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Recommended gain levels for micing dialog/ talk show

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Jim Press
Recommended gain levels for micing dialog/ talk show
on Feb 27, 2008 at 10:40:30 pm

Hi all,

Excuse my ignorance in this post, but after searching this forum I can't find an answer.

My question: I'm mic-ing (using Sennheiser ME 66 shotguns about 12"-18" from each speaker) a number of speakers in a studio for an interview/ talk show type production. When setting the gain for their voices, I have to turn the gain knob on my interface (PreSonus Firepod (FP10)) up to about 3/4 (3 o'clock) in order to get levels riding around -6 dB. When the gain knob is set to 12 o'clock it rides around -30 dB. This seems waaay too low??? Or is this normal/good practice--what levels should one record at?? I wouldn't have thought mics and an interface of this quality would need that much gain??

I've read one recommendation to ride levels around -18 dB; and I recall Jay Rose suggesting between -60 and -25 dB; but this seems low??

If I do record at or below -18 dB, do I increase the volume in post by a compressor and/or simply increasing the track volume?

I'm recording to Soundtrack Pro 2 (FCS2).

Thanks for any help in advance.

Jim


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Ty Ford
Re: Recommended gain levels for micing dialog/ talk show
on Feb 28, 2008 at 12:18:35 pm

Hello Jim and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

You present interesting problems.

First, I'm a little concerned about the use of multiple shotgun mics. Shotgun mics are not the best choice in most interiors when those interiors have hard, reflective surfaces. OTOH, if that's all you have, then that's the best mic. :) You'll see why when I send you the book. There's a link to a video that demonstrates exactly why.

Big time talk shows like Letterman use a combination of lavs and Fischer Boomed mics; not both at the same time. Oprah uses lavs. The advantage is that, even though most lavs are omni, you can get them closer to the mouth than you can a shotgun. In some cases, the lav will win. In some cases a boom mic will, but it may be a hyper or super rather than a shotgun.

About your Presonus Firepod; I don't know. The knob position isn't as important as the amount of quiet gain a preamp can provide. Usually cheap preamps get noisy at the upper ends of their gain.

About the meter readings: Check to make sure the meters reading Peak and not RMS. Most devices read peak, but a few have switches that allow the operator to read RMS (average levels) or Peak levels. You need to be concerned about Peak.

There are also devices with sensitivity switches called pads on inputs. If inadvertently engaged, they reduce the input level and require the input knob to be turned up a lot more. You usually use the pads when close micing drums, that have very loud transients. Transients are very brief but very loud sounds.

But I digress. Regarding levels, peaks at -6 are good. I can't imagine Jay suggesting levels of -60 to -25. Those figures are consistent with mic sensitivity figures.

To other readers: -6 is a good production level, but please be aware that many cable channels want final PROGRAM levels to be -12 to -18.

Regards,

Ty Ford








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Jim Press
Re: Recommended gain levels for micing dialog/ talk show
on Feb 28, 2008 at 12:40:32 pm

Thanks so much Ty--your and others' experience and accessibility on this forum is incredibly helpful. (You've already seen I've gone straight to the source and ordered your book!)

I will absorb all you say and hopefully it resolves the issues.



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