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Backyard Theater - Outdoor Movies

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Author Topic: Does anyone know how to operate a compressor?  (Read 10364 times)
SR
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« on: November 21, 2013, 01:59:18 am »

Ok so here is the thing.  As many of you might know I am using AM broadcast as the only source of sound at my theatre.  And some of you might also know that I picked up a Ramsey 100B FM transmitter that has been rack mounted with a behringer compressor.  The rack is carpeted in black and it is a really nice unit.  I have attached a photo of the unit.

The Ramsey Broadcast unit is the top of the line unit that is capable of sounding like a great quality professional broadcast.  I know about the Ramsey unit and I am comfortable operating it, however I don't have the slightest idea about the compressor.  I was told it was a Behringer compressor, but I don't know what model it is and I can't find out unless I remove it from the rack.     

I finally bought an antenna and the cabling for the antenna to go with the unit.  The plan is this weekend is to install the new FM antenna on the on the left side of the screen tower, or build a short pole for it to stand on depending on what works best, I want to keep the AM system functional as well so I need to place the FM antenna far enough away from it so they don't interfere with each other.  Basically since the weather is supposed to be dry this weekend I want to set it up, test it, dial in all the settings on the broadcast unit and adjust the antenna.  Then on Thanksgiving during the evening I am going to put a giant yule log fire on the screen and play holiday music over both the new FM transmitter and the old AM system to see how they compare, plus there will be people at the house so they can hear the difference too.  As a side note this will be the first time I have ever projected something on my screen other than for testing purposes during the winter time.  If this goes well I'm going to consider doing a movie or two for Christmas.

I know I could just bypass the compressor and pump the audio right into the Ramsey unit and it would sound good, but since the compressor is in the rack, and I have it I'd like to use so it can sound as good as possible.  So the question is can someone give me a bit of coaching as to what exactly a compressor is used for and how to operate it.  Photo attached of the unit if that helps.

Thanks!


* Ramsey front.jpg (28.19 KB, 500x282 - viewed 346 times.)
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« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2013, 11:15:48 am »

A compressor basically smoothes out peaks and valleys of the sound. It limits the loudest points and boosts the quietest. The basic controls should be Threshold; sets the peak output level. Attack; sets how quickly compression kicks in. Release; sets how long compression remains in effect after the signal has dropped below a certain point. There are likely other controls on that unit. Itís probably one of these http://www.behringer.com/assets/MDX4600_MDX2600_MDX1600_M_EN.pdf and you can get a more detailed description of the controls and how to use them from there. I donít know if itís really necessary in your setup. I believe the transmitter and most receivers have some kind of compression built in.
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Joe@SSL
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« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2013, 12:29:20 pm »

Close but not quite.

A compressor is just that.  It compresses a signal.  The threshold is where the compressor kicks in, attack is how aggressively it compresses the signal and release is how long it holds the compression after the signal drops below the threshold level.

It never really limits the upper end (volume) that would be the job of a limiter.

You could compare it to a large someone trying to push open and walk through a door (threshold) and smaller someone trying to push the door closed (attack), the harder the second person tries to push the door closed the more the attack.  The smaller person has no chance of preventing the larger from passing through but gives it the ole college try.  After first person has come and gone the second stands there holding the door closed just in case the offending person tries to sneak back in right away.

Compression should be used very sparingly, it's primarily used in the audio world to protect your speakers in the event someone drops a microphone or a drummer whacks a mic with a stick or someone just being stupid decides to scream into a mic that was set up for softer vocals.

All this protection comes with a price in that it starts distorting the signal.  Compress something enough and it will sound like heII.

Behringer also makes a compressor / limiter combo unit which adds the limiting function that does close the door on the signal and prevents it from going any higher.  It also adds another level of complexity (and audio distortion) to what should be a simple task.

In all honesty you probably don't need the thing.
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« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2013, 09:11:04 pm »

Good information and I thank you both.  So I think your right I probably don't really need it but I will play around with it some and see if it seems usefull.  If not maybe I'll pull the compressor out of the rack and stick my AM transmitter in it so both transmitters are in one rack.  I guess we'll see how it goes this weekend and on Thanksgiving and go from there. 

Thanks again
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« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2013, 09:26:03 pm »

Ok so here is the thing.  As many of you might know I am using AM broadcast as the only source of sound at my theatre.  And some of you might also know that I picked up a Ramsey 100B FM transmitter that has been rack mounted with a behringer compressor. 

FM?!?!?  Did I read that right?  Is MR. CINE-FI AM Stereo man himself going to turn off his CINE-FI AM broadcast forever?  I mean you have always been so into the whole AM thing.  And where else can I go to hear the movie sound track in glorious AM stereo of yesteryear, besides your place?

Alan
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« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2013, 10:01:42 pm »


FM?!?!?  Did I read that right?  Is MR. CINE-FI AM Stereo man himself going to turn off his CINE-FI AM broadcast forever?  I mean you have always been so into the whole AM thing.  And where else can I go to hear the movie sound track in glorious AM stereo of yesteryear, besides your place?

Alan

Not if I can help it.  No matter how well the FM works out I'm, going to keep the AM system going too.   Your right I love the AM system and I have always been into the whole Cine-fi thing and AM broadcasting.  however. It comes down to this, The AM system is old and needs some repairs.  The ATU unit is getting weak and after a rain our signal doesn't get out as far.  Now it does get far enough to cover all of the backyard even on it's worst day, it is just a sign that the unit is having trouble compensating for environmental changes and indicates that it is failing, and it will eventually.  A replacement ATU is $495.00, when you can find one, and they are getting harder and harder to find.  I was able to find the used FM system, the ENTIRE system for about 1/2 the cost of just the ATU, the sound should be light years better, parts are readily available and there should be less interference.  So a cleaner and crisper audio sound from the FM.

So you can see there are good reasons for making the switch, however I have three loaner radios that are AM only, and are stereo AM units.  And the folks that come to see the movies are use to the AM system, so for this coming season assuming that the FM works out on thanksgiving, I'll use both the AM and FM systems.  I will continue to use both the AM and FM as long as I can keep the AM system going without incurring any major repair bills.
 
 By the way on my initial testing today the FM unit seems to be working good, so we'll see how thanksgiving goes. And then go from there.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2013, 10:04:24 pm by SirRobyn0 » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2013, 09:18:22 pm »

 Angry

Sir Robyn

I have been toying this idea over for a few years now I think its time to go out and buy a unit like yours\


\\\\what are they worth and how far is the broadcast area good for

Thanks

Satch
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« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2013, 11:30:54 pm »

Angry

Sir Robyn

I have been toying this idea over for a few years now I think its time to go out and buy a unit like yours\


\\\\what are they worth and how far is the broadcast area good for

Thanks

Satch

Satch,
Given what you have said about your theatre in the past, I would say that you would be really like the simplicity of broadcasting your sound, once the initial setup is done.  I know a lot about broadcasting in both AM and FM and the installation and adjustment of antenna equipment and I am happy to help.

The Ramsey FM 100 or FM 100B is about as good as it gets, in terms of quality broadcast equipment and clean quality sound without moving into actual radio station equipment costing a whole lot more.  Ramsey sells the FM 100 for $269 as a kit and the FM 100b for $349 also as a kit, meaning you have to assembly the circuit boards ect.  Not something I would take on personally.  For about $100 to $150 more you can get them already built.  Sometimes though Ramsey, but they don't always have them ready to ship fully assembled.  There are third party websites that sell them fully assembled.

An Antenna is going to run you $35 to $150 depending on the quality and type of antenna you choose.  I just went with the $35 cheapie special to start out with.  Again Ramsey offers a $69 kit antenna specifically for the FM 100 line, but again I'm not into building electronics.  I can install them, but I leave the building and repairs to a professional. 

A lot can affect the broadcast range, from terrain to antenna, and how well the antenna is adjusted, but.
The Ramsey FM 100 is a .25watt transmitter the best your going to get is a couple hundred feet with the built in antenna.
The Ramsey FM 100B is a 1 Watt transmitter because of the higher power an external antenna is required, depending on the antenna a mile or more is possible.

Because the FM 100B (the one I have) has an adjustment inside the case for output power, I'd say that's the way to go.  Just adjust the power to cover just slightly larger than the area you need and your good to go.  As long as your not interfering with a commercial station, and your not broadcasting for miles away, the FCC shouldn't be a problem.

Steer clear of some of the discount transmitters from china however, because some of those make bad signal interference and throw it several miles that WILL catch the FCC's attention.

If your interested in information on AM I can give you some, but other than as a hobby AM is a lot hard to work with for movies, because interference is more of a problem, signal drift ect.  However used Talking house transmitter can be had on E-bay for less than $50.00, mono AM sound couple hundred feet of  coverage, but yes cheap.

Rob
« Last Edit: November 25, 2013, 11:43:36 pm by SirRobyn0 » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2013, 07:54:26 pm »

Been meaning to update this thread.  So the initial testing went well, and I used the Ramsey Transmitter on Thanksgiving and it went great.  With the Holiday season upon us I setup my Light-o-rama display this last weekend.  I went ahead and setup both the old AM transmitter and the New to me FM unit for the music sound system.  I have the 1 watt FM 100b unit and boy does it get the signal out there.  Even with a less than ideal antenna I initially could pick it up over a mile away from the house, so I had to open the case on the Ramsey unit, and turn down the output power by about 1/2.  Now it just does the area I need it to cover so we should be safe FCC wise.

Over all I am really happy with the Ramsey so far it has great sound quality.  However I see the point about the compressor, it doesn't seem like I really need it.   I think I would be better served with a equalizer or something of that variety.  But I haven't played any movies though the Ramsey yet and that will be the deciding factor since that will be it's main purpose.   So I might have add in a equalizer at some point. I 'd gladly take thoughts on that one as well.

Thanks
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