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B&H Tips & Tricks

By Sam Mallery

Wedding Videographers: Fire Your Shotgun in the Air!

One of the common problems encountered by wedding videographers occurs during the reception and involves a shotgun microphone on top of the videocamera. As their camera roves around the reception floor, there is often a loud DJ or a live band on one side of the room. The camera pans all around to capture shots of the guests enjoying themselves, which is nice visually, but the audio the microphone picks up is uneven. When the microphone faces the music the volume jumps, and when the microphone turns away, the sound drops. The solution is to use a shockmount on top of the camera that can swivel and point the microphone up. With the microphone facing skyward, there are no longer jumps in the sound's volume when the camera pans, because the audio level of the ceiling is nice and even. The Rode SM3 shockmount is a great little camera-mountable shockmount with this functionality.

Donít Be Afraid to Punch Your Buttons

The proliferation of home studios and the drop in price in decent recording equipment has provided lots of inexperienced people with high-quality recording tools. Many low-priced preamps feature mysterious controls like Low-Z/Hi-Z and Polarity buttons and switches. One way to learn what these buttons do is to read lots of painfully detailed technical explanations of their functions. A better way to learn about them is to give 'em a try! Next time you have a couple mics set up and a drummer, guitarist, or your Grandma Tilly speaking into a mic, record them doing their thing for a minute. Keep recording and yell out ďPolarity switch,Ē hit the polarity button, and have your performer continue for a few more bars. Then listen carefully to the playback together. You may hear subtle differences in the sound as you engage and disengage the buttons. You may even decide to use these alien controls. This practice holds true with most pro audio gear, and most unfamiliar-looking buttons.

Feed Your Speakers Lots of Juice

A common misconception about speakers and amplifiers is how you can potentially damage the two. People often mistakenly believe that a speaker will be blown if you overpower it--- by plugging the speaker into an amplifier that produces a higher wattage than is that for which the speaker is rated. In actuality, the opposite is true. The danger lies in under-powering a speaker. If you plug a speaker into an amplifier that isnít powerful enough for the rating of the speaker, youíre a lot more likely to destroy the speaker. This scenario is also bad news for the amplifier. The amplifier will have to work extra hard to keep up with the demands of the speaker with the higher rating. Plugging more speaker into an amplifier than the amplifier can handle shortens the amplifierís life dramatically. The key is to buy an amplifier that is twice as powerful as the rating of the speaker. For example, if you have a pair of speakers rated at 50 Watts continuous at 8 ohms, you need to buy a two channel amplifier that produces 100 Watts per channel at 8 ohms. Itís also very important not to attach more speakers to the amplifier once the proper balance has been struck. If you have an amplifier that comfortably powers two speakers, and then you add one or two more speakers, the amplifier will be pushed too hard, and soon the speakers and the amplifier will be on their way to the trash.

Tips For Your Ears in the Mix

The question often pops up as to which is the more effective tool for listening to your mix critically: headphones or speaker monitors? The answer is both. There are those of us who prefer one practice over the other, but in the end if you only use one monitoring method youíre not hearing the whole picture. When you share your work with the world there are going to be people listening on both speakers and headphones. Itís wise to compensate for that during the mixing process by utilizing both monitoring methods. This is a common practice in the commercial recording world. Itís also smart to take it a step further and listen to your mix on as many different speakers and sound systems as possible. Using tools like the PreSonus Central Station, you can have multiple sets of monitors in the room and switch them around during playback with the press of a button. This way you can hear instantly how your mix translates from your high-quality studio monitors to your boombox, and back and forth. So mix it up!


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