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Microphone for conference

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Lion Best
Microphone for conference
on Jun 16, 2014 at 10:03:46 am

Hello everyone.

I am not sure if this is the place to ask, but you look pro.

Here is the situation:
We have a conference room of about 20 meters long. In front is the teacher who speaks for most of the time. The auditors can ask questions. What I want to do is record as good as possible what everyone says.

I was thinking about a shotgun mic, that would be directed at the teacher when he/she speaks and at the auditors when they speak.

Do you think this is ok?

Big thx.


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Richard Crowley
Re: Microphone for conference
on Jun 16, 2014 at 5:56:04 pm

Wow, that is a BIG conference room. What are the acoustics like? Is it very reverberant (shiny wood paneling, or big glass windows, etc.)?

Shotgun mics in general are not useful because near reflections from ceiling, walls, even table top, "confuse" the microphone and render it not directional. Shotgun mics are also used where you have a dedicated and experienced person to keep the microphone aimed precisely at the subject. Or sometimes stationary in a seated interview situation where the subject never moves.

A microphone attached to the presenter is the most common way of dealing with an instructional setting (vs. a full-scale video production with a boom operator, etc.) At least a clip-on "lav" mic, or even a "headset" microphone with a nearly invisible wand that is very close to the subject's mouth. And we often use wireless rigs for this to avoid tripping up the presenter with a trailing mic cable. Unless the presenter is absolutely hard-attached to the podium, etc, and never moves, using a fixed microphone is rarely effective.

How many in the audience ("auditors")? What resources do you have to work with? What equipment? What crew? (Experienced boom operator?) What budget for rentals, etc? Is this only for recording, or do you also have to deal with reinforcement?

Are you only capturing audio for recording, or is there also sound reinforcement to deal with in this large room? What kind of quality do you need? Do you need full broadcast quality, or only casual documentation quality, or only "transcription quality"?


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Lion Best
Re: Microphone for conference
on Jun 16, 2014 at 6:36:06 pm
Last Edited By Lion Best on Jun 16, 2014 at 7:27:49 pm

Like I said in the first post, you pro, me not so much. Bascally I did not get 10% of what you said.
For the record, someone like me will be handling the mic (if it were a shotgun).

The room is like a classroom only longer, so no, to very little reverberance. Thing is, the rooms is like a round table (only more like a square) https://flic.kr/p/nqbZDH (hope I got that 20m right, not very good at visual measurements).

There will always be an assistant that will point the mic if needed. Now, as the assistant will be seated, it will not be easy, but from what I can undersand, pointing it relatively at the source should do the trick?

Audience is 30-50, max 70.

The sound should be understandable, as the lessons are streamed through Adobe Connect.

Budget - as you can tell, my field of expertise is somewhat different, so I am not sure about the prices.
My boss told me that I should find a solution, he should take care of the money.

It would be nice to get a starting point from you.

Big thx.


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Dali Sternisa
Re: Microphone for conference
on Jun 16, 2014 at 10:42:26 pm

Are you limited to one microphone? If not, use as many positioned as close to the sources and record multi-track. That you can later decide which one to use when someone speaks.

Br,
Dali

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Richard Crowley
Re: Microphone for conference
on Jun 16, 2014 at 11:37:55 pm

1) Put a wireless lav (or headset) microphone on the teacher. DO NOT attempt to "aim" a microphone of any kind at the teacher, especially if you have only one microphone person to cover the auditors.

2) If you cannot get a microphone within 3ft/1m of an auditor to hear what they say, then forget trying to pick up the auditors on a microphone, and have the instructor repeat the question or statement. In many cases, it is better to have the teacher repeat the question anyway in order to make better sense of it for the other students.


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Lion Best
Re: Microphone for conference
on Jun 17, 2014 at 5:54:28 am
Last Edited By Lion Best on Jun 17, 2014 at 7:55:28 am

I see.

What if I were to do that. Is there a software of some kind that could help manage all the mics (turn on and off when needed). - I imagine they would be controlled from a PC?

Also, how many mics do you think would be ok for that room, or how many per person, or what is the distance from which a mic would work fine?

Do you have some mics in mind, or at least what type of mics (for the auditors, not the teacher)?


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Richard Crowley
Re: Microphone for conference
on Jun 17, 2014 at 12:16:45 pm

There are "auto-mixers" that sense who is speaking and turns on that microphone. For example Shure SCM810 or Rane AM2 or any of the products from Dan Dugan, including plug-in accessories for existing mixers.

http://www.shure.com/americas/products/mixers-dsp/scm810-8-channel-automati...
http://www.rane.com/am2.html
http://www.dandugan.com/

You need at least one microphone between each 2 people. If you try to do one mic per 3 or 4 people, the difference between the people (because of the different distance) will be too much. Some people will be very loud and others will be very difficult to hear.

With so many auditors/students, this method could get very expensive very quickly which is why it is rarely used. To get decent sound in that situation, people will hire 2 or 3 good boom microphone operators (depending on how many people you are trying to cover).

This really is one of the most difficult kinds of scenarios to get good sound from. There are no effective short-cuts that anybody has ever heard of.

We don't know whether you are doing a single event or whether this is a series of sessions? There is also the option of renting equipment if you need it only a few times.


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Lion Best
Re: Microphone for conference
on Jun 17, 2014 at 12:28:40 pm

I see, I will analyze the situation and if I have more questions, will come back.

For now, thank you.


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Ty Ford
Re: Microphone for conference
on Jun 17, 2014 at 2:30:48 pm

Hello LB and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

How many speaking auditors?

Will the teacher be at the narrow or wide side of the table?

Will there be any use of PA speakers to amplify what's being spoken?

Ty Ford
Cow Audio Forum Leader

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


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Lion Best
Re: Microphone for conference
on Jun 17, 2014 at 2:40:19 pm

The teacher will speak mainly, but the auditors might ask questions, and as you can see they could be placed anywhere.

The teacher will be at the narrow side.

No amplifying.


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Ty Ford
Re: Microphone for conference
on Jun 17, 2014 at 3:09:16 pm

How many auditors asking questions?

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


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Lion Best
Re: Microphone for conference
on Jun 17, 2014 at 3:59:56 pm

În theory it could be all of them. From my experience it is like about 7 from 30 who are more active.


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Ty Ford
Re: Microphone for conference
on Jun 17, 2014 at 4:04:56 pm

Not a good time for good audio.

So they are all sitting around the table. Please provide a lot more detail.

Ty Ford
Cow Audio Forum Leader

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


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Lion Best
Re: Microphone for conference
on Jun 23, 2014 at 8:46:11 am

Firstly, thank you all for the input.

@Ty Ford, I will try to explain as well as possible.

1. So there is this room https://flic.kr/p/nqbZDH
2. One teacher and 30-50 auditors.
3. The teacher is static, so basically, a wireless system is not necessary. He could stand up or sit down, but I think that a mic can record at that distance.
4. We have been doing these conferences for over a year with a cheap mic, and while it could be better, it is acceptable. We are looking to upgrade.
5. A wireless mic for the audience would be an interesting idea, even more so if it could be turned on by the push of a button on the mic.
6. Repeating the question is possible, but not always. Also, it could turn into a discussion, so it would be best to have a mic for the more active.
7. I was thinking, from everything that you advised, that a mic on a stand with 360 degrees coverage for the teacher would be best. It would also pick up a couple of auditors from the first rows.
8. As for the audience, either two mics, placed at an equal distance - in the middle, and when someone would speak, the appropriate mic would be turned on.
9. Or, a wireless mic that would be passed among the audience and turned on when one would speak.

What I dont know is how would I join all the audio streams. Is a mixer necessary? Or these mics can go straight into the PC?


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Ty Ford
Re: Microphone for conference
on Jun 23, 2014 at 11:05:43 am

Wow! Great documentation. Very helpful.

My top idea would be a wireless lav for the presenter and push to talk desk mounted mics at every position.

My next idea would be figure of eight mics between each pair mounted between the tables and run through a series of auto mixers. I've only seen them in 8 channels maximum, so you'd need at lest three, maybe four of them. with the output of each automixer going to a separate track.

Regards,

Ty Ford
Cow Audio Forum Leader

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


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Lion Best
Re: Microphone for conference
on Jun 23, 2014 at 11:09:26 am

I have seen these mixers with 8 channels that vary from 300$ to 1,200$.
For my purpose, which do you think will suffice?


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Craig Alan
Re: Microphone for conference
on Jun 23, 2014 at 3:34:35 pm

I still think your best choice for the main speaker is an E6 not an omni that picks up the first couple of rows of the group. Even a mounted mike facing the speaker, you'll get significant drop off in sound as he turns his head from side to side. It can be wired, but you'd have to run the wire to the camera and with this set up if the camera moved at all that could prove to be a problem with a long XLR and all that furniture. But you know the lay out and if the cam will be static as well then wired is way cheaper.

I can't see two mikes centered between the long audience group picking up all their voices. If you get a plug-on G3 transmitter, you can pair this with any hand-held mike and yes many of them come with an on-off switch. However, without it being sent to a monitor they will have no way of knowing their mike is off. You'll be the only one who will know if they forget to turn it off or on. You can also have this mike on a separate channel than the speaker's mike and control the gain that way. From low room noise to +4 or so when someone is asking a question. A mixer will always give you more control and better sound than trying to ride the gain on camcorder audio controls. If you use a different channel you can also adjust it in post. No doubt Ty's suggestions are much less of a compromise but not cheap. There is also the possibility that in that room at any given day there will be interference on any cordless system. Always best to test it on that day and make sure you have a clean signal. Sometimes changing the channel helps (so know how to find a clean channel in advance of the event) . And in worse case, have an xlr back-up plan. In fact, if the camera will be static and the long xlr cord is in the center of the rectangle, you could have one handheld on each side of the table. So three mikes total and you'll need a mixer for that. That's still a lot of passing the mike down the table. Another option is to record the sound to an audio recorder and just run the on-board mike on the cam for audio sync in post.

Please post a clip of the finished film with the set up you choose. I'm interested in the result. It's a very common request. And not an easy thing to pull off well.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Canon 5D Mark III/70D, Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV40, Sony Z7U/VX2000/PD170; FCP 6 certified; FCP X write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Craig Alan
Re: Microphone for conference
on Jun 20, 2014 at 11:38:00 pm

I think you need to talk to your boss about the reality of this being a difficult production. You could have the teacher wearing an E6 mike. We are looking at a few hundred bucks plus another 7 or so for the cordless kit. do a search on BHPHOTO for countryman E6 and Sennheiser G3. The other speakers would need to have the mike come to them or vice versa. You could set up a mike on a stand and when someone has a question they could move to it. Or they could raise their hand and a co-host could move to them. You could use a cordless handheld for this. If money was not an issue I would just hire a pro - pay them to set up the shoot and train you on how to use the equipment. Or the idea above works as well. The teacher repeats the questions being asked before answering. Being at a school I deal with this type of request all the time. Everyone thinks capturing a meeting or a presentation in the auditorium is a piece of cake. The visual not so hard; the audio, always a challenge.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Canon 5D Mark III/70D, Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV40, Sony Z7U/VX2000/PD170; FCP 6 certified; FCP X write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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