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Author Topic: Lowest chance of headache (Battery Box or Preamp)  (Read 6615 times)

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adrianf74

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Lowest chance of headache (Battery Box or Preamp)
« on: October 08, 2011, 12:54:10 PM »
Hey everyone:

I've read a few threads on here and have searched for some others but am trying to find a definitive resolve for my gear.   I've had a few conversations with a few people about this but would like to figure out what my best solution is and why.  Here's what I've got:

Deck: Sony PCM-M10
Power: Church Audio ST-9100 Preamp v4.4, Church Audio Ugly Battery Box
Mics: DPA 4061 (enroute), Church Audio CA-14/o and CA-14/c

Mainly record: amplified rock/pop shows at clubs (300-to-2000 people) and occasionally amphitheatres/arenas.  I've noticed, while using the preamp, I normally dial in around 11 o'clock to get my levels to about -12dB (the same result I get with the battery box).  There are occasions where I record at music halls a little "quieter" overall or in open situations where the audio is lower (older crowd) and the preamp would be closer to 3 o'clock.  I know the internals on the M10 are decent (much better than my old Edirol R09) so if I had to gain up on the deck, it wouldn't be a big deal. 

With the DPA 4061's in the mix, I'm tending to just run the CA-Ugly Battery Box and be done with the preamp as I'm finding I don't really need it.  aaronji has informed me that the 402x's are phantom powered so I'll need to figure that solution out if I ever made that move. 

Thanks everyone.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2011, 01:10:30 PM by adrianf74 »

Offline aaronji

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Re: Lowest chance of headache (Battery Box or Preamp)
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2011, 01:06:43 PM »
And if I did, for some strange reason, pick up a pair of DPA 402x's in the Yard (terminated to 1/8"), would I still be okay with the battery box or would I need something else to power those mics in that case?  Just trying to also future-proof my setup.

The 402x series are phantom powered...

As for your main question, if you don't need the gain from the pre-amp then there is really no sense in using it.  I don't know what the sensitivities of the CA mics are, but the 4061 is 6 mV/Pa.  If the Church mics are much different, you'll end up having different gain requirements (I think they are pretty similar, but have never seen a sensitivity spec. for the CAs).  If size isn't an issue, the pre is good insurance if the levels end up being lower than you anticipated...

adrianf74

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Re: Lowest chance of headache (Battery Box or Preamp)
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2011, 01:15:17 PM »
As for your main question, if you don't need the gain from the pre-amp then there is really no sense in using it.  I don't know what the sensitivities of the CA mics are, but the 4061 is 6 mV/Pa.  If the Church mics are much different, you'll end up having different gain requirements (I think they are pretty similar, but have never seen a sensitivity spec. for the CAs).  If size isn't an issue, the pre is good insurance if the levels end up being lower than you anticipated...

Thanks for the clarification on the 402x's.  I've since modified my first posting to account for this. 

As for the rest, I'm looking at trying to find the most 'surefire' rig that won't ever let me down.  Sometimes trying to get the mics, pre and recorder in when I'm in >:D mode is a little harder than I'd like so the battery box makes things easier (as mentioned, in the case of the CA-14's, I'm finding no difference in my levels from the pre-amp to the battery box in most of my applications).  I'm just trying to see if maybe selling the preamp down the road is something I'd want to do if I'm not gonna find myself using it. 

adrianf74

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Re: Lowest chance of headache (Battery Box or Preamp)
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2011, 04:10:10 PM »
This is a complicated topic.  The only simple rule is if you are recording something loud you probably never need a preamp. [EDITED TO SAVE PIXELS]

Thanks for the in-depth explanation.  I did read the part after the break not because I was bored but because I was trying to get a better understanding (to which it has helped).

With my old recorder, the Edirol R09, I found that I could max out the gain on the deck quite often before reaching my desired audio level on the recorder.  When I moved to the Sony PCM-M10, this hasn't been the case (or least I haven't noticed it yet).  I know the unity gain on the M10 sits around 4.5 and for the rock/pop shows I've been to recently.  In the instances where I've ran the preamp, it's sat at (more-or-less) unity to net -12dB.   When running the battery box in-line, I've also managed the -12 to -14dB (depending on my location) at unity on the deck.  The WAV files for all recordings haven't looked wonky or anything out of the expected. 

I know the quieter situations may be the only place I'll want to use a preamp but I've been able to gain up the deck to 7.5 via line-in and still manage a good/clean recording (with the CA-14's at least) despite the windy conditions I was facing.   I'm gonna try your idea of recording an empty room at unity and then crank the preamp.  I'm gonna then try the same via the battery box and then gain up on the deck.  I'll listen to both with headphones and over the speakers and see what I get.   I know this will also be a good indication of the noise-floor in my chain.

Thanks again.

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Re: Lowest chance of headache (Battery Box or Preamp)
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2011, 04:21:37 PM »
Hey Adrian, it's totally fine to be getting peaks of -12 to -18dB if you're recording at 24 bits. In fact, I wouldn't actually encourage you to run any hotter. The worst case scenario is that you'll end up with a recording where the average bit depth is still significantly greater than 16!!! If you can get this while only using a battery box, I would not recommend throwing a preamp into the signal chain unless you trust 100% that the preamp has a low enough minimum gain and that it will not accidentally become unplugged or otherwise increase your risk of capturing a complete recording.

Offline fmaderjr

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Re: Lowest chance of headache (Battery Box or Preamp)
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2011, 07:34:50 AM »
I've noticed, while using the preamp, I normally dial in around 11 o'clock to get my levels to about -12dB (the same result I get with the battery box). 

That is the result to be expected: 11:00 is the ST-9100's unity gain setting. When set to 11:00 is is acting like a battery box (powering the mics but providing no gain or attenuation). So in situations where the ST-9100 is set to 11:00 you would be getting the same result as a battery box.
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Lowest chance of headache (Battery Box or Preamp)
« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2011, 11:20:53 AM »
Hey Adrian, it's totally fine to be getting peaks of -12 to -18dB if you're recording at 24 bits. In fact, I wouldn't actually encourage you to run any hotter.
+1

Quote
.. and that it will not accidentally become unplugged or otherwise increase your risk of capturing a complete recording.
Perhaps OT, but in my experience the biggest source of headache once you have a setup that works are cables and connections.

This is a complicated topic.
..Now, the technical answer--
Thanks Jon, I didn't realize intereaction of the parallel PIP resistance in the circuit.  I may have some questions on that.

When set to 11:00 is is acting like a battery box (powering the mics but providing no gain or attenuation). So in situations where the ST-9100 is set to 11:00 you would be getting the same result as a battery box.
Correct in the sense that when set for unity gain the preamp like a batterybox does not amplify or attenuate the signal.  But unlike a batterybox, the amplifier is still in the circuit and acts as a buffer, which does effect the complex interactions Jon is talking about.
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adrianf74

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Re: Lowest chance of headache (Battery Box or Preamp)
« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2011, 12:30:08 PM »
When set to 11:00 is is acting like a battery box (powering the mics but providing no gain or attenuation). So in situations where the ST-9100 is set to 11:00 you would be getting the same result as a battery box.
Correct in the sense that when set for unity gain the preamp like a batterybox does not amplify or attenuate the signal.  But unlike a batterybox, the amplifier is still in the circuit and acts as a buffer, which does effect the complex interactions Jon is talking about.

So, in short, the "truest" path would be to use the Battery Box as the signal is guaranteed not to be colo(u)red what-so-ever and is a true indicator of what the mics are capturing.  This was the impression I got when reading over Jon's interactions that occur and am just trying to make my rig as fool-proof as I possibly can.  I realize that the preamp does have advantages when I'm recording quieter stuff but it might make more sense just to gain up in post as long as my peaks hit between -12 and -18dB.

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Re: Lowest chance of headache (Battery Box or Preamp)
« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2011, 03:05:14 PM »
I don't mean to confuse things, mostly just pointing out that in light of the technical circut issues and interactions, a preamp set to unity gain is not exactly the same and a batterybox, even if neither the preamp or batt box changes the gain of the signal if measured in isolation from the rest of the circuit.

So, in short, the "truest" path would be to use the Battery Box as the signal is guaranteed not to be colo(u)red what-so-ever and is a true indicator of what the mics are capturing.  This was the impression I got when reading over Jon's interactions that occur and am just trying to make my rig as fool-proof as I possibly can.  I realize that the preamp does have advantages when I'm recording quieter stuff but it might make more sense just to gain up in post as long as my peaks hit between -12 and -18dB.

Niether is truer or falser.  The sonic differences of either option run optimally are likely to be minimal.  I think a more productive 'real world' way to think about it is in terms of simplier verses more options.. Options can be interpreted in two ways: positive for offering additional choices, or negative for introducing more complexity and posibilities for something to go amiss (user error or otherwise).
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Better recording made easy - >>Improved PAS table<< | Made excellent- >>click here to download the Oddball Microphone Technique illustrated PDF booklet<<

Offline acidjack

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Re: Lowest chance of headache (Battery Box or Preamp)
« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2011, 04:02:34 PM »
I run my 4061s both with the CA battery box and the CA 9200.  For loud shows I see no reason to run the preamp.  Maybe the preamp sounds "better" than the M10s internals - I've never A/B'd it - but the added hassle of an additional connection plus additional knobs to fiddle with to me is not worth it for stealth of a loud show.  When I can run open with the 4061s I have used the 9200 and liked it.  Especially, for example, at a recent Wilco outdoor show that was actually very quiet.

Mics: Schoeps MK4V, MK41V, MK5, MK22> CMC6, KCY 250/5, KC5, NBob; MBHO MBP603/KA200N, AT 3031, DPA 4061 w/ d:vice, Naiant X-X, AT 853c, shotgun, Nak300
Pres/Power: Aerco MP2, tinybox v2  [KCY], CA-UBB
Decks: Sound Devices MixPre 6, Zoom F8, M10, D50

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adrianf74

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Re: Lowest chance of headache (Battery Box or Preamp)
« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2011, 03:09:40 PM »
Thanks to everyone who replied.  I've given this a little more careful consideration and even though I'm not going to use the preamp a lot of the time, it will be nice to have when I can and do need it.  For the $100 I could get for it, I'm probably best of keeping it around for the times where I run open or may need some extra juice and security is known to be lax.

Cheers.

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Re: Lowest chance of headache (Battery Box or Preamp)
« Reply #11 on: October 20, 2011, 09:19:26 PM »
I have thought about getting a CA Preamp, but my SP BB gets me decent levels for quiet stuff running MIC-IN, and for louder shows, running LINE-IN, so I really dont "need" a preamp. Besides, the best preamp, is no preamp at all :)
Recording Rigs:
Schoeps MK4's & MK41's ->
Schoeps | NBob 250/05 KCY's ->
Naiant +60v/Low Noise PFA's ->
DarkTrain Right Angle Stubby XLR's ->
Sound Devices MixPre-6 & MixPre-3 ->
128gb & 64gb SanDisk SDXC-I

Portable Playback Rigs:
Campfire Audio Andromeda & Dorado | Westone UM Pro 30 (G2) IEM's ->
Linum G2 SuperBax & Bax |  2x CA/ALO SPC Litz MMCX Cables ->
Shanling M5s & M0 | Sony NW-A35 DAP's

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adrianf74

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Re: Lowest chance of headache (Battery Box or Preamp)
« Reply #12 on: October 20, 2011, 10:08:45 PM »
I have thought about getting a CA Preamp, but my SP BB gets me decent levels for quiet stuff running MIC-IN, and for louder shows, running LINE-IN, so I really dont "need" a preamp. Besides, the best preamp, is no preamp at all :)
I know where you're going with this.   I'm trying to see if I can find someone who has an Ugly preamp who'd like to do a swap for a 9100.   I like the idea of being able to compensate for "off" levels (knowing my DPA's are out by about 2dB) while recording (rather than having to 'fix it in post'. 

The next few shows I'm going to aren't going to be overly loud (casino show - 9th row centre floors) and a couple of theatre shows (6th row centre and 8th row centre).   The two theatre shows are gonna be small venues (~600 or less people) and the Casino Show is sizeable.  I'm tempted to just run the battery box for all three and raise the levels on the M10 as needed.  Because I'm sitting so close, I'm running the DPA's for all three.

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Re: Lowest chance of headache (Battery Box or Preamp)
« Reply #13 on: October 21, 2011, 02:30:51 AM »
I have thought about getting a CA Preamp, but my SP BB gets me decent levels for quiet stuff running MIC-IN, and for louder shows, running LINE-IN, so I really dont "need" a preamp. Besides, the best preamp, is no preamp at all :)
I know where you're going with this.   I'm trying to see if I can find someone who has an Ugly preamp who'd like to do a swap for a 9100.   I like the idea of being able to compensate for "off" levels (knowing my DPA's are out by about 2dB) while recording (rather than having to 'fix it in post'. 

The next few shows I'm going to aren't going to be overly loud (casino show - 9th row centre floors) and a couple of theatre shows (6th row centre and 8th row centre).   The two theatre shows are gonna be small venues (~600 or less people) and the Casino Show is sizeable.  I'm tempted to just run the battery box for all three and raise the levels on the M10 as needed.  Because I'm sitting so close, I'm running the DPA's for all three.

Yeah, I was hellbent on getting a CA Preamp, but after running the CA14s>SP BB>MIC-IN/LINE-IN>M10 and getting good levels and SWEET sounding recordings, I put the $$ I was going to spend on a CA Preamp, and bought a pair of CA14 Omnis to run healy method next summer ;) ;D 8)

So, IMO, a preamp isnt needed! Just a decent 9v Battery Box is all that I will ever need :)
Recording Rigs:
Schoeps MK4's & MK41's ->
Schoeps | NBob 250/05 KCY's ->
Naiant +60v/Low Noise PFA's ->
DarkTrain Right Angle Stubby XLR's ->
Sound Devices MixPre-6 & MixPre-3 ->
128gb & 64gb SanDisk SDXC-I

Portable Playback Rigs:
Campfire Audio Andromeda & Dorado | Westone UM Pro 30 (G2) IEM's ->
Linum G2 SuperBax & Bax |  2x CA/ALO SPC Litz MMCX Cables ->
Shanling M5s & M0 | Sony NW-A35 DAP's

DAW:
Dell Inspiron 5570-5521 SLV Laptop

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adrianf74

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Re: Lowest chance of headache (Battery Box or Preamp)
« Reply #14 on: October 21, 2011, 02:50:06 AM »
Yeah, I was hellbent on getting a CA Preamp, but after running the CA14s>SP BB>MIC-IN/LINE-IN>M10 and getting good levels and SWEET sounding recordings, I put the $$ I was going to spend on a CA Preamp, and bought a pair of CA14 Omnis to run healy method next summer ;) ;D 8)

So, IMO, a preamp isnt needed! Just a decent 9v Battery Box is all that I will ever need :)

Generally speaking, you're right - the BB will do the trick.  In fact, a lot of people in these parts think that a battery box is the most fool proof and "true" method of rolling on a show.  However, there are sometimes where you'll need the extra gain and adjusting the levels on the preamp can be easier when running >:D.  For the sake of ease in my kit tomorrow, I'll likely just run the battery box and be done wiith it.  I'm sure in the 9th row it'll be plenty loud enough with an orchestra, choir and band in a casino entertainment area.  :)

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Re: Lowest chance of headache (Battery Box or Preamp)
« Reply #15 on: October 21, 2011, 02:59:58 AM »
Yeah, I was hellbent on getting a CA Preamp, but after running the CA14s>SP BB>MIC-IN/LINE-IN>M10 and getting good levels and SWEET sounding recordings, I put the $$ I was going to spend on a CA Preamp, and bought a pair of CA14 Omnis to run healy method next summer ;) ;D 8)

So, IMO, a preamp isnt needed! Just a decent 9v Battery Box is all that I will ever need :)

Generally speaking, you're right - the BB will do the trick.  In fact, a lot of people in these parts think that a battery box is the most fool proof and "true" method of rolling on a show.  However, there are sometimes where you'll need the extra gain and adjusting the levels on the preamp can be easier when running >:D.  For the sake of ease in my kit tomorrow, I'll likely just run the battery box and be done wiith it.  I'm sure in the 9th row it'll be plenty loud enough with an orchestra, choir and band in a casino entertainment area.  :)

Best of luck. Hope all goes well!
Recording Rigs:
Schoeps MK4's & MK41's ->
Schoeps | NBob 250/05 KCY's ->
Naiant +60v/Low Noise PFA's ->
DarkTrain Right Angle Stubby XLR's ->
Sound Devices MixPre-6 & MixPre-3 ->
128gb & 64gb SanDisk SDXC-I

Portable Playback Rigs:
Campfire Audio Andromeda & Dorado | Westone UM Pro 30 (G2) IEM's ->
Linum G2 SuperBax & Bax |  2x CA/ALO SPC Litz MMCX Cables ->
Shanling M5s & M0 | Sony NW-A35 DAP's

DAW:
Dell Inspiron 5570-5521 SLV Laptop

http://www.archive.org/bookmarks/diskobean | http://www.archive.org/bookmarks/Bean420 | http://bt.etree.org/mytorrents.php

adrianf74

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Re: Lowest chance of headache (Battery Box or Preamp)
« Reply #16 on: October 22, 2011, 03:36:42 PM »
Best of luck. Hope all goes well!
Thanks.  For the most part, it did.   Had the Trailer Park Boys sitting behind me acting like drunken/high morons with one screaming "WHOOOOOP" from time to time.  Gonna have to do some small edits (may even just fade out and back in for the encore break because he was REALLY LOUD).

Went with the preamp after all.  I needed the extra juice because it wasn't that loud in the venue.

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Re: Lowest chance of headache (Battery Box or Preamp)
« Reply #17 on: October 23, 2011, 09:06:41 AM »
Best of luck. Hope all goes well!
Thanks.  For the most part, it did.   Had the Trailer Park Boys sitting behind me acting like drunken/high morons with one screaming "WHOOOOOP" from time to time.  Gonna have to do some small edits (may even just fade out and back in for the encore break because he was REALLY LOUD).

Went with the preamp after all.  I needed the extra juice because it wasn't that loud in the venue.

That's the problem with Casino Rama -- the audience. Many of them have free tickets on their gambling/drinking junkets and couldn't care less about the performer.

At Jeff Beck last year, the drunk beside me kept on getting up during the songs to go out and snort some coke in the washroom. I finally told him not to come back and he sat elsewhere and bothered some other people with his idiocy.

The other problem with the Casino is the P.A. mix. I have only heard two well-mixed concerts in a dozen visits: James Brown, and Ronnie Hawkins. In that size of room, at the moderate volumes they use, it should be much better than what they usually achieve.

"The ear is much more than a mere appendage on the side of the head." - Catherine Parker Anthony, Structure and Function of the Human Body (1972)

"That's metaphysically absurd, man! How can I know what you hear?" - Firesign Theatre

adrianf74

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Re: Lowest chance of headache (Battery Box or Preamp)
« Reply #18 on: October 23, 2011, 03:21:02 PM »
Best of luck. Hope all goes well!
Thanks.  For the most part, it did.   Had the Trailer Park Boys sitting behind me acting like drunken/high morons with one screaming "WHOOOOOP" from time to time.  Gonna have to do some small edits (may even just fade out and back in for the encore break because he was REALLY LOUD).

Went with the preamp after all.  I needed the extra juice because it wasn't that loud in the venue.

That's the problem with Casino Rama -- the audience. Many of them have free tickets on their gambling/drinking junkets and couldn't care less about the performer.

At Jeff Beck last year, the drunk beside me kept on getting up during the songs to go out and snort some coke in the washroom. I finally told him not to come back and he sat elsewhere and bothered some other people with his idiocy.

The other problem with the Casino is the P.A. mix. I have only heard two well-mixed concerts in a dozen visits: James Brown, and Ronnie Hawkins. In that size of room, at the moderate volumes they use, it should be much better than what they usually achieve.
The funny thing was that these wooks were there for the artist; they knew his music well and one even commented, at the start of the last song of the main set, that he was wondering when he was going to play the song. 

Indeed, the major issue with the venue is the P.A.; the mix, even though it wasn't the major issue, seemed pretty uneven during the show but what was captured was nothing short of breathtaking.  As you mention, the room is quite large and the overall SPL is way too low.  I didn't even have to use earplugs which is sad.  Between this and the camera nazi's, I try to avoid the place like the plague.

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Re: Lowest chance of headache (Battery Box or Preamp)
« Reply #19 on: October 23, 2011, 07:50:28 PM »
Best of luck. Hope all goes well!
Thanks.  For the most part, it did.   Had the Trailer Park Boys sitting behind me acting like drunken/high morons with one screaming "WHOOOOOP" from time to time.  Gonna have to do some small edits (may even just fade out and back in for the encore break because he was REALLY LOUD).

Went with the preamp after all.  I needed the extra juice because it wasn't that loud in the venue.

That's the problem with Casino Rama -- the audience. Many of them have free tickets on their gambling/drinking junkets and couldn't care less about the performer.

At Jeff Beck last year, the drunk beside me kept on getting up during the songs to go out and snort some coke in the washroom. I finally told him not to come back and he sat elsewhere and bothered some other people with his idiocy.

The other problem with the Casino is the P.A. mix. I have only heard two well-mixed concerts in a dozen visits: James Brown, and Ronnie Hawkins. In that size of room, at the moderate volumes they use, it should be much better than what they usually achieve.
The funny thing was that these wooks were there for the artist; they knew his music well and one even commented, at the start of the last song of the main set, that he was wondering when he was going to play the song. 

Indeed, the major issue with the venue is the P.A.; the mix, even though it wasn't the major issue, seemed pretty uneven during the show but what was captured was nothing short of breathtaking.  As you mention, the room is quite large and the overall SPL is way too low.  I didn't even have to use earplugs which is sad.  Between this and the camera nazi's, I try to avoid the place like the plague.

Ditto.

And yet.....

....where else could I go that's ten minutes from my house and see James Brown, ZZ Top, Bob Dylan, Tommy James, The Pretenders, George Thorogood, Smokey Robinson, etc.   ;D
"The ear is much more than a mere appendage on the side of the head." - Catherine Parker Anthony, Structure and Function of the Human Body (1972)

"That's metaphysically absurd, man! How can I know what you hear?" - Firesign Theatre

Offline F.O.Bean

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Re: Lowest chance of headache (Battery Box or Preamp)
« Reply #20 on: October 23, 2011, 08:03:28 PM »
Since having a lil extra $$ and reading Adrian's posts, I have since scored a CA 9100 preamp for a KILLER PRICE! So I don't know if I should sell my SP BB or just keep it since it was so cheap when I bought it ???
Recording Rigs:
Schoeps MK4's & MK41's ->
Schoeps | NBob 250/05 KCY's ->
Naiant +60v/Low Noise PFA's ->
DarkTrain Right Angle Stubby XLR's ->
Sound Devices MixPre-6 & MixPre-3 ->
128gb & 64gb SanDisk SDXC-I

Portable Playback Rigs:
Campfire Audio Andromeda & Dorado | Westone UM Pro 30 (G2) IEM's ->
Linum G2 SuperBax & Bax |  2x CA/ALO SPC Litz MMCX Cables ->
Shanling M5s & M0 | Sony NW-A35 DAP's

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adrianf74

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Re: Lowest chance of headache (Battery Box or Preamp)
« Reply #21 on: October 23, 2011, 08:07:28 PM »
Since having a lil extra $$ and reading Adrian's posts, I have since scored a CA 9100 preamp for a KILLER PRICE! So I don't know if I should sell my SP BB or just keep it since it was so cheap when I bought it ???
Not to threadjack but I asked the same question a while ago.  I'd say keep it for the times you can't safely run a preamp or know you won't need it.  More often than not, I don't require any gain on the preamp so the battery box would have sufficed.  :)

 

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