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Author Topic: Typical Theater DB Levels & Shure MV88/iPhone Workflow  (Read 1339 times)

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Offline vantheman

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Typical Theater DB Levels & Shure MV88/iPhone Workflow
« on: January 07, 2019, 09:03:40 PM »
Hi folks,

I'm a novice taper, but not a total audio luddite. After using the built-in iPhone mic at a recent show and being very surprised by the quality, I want to step up my game for an important show next month. I have seats that are a little elevated directly behind the soundboard, dead center, at a 4000 capacity theater.

It seems to me that the best bang for my buck is the Shure MV88 (but feedback welcome on that). I'll have to record stealth. This will be my first show with an external mic, and I've read that the gain dial on the MV88 doesn't function as you'd expect, so I'm nervous about setting this up. It's likely the best spot on the venue for taping, and it's a very important artist in the jazz/rock genre. I expect that the volume will be dynamic, but not overly loud.

In my imagination, I have two approaches for setting up on the night of the show -
  • Lowball the gain based on typical theater db values, based on responses on this thread. Then adjust later in Audition, etc.
  • Devise a workflow involving waiting until the show starts, monitoring levels early making a best guess as to what the gain should be, and other considerations.

So my question is am I on the right track with my thinking, and which approach is better? I'd love to be able to boil it down to a few concrete steps so I can "set it and forget it". I imagine the soundboard area will be somewhat lit, I don't think I'll be able to get away with fiddling with my iPhone after the show starts.

Thanks!
« Last Edit: January 07, 2019, 09:39:30 PM by vantheman »

Offline pontiacb

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Re: Typical Theater DB Levels & Shure MV88/iPhone Workflow
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2019, 02:01:44 AM »
I’ve used the Shure MV88 quite a bit now and think it’s a good bit of kit and get decent results, so that’s a good start!

I use it at loud rock shows close to the stack, so my experiences of levels won’t be much use to you, but I generally have to set at the lowest level possible on the app to avoid clipping.  Clearly that won’t be the case in your situation, so you’ll have to use some guess work.  I’d suggest if possible going to a local bar with a band on as a test run to at least get a feel for levels and operating the app in a real world environment.  If not try at home with your stereo ramped up - it’ll at least give you a feel for levels.

At the venue I’d try to check levels during first song - it’s easy enough to have a glance at the screen on your phone and stick it back in your pocket or wherever, people look at phones all the time at concerts, it’s just because you’re taping you think you’ll stand out (you won’t).  Whilst the level meters on the app may not be bang on, they are close enough in my experience to let you know whether you’ll be badly clipped or have levels way too low.  If you’re somewhere in the middle leave things as they are, enjoy the show and then correct afterwards using Audition etc.

Don’t forget to put phone in airplane mode and with do not disturb on.  Good luck!
« Last Edit: January 08, 2019, 02:08:17 AM by pontiacb »

Offline vantheman

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Re: Typical Theater DB Levels & Shure MV88/iPhone Workflow
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2019, 02:39:30 AM »
That’s great info, thanks so much. Do you guys generally not worry too much about audience noise clipping, or do you try to find a sweet spot where audience and performance are both at reasonable levels?

I’ll definity try to test it out in the wild first, and hope to do this a lot more often. I’ll try to find a way to share the results after the show.

Offline pontiacb

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Re: Typical Theater DB Levels & Shure MV88/iPhone Workflow
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2019, 12:19:19 PM »
That’s great info, thanks so much. Do you guys generally not worry too much about audience noise clipping, or do you try to find a sweet spot where audience and performance are both at reasonable levels?

I’ll definity try to test it out in the wild first, and hope to do this a lot more often. I’ll try to find a way to share the results after the show.
Audience noise isn’t normally an issue for me as I stand next to the stack to try to minimise that, but if you are further back it’s a bit of a balancing act.  Loud claps clipping slightly aren’t the end of the world, in fact the odd peak clipping in the music won’t really be an issue, it’s prolonged/regular clipping that you want to avoid.  If you record at 24 bit you can afford to set your levels slightly more conservatively (ie lower) to give yourself a bit more headroom to cater for transient loud peaks - there’s quite a few threads on here about 24 bit v 16 bit recording which are worth a read.  It’s easy to change to 16 bit in post production if you want to.

There are also a couple of threads on here with quite a few people’s experiences of the MV88 which may give you a bit more background from other users. 

Offline Niels

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Re: Typical Theater DB Levels & Shure MV88/iPhone Workflow
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2019, 03:02:57 AM »
......
At the venue I’d try to check levels during first song - it’s easy enough to have a glance at the screen on your phone and stick it back in your pocket or wherever...
....

I have the MV88 (and like it a lot) but haven't brought it to concerts because I thought of it as inconvenient to handhold the device throughout the event. I notice you write "...back in your pocket..." and I wonder how you use it? A lightning extension cord? Do you mind expanding a little on how you go about using the MV88? Thanks :)
Roland R-07, iPhone8, iRIG PRE HD, FEL Communications Clippy EM172, Shure MV88,, Sennheiser MKH416T, RØDE M1, RØDE Link RX/TX, RØDE Lav, Roland CS-10EM, Sennheiser AMBEO Smart Headset.

Offline vantheman

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Re: Typical Theater DB Levels & Shure MV88/iPhone Workflow
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2019, 01:29:27 PM »
More thoughts -

It looks like I’ll have a concrete wall to rest my phone/mic on. Would I be wise to buy a Kangol hat or something else to completely conceal the rig, or should I be in good shape if I slide the phone into a folded up sweater/jacket with the mic exposed? If I end up needed to keep it on my person, do I need to be extra cautious to keep the mic as still as possible, or is some movement OK within the confines of my seat? I’m not familiar with this venue, so trying to devise backup plans too.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2019, 01:31:25 PM by vantheman »

Offline vantheman

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Re: Typical Theater DB Levels & Shure MV88/iPhone Workflow
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2019, 12:19:43 AM »
Well I did take the mic for a spin over the weekend and I like it!

I underestimated how much louder the audience can be relative to the music, especially since I was right in front of the bar. I recorded raw mid side, and I think the mix came out OK. Had to tame the audience noise quite a bit.

Here's Ramblin' Jack Elliott with Bob Weir from Sweetwater Music Hall Sunday January 13:

https://soundcloud.com/josh-76/mule-skinner-blues-with-bob-weir

Link to full show on Dime: http://www.dimeadozen.org/torrents-details.php?id=640780

Edit: whoops, posted the wrong torrent URL

I would appreciate any feedback. Thank you!
« Last Edit: January 16, 2019, 10:36:43 PM by vantheman »

Offline pontiacb

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Re: Typical Theater DB Levels & Shure MV88/iPhone Workflow
« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2019, 01:25:20 PM »
......
At the venue I’d try to check levels during first song - it’s easy enough to have a glance at the screen on your phone and stick it back in your pocket or wherever...
....

I have the MV88 (and like it a lot) but haven't brought it to concerts because I thought of it as inconvenient to handhold the device throughout the event. I notice you write "...back in your pocket..." and I wonder how you use it? A lightning extension cord? Do you mind expanding a little on how you go about using the MV88? Thanks :)
I put it in my jacket top breast pocket with the mic sticking out of the top and directed towards the stack.  This might not work as well if you are a long way back with a lot of bodies in front of you, but for stack taping it’s fine.  Other times I’ve held it up against my chest to get it a bit higher with mic pointing at stack when I’ve been further back - I did it at the weekend for a 100 min set at a busy venue and it’s actually a reasonably comfortable way to stand.

Hope that helps!
« Last Edit: January 16, 2019, 01:33:05 PM by pontiacb »

Offline vantheman

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Re: Typical Theater DB Levels & Shure MV88/iPhone Workflow
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2019, 07:39:16 PM »
Well, I screwed up. I didn't leave enough space on my iPhone and the app choked. I got about half the show and the recording sounded really good to me.

Here's a different recording I got the other night - Steve Kimock and Friends at Sweetwater. This is Bird Song with Bob Weir joining. Any feedback is welcome. I stood between the stacks, about as far back as the the stacks are apart. iPhone was in my breast pocket with the mic sticking out.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/lwksiwi5e9x163a/07.mp3?dl=0

 

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