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iRiver Recorder and Bad Audio

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cdolan369
iRiver Recorder and Bad Audio
on Jul 29, 2005 at 5:54:48 pm

I've posted about this as a reply to a thread in the past, but I think my response was too late and the thread fell off the 'current' display list. There have been a few queries recently regarding back-up audio recording devices, so I thought I'd post my brief impression of the iRiver device and get some feedback on the problem I'm experiencing.

I have an iRiver 895 to which I tried recording through an Azden EX-503 lavalier. The audio came out with a hiss, sounding very 'canned' or 'digital' and not satisfactory for use in the video. I even attempted to double-up for stereo and fix it in post with Audition, to no avail. So I wonder what success others have had with the iRiver units and what type of mic they are using with it. Is a stereo mic necessary? The EX-503 is mono, could that be part of the problem?

Thanks in advance for any input.


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Peter Perry
Re: iRiver Recorder and Bad Audio
on Jul 30, 2005 at 5:17:11 am

Well, I would say that the problem has little to do with mono/stereo, and everything to do with the fact that you are using a $20 dollar microphone, and recording it onto a device that doesn't support .wav files, only mp3 and wma.
What did you expect to get out of this combination? I'm surprised you got it to work at all.
Peter


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cdolan369
Re: iRiver Recorder and Bad Audio
on Jul 30, 2005 at 3:18:52 pm

Thanks so much for your insightful and thoughtful response.

Based on what was said by David C-G in the Event Videographers forum, this combination reportedly recorded audio with quality on par with a wireless mic. The Azden lavalier, despite it's price point, captures pretty darn good audio for a cheap unit.

What I expected was just basic voice recording that I could use as a backup if the wireless failed. I wasn't expecting to perfectly reproduce symphonic sound.

Anyone else have something constructive to add?


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Stephen Muir
Re: iRiver Recorder and Bad Audio
on Jul 30, 2005 at 9:04:02 pm

1) Try your Azden EX-503 with other mixers or recorders. If the resulting sound is satisfactory, then you can be reasonably sure that the mic is not the problem.

2) Try plugging another mic into your iRiver. As with the above suggestion, this would rule out the iRiver being the problem.

The fact that the mic is mono is probably not the issue. It's still pretty rare to see stereo microphone kits used to record production sound, and especially so for dialogue. As a rule dialogue is a center-panned mono track in the final mix, with the stereo or surround imaging provided by sound effects, music, foley, and reverb proccessing. Rarely is any dialogue imaged anywhere but the dead center of the stereo image, since anywhere else can prove problematic when the sound is played back in a mono environment (such as most inexpensive televisions and VCRs).

Often, the two audio tracks are used to record different microphones (eg. Lav 1 on the left and Lav 2 on the right). This can be a handy way of avoiding microphone phase issues. However, when such tracks are taken to post, each side must be isolated and center-panned. Rather than "doubling up" the mono tracks in post to provide a centered mono sound, use your software to isolate the side of the stereo track with the mono sound on it(eg. "Take Left" or "Take Right" in Adobe Premiere) and center-pan the new mono sound.

I'm familiar with neither the iRiver nor that particular Azden mic, but I took a look at the specs on the respective websites. I didn't see anything on the iRiver site about microphone conectivits, so I'm wondering if the iRiver even has a mic preamp. If not, then you're not going to have much luck unless you use a portable mic preamp such as Sound Devices makes. Even if the iRiver can accept a mic input, don't bother with it. I have only used a handful of prosumer camcorders that had even passably functional microphone preamps, and have never seen an mp3 player that can record a clean mic-level signal.

As for the microphone, you may have a mic powering problem. According to the website, your mic requires a 5-9VDC bias voltage to opperate. This may be the source of your buzz.

Keep in mind that trying to record dialogue with the equipment you've described is rather like trying to paint a watercolour still life with a toothbrush. Video production is hard enough without trying to make the gear do that for which it was never intended. If you want to use your mp3 player as a backup, feed it a -10dB line level signal from a mixer or the camera's line output. While your at it, save up for a mic that terminates in a balanced XLR connection. You'll be glad you did.



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cdolan369
Re: iRiver Recorder and Bad Audio
on Aug 1, 2005 at 8:19:11 pm

Thanks very much for taking the time to research and respond.

I've used the Azden lav on my wireless setup and it works surprisingly well for a low-end system. The iRiver unit has an input jack that can be switched via menus between a stereo line-in or microphone input. That feature is not readily evident in the website's product information.

I tested the setup again and found that the audio isn't that bad if the lav is pretty close to the mouth. However, the problem seems to be that it is too sensitive. It picks up echos from the room and a fair amount of background noise. The unit has an automatic gain control that can be turned off, but it doesn't seem to help. I think this is why I felt the audio sounded very 'canned.' It also picks up the sound of clothes rubbing against the unit itself (not the lav.)

When I import mono audio to Adobe Audition, I convert it to stereo using Audition's conversion feature. Sorry for calling it 'doubling-up,' that does sound confusing.

I've found that sometimes all I need might be a second or two from the backup unit because the subject hit his mic while speaking. I'm no audio expert, so I'm not great at fixing that kind of problem. If I have something like the iRiver unit as a backup, I can grab that brief clip of audio and insert it to cover the mistake. For such a short duration, the level of quality is imperceptible. I guess I was searching to find out if I could improve the quality enough to use it for longer clips, should my primary microphone fail.

Thanks again for the input.


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cdolan369
Re: iRiver Recorder and Bad Audio - Follow-up.
on Aug 1, 2005 at 8:32:50 pm

One other question that came to mind after I replied earlier;

Is it possible to remove echo from audio using Audition? I know it has filters to add reverb and echo...so I wonder if the reverse is possible.


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Matte
Re: iRiver Recorder and Bad Audio - Follow-up.
on Aug 5, 2005 at 12:43:31 am

[cdolan369] "Is it possible to remove echo from audio using Audition?"

No. Its virtually impossible to remove or even effectively attenuate unwanted reverb.

Now, on to more direct issues.

You say that you can hear clothing noise if the iRiver ITSELF is rubbed?
If you are SURE that this is the case, you do not have the correct plug to fit the iRiver's input (and/or it is not plugged in properly to disable the internal mic.)

This will definitely cause a VERY poor recording as the sound will reach the INTERNAL mic and the EXTERNAL mic just a micro-second apart and that will yield a terrible mix of audio sources.

We can't really "fix" it from here in the distance, but again, if you're SURE you can hear when the iRiver unit is being touched or rubbed WHILE the external mic is connected... you've GOT to get that remedied.




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cdolan369
Re: iRiver Recorder and Bad Audio - Follow-up.
on Aug 6, 2005 at 11:43:29 pm

Thanks for clarifying the echo question.

Yes- absolutely, I can hear rustling and any contact with the unit itself while the lav is plugged in.

The Azden 503 lav was recommended by David Chandler-Gick, I believe, in the Event Videographers forum. He reported success with this combination.

I'm certain the lav was plugged all the way in, however I still hear noise when I touch the iRiver's case. There also is pretty strong audio recorded when speaking directly into the lav, so maybe you're right & the built-in mic is picking up unwanted sound at the same time.

What other types of mics would one recommend for the iRiver?


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Matte
Re: iRiver Recorder and Bad Audio - Follow-up.
on Aug 6, 2005 at 11:54:10 pm

I would not blame the KIND of external MIC for this problem.

You need to address the kind of ADAPTER and/or PLUG you are using to connect the mic to the iRiver.

Its virtually impossible for us to "fix" every kind of minor "oddity" individuals encounter with various gear from out here in cyberspace (Right now, I need to take a cyberspace-walk and fix my computer tiles for re-entry.)

Let me strongly suggest that you take your whole setup to an experienced audio tech and have the tech help you get the connections right and I'll bet your audio will improve tremendously.


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cdolan369
Re: iRiver Recorder and Bad Audio - Follow-up.
on Aug 8, 2005 at 7:33:27 pm

Thanks for your help. I'll see if I can find someone locally.

I realize it's pretty hard to diagnose this kind of stuff from 'out there.' I just figured it was worth asking, in case someone else experienced the same problem at some point. I definitely appreciate the help.

Thanks again...


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Peter Perry
Re: iRiver Recorder and Bad Audio
on Jul 31, 2005 at 7:52:33 pm

Hi,
I'm sorry if you thought my post was not helpful, and I didn't realize that this combination was being recommended elsewhere, but I think that expecting this combo to sound as good as a wireless mic is ludicrous, depending upon what wireless we are talking about.
Mr Muir was very gracious in taking his time to explain what might be wrong and what you might try to fix it.
However, this is my take on this situation.
I realize that not everyone has money to buy everything they need, and some of us have to make do with less. But if you are in a professional situation and you BEING PAID to produce a professional product, then using this combo, even as a backup, is a travesty.
I bought my 7 year old godson a $99 video camera for Christmas last year. It produces a picture, somewhat in color, with sound on it and you can record it on tape. Would any reasonable person consider using that as a backup if their PD150 or whatever died during a shoot? Would any client consider that a professional product? Not in my experience. In my opinion, using your combo, even as a backup, amounts to the same thing. These products have no place in a professional environment.
This is just my opinion. I would love to hear what others have to say.
Peter


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robgb
Re: iRiver Recorder and Bad Audio
on Jan 27, 2006 at 11:28:01 pm

I'm coming in VERY late on this post, but I wanted to point those who can't believe the iRiver would be worth anything to this recording done by the iRiver:

http://web2.streamhoster.com/agardner/garner-1.mp3

An article that includes this clip can be found here:

http://www.videouniversity.com/iriver.shtml

I think this recording demonstrates that the iRiver can indeed sound pretty damn good for a 90 dollar device.


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