Location recording with a USB condenser microphone - help please?

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by outbackyak, Dec 30, 2010.

  1. outbackyak

    outbackyak Active Member

    First post - go easy on me please :)

    I've just bought an iPad (woohoo!).

    One of the main things I intend to use it for is on-location recording: found sounds for samples, and for spoken word interviews. I am a complete beginner at this - assume I know nothing and you'll be spot on. My background is in music production using Reason & Record, but I want to branch out.

    My intention is to use a USB condenser mike connected via the camera connector kit to the iPad. No Probs if I'm in a single location - I can just set it up on a decent mike stand with shock mount.

    But for much of what I do I need to be mobile, and obviously hand-holding the mike is out of the question - too much handling noise. Also, wind noise is going to be an issue outdoors - most of the time this will be outdoor recording.

    So what's my best option? I think I need a light, portable mike holder that can be hand held with a shock mount - does such a thing exist? Or maybe something like a camera monopod (extensible so it folds up small) again with a shock mount (I think these are called boom poles?) Any suggestions? Cheap is good! Portability and light weight is essential!

    For wind noise I presume that a standard mike windsock will do the job - probably one of the fluffy types like they use for location filming. Or would a foam one be good enough?

    I'm not looking for perfect broadcast quality sound (though that would be nice), but it does need to be good enough for me to do post-production work that will probably end up as podcasts on the net, and for the found-sound samples to be usable in experimental music pieces (I use Reason/Record for this).

    I've not yet decided on what USB mike I'll be getting, but my budget for the mike is up to US$200 - any suggestions? Ideally I'd like one with multi-polar patterns.

    Sorry for all the questions!
  2. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    You don't need a condenser but it so happens there is a type up your ally. For interview work you are looking for something that rejects wind noise and has a tight focused pattern. The wider the pattern the more wind you pick up. TV crews and foley crews work outside all the time. There are boom poles for getting some distance and there are handhelds that minimize handling noise. I'm going to suggest you forget multi pattern and look for a good shotgun mic with a good windscreen. This can double as a voice over mic back at home. Used these can be had fairly easy. For $200? Don't know. AKG, AT, Neumann etc all make shotguns for this purpose.
  3. outbackyak

    outbackyak Active Member

    Right, so maybe I'm going to need two mics - a shotgun or similar (maybe hypercardioid?) dynamic mic for the interview work, and a condenser for the found-sound samples. For the sort of sounds I'm intending to sample I don't think any dynamic is going to be as good as a condenser (or at least not at the price point I can afford - unfortunately I'm not in the AKG, Neumann etc market - they are just way outside my budget)

    I'm looking at recording things like struck metal plates (a scrapyard is your friend!), large ceramic pots, building components, PVC tubes, junk in general. They have very wide dynamic ranges and often really quick attack/decay cycles. When I've tried this with a dynamic mike (SM57) I've always been disappointed with the results - they just sounded dull, compressed, and not at all like the sound I was hearing when I made the recording (this was with a friend's Zoom recorder - with the built in mikes it was even worse).

    You mention handhelds that minimise handling noise - anything specific? Can you point me to some sites that specialise in this sort of gear?
  4. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    I don't know how you are going to do this on the cheap. The Foley and ENG folks are some of the pickiest about their gear. They are the ones that drive the Sound Devices and Fostex market after all. The in built mic's on the Zoom H4n are actually pretty good for recording, better than most anything else in the sub $200 category. They are of course limited in pattern and difficult to place correctly for ENG though I would think Foley would be easier. Your main two patterns you will require for your described purpose-in my opinion-are hypercardioid shotgun for ENG and Mid/Side for your Foley work. The cheapest shotgun I can think of that I like is the CK98. I don't know of any sub $200 shotguns at all in fact. You are also going to need to invest in something like the Rode Blimp. This part alone is double your stated budget. A Zoom H4n can work as your actual recorder since it is a good unit though not up to the big guys standards.

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