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Recommend me an audio setup for recording a band outdoors


Inazuma

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Hello forum users

Over this weekend I filmed and tried to record two musicians, one on vocals and one on guitar, using my budget equipment  - a £10 lav mic and a Rode VideoMicro, using my old Zoom H1 and Samsung phone as the recorders. The lav mic + Zoom H1 combo did alright but the Rode + Phone combo failed. It captured mostly wind noise. In fact I suspect the phone decided to use its internal microphone for some reason. Needless to say, I was ill prepared on the audio front.

So now I'm thinking of upgrading. My budget is still pretty tight though.

For the recorder, i'm thinking the Tascam DR60D or DR70D because they have multiple XLR inputs and I believe a 3.5mm input. Could someone please confirm with me if they can record the XLR and 3.5mm inputs at the same time?

My cheap lav mic did alright (it seemed to capture the notes pretty well) but I'm wondering if other mics would be more pleasant (similar to how Blackmagic cameras are generally more pleasant on skin tones than Sony mirrorless cameras). My budget for a replacement mic (lav mic or handheld mic) is about £50 (60 EUR / 70 USD).

I suspect my Rode VideoMicro will fair better once its hooked up to an actual recorder, however I believe those Tascams only have a single 3.5mm input. So I may need to get an XLR based one. As I mentioned in the title, the recording will potentially be outdoors so it needs to be very directional in order to minimise wind intrusion. My budget for a replacement shotgun mic is probably max £200 (230 EUR / 270 USD).

Please let me know any recommendations you have. And also any other forums where I should ask about this. 

Thank you :) 

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7 minutes ago, Inazuma said:

but the Rode + Phone combo failed. It captured mostly wind noise. In fact I suspect the phone decided to use its internal microphone for some reason. 

Did you use an SC7 cable or any other TRS to TRRS adapter? Cause the provided cable from the videomicro is not compatible with the phone mic plug. If the phone can provide the plug in power to the videomicro then I doubt you will notice a difference between recording with a quality app on your phone and a dedicated recorder. 

 

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@kye suggested (actually he declared) that his camera's internal mics are doing the job great, maybe he can help you with his approach.

The DR70D is a good recorder for the money, for the rest, I couldn't dare to offer any advice.

Directionality has nothing to do with wind. None at all actually.

Proper wind protection for mics is very expensive, and there is a specific reason for that, a wind problem can completely destroy your takes, and your shooting day, that is why the alright solutions (Rycote Gloucestershire offer the cheapest good wind protection, K-Tek also, but with limited variety) cost probably as much as your whole sound budget. They also offer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30P--8lu6nk if you do it the Kye-way.

Rode NTG4 or the MKE 600 are good budget directional microphones. Most good brands have some good low cost such mics. AKG, BeyerDynamics, Audio Technica.

My advice? Find a friend that does sound, or someone more experienced and invested on it, sound needs a decent budget, to just work.

Edit: actually the Video Micro is a surprisingly good performer, but its disadvantage as an on camera mic - it is too wide, is an advantage for recording guitar, as it acts as an cardioid mic (takes more "space"), just get it closer to the guitar. Voice usually needs more directionality, especially outside, and you need directionality to avoid other sound sources.

 

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Did you try using the H1's internal mics for a stereo setup? Alternatively, you could probably use an external stereo mic, something like the Rode NT4. It's got fixed XY stereo, with 9V battery for phantom, and a 3.5mm input that would plug into your H1. An external mic like the NT4 would provide a considerable upgrade to the H1's internal mics. If you placed it quite close you could reduce the gain a little and thereby cut out ambient noise quite well while maintaining a reasonable spread with the cardioid pickup pattern. A little ambient sound can give a sense of place. Either way you'd need a fluffy for the wind of course, and if the day is relatively calm they can work well. Experimenting with careful placement and gain would be key to getting a good result. A decent microphone and careful placement is likely more important than the recording device.

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Can you kind of explain the set up a little more? Is it all acoustic with no speakers at all? 

I think the H1, using it's stereo mics, alone could produce decent results as long as it's close to both. Or use the VideoMicro with the H1. Get it within 2 feet of the guitarist on a stand and I think it'd be decent enough. If it's windy put a dead cat on it. You obviously won't get studio sounding audio but it won't be awful. Otherwise I'd get a small diaphragm condenser mic if you're willing to spend a little extra, though unlike my suggestion for vocals I don't have a specific suggestion on what mic to get. 

For vocals I'd get a Shure SM58-LC. It's about $30 US above your $70 price range but it's a very good mic for the price. I'd put it on a mic stand and have the vocalist just sing it that way. 

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@Inazuma My guess is that if you didn't use the TRRS cable then the phone wouldn't have 'seen' the microphone and wouldn't have used it - instead using the internal microphones as you suggested.  This is the cable @Don Kotlos mentioned here: http://www.rode.com/accessories/sc7 but any good quality alternative should also work.  I've used this setup and it works well.

@Kisaha is correct that the Rode VideoMicro is a good mic but is pretty wide.

As others have said, the general sound quality advice definitely applies here in terms of getting the mics close and providing appropriate wind protection (dead cats).  If you want to get the Rode mic close you could just mount the mic / phone combination somewhere close-by, or run an extension cable, but if you're going to do that beware of interference.  Running long cables without interference is the main reason why pros use balanced audio connections (XLRs) - for short runs it normally doesn't matter.

To expand on the reference that @Kisaha made to my comments in another thread, I mentioned that putting dead-cat style wind mufflers on internal microphones can be very effective if done correctly, however there are a few things to keep in mind.  I've seen reviews of products similar to the one Kisaha linked to and they are mixed - some work ok and others are terrible.  The best results I've seen were DIY and turned massive wind noise (from someone using the internal microphones on a point-and-shoot camera while riding a skateboard at perhaps 20mph into a decent headwind) where no dialog was audible into the same situation having audible but subdued wind noise.  This is a huge difference, thus my comment about it in the other thread, however it may or may not work for your situation and I've seen most DIY solutions of this type fail almost completely.

I would recommend buying an adapter cable for the Rode mic and then doing as many tests as is required to confirm that you're getting the best audio out of the equipment you have, and only then working out what other equipment you might need.  Preparation and knowledge of your equipment and basic techniques is absolutely critical, which is why pros can reliably get good results even with modest equipment.

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11 hours ago, Don Kotlos said:

Did you use an SC7 cable or any other TRS to TRRS adapter? Cause the provided cable from the videomicro is not compatible with the phone mic plug. If the phone can provide the plug in power to the videomicro then I doubt you will notice a difference between recording with a quality app on your phone and a dedicated recorder. 

 

Just to confirm your comments - and the comments of others in previous threads - I basically wasted $80 when I bought a zoom H1???

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5 minutes ago, Mark Romero 2 said:

Just to confirm your comments - and the comments of others in previous threads - I basically wasted $80 when I bought a zoom H1???

Ha no I doubt you did.

H1 still has better amps than an average phone so it should still be a bit better. Since the videomicro has a built in amplifier and requires only a tiny bit secondary amplification, the more amplification an external microphone needs, the larger the difference between the H1 and the phone will be. Would you notice it in a street audio recording? Probably not, but for a quiet interview you might.  Also it gives you other things like decent built in mics for stereo recording. Also it is easier to boom with the micro or leave at a remote spot without worrying damaging your phone. 

 

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13 hours ago, Inazuma said:

For the recorder, i'm thinking the Tascam DR60D or DR70D because they have multiple XLR inputs and I believe a 3.5mm input. Could someone please confirm with me if they can record the XLR and 3.5mm inputs at the same time?

http://ironfilm.co.nz/which-sound-recorder-to-buy-a-guide-to-various-indie-priced-sound-recorders-in-2017/

In my eyes the DR60D/DR70D were the best bang for buck recorders for their niche. However the Zoom F4 now is only an extra hundred and fifty more than a new DR70D, so now I don't see any point in it after the price drop of the F4 to such an incredibly low price. 

Oh and I could record with the 3.5mm input (*and* the XLR inputs) on the Tascam DR60Dmk1 I owned ages ago, but... then you can't run a safety track on the XLR inputs as well at the same time. 

13 hours ago, Inazuma said:

As I mentioned in the title, the recording will potentially be outdoors so it needs to be very directional in order to minimise wind intrusion.


"Directionality" and wind noise have almost no connection to each other. 

You need proper wind protection instead. Likely at least say a Rode WS6 windshield, but potentially a full on blimp with deadcat would be necessary. 

13 hours ago, Inazuma said:

Please let me know any recommendations you have. And also any other forums where I should ask about this. 

http://jwsoundgroup.net/index.php

Put on your best quality fire retardant suit beforehand. 

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2 hours ago, Mark Romero 2 said:

Just to confirm your comments - and the comments of others in previous threads - I basically wasted $80 when I bought a zoom H1???

I'd think of it as allowing you to record extra channels.  One thing that can come in handy is safety channels, which is where you record the same signal but at a lower volume in case there's a loud bit that overloads the louder signal, so in post you can use the quieter track (turned up to match of course) for that little bit.

Alternatively, you could buy a second 10 pound lav and record a third track.  When recording a guitar people often record it with two microphones, one on the body and the other closer to the strings, which can be panned a little left and right in the mix giving a nice stereo spread, or mixed in mono to get a nice balance of body and string sound.  

Alternatively alternatively you could record the crowd with the extra channel and mix that in to taste as well.

In audio extra channels give you flexibility if you use them right :)

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10 minutes ago, Inazuma said:

Great suggestions everyone, thanks :) I can't really afford those shotgun mic enclosures so i'll just have to pray for a less windy day and hope the deadcat suffices next time. 

@newfoundmass Just an acoustic. No speakers

The Rode mic should have come with a dead cat - I haven't tested it extensively but Rode probably made it relatively well?

In terms of micing an acoustic guitar the closer you get the more 'body' (low frequencies) you will get so if you can do a few tests beforehand and see how it sounds.  The people who run recording studios often take a long time to carefully position the microphone for the best sound.  Not all aspects of the sound coming from an instrument radiate equally in all directions so by moving the microphone around you can kind of 'mix' the different sounds that make up the total sound.  Micing up a piano can take hours.
For your purposes though, closer is probably better considering your microphone options :)

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12 minutes ago, Inazuma said:

Just thinking - can I use an adapter to turn my two 3.5mm mics into XLR mics and plug them into the tascam dr60d? 

This is just a hobby for me and they're not professionals either, so the less money we can spend the better :) 

You should be able to.  The trick is finding the right converter.

The issue is that XLR actually works slightly differently so most often when people want to sell you a converter they actually convert the signal, which is a more than just a couple of connectors, however you don't need to convert it, so it can be done very cheaply.  I've done it but I ended up soldering up a converter cable myself because I couldn't find what I was wanting available to purchase from anywhere.

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8 hours ago, Inazuma said:

Just thinking - can I use an adapter to turn my two 3.5mm mics into XLR mics and plug them into the tascam dr60d? 

This is just a hobby for me and they're not professionals either, so the less money we can spend the better :) 

As far as I know, Rode VideoMicro comes only with a TRS cable out of the box so you have to purchase a TRRS cable to use it on your phone.

On my Tascam DR100 Mark II, I can't use lavalier mics that require plug-in power. Just make sure the audio recorder you are planning to use supply plugin power.

On a side note, I suggest you take a look at Movo VXR10 or Boya BY-MM1 (Same mics) Cable reviewed this mic on his channel. I bought mine for £20. It is similar to Rode VideoMicro but louder and comes with TRS and TRRS cables, shock mount, a dead cat and carrying pouch. Since you already have a Rode VideoMicro and are on tight budget, perhaps you could purchase this mic alongside with a stereo breakout cable and use them on your Zoom H1.

 

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On 5/29/2018 at 1:54 AM, Rodolfo Fernandes said:

I am not an audio guy, i am completly ignorant in that department. I did a couple of videos of a friend of myne playing guitar in the middle of trees and i just used a Zoom H4n Pro to record it, its not perfect but it works!

Nice video. Thanks for posting.

Starting at about 2:05, were you just handholding the camera? Shoulder Rig? Gimbal? I like the natural movement of the camera. It is not OVER stabilized like on a gimbal.

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