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Microphone high sound levels

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Ralph Stewart
Microphone high sound levels
on Feb 11, 2011 at 11:55:40 am

Hi there,

I've got a canon XH-A1 camera and use a Seinnheiser K6 mic with it. My trouble is that whenever I'm in particularly loud environment, like a nightclub, I get distortion even when the camera's levels look healthy and are not peaking. I've tried using attenuation as well to no avail and wonder now if it's to do with the microphone not being able to handle the sound levels?

Is the K6 not made to handle very loud sounds and if so are there any recommendations (within preferably lower price range) for a second mic I could get to handle this issue?

Many thanks


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Jordan Wolf
Re: Microphone high sound levels
on Feb 11, 2011 at 4:46:17 pm

The Sennheiser K6 is the power module for that series of microphones. The actual model could be any of these shotgun types.

More than likely, the SPL is too great and the microphone's diaphragm is distorting because of this. Realize that this problem comes before any pad you apply to the signal. The ME-66's specs indicate a maximum SPL of 125dB(A)@1kHz; the "A" refers to a type of weighting that rolls off the LF - not very helpful for our purposes. Nothing's noted for lower frequencies, which can cause distortion because of their longer wavelengths and our perception of them due to our logarithmic hearing curve. Because of this curve, people often compensate by boosting the LF by 10dB or more over the HF/ Mids. This imbalance maybe the root cause of your distortion.

Wolf
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Brian Reynolds
Re: Microphone high sound levels
on Feb 12, 2011 at 12:06:31 am

Its often good to have a Dynamic hand mic in the kit as a fallback, these mics are simple, robust, don't need batteries, and withstand LOUD situations with NO overload and you can use them as a stand up reporter mic as well.
EG. Electrovoice RE50, Shure SM63, VP64, SM58, SM58, Beyerdynamic, Sennheiser and most manufactures have many models.
A cardioid pattern mic might be better for a camera/ hand mic.
Some mics can be a bit heavy or have a tapered handle which might be difficult to mount.


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Ty Ford
Re: Microphone high sound levels
on Feb 12, 2011 at 1:36:58 pm

Hello Ralph and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

Jordan and Brian have good and helpful observations.

Yours is a familiar complaint. I'd like to hear the SPL in some of these situations to get a sense of the experience (provided I could leave the room if it got too loud for me.)

I'd be interested in hearing what happens if you use the same mic with a mixer between the mic and the camera. I'm thinking what you may have is a situation in which you can't turn down the camera preamp low enough for the soundfield you're in. Was the camera on manual or auto for audio?

Regards,

Ty Ford

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





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Ralph Stewart
Re: Microphone high sound levels
on Feb 12, 2011 at 11:26:56 pm

Thanks everyone it's been very helpful. I think the only thing to do is get hold of a more 'robust' mic and try it out in a very loud environment. I'll let you know about my results for the sake of science!

All the best,


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Craig Alan
Re: Microphone high sound levels
on Feb 13, 2011 at 5:01:01 pm

Ty,

Just curious. To test this theory, could you plug your headphones into the mixer's headphone output and listen. Thus you are not yet dealing with the camera's preamp?

Could using the camera's phantom power instead of the mic's battery possibly help?

And is there anyway of adding a "pad" between the room sound and the mic? Something like a windscreen but designed to soften the overall noise or maybe just the bass?

Do you recommend an instrument to measure the SPL. I know lab quality ones are very expensive but there are fairly inexpensive ones with I assume a greater degree of inaccuracy but might be helpful to get an overall idea of SPL and thus choose a mic and pads accordingly?

OSX 10.5.8; MacBookPro4,1 Intel Core 2 Duo 2.5 GHz
; Camcorders: Sony Z7U, Canon HV30/40, Sony vx2000/PD170; FCP certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Ty Ford
Re: Microphone high sound levels
on Feb 13, 2011 at 5:25:32 pm

Craig Alan, Ty,

Just curious. To test this theory, could you plug your headphones into the mixer's headphone output and listen. Thus you are not yet dealing with the camera's preamp?

>>>You are correct, sir! That'll tell you if the mic is crashing or something else. I've recorded gunshots and automatic weapons fire with my Schoeps at a distance of 10 feet or less, using my Sound Devices 442 mixer. I had to pull back quite a bit on the input trim because of the transients, but it worked fine.

Could using the camera's phantom power instead of the mic's battery possibly help?

>>> I'm waffling on this one. If the mic's battery phantom is working correctly, there should be no need. But certainly not BOTH at the same time. That, in itself, can mess things up.

And is there anyway of adding a "pad" between the room sound and the mic? Something like a windscreen but designed to soften the overall noise or maybe just the bass?

>>> Not that I know of.

Do you recommend an instrument to measure the SPL. I know lab quality ones are very expensive but there are fairly inexpensive ones with I assume a greater degree of inaccuracy but might be helpful to get an overall idea of SPL and thus choose a mic and pads accordingly?"

>>>> After one or two of these event, I think you'll get a sense of what's loud and what's REALLY LOUD. Radio Shack used to make a fairly inexpensive SPL meter. I don't know if they still do.

Regards,

Ty Ford

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





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Craig Alan
Re: Microphone high sound levels
on Feb 13, 2011 at 6:12:19 pm

Thanks Ty,

Yeah they still do, but if you guys don't use it, I won't bother. Though I do feel the need to understand audio tech speak better and maybe having measurements for things like SPL would help.

I've recorded performances using a Sennheiser MD46 - Cardioid Handheld Dynamic ENG Microphone plugged into a G2 Sennheiser cordless kit. We've gotten the mike close to one of the speakers (mono). Adjusted the sensitivity and output levels on the transmitter and then adjusted the output levels on the receiver and the input levels on the camera. The PAs they were using were set really loud. The recording captured the live sound pretty well. If their sound was clean so was ours. If their sound was distorted or muddy so was ours. We mounted the cordless mic on a stand. Pointed it at the PA at a distance that sounded good to my ears. Fairly close but not too close. Now all this is not as good as a proper feed from a well adjusted sound board and padded down for recording purposes. But no such feed is being offered. I compared this to recording directly into the cam’s built in mike and it was way better.

Bottom line: the MD46 was not overwhelmed by ear deafening sound levels.

OSX 10.5.8; MacBookPro4,1 Intel Core 2 Duo 2.5 GHz
; Camcorders: Sony Z7U, Canon HV30/40, Sony vx2000/PD170; FCP certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Ty Ford
Re: Microphone high sound levels
on Feb 13, 2011 at 6:21:04 pm

Yes, mostly, dynamic mics are not as sensitive as condenser mics. So that makes sense.

The point remains, is the condenser mic crashing or is it your camera.

Regards,

Ty Ford

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





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Craig Alan
Re: Microphone high sound levels
on Feb 13, 2011 at 11:19:38 pm

No. I got that. Just giving an example.

OSX 10.5.8; MacBookPro4,1 Intel Core 2 Duo 2.5 GHz
; Camcorders: Sony Z7U, Canon HV30/40, Sony vx2000/PD170; FCP certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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