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Monitoring Levels


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#1 dembits

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 01:19 PM

I am starting to learn a bit more about sound from the suggestions that everyone here is providing me, but I had a question about monitoring levels while doing sound gigs. I was a dj for night clubs and events where once I got a little sauce in me and really got into the groove, I would crank the sound system as hard as I could without any regard for sound quality or the sound tech's equipment. Every time he turned the amp down, I would crank up the volume on the mixer or gain nobs. Now that I am on the other side of things, I would like to curtail asses like me who want to do the same. If I am putting the correct amount of amp power into the speakers, is there a way, short of removing the volume and gain nobs from the mixer or standing over the dj's with a gun, that I can monitor sound levels to ensure the best sound quality and to prevent people from overrunning my equipment from the mixer? Or is this just going to be revenge from every sound guy I *beep*ed off?

#2 DGlass

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 04:54 PM

Ahhh……. the universal question “how” for system owners. The answer is yes and no it's a two sided coin.  blink.gif
The first is yes you can to a point. You can use devices like the dbx “Driverack” that have built in compressors and limiters or use an I-Tech that has built in Peak Voltage and Average Power limiters. All of these are great deterrents and help except for one condition they still have control of the mixer. This is where the flip side of the coin comes in and the "no" portion of the answer.
By them having control of the mixer there is nothing you can do (besides slapping their hands) to keep them from driving the board and or processing gear into overload distortion trying to compensate for you limiting them. Since the amp isn’t producing the distortion it sees it as the input signal and will amplify it. A clip signal will act as DC to a speaker were the signal pushes the speaker all the way out and holds it there dissipating full power and then does the same thing for the negative cycle of the clipped signal. Speakers hate DC and will burn up quickly doing this.  sad.gif
Now a thing about compressor/limiter’s they are a “tool” not the end all to be all. If used the wrong way they can cause damage to a speaker as well. You can crank the compressor/limiter up so high that you decrease the Crest Factor of the signal raising the RMS value of the signal. Simply put a limiter has the ability to squash the *beep*ens out of the signal so there is little to no variance in the signal (level wise). This makes the speaker work full tilt all the time and can cause it to burn out as well.  sad.gif
There are lots of tools you can use to help but it all comes down to this “it’s your equipment” and you have the final say. mad.gif  One thing I did (in a past life) with my system was to make them aware of their liability. My big deterrent was Legal as part of the contract for use of the system they signed off that they were liable for any damage to the system for any reason and paid ½ the system rental cost up front before the rental. Now if this was a job where there was a promoter and several bands it was the promoter’s responsibility. Basically put…. the promoter was told if one of the bands breaks it you are out a system and no show. But you still owe.  biggrin.gif

A little stiff yes but it did make them stand up and pay attention to what they were doing. Threats sometimes go a long way. wink.gif

#3 Bud Bolf

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 09:30 PM

Hi Dembit's,
I was cracking up while I read your post!
So your the one they are always talking about, when it comes to the reason for a Serious Buffer Zone.

The first thing that comes to my mind is to set up the Mixer so that wide open it will not Clip and or overload.
By this I mean that when you set your individual Channel gains (pad)
set them with the Faders at "0" Unity, "Hot" and check to see that with the fader all the way up, that it will not clip the channel! Or if it barely does it will not overload the outputs so much that the Limiter can't catch it.
Set up a Hot Mixer without a lot of headroom for it to be pushed over the edge.
I'd also pull back the Amp channel's input gain control's just a tad for Safety!
Still set up the System so it cranks but that there is really no where to go from there.
When you finally have responsible people running your Equipment, you can release more control to them.

I know you must have been to Concerts where the opening Band puts on a Great show (or not) and the Sound level's are respectable, but when the Main headliner comes out, the Sound volume seems to Double!
Obviously they pulled the System back for the opening act, and then
really opened it up for the headliners.
Think of yours the same way, you start out respectably but you know
it will be a lot louder as the night and excitement go's on.
Just make sure that when it is really pumping, and reaches it's fever pitch
that you were smart enough to compensate for this at the beginning and your still OK.

A final thought is "Training" you need to educate them so they know more
than they do now, about runninmg sound.
Print off good articles and  give them to them, maybe they will
eventually see the light like you did!

Good Luck,
       Bud