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Mic recommendation for room recording?

Discussion in 'Microphones' started by Muskoka, Jul 4, 2009.

  1. Muskoka

    Muskoka Guest

    An admitted recording neophyte, I need some recommendations for a mic. I am a photographer and want to record the ambient sounds of a series of photo sessions including the pop of the strobes and the vocal interactions between me and my subjects in high enough quality that the result can be used as a partial sound track for an AV slideshow with a series of still images.

    The shooting area I wish to record is roughly 10x10 feet, though the actual room may be larger as I am shooting at various locations for this project.

    I will be using a ZOOM H4n (which has phantom power) for the recording and have found that its mics aren't working well enough; it sounds like it's being recorded from the next room even with recording levels and gain topped out and the unit within 5 feet of the subject.

    I'd like to keep the price at or under $250 and would appreciate a suggestions for both the most appropriate type of mic and any specific recommendations.

    Many thanks,

    Jon Blacker
  2. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    That is a tall order for $250.00. I would look for a pair of omnidirectional condensers. I'd suggest one but I can't think of one for under $250.00. Not one that I would buy anyway.

    Just curious. How do you plan on placing this (these) microphone(s)?
  3. Muskoka

    Muskoka Guest

    Thank you hueseph. My thought was to have (if I use two mics) one on each side of the set - which is really only a nine foot wide roll seamless paper with a background light on a boom and two large softboxes from the front at 45 degrees - and have one side pointing toward the subject and the other pointing toward me; both at angles which allow picking up the pop of the strobes as they fire as well and the voices of myself & the subject.

    I think with a shotgun-style mic I would lose the sound of the strobes firing, so I was thinking about a pair of cardioid condensers. I'd like to restrict the sound I get to the confines of that 10x10 square if I can & I would think that an omnidirectional mic would pick up too much sound from outside the set...but maybe I'm wrong.

    Jon Blacker
  4. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    Hueseph, in a room that small don't you think one omni is enough to capture all the things going on? To the TC, why don't you get one omni to capture the misc sounds and a directional mic to capture the main action. Seems the most logical to me.
  5. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    GF, he is trying to capture the sound generated in a 10x10 area, often in a much larger room. So what he is saying he wants to capture sound in a 10 ft or less radius of the mic. Omnidirectional mics suffer much less from off axis coloration and are more likely to pickup the strobes and both subjects, placing two of them one more forward one more towards the rear would probably be much more effective. Polar pattern link http://www.csun.edu/~record/polar.html
    The further you are away from most cardoid mics the lower the recording quality but this depends on the specific mic.
    The use of baffles or gobos would lessen some of outside sound but are not easily transportable or in your budget.
  6. Muskoka

    Muskoka Guest


    You have the general idea of what I'm attempting to accomplish down exactly. I'm shooting location portraits of celebrity musicians and often have to set up in something as small as hotel room or as large as an empty hotel ballroom. For example, last week I set up in the large foyer outside a series of empty ballrooms; it had a 9 foot ceiling, and was roughly 60 feet by 20 feet of carpeted space.

    Based on this, I was thinking that a pair of cardioid mics would capture what's inside the set and not capture what's behind them. Is roughly 5 feet a reasonable distance to expect acceptable sound capture of a conversational-volume speaking voice?

    Jon Blacker
  7. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    If you are going to use cardiod then you need to use hyper cardioid. AKG C398 would be my recommendation.

    I do like the omni suggestion though.

    [edit:] Oops. Editing my post to indicate proper model #
  8. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Having used cheap dynamics to record a whole assortment of musicians, I think 5' should be feasible. But not too much more.
    In a stone church, I find that anything past 4' becomes quite far off sounding, on a quiet drumkit.
  9. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Well first off shotgun mics would work well if you can place them further back (probably not in a small hotel room) but they are way out of your budget, decent ones really start at $300 or more each.

    My first thought as I read your post was to recommend a Zoom H4 but then i read that is what you are using. One of the "tricks" of pro recording is mic placement, small changes can make significant differences in recording quality. My first question is where are you locating the Zoom? Are you using the 120 degree micing option? Did you also know that the gain of the recorded tracks can be increased in Cubase? That increase is proportional to the noise floor ratio, in other words you can only increase the recordings gain so much before the inherent noise level becomes a problem.

    THese are all things you should try before buying mics only to find it did not solve your problem.

    But if mics are the option you might try either SM 137 (Shure) or Samson CO2 (comes as a pair.) The Shure mic being just a hair over your budget, assuming you already have mic stands. If you are buying mic stands consider getting something good like Atlas especially if you travel a good deal. Mics are not a returnable item so it would be best to test the set up in a store with your recorder to be certain that this is truly the solution.
    You might want to check out this link re: mic configurations as you might be better ORTF.
    or XY is the other system
    Which is the set up the Zoom is configured in.
    In the end if you buy mics record with the Zoom mics and the others and blend to taste in Cubase for the best results.
  10. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I think a couple of PZM and/or "Boundary" microphones are in order here. You can place them on the floor. You can place them on the walls. You can now than on music stands. They will eliminate the "hollow" sound that all other types of microphones produce. You could also try to lie a microphone directly onto the floor. This eliminates the phasing effect that microphones will exhibit when any sound source has the ability to reach the microphone at different points in time. I love using PZM microphones for just this reason. They really have their place. Too bad that Radio Shaft no longer sells their version. But a boundary microphones will provide similar results. Crown still sells the real thing. But they ain't cheap.

    Knowing what kind of microphones to use and where
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  11. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    I realize it's a lot to ask on your budget, but if I wanted it to sound semi-consistent in a variety of rooms, I'd think about a lavalier on you, plus a shotgun mic pointed at the subject. (since you don't want a lapel mic on them while you're photographing them) You might be further ahead renting two good ones, rather than buying one mediocre mic and begging/borrowing the other. The Zoom has two built-in mics, which I would think could pick up enough of the room noises you want if it's in the right place. The shotgun should be OK, set-up in the viciinity of your soft boxes - aimed to the middle of your set. You shouldn't have any problems keeping those and the light tripods out of frame.

    With widely placed mics I'd be afraid you're going to get too much of the room sound and it will sound boxy when recorded. (especially if you have to crank the mics) And each clip will sound drastically different based on room size and all the other fun stuff that goes along with the different set-up.

    Anyway, just food for thought...

    Good luck!
  12. Muskoka

    Muskoka Guest

    Thank you very much to everyone for your replies. Your suggestions are very much appreciated.

    Remy, I like the idea of a boundary mic (on the floor) as it will not require adding to the forest of stands that I'll already have set up for lights & background. Should I use a single mic, or perhaps one on each each side of the set (roughly 10 feet apart) with built-in mics of the recorder picking up the sound of the shutter & stobes?

    dvdhawk; I also like your idea of a lav for me & a shotgun. If I go that route, how high should the mic be placed? How far away from the subject can I reasonable be before sound quality really takes a hit? I can easily mount it to a lightweight light stand beside me and raise it as high as I need to.

    From the replies I've received I may need to reconsider my budget for mic(s) once I determine which way I'm going to go.

    Further thoughts are more than welcome...

    Jon Blacker
  13. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    I would definitely try omni condensers first. Or boundary mics.

    I don't normally recommend Behringer products, but the ECM8000 meaurement mics are hard to beat for the money. If you place one on the floor you effectively have a boundary mic.
  14. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    So I was looking at boundary mics with which I have no experience. The concept is fairly simple to understand but would they work on a carpeted floor? And if used in a large room how big a reflective area would you need for them to be effective? If for example you were to use a piece of masonite or plywood behind it how big would that need to be?
  15. Muskoka

    Muskoka Guest

    Well, after much deliberation, I'e ordered a pair of Audio Technica U851R boundary mics. I realize they're not the top shelf of boundary mics, but should serve my purpose. I'll play with placement & report back on the results.

    Thanks for all of your suggestions...

    Jon Blacker
  16. BradSamson

    BradSamson Guest

    I found this to be a good resource for determining the best mic to purchase:


    hope it helps!!!!

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