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Choosing the Right Microphone(s)

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Adrian Jans
Choosing the Right Microphone(s)
on Dec 3, 2010 at 11:29:38 pm

I want to record a guy playing guitar and singing in front of my green screen for a Youtube level video.

He wont be moving around very much, nor will he be especially loud or abrasive. Really simple straightforward stuff.

I have a camera with 2 available XLR inputs. I do not have access to a full mixing board.

I have plenty of XLR cable, but the only decent microphones I have are lavalieres and those just wont do for this project.

I was initially thinking a good solution would be to get two mics with two stands and place them as close to him as possible while still being outside the video composition.

However, I really know next to nothing about audio. Is this even close to the type of set up I want?

More importantly though, what kind of microphones do I want to use? I have no idea what the differences between hyper or super cardioid, figure-eight or small and large diaphragm condensers are, but the distinction seems pretty important.

I'd like to keep my costs at around $500, but if I have to I can go higher.


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Alain Koffi Sessi
Re: Choosing the Right Microphone(s)
on Dec 4, 2010 at 1:36:14 am

I would suggest go with the Blue Bird or the Blue Baby Bottle. Thay are condenser mics and will therefore require phantom power which you should have on your camera. They are both under $500 and will serve you well.

Alain Koffi Sessi
Sound Designer


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Bob Kessler
Re: Choosing the Right Microphone(s)
on Dec 4, 2010 at 3:57:06 am

Rather than buying a mic why not rent?

In fact, why isn't it being shot like other music videos - syncing to the playback?


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Jordan Wolf
Re: Choosing the Right Microphone(s)
on Dec 4, 2010 at 5:21:57 am

First I assume we're talking about Acoustic Guitar. It was never specified, so I'm not certain.

I will say that the Audio-Technica 3035 (now discontinued) is quite a sleeper of a mic. It's affordable, transparent, and versatile AND you should be able to find one new for around $125.

Wolf
<><


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Ty Ford
Re: Choosing the Right Microphone(s)
on Dec 4, 2010 at 1:04:37 pm

Hello Adrian and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

Unless you like a mic as a prop, I'd suggest a Countryman E6 for vocals.

Like this: http://gallery.me.com/tyreeford#100183

Does his guitar have a pickup? Mine does in this shot.

Mic to one track, guitar to the other. Mix in post.

Regards,

Ty Ford

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide





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Adrian Jans
Re: Choosing the Right Microphone(s)
on Dec 4, 2010 at 6:48:19 pm

I love what a great resource the COW is, and thank you all so much for your responses.

I guess there's a couple things I should add to this, and a couple questions I'd like to ask.

Yes, he will be using an acoustic guitar. This wont be shot like other music videos because we don't have any previous quality recordings of the song. My green screen isn't large and doesn't provide a wide range of motion, and any effects and backgrounds we produce will be very low budget. The project is really only a collaboration with just two people experimenting to find out what they're capable of producing on their own.

I don't want to rent because I basically have no microphones of my own and I would like to have something I can experiment with for this and any future projects. So I guess I should also mention I would like to buy something versatile enough that it could also be used for projects outside of this setting, for example two people having a conversation.

The Blue Bird and Blue Baby Bottle look really cool, I mean really cool. They put a big smile on my face when I pulled up a picture of each of them. However, they look like they need a close proximity. Is this correct? I would prefer to have something I could keep maybe 5-10 feet away from the subject, so that I can keep the microphones out of frame. The same goes for the Audio-Technica 3035, what is the proximity on that microphone?

I guess that also excludes the E6, although the vocals did sound great in that example you gave Ty.


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Ty Ford
Re: Choosing the Right Microphone(s)
on Dec 4, 2010 at 8:45:37 pm

5-10 feet away will never work. Waaaaay too far away.

Yes, you need to be closer and the worse the environment the closer you need to be.

Skipper Wise (BLUE) is a bloody genius at marketing mics that look different. I think many of them look neater than they sound.

Have fun and don't forget to write.

Regards,

Ty Ford

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide





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Adrian Jans
Re: Choosing the Right Microphone(s)
on Dec 4, 2010 at 8:57:12 pm

Would I be able to get away with just 5 feet away? One mic on his left and one on his right? My studio is quiet, there won't be a risk of any outside noise coming in.

Or do I need to start looking towards alternative solutions? If so, what would you recommend? I'm open to all types of approaches.


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Bob Kessler
Re: Choosing the Right Microphone(s)
on Dec 4, 2010 at 10:04:04 pm

Okay, a couple of things...

I don't know anything about you, but have to assume that you are a "general" videographer.

First, I recommend renting because there is no single mic that can "do it all"; you rent what you need for each given situation. Second, mics for musical applications don't work well as production sound mics; they're too bulky and too heavy to be used on location, and, conversely, production sound mics aren't really the best choice for musical applications. Third, some places allow you to apply some or all of your rental fees towards your eventual purchase.

Another consideration is that in your projected scenario you can only have one continuous take; your artist, no matter how good he is, will not be able to give you "perfect" enough performances to allow for audio edits as you change angles (or whatever), and if you have him turning while performing that will change the quality of the audio mid-performance because the mic positions keep changing.

So I would still recommend that you rent two mics, plug them into your camera, record the music only, burn a CD, stick it in a boom-box, and shoot like a regular music video. You will have better sound quality and more visual shooting and editing options.

Peace,

Bob
________________________________________________________________________
Filmmaking is the art of the invisible;
If anyone notices your work you haven't done your job right.


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Alain Koffi Sessi
Re: Choosing the Right Microphone(s)
on Dec 4, 2010 at 11:06:52 pm

Adrian,

You must be scratching your head at this point. I would be if I were in your shoes. Bob has a great point and he is also correct in stating that no single mic can give you the best sound in all situations. In a controlled environment, all the recommendations will perform well with slight differences in texture and frequency representation. In an outdoor production situation however, they will not work. You can take Bob's advice or if you still want to spend $500, go with the Audio technica and add a Rode NTG-2 for outdoor production applications.

Alain Koffi Sessi
Sound Designer


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Jordan Wolf
Re: Choosing the Right Microphone(s)
on Dec 5, 2010 at 6:32:19 am

Distance is your enemy in this case. About the only instrument[system] that works alright at over 3ft. away is a drumkit.

Here's my recommendation: if you're allowed, try clipping one of the lavs onto the bottom of the soundhole, facing up towards the strings. You may have to roll off a bit of the low end, and there'll probably be some gack in the 300Hz range that could use some cutting.

Take a look at this helpful info from Shure. Specifically, check out pages 8 and 9.

Please report back on how everything goes.

Wolf
<><


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Dave Haynie
Re: Choosing the Right Microphone(s)
on Mar 4, 2011 at 4:36:36 pm

Nope.. you need to be close up.

Why not record separately from your video shoot? Here's a very low tech way to do this. Start by recording (on a PC, with a field recorder like a Zoom or Tascam, on the camera) a "scratch track". That's not intended to sound perfect, but just get the timing of the song down the way you want it.

Next, put this on an MP3 player: iPod, smartphone, whatever. Now your guitar player can play against that track (well, heck, if I can do it, I assume most musicians can) and you can record overdubs, multiple takes, etc. without the need to have your mics in the video, or invest in higher end audio gear.

Here's one example:






This was a quickie for a contest (which got a little less quick once I got to playing with the video). I hadn't actually learned the original song, when I shot the video, but I had one day of sunlight before the contest ended. The audio's a little muddier than I'd like, it was recorded on a Tascam DR-1 using the built-in mics and a guitar pickup on the Martin you see in the video.

So one question... what are your recording resources? Just the camcorder? My suggestions will work here... just use the camcorder for audio to get the track down the way you want it (I'm assuming you have an audio or video sequencer that can do multitrack mixing). Then use that in the room, or the earphone, to sync your mic-free video shoot to the audio.

As for mics, it's kind of like the video world: you get what you pay for. Just about any "real" mic is better than what you have built-in... in the case of field recorders like the Tascams and Zooms, this may be true just because you can vary the position of the mic, chose the right mic for the job, etc., even when they have built-in capsules that don't completely suck.

If you do want to get a couple of good, general purpose mics, start out with the basics. Someone suggested a Bluebird, which is certainly a nice mic, but also probably overkill for the scale of your first project. I'd recommend a couple of Shure SM57s... that's one of the most popular instrument/vocal mics of all time, used on stage and even in recording sessions. They're about $100 each.

If you're really on a budget, check out Amazon for the GLS Audio ES-57. This is a blatent clone of the SM57. I suspect the only reason it doesn't sound exactly like an SM57 is that it's got better magnets. And they cost $30.

Of course, I'm a guy with over 20 mics in my collection. And yet, I still use SM57s on some instruments, even though I wouldn't necessarily choose it for recording vocals. Of course, for performance, I pretty much want my condensers off the stage. There are pleny of pros who use pricey condensers on stage, but I can't afford the chance that the mic stand might fall down. So having a few extra decent, rugged (relatively) mics like SM57s or even the ES-57s around is always a good investment.

-Dave


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Rodney Morris
Re: Choosing the Right Microphone(s)
on Dec 6, 2010 at 2:46:31 am

I would suggest you take a look at the Rode NT-5 mics. You can get a matched pair for $430 at Sweetwater. http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/NT5/ I've used these on acoustic guitar with pretty good results, but I've also used them to record interviews for video. Using the included mic clip, you can use the NT-5 on a boom mic stand and place the mic just above the subject (if they are sitting) and out of the frame the same as you would a shotgun or supercardioid. Make no mistake, you certainly won't mistake these for a Schoeps CMC 641. These were not my mics of choice, but I was doing a low budget shoot (for my church) and using the equipment that was available to me. I would suggest trying to audition the Rode mics before you buy them, if possible.

As Bill suggested in another post, Shure SM57 and 58 are good mics to own and they won't break your budget. The SM57 is a very versatile mic that can be used on many sources (ie. drums, guitar amps, even the spoken voice). In fact, I like using the 57 as a podium mic more so than a 58. I'm not sure that these mics will work as well for you if you want to use them in other situations though, such as recording two people talking IF you want the mics out of the frame. Unfortunately, there is no magic mic that works perfectly in all situations. That's why studios and sound mixers spend so much money on having a good selection of available microphones at their disposal.

Rodney Morris
Freelance Sound Technician/Mixer


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Rodney Morris
Re: Choosing the Right Microphone(s)
on Dec 5, 2010 at 4:22:32 am

Check out this video. This guy is a friend of mine whom I've advised on some gear purchases. This was recorded with one microphone just out of the shot. I'm not sure which mic he used (I can find out), but I'm pretty sure he ran it through a Focusrite ISA 428. I know he has done a lot to treat the room. I've advised him to record differently, but this was his vision: to record everything using one mic. This is about as good as you'll be able to get considering your setup. If you try to use two mics at a distance you'll need to pay close attention to your spacing in order to minimize phasing. But you won't get a good guitar sound if you are more than 18-24 inches away from the guitar.







Rodney Morris
Freelance Sound Technician/Mixer


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Bill Davis
Re: Choosing the Right Microphone(s)
on Dec 5, 2010 at 11:36:02 pm

I'm not commenting on the equipment issues here. Just the tendency of people to get caught up in concerns about using the "right" equipment.

Do you ever wonder how Elvis became a star in an era without transistors and integrated circuits?
Do you ever wonder how all the radio and tv song hits happened before the japanese electronics industry was re-born after world war II?
Do you ever wonder how it was possible for economically disadvantaged kids to fall in LOVE with the same great songs as everybody else when all they could afford for listening was a cheap transistor radio?

I'm not trying to say that quality recording is unimportant - not at all.

The point I'm trying to make is that while equipment and recording technique and a thousand other things are important. The are NOT the defining issue when creating lasting artistic work of importance.

My advice to the original poster is to go find ONE shure SM57 and ONE shure SM58. These will cost you under $200 total is you shop on Ebay. If you can't find "original" ones - don't worry about it. Just buy what you can afford.

Have the singer sing in to the SM-58 which has a slightly better pop filter and has been used for hundreds of thousands of to 40 and even top 10 performances - and use the SM-57 to record the guitar. DO NOT worry about putting them in the scene. Who are you tryiing to fool? It's a RECORDING. Everybody understands that mics are involved. If you want to make the recording the best it can be - get the mics close to get the best recording. Simple.

The point is that if the PEFRORMANCE you're recording is worthy - a decent recording of it will also be worthy.

If the performance is less than worthy, the finest mic in the world will NOT make the performance better. And if trying to make a performance better is the point of your work - accept that and pull out the auto-tune software and don't worry about who or what you're recording - knowing that you're going to re-build everything in post anyway.

Equipment doesn't make artists - equipment records what an artist already is.

If the artist is killer good - a recording with a cassette recorder will ALSO be killer good. Ask anyone who's listened to the Allen Lomax recordings of artists like Leadbelly.

ANYthing you record on today will be a thousand times better than his gear - and his artists shined through just fine.


Just sayin.



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Adrian Jans
Re: Choosing the Right Microphone(s)
on Dec 6, 2010 at 9:08:46 pm

Again, thank you so much to everyone that has participated in this forum.

And Rodney, I really appreciate you including specific distances and including an example, as well as giving me a specific reason why my initial idea for the setup could be problematic. All that stuff really helps give people like me a better idea of where I'm at.

Bill, Your absolutely right, I shouldn't spend so much time fretting over making sure every detail is perfect, I need to just get behind the wheel and drive.

Everyone in this thread has been really helpful and I feel like I know a lot more about the situation than I did beforehand.


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Bill Davis
Re: Choosing the Right Microphone(s)
on Dec 6, 2010 at 10:36:59 pm

Dude,

You ARE driving. And inevitably if you keep doing that - all the mysteries of driving well will reveal themselves.

By all means, keep pushing for more knowledge - but yeah, also remember that while theoretical knowledge is always useful and may even be critical in some circumstances, it's practical knowledge that usually gives you the real edge in the real world.



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