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Spencer Fleeman’s Guide to Using a Sound Board PowerPoint Presentation
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  1. Spencer Fleeman’s Guide to Using a Sound Board

  2. Sound Vocabulary • Input- A connection that takes sound from another item’s output. • Output- A connection that sends sound from itself to whatever other device’s input it’s patched to. • Source- An item that is reinforced such as a person’s voice, guitar, keyboard, mini-disc player, an entire choir… • Channel- An independent input on a sound board to plug in a microphone, CD player, or whatever the source is. • Phantom power- certain fancy microphones need additional power to operate, therefore they require a battery or a soundboard that supplies 48 volts down the mic cable, the 48 volts is known as phantom power. • Unbalanced- When a connection is made with a cable that has 2 conductors, it is unbalanced. This is similar to using a 2-prong extension cord instead of one that has 3-prongs making it grounded. Unbalanced connections typically do not sound as good as one’s that are balanced. CD players, keyboards, computers, etc. are usually un-balanced sources. Cables include RCA and ¼” with 2 conductors (1 line on the connector.

  3. Sound Vocabulary (2) • Balanced- The audio connection is made with a cable that has 3 conductors. These connections sound better, less risk of having a buzz (like one that could be heard between a guitar and a guitar amp). XLR cables are always balanced, ¼” cables are balanced if they have 3 conductors (2 lines on the connector). • Group- A grouping of channels that are grouped together by picking on each channel with group it should go to. • Direct Box- If a guitar, laptop, VCR, keyboard, or any other device that is un-balanced/ has no xlr connection. A direct box is used to change the ¼” unbalanced connection to a balanced xlr connection that can be sent all the way up a long mic cable to the sound board. • Insert- A connection found on each channel or group that has a purpose of inserting a device onto the channel or group such as an equalizer, effect box, or an audio limiter. When a device is patched to the insert connection, the channel or group it is plugged into will be changed by that device.

  4. Sound Vocabulary (3) • Equalizer- A device that has an input and an output, it takes the sound that is sent to its input and changes the frequency tones of the source. Ex: The whole body mic group sounds like it has too much bass, the lower part of the equalizer can be turned down to loose some bass on everyone’s body mic on that group. The equalizer can be patched to any channel or groups insert connection with an insert cable. • Audio Compressor/limiter- Although un-necessary for basic sound reproduction, sometimes it helps to have one patched to a channel or group. It takes a source and automatically turns it down when it’s too loud or uses its gate function to automatically mute the source when its too quite. Ex: There’s an actor that has random lines where he/she is supposed to shout, the compressor would turn down their volume automatically when they get loud. • Trim- the first knob on a channel that is used to adjust the initial volume of a source. Ex: A trumpet may need its trim down low to avoid distortion, a whispering actor on a backstage microphone may need its trim up high to boost his/her voice.

  5. Sound Vocabulary (4) • Distortion- This occurs when a source is overloading a channel, a source overloads a device, or an amp is overloaded by the loudness sent to it. It makes the sound seem poor and rough. To correct distortion, do things like turning down trims on channels that have distortion or if it is a device, turn down the volume of what is being sent to it and turn up the devices output instead. Distortion is commonly heard in rock music when a electric guitar doesn’t sound all clean and pretty but more rock like. • Feedback- A woooooooooaaaaaaa, quoooooollllllllllaaaaaaaa or a seeeeeeeee noise that instantly makes everyone look at you with dissatisfaction because their ear drums are bleeding in pain. This happens when a mic going through a speaker can hear itself from the speaker and it cycles around and around. When adjusting a trim to set how loud the mic can get, turn the trim up until right before the feedback starts. Common day example of feedback would be: You’re on the phone and you turn on a speaker phone while the other is still on and you hear the noise- That is Feedback! Not just some random noise, it has a reason, it happens when we screw up how loud we turn something up.

  6. Sound Vocabulary (5) • Analog- Sound that is natural, not digitized. Ex: Microphone, Cassette tape, VCR, old cell-phones, amplifiers. • Digital- Sound that is digitized to record it or modify it more easily. The analog sound is changed to computer language but is later changed back to analog to listen to it. Ex: CD Player, Mini-disc, Computers, Digital Equalizer, new cell-phones, or a keyboard before the sound makes it to the speakers. • Sub Woofer- A speaker that only produces bass frequencies that is intended to be used with other speakers to produce the middle and high frequencies. • Speaker- A device that is patched to an amplifier that makes the sound the audience hears. • Crossover- A device in the amp rack that shouldn’t be touched normally, it divides which sound should go to the subwoofers and which sound should be sent to the speakers. • Amplifier- Normal sound connections only contain enough power to make sound through headphones. In order to power speakers, an amplifier must be patched to the line and the speakers are connected to the amplifier.

  7. Sound Vocabulary (6) • Hotspot- A small speaker that is used in situations where a few people need to hear a device(s) It still must be connected to an amplified line. Ex: Stage managers, Choral director, piano player, keyboardist, or actors backstage. • Pan- Knobs on the sound board that choose whether a source belongs on the left or right side of a stereo mix/ whether the source goes to an even group or an odd group. • Stereo- Sound that is divided into two separate channels. Ex: The left speaker in an auditorium as to the right speaker. Ex 2: You are listening to a band on an ipod and you notice one singer is heard in your left ear and the other is in your right ear as well as hearing a lead guitar on the left and the keyboard on the right. This is a stereo mix. • Mono- No division of channels is necessary, everything is pooled together. Ex: Podium mic going through all speakers equally. Ex 2: A recording from before the 1960’s when stereo sound started.

  8. CablesYou couldn’t use anything without them Female Male • XLR to XLR- The cable that is used most, a balanced connection that locks securely. Ex: Microphones, Mixer connections, Amplifiers, Processing Devices, Jacks around the room. • ¼” to ¼” Balanced (TRS)- A patch cable that is balanced, it has 3 conductors (2 lines) just like an xlr but does not lock. Ex: Board to board connections/ processing devices • 1/4” to ¼” Un-balanced (TS)- A cable that does not lock but only has 2 conductors (1 line). This cable will be likely to buzz because it is not balanced. Notice the ¼” unbalanced has one line on the tip. Notice the ¼” balanced has two lines on the tip.

  9. Cables (2) ¼” RCA • RCA to ¼”- CD Players, VCR’s, Mini-disc, DVD players use RCA connectors to send and receive sound, the sound board does not have RCA connectors. Use the RCA to ¼” cable to connect devices like these to the sound board or a direct box, they are unbalanced cables. • RCA to XLR- Same thing as RCA to ¼” except has a XLR connector for when ¼” is not available. • ¼” to XLR- A cable that takes a ¼” connector and connects it to an xlr connector. These would be used commonly with connecting the mixer to processors or amplifiers that only have XLR connections. • ¼” to ¼” unbalanced thick gauge- This is an unbalanced ¼” to ¼” except the wires are thicker to carry high voltage audio which speakers have. These are used to connect speakers to amps or speakers to jacks that lead to an amp. ¼” to XLR RCA to XLR

  10. Cables (3) • ¼” to speakon- A speaker cable that is for speakers that do not have ¼” connectors but instead have a locking speakon connector. Some speakers in the auditorium have speakon while others have ¼” • ¼” to banana- Some amplifiers do not have ¼” or speakon connectors but instead have a red and a black post like connector, these are called banana plugs, use the cable to change banana to the ¼” connector found on the speaker. • ¼” balanced (TRS) to two ¼” unbalanced (TS) connectors. This is known as an insert cable, the TRS end plugs into an insert connector on a channel or group and changes it to two TS connectors for send and receive to make the insertion. Another use would be to take a stereo output on a device and change it to two mono connections (one for left, one for right). EX: To connect a keyboard’s stereo output to one direct box for left and another for right. EX 2: To connect an equalizer to group 3 or channel 10 on a sound board.

  11. Cables (4) • 1/8” balanced (TRS) to two ¼” unbalanced (TS) connectors- Same thing as the ¼” insert cable except with an 1/8” connector that is smaller. This would be used to patch a portable device such as an Ipod or computer to the sound board. • XLR to TA3 (Tiny audio 3)- This is used to connect floor microphones to xlr connections in the wall, snake, or sound board. • MIDI- These 5 or 6 pin cables are used to connect keyboards to keyboard equipment or computers to use software with the keyboard. They are used rarely for ordinary sound. • Coax- A cable that is usually used for cable TV connections but is also used for connection antennas to body mic equipment.

  12. Channels Mono Stereo • Each device needs to be patched to a channel, either XLR or ¼” balanced/ unbalanced, choose ¼ or XLR with the switch on the channel labeled line/mic • The Avlex board has 32 mono XLR/1/4” channels and 4 stereo channels that have a left ¼” and a right ¼” input. • Use stereo channels for CD player, Mini-disc, computer, etc. • Mono channels are best used with microphones or 2 separate channels for a stereo source. • Each channel has trim for a pre-volume, an equalizer, auxiliary sends, mix B, a volume fader, and assignment switches with a pan knob to fade L to R / 1 to 2 • Also, each is equipped with a green low-cut switch, push it in unless the channel has a piano, bass, or other sources that produce low frequencies.

  13. Channels (2) • Each channel with exception to the stereo ones has 5 connections. • First is an XLR, use it for all microphone connections and devices with xlr outputs. If the device requires phantom power (see defined terms), push down the phantom switch next to the xlr input. • Next is a ¼” unbalanced or balanced, use it for cd players, board patches, devices with ¼” • Insert connection is used to patch a device to modify a channel (EQ box, effect box, compressor) • Direct out is used if you need to send the sound of only one channel to an additional item such as another sound board. • Tape input is never used in our situation but it is an alternate input. XLR Insert 1/4” Direct Out

  14. Channels (3)An example • Channels 1-10 may have body microphones • Channels 11-16 may have stage microphones • Channels 17-20 may have handheld microphones • Channel 21- piano low, 22- piano high, 23- bass, 24- guitar, 25- drums, 26- violins • Channels 27-32 should be used for the matrix controls.

  15. Trim -also known as gain, headroom, clip, or as I call it “pre-volume” • Trim- also known as gain, headroom, clip, or as I call it “pre-volume” • Next to the trim knob, there is a green light and a red light, if the channel’s singer or whatever is singing and the green light is blinking, the trim is at a good level, if the red light is blinking, the trim is too loud and is distorting the sound on the channel, so turn it down! • A good way to set the trim on a live microphones channel is to bring the fader up all the way and turn the trim up until the microphone starts a feedback noise over the sound system, then bring the trim back to where the feedback goes away, but don’t turn the trim up so far that the red light blinks with the singers voice. Good Bad

  16. Equalizer settings High volume High mid frequencychoice • Each channel on a sound board has EQ settings. • The Avlex board has 6 knobs per channel for EQ • The high and low knobs are similar to a stereo’s bass and treble knobs. • The high mid knob controls what the top part of the mid spectrum’s frequencies sound like and the low mid knob controls the bottom part of the mid spectrum’s frequencies. • The high and low mid knobs also have an additional knob ganged to them that choose which low or high mid frequency is changed • Leaving all EQ knobs in the middle takes no frequency away while also not adding any therefore, leave them all in the middle unless the item on the channel sounds like it needs a change. High mid volume Low mid frequencychoice Low mid volume Low volume

  17. Auxiliaries • Auxiliaries are used to send a channel’s source to an extra place besides the main speakers. • Includes Dressing rooms, VCR’s, sound effects speakers, orchestra pit monitors. • On the Avlex board 1-4 always send sound even if channel is muted, 5-6 are joined with 7-8 • Best way to use them is to send an entire group from the matrix to an auxiliary- Ex: send group one body microphones to auxiliary 1, 2, and 4 for all monitors Sends 5 and 6 to 7 and 8

  18. Solo- also known as pre-fader listen, cue, headphones • So the show is going and you notice the trombone on channel 11 sounds like it needs to have its EQ changed and you cant turn everything off to listen to it. • You can press its channel’s solo button and in the headphones connected to the sound board, only the trombone is heard so you can adjust the EQ without hearing anything else in the headphones • The rest of the sound system remains to sound the exact same with or without solo buttons selected Solo button

  19. Send Aux returns to a group Pan knob Groups Choose group on channel • Groups are used to organize channels • Each channel has 1/2, 3/4, 5/6, 7/8, and L/R • Go from 1 to 2, L to R etc. by turning the pan knob from the left to the right. (example, in the middle, both in left and right) • Auxiliary returns can also be sent to groups by pressing their assignment switch. Groups

  20. Groups (2) 1 2 3 • Each group has 3 outputs, on the board they are labeled outputs 1-24, 1-8 would go to groups 1-8. 9-16 go to groups 1-8 again 9 to 1, 10 to 2, 11 to 3 etc. 17-24 go to 1-8 as well, 17 to 1, 18 to 2, etc. • A ¼” balanced cable would be used to patch a group output to the matrix, amplifier, recorder, or whatever other sound device. These are the outputs…………….. 1 2 3 1 2 3 Inserts are these jacks through here As well as outputs, each group hasan insert in which just like a channel, you can insert a device onto a whole group as to individual channels. (Ex: a reverb box on group 1 for all men’s body mics.

  21. Groups (3) • Groups 1 through 6 need one of their 3 outputs to be patched directly to the matrix, group 7 is patched to the front ceiling amp in the amp rack and group 8 goes to the amp for the balcony ceiling speakers. • If a multi-input recorder is used to record a musical and needs each group’s sound, patch to the extra outputs on each group. • The inserts on each group should be patched to the equalizers and compressors, chances are they should be set neutral so that they do not do anything but Defeo will be happy to see the $1,000 equalizers in use.

  22. Masters • Like groups 1-8, channels and auxiliary returns can also be patched to L/R (Mix), on this theatre’s setup, the stack speakers are patched to the L-Mix-R • The blue mono fader is the Left and Right mix faders combined making it mono, the mono fader is not used in our set up. The left, right, and mono can also have a device inserted on them. The actual outputs are XLR

  23. Auxiliary Returns • An auxiliary return is like a channel without EQ, auxiliary sends, and pre-volume/trim • Use them to plug in the return from an effect device, the mix B ceiling assignment, or other devices where only basic control is needed. • The Avlex sound board has 6 of them and return 1 is used for the ceiling mix (assigned to group 7/8 for front and balcony)

  24. The Matrix!AKA- “Spencer’s Creation” Pre-volume leave at 10 o-clock Equalizer for group • The channels 27-32 on the board are used as a Matrix system. • They are used to pick where groups 1-6 go. • They can be sent to Auxiliaries 1-8, group L&R for stacks, and Mix B for ceiling Auxiliaries Front/Balcony Ceiling Left/Right Stacks Left/right selected

  25. How The Ceiling Send Works(Using Mix-B) Each channel’s mix B knob • On the matrix channels, there is a volume knob labeled “Mix-B” • The Mix-B knob has its own pan knob, fades source from front to balcony. • Mix B’s output is connected to Auxiliary 1 return which is assigned to groups 7 and 8 which output to the ceiling amplifier. • To mute Mix B, use the source switch within the Mix B’s area, in for on and out for off, use it to take a group in or out of the ceiling. Master Mix B

  26. Kinds of Microphones • To mic a vocalist, presenter, or even drums, horns, and guitars- use a sm-58. The theatre currently has about 7 to use • To mic critical items such as a group of singers, violins, piano, or a flute, or as an extra hanging mic use a cm-700, theatre has 8 • If STUCO or someone risky needs a microphone, use the RE-10, it is like a brick and sounds terrible.

  27. Kinds of Microphones (2) • To mic a vocalist for a recording, mic an entire choir,or even instruments a large diaphragm studio mic is a good choice, currentlyhave 4 • If a person needs a mic to sing or speak into but does not want a cord, use a wireless sm-58 (have 5) or the Mipro Wireless (have 1) • A great mic for area use with plays, use the 2 (hopefully more) shotgun mics • Across the stage and in the little theatre there are hanging mics to amplify play

  28. Body Microphones • Different than a microphone that is held in the hand, body microphones are when a small mic is taped to one’s head and are discreetly wired to a transmitter that is belted around the person. • The voice goes through the mic, then to the transmitter pack, through the air, to the assigned receiver • Patch the receiver to an empty channel on the soundboard with an xlr cable • Occasionally when the actor shouts a lot or has a loud voice, it is necessary to turn down the gain knob inside the pack, you’ll know when this occurs if the mic sounds distorted even with a low level on the board.

  29. Body Microphones (2) • The newer body mics can be programmed to any of the new receivers, simply hold the pack up to the receiver, press the ACT button and the pack is then connected to the receiver. • The old Shure body mics that hopefully will be gone soon have more problems with going out of range, make sure the pack’s antenna is sticking out of the actor’s costume. • The antennas for the rack of Shure body mic receivers can be placed anywhere, you just run coax cable to them, in the booth sit the antennas in the window sill but when in the house, tape the antennas to the balcony railing.