desired by some folks, but I try to use it only on the floor,
for going to a direct box, a foot switch, or maybe a shorty mic stand, etc.
) Orange is like red.
) Yellow definitely stays on the floor
) Green look ok on a stage to me, as long as it isn’t bright lime green.
) Blue is good, as long as it isn’t some neon blue.
) Violet works, but be careful, the less noticeable hues start looking pretty close to black.
) Gray, in the darker shades, can work, but again be careful how close you are going to black.
) White will look dirty very quickly.
) Some stage lighting makes colors hard to see.
) Short, bright colors can be handy for patching the back of a rack.
You may have very different color sensibilities than me!

<> If you are using Neutrik connectors, there are various colored sleeves available.

<> A couple inches of colored shrink tubing at each end can identify a cable.
But you have to remove a connector from the cable to install it, or have this figured out when building cables.
Or buy high-ratio shrink, that can go over a connector, and then shrink down to cable size. Can get kinda pricey.

<> Colored electrical tape.
Though I have done this in the past, it is my least favored solution.
If you go this route, don’t leave the tape on very long.
I recently removed some tape from some cables(not mine!). Adhesive was starting to come out around the edges of the tape.
GooGone got rid of most of the remaining residue, but some tape that had been on a LONG time left a hard crust that only yielded to steel wool.
Even then, the adhesive had permanently etched in to the connector.

What mic cable care advice do you have?

Thanks and good health, Weogo

ContraSF, Contra Sound Forum was started in 1998 as a simple e-mail forum for
folks who run sound for Contra dances.
Dance organizers, Callers, Musicians, Dancers, really just about
anybody interested in audio production for any form of Folk Music is welcome to participate.
We entertain questions from the most basic up to fairly sophisticated.
Posts are appropriate for all age groups.

Contra dance sound has some demanding aspects:
A clear caller and music need to be heard on the whole dance floor, at modest volume.
The music is live and there may be several microphones wanting to feedback.
Venue acoustis are often poor.
Budgets are generally limited.
Sound equipment is often hauled to a dance, set up, run, taken down and stored in a spare room.

The Forum is moderated, meaning all subscriptions are approved, so spam is not an issue.

SUBSCRIBING:
Wanna get involved?!  Send an e-mail to:
contrasf-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
Please note a little about your interest in the Forum,
maybe the name of your local dance, etc. so
the moderator knows you are a real person who is not a spammer!
And your subscription will be approved.
Any issues, please see me contact page and get in touch.

UN-SUBSCRIBING:
Un-Subscribing is even easier than subscribing:
To be automatically removed, simply send an e-mail to:
contrasf-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com

Join us!

https://beta.groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/contrasf/info

For contraSF,  Weogo Reed,  Asheville, NC

 

Hi Folks,

Have been designing, specifying, preparing and teaching audio for the upcoming Southeast Wise Women Herbal Conference:

http://www.sewisewomen.com/

These folks do great work, and are great to work with!

If you have any interest in this kind of thing, get in touch with them.

I’ll be on-site setting up/striking before and after the Conference.  If you’re there, say hi!

Thanks and good health,  Weogo

 

Every year during July and the first week in August, Weogo is doing one thing: running sound and enjoying great music at the Swannanoa Gathering, a series of week-long music workshops held at Warren Wilson College.

This year was kind of a repeat of past years, great instructors and administrative staff to work with and fascinating students from all over.  Gorgeous campus.

One thing different this year was the rain.  Lots of rain.  And more rain!  Amazingly everybody stayed good-humored about it all.

Next year you too can join the fun:    http://www.swangathering.com/