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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 12th August 2008 , 11:53 PM
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Default PA System Mixer

Hey Guys!
I'm new here, not really knowledgeable on this kind of subject areas.
So I'm going to ask the advice of you guys here, please please try and help me.

I'm looking to purchase a Live Mixer, as I am the technical, audio/visual guy for a small performing youth group at a local hall, they are wanting me to suggest to them a suitable mixer for them to buy, as the current one in somewhat dated and barely suits the needs of what is required.
Simply I need a mixer that is able to deal with the following all at once...

2 channels for music through a laptop (will I need two sound cards for this?)
2/3 wireless microphones
2 wireless headset microphones
2 channels for CD playback (possibly not required)
1 channel for additional mp3 player
2 channels for any other equipment that may need to go through the mixer (karaoke machine etc.)

The main use for the mixer is for vocals (singing/speaking) and music (backing tracks) for live performance events.

I have a slight budget restriction, I'm hoping to look for something around 200, but I think we are willing to go over.

If you need any more info please ask.

Please help me.
Thanks
Tom
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Old 13th August 2008 , 12:44 AM
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Hi Tom
well it was all looking good till I saw the budget figure, but no matter - there's got to be something that will do what you want.

First lets deal with the laptop bit. You need to say a little bit more about what you're trying to achieve here. If you're talking about playing out jingles or short "stabs" that can all be handled in the laptop with the right software - and there's some good free stuff. But let's assume you don't want to do that (and sometimes you still need to have more than one output). Firstly, you need a way of gettings ound out of the laptop, and you can't just stick a sound card in there. You therefore need an external sound card or IO box - there are dozens of options to go for here, so for now we'll just leave that - give some more info and I'm sure you'll get loads of suggestions here.

Now lets count the laptop as 2 stereo channels, you've now got 7 channels at line level (presumably all stereo), and 5 radio mic channels, which generally can be either mic or line level.

At 206 the Behringer XENYX 2222FX almost meets your spec. - it will handle the 5 radio mics okay and has 4 stereo line channels (for say the two PC sources, and two CD players). Sadly, the remaining 3 channels are mic/line and therefore mono. That's not the end of the world, as you may take the view that those rarely used "other sources" and iPod input can be mono rather than stereo - depends a lot on what you are doing with them.

Your biggest problem is the number of stereo line level inputs you need. Depending on what you are doing, you could take the view that the computer sources, the CD players, the MP3 player etc. are all similar, don't need much by way of eq, and the recordings are good enough that you don't need faders on each channel. In that case, you could go for a simple line-level stereo mixer to sub-mix all those stereo line sources (say EURORACK PRO RX1602 at 79), and feed it into one stereo input channel on your main mixer. That would give you a lot more choices on your main mix, though your budget is awfully tight even for this option.

BTW can you just confirm that it's just a mixer you need, and not a powered mixer? (In which case, your budget is not going to do it!)

To be honest, I think you need to convince your group that this is not a realistic budget. Anyone who can afford 5 wireless mics of any sort of quality really should be able to afford a bit more than 200 for a desk.

Anyhow, come back with some more info., and I'm sure the members here will offer a lot of helpful suggestions.
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Old 13th August 2008 , 01:01 AM
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Thanks stagesound

I regards to the laptop, this will be used for music playout mostly.
It will be for backing tracks, background music and also for disco music mixing (if you understand me) hense why I wanted the two channels for it. I will probably being running DJ software (PCDJ) off the laptop. I think this answers your question.

I really don't think with the laptop and DJ software I will require the two CD channels, if I am honest. All the music will probably go through the laptop.

The mixer is going striaght into a amplifer that we already have. So I aussume this answers the question if we need a powered mixer or not.

Hope this helps, thanks again
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Old 13th August 2008 , 09:12 PM
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PCDJ should have no problems outputing through one card, though if the audio interface in your PC (your probably using the line out / headphone 3.5mm jack) is noisy, as they often are, you may at some stage want to upgrade to a more pro interface which works through your USB ports.

Given what you've said, the Behringer XENYX 2222FX will definitely suit the job. If you had a little more cash you could get a desk with long faders, better eq. etc., but if your budget will not stretch any higher, the Behringer should work out fine for you.
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Old 13th August 2008 , 09:39 PM
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Another altenative is one of the little Yamaha MG series. Behringer have a horrid habit of falling apart when you least need them to. The Yammy by contrast are solid little things. Great deals at DV at the moment too! Here's one for 150 that should just about cover it:

http://www.dv247.com/invt/38249/

or another which will easily do it at 200:

http://www.dv247.com/invt/40682/
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Old 14th August 2008 , 10:57 AM
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The problem with the Yamaha's is that they don't meet Tom's requirements in terms of number of stereo line inputs, which is why I didn't suggest them, but as I think he has identified, he could "live with less" on this score, and so yes, I'd fully agree that the Yamaha's will be better quality desks. The lower cost one you suggest still doesn't have enough channels, so I'd go for the MG166C
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Old 19th August 2008 , 05:31 PM
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Thanks for your help guys!

After the research and your recommendations, I am going to go with the behringer mixer.

I still require a little bit more assistance.

Basically the cables I have that connect my amplifier to my speakers are far to short, as I wish me and the mixer to be at the rear of the hall, which the speakers being at the either side of the stage.

I have searched site, but found no such Jack to Jack cable long enough to reach. I will remeasure to hall but I'm pretty sure I'm looking for something over 20 to 30 meters in length to be able to reach.

Also, I need similar smaller cables to connect my two new headset microphones to the mixer as well, I can either go for the XLR to XLR or Jack to jack, simply to connect the wireless reciever to the mixers, so very very short.

Any ideas??

I will probably require more recommendations soon as well... I really hope you guys don't mind helping me out so much!

Thanks

PS. Just remembered, for my the behringer mixer what cable should I be looking for to connect my laptop to it?
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Old 19th August 2008 , 06:26 PM
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You are looking for a 'snake' .... but I can't see one on the DV website to link. If that's too costly for you another option is simply to join xlr cables together.

what is the purpose of connecting the laptop? To record to it (if so you'll need an interface)? To play mp3's through it? The use will dictate the cable so we need more info.
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Old 19th August 2008 , 08:15 PM
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I require the connection to the laptop because I wish to play MP3's through it, through. This is further explained above in my previous post.

What exactly is a 'snake'? Where would I find one? How much would it cost?

Thanks for your help!
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Old 19th August 2008 , 09:07 PM
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I don't think we can link other retailers here and I dont think DV sell them but if you google "xlr snake" all will become clear.

If the output on your laptop is an eighth jack you can easily pick up and eighth stereo jack to either quarter stereo jack or to dual mono jacks or even to race. What you need depends on the micer you buy and how to set it up. Many boards have a number of options. I suggest you make sure the board you intend to buy is compatible with what you want to do and then once you've bought it you buy the cables afterwards. That way you won't end up with stuff that you don't need.
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Old 19th August 2008 , 11:36 PM
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Tom - a "snake" is also referred to as an audio "multicore".
From what you describe, it sounds as though you intend to locate the amp at the back with you, and use long speaker leads. that's not the way to do it, especially if you ever imagine your system may grow.
The best practice is to locate the amp at the front, near the "Stage Box" - which is the front end of the snake. Digital village have two on offer - the cheaper one is here - Stageline STB1204 at DV247.COM
Enlarge that picture and you'll see 16 female XLR's and 4 male ones on the box. You place this around the stage area - preferably somewhere your artists will not trip on it! Now you've got 25m of cable to get you to the back of the hall - be very careful - check this out before you buy, and remember the health and safety aspects of what you are doing. (You can't cross doorways with your cable - you've got to allow enough to go "up and over" the doorframe - or stay up for the full run, and drop down at your mix location. If you run under rows of chairs, you need to "gaffa" down the cable, and put proper cable covers over the bits which cross walkways). (For another 44 buy the 30m rather than the 25m if you need it for safety!)

Now at the mix location, you've got up to 16 mic channels which you can plug into your desk. You've also got four female XLR's which you can connect to your desk output (you only need two for now) which are referred to as "returns" - these take the signal back up to the stage to plug into your amp(s).

The main reason for doing things this way, is that you loose power in long speaker leads, and because speaker signals are much higher current than "line" level signals, you need an awful lot of copper in there (read "expensive").

For your laptop, you need a lead like this - Altai A121BA Jack Phono Insert Lead at DV247.COM though this would only let you connect to the CD/Tape input. If you want to come in on a channel, yo'll need the same lead but with 1/4" jacks - I don't think DV247 do this. (You might get it in a local electrical shop).

The snake/multicore idea may seem like a bit of overkill for now, but I really recommend you go down this route rather than buy loads of individual long cables. The multicore is quicker and easier to put out and take away after the show, and as you expand your system, will save you money in the long run.
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Old 23rd August 2008 , 12:43 AM
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Quick question,

which type of cable is better to use for mix inputs into the mixer... the xlr or the jack inputs?
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Old 23rd August 2008 , 01:03 AM
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Regarding the snake, I think this is something which can be looked into at a later time.
Otherwise, if I take your advice and take the amp to the stage (which is easily hidden). I would therefore require xlr (from the mixer) to jack (into the amp), but this would be required to be very very long cable, so would it be advisable to simply connect together some xlr-to-xlr cables together to extend to the stage, the final cable being xlr-to-jack to go into the amp?

I'm also having difficultly finding the 1/8 to 1/4 jack cable to connect the laptop to the mixer. I noticed the mixer had a USB feature is this simply to record to the laptop or also to play out of also? (maybe this could be a solution)

Thanks again, deadline to getting this equipment is looming... this Tuesday is deadline day basically, I need all the help I can get.

Thanks, I will check back regularly!
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Old 23rd August 2008 , 03:53 PM
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For connection, XLR is always better than jack - even the non-latching type are more secure than jack plugs, and because of the way the plug pins are gripped in any decent XLR socket, they have better contact than a jack, which relies simply on spring pressure for the socket contacts against the jack plug.

More importantly, on nearly all mixing desks, XLR is used for mic and jack for line level signals. You should always connect your line level equipment to the jacks. You could go into the XLR sockets, but beware - if you switch on phantom power, anything other than a mic may be damaged by it!

I'm surprised your amp has only jack inputs, but if that's the case, then what you describe is fine as a connection method. I'd always advise against chaining loads of leads together rather than using one long one, (noise / signal degredation / reliability issues) and if you use up loads of good mic leads getting to the amp, that's sure to cost a fair bit of the price of a multicore. If you have the leads, and no budget, then what you suggest is fine until you can convince your financial backer to cough up for a multi!

The USB interface for this mixer is actually a little external box which has phonos in and out - in theory yes, you could use this, but the only advantages will be that (a) you probably will get slightly better sound quality and (b) it's on phono connectors rather than 3.5mm jack (you still need twin phono to jack leads if you want to get in on a channel).
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